03 Juli 2013

PAF Eyes Gripen as Next Generation of Fighter Planes for its Modernization

03 Juli 2013

JAS-39 Gripen (photo : SaabGroup)

MANILA, (PNA) -– Swedish-made supersonic Gripen plane is emerging as the next generation of jet fighter aircraft being considered by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its long-overdue modernization program.

A random interview conducted by Philippines News Agency on Tuesday indicated that PAF pilots prefer the Gripen jet-fighters to other types (of fighter planes) because of its lower cost, yet armed with sophisticated latest stand-off long-range anti-ship weapons and air-to-air missiles.

These are highly accurate weapons that can be unleashed even if the target is 80 kilometers away.

The air-to-air missiles can be fired beyond visual range of the pilot.

Gripen has a top speed of 1,552 miles per hour.

Gripen jet-fighter plane in flight the PAF is eyeing to acquire for its modernization. (Photo courtesy of SAAB)

Representatives from Gripen were in Manila last month to participate in the annual PAF symposium held at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay City. They said they would be happy to sell to the Philippines the multi-role Gripen fighter jets.

Gripen is manufactured by SAAB.

In its brochure distributed to the press, SAAB says that Gripen is cost-effective, new generation multi-role aircraft in the market.

The multi-role Gripen fighter aircraft costs US$ 60 million apiece while other similar planes cost as much as US$ 80 each or more.

Thailand has already purchased 12 Gripen jet-fighters while Malaysia is planning to buy the aircraft.

Aside from Sweden Air Force which bought over 200 Gripens, other countries that have Gripen in their arsenals are South Africa 26, Hungary 14, Czech Republic 14.

The United Kingdom also bought some Gripen planes but there was no mention as to the number of units it acquired from Sweden.

Gripen can take-off and land in short runways, cost-effective, tailor-made and top-of-the-line aircraft comparable to the world’s best.

“Gripen represents the ultimate in operational efficiency capable of fulfilling a range of roles, either alone or as part of a wider defense network,” SAAB said.

It also says that Gripen is “the world’s most agile fighter for close combat.

SAAB has incorporated a state-of-the art weapon system as Gripen has look-down/shoot-down capability in air combat in engaging aircraft, missiles, and even the smallest, low-flying targets.

Gripen is also difficult to match in any air combat situation.

The government is also considering the acquisition of the Korean-made jet-trainer plane that can also be used as an interim fighter aircraft.

It may be recalled that shortly after World War II up to the ‘70s, PAF was second to none in Southeast Asia in terms of air power.

But PAF has degenerated into weakling Air Force after it had phased out its fighter aircraft such as the F-86 Sabre jets, F-8 Crusaders and the F-5 “Freedom Fighters” without any replacement to date, exposing Philippine airspace unguarded since 2005 when the last of the F-5 jets were retired for good without replacement.

As a consequence intruding foreign aircraft enter Philippine airspace without being intercepted.

Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz, PAF commanding general, has been calling for the modernization of the Air Force to meet the security needs of the country.

Seeing the predicament of the Air Force, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday vowed to provide the PAF with jet fighters, radars and other modern equipment before he steps down from office in 2016.

“I assure you that before I step down from office, our skies will be guarded by modern air assets,” the President said in a speech during the 66th PAF anniversary at Clark in Pampanga.

The President said the amount of P75 billion has been appropriated for the implementation of the New Modernization Act of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the next five years.


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