12 Jet Fighters, Missile Surface Vessels To Strengthen Military Might
Manila: Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin said Monday the government is planning to buy 12 new jet-trainer fighters and warships with missile capability as soon as possible to fast-track the much-delayed modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Gazmin made the disclosure during a media interview following the 73rd anniversary celebration of the Department of National Defense (DND) at the Officers' Club House in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Monday afternoon.
He said that at this point, a South Korean company seems to be at the upper hand to supply one squadron or 12 jet-trainer fighter planes to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
However, Gazmin was quick to say that other countries may still be in the running to make proposals to supply the badly needed aircraft for the PAF.
The PAF has no jet fighter interceptors since 2005 when the last F-5 jet fighters were retired because they were already obsolete.
Gazmin also revealed that the DND is also planning to acquire modern warships with missile-capability for the Philippine Navy (PN).
The Navy badly needs new and modern warships to patrol the country's 36,000-kilometer long coastline which is twice as long as that of the United States.
Unfortunately, the Navy's ships are mostly World War II vintage.
PN acquired recently a cutter from the United States and another one will arrive in a month or two but these are short of an ideal naval fleet.
It was recalled that the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy were second to none at the end of World War II until the early 1970s when the AFP started to lag behind in its modernization program compared with other navies and air forces in the Southeast Asian region.
As a result, the PAF and PN found themselves at the lower rankings in terms of firepower and modern planes and ships.
Congress passed the AFP Modernization Law in 1995, allocating P331 billion but the implementation was always delayed due to lack of funds.
Last week, the Philippines and Canada signed an agreement to hasten the AFP modernization.
Gazmin said that initially the agreement calls for the acquisition of modern machines for the production of various types of ammunition for the military. (PNA)--Courtesy of Manila Bulletin