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PAF to get 6 more aircraft

MANILA, Philippines - Six Brazilian-made close-air support aircraft with night flying capabilities will be the latest additions to the Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s air muscle.

The acquisition of the six new A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is part of the PAF’s ongoing modernization, which also involves the purchase of more FA50 lead-in trainer fighter jets from South Korea.

After several delays, post qualification inspections of the aircraft are now being done in Brazil. Embraer Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. bagged the P4.9-billion defense contract. The delivery of the aircraft is still being finalized.

The multibillion-peso procurement is sourced from the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Trust Act Fund.

A team has been dispatched to inspect the manufacturer’s facilities and the aircraft.

“Barring any hitches, once the post-qualification inspection has been completed, contract will be awarded and PAF will be flying the A-29 Super Tucanos,” a defense insider said without providing additional details.

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The Super Tucano is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optic, infrared and laser system technologies, as well as secured radio systems with data links and state-of-the-art munitions capabilities.

Currently, the Air Force is dependent on the retrofitted Vietnam War-era OV-10 surveillance aircraft,  SF620 fix-wing light attack aircraft, and MG520 attack helicopters for close air support for ground troops in Marawi.

The military is using its FA50 supersonic lead-in trainer fighter jets to provide aerial support for soldiers battling the militants in Marawi City.

“There’s a plan to acquire more FA50s,” Maj. Aristides Galang, PAF spokesman, said in an earlier interview with The STAR.   – Jaime Laude,  Alexis Romero, Ding Cervantes

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