MANILA, Philippines --- The Philippine government will buy military aircraft and equipment from Italy.
The purchase of Italian military equipment was announced by Malacañang after President Benigno S. Aquino III met with Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola yesterday.
The meeting sought to forge “strong defense cooperation between the two countries,” according to a Palace press statement.
Among the equipment being considered for procurement are “medium lift aircraft, coast watch system radar, multi-role combat aircraft, and long-range patrol aircraft,” the Palace said.
Medium lift aircraft are helicopters.
It added that the military agreement with Italian defense suppliers seeks to boost the Armed Forces modernization program.
The announcement comes at the heels of a commitment from US President Barack Obama to beef up the Philippines’ defense system.
The US military aid package includes a radar network center and another upgraded US coast guard cutter.
Last year, the Philippines bought 18 basic trainer planes from an Italian company known for designing and producing military trainers. A defense acquisition team also traveled to Italy to shop for naval assets.
President Aquino earlier said the government intends to buy jet fighters from Europe after abandoning the idea of acquiring US-made F-16s.
Joining Aquino and di Paola in the Malacañang meeting were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa. Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari, Diplomatic Counsellor of the Ministry Gabrielle Checchia, chief of acquisition and logistics Gen. Gianpaolo Miniscalco and chief of Military Policy Office Giorgio Lazio also attended the meeting.