09 Mei 2012

DND Eyes Second-Hand Jets, Gunboats from Four Countries apart from US

09 Mei 2012

The DND is eyeing second-hand fighter jets and missile-firing gunboats from at least four states apart from the US, there are France, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Korea. (photo : enemyforces)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is eyeing second-hand fighter jets and missile-firing gunboats from at least four friendly states apart from the United States in line with the country’s ongoing effort to build a credible territorial defense.

According to Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman, there are now ongoing acquisition efforts for these air and sea fighting equipment from France, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

“We now have this defense cooperative arrangements with these countries and through this scheme we will able to acquire fighter jets and gunboats at a lower price from them,” Galvez said yesterday.

Among the factors being considered by the department in its defense procurement program are the capability, longevity and cost of maintenance of these air and naval assets.

Now locked in a standoff with China over Panatag Shoal in Zambales, the country was earlier reported to be eyeing the procurement of a squadron of second-hand F-16 fighter planes and gunboats from the US Coast Guard.

“It’s not necessarily F-16s. We are also looking at jetfighters with the same capability as that of the F-16s but are cost-efficient and low in maintenance,” he said.

He added the acquisition program would also cover the Navy, which is awaiting transfer of the Hamilton-class cutter USS Dallas later this year.

The defense acquisition program is among 132 projects the department is eyeing to complete before the end of July.

“With the full backing of the President and with the assistance coming from friendly states, we will be able to achieve... a credible territorial defense,” Galvez said.

The US-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has said that the Philippines needs up to four squadrons (48) of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, well-armed frigates and corvette-size, fast to surface combatant vessels and minesweepers and four to six mini submarines, possibly obtained from Russia, to build a credible defense force in the face of China’s increasing belligerence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In an article “Defending the Philippines: Military modernization and the challenges ahead” written by Richard Fisher, CNAS pointed out that this level of capability would far exceed current Philippine planning and finances and it would be in Washington’s interest to make it easier for Manila to acquire US fighters, frigates and other weapons system and encourage other countries such as Japan and South Korea to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Philippine Air Force is presently relying on a single trainer jet converted into a fighter aircraft as well as several units of Vietnam-vintage OV-10 Bronco bombers, UH-IH and M520 attack helicopters as well as four newly delivered Sokol helicopters from Poland to guard the country’s skies.

The Navy, aside from several Peacock-class warships and a couple of World War II-vintage ships, simply relies on its newly acquired Hamilton-class cutter from the US, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, to secure maritime domain.

The country, through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and absent a credible territorial defense, could only watch China lording it over Panatag Shoal, a rich Filipino fishing ground 124 nautical miles from Zambales province.

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