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DND to start negotiations for 12 jets with South Korea

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) will soon start negotiations with a South Korean company for the acquisition of 12 fighter jets.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) has issued a resolution allowing the DND to proceed with pre-negotiations with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI).

“We are going to proceed with negotiations, pre-negotiations with them just to see if this product will be acceptable to us,” Velez told reporters yesterday.

He said the contract might be completed by the end of February.

The government has allotted P18 billion for the acquisition of the fighter jets.

Officials previously said the package might involve the purchase of a squadron of F50 fighter jets with munitions.

“GPPB already approved the F50 from KAI last December in the fastest way that they could have done it. We presented it early and then they were able to come up with a resolution on the F50s last December,” Velez said.

The acquisition of the F50s is expected to boost the capability of the Air Force, whose inventory has been depleted due to recent mishaps.

The military aims to acquire aerial and naval assets to boost its territorial defense capabilities.

The DND earlier announced that it would acquire key defense equipment through government-to-government transactions to fast-track the military’s upgrade efforts.

Meanwhile, the DND will conduct a public bidding in the first quarter of the year for the acquisition of warships for the Navy.

“To ensure transparency in the process, we will subject it to open bidding. There will be competition so we can determine the best price to be offered,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said about six countries have offered to provide ships to enhance the military’s maritime security capability.

He said among the countries that are ready to provide defense assets are the United States, South Korea, Spain, Israel, Croatia and Australia.

Previously, Italy offered two Maestrale-class missile-firing warships with anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities.

The Italian Navy vessels were commissioned in 1982 and are more capable than any of the ships in the Philippine Navy’s inventory.

The Philippines had acquired two warships from the US, namely the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which arrived last year, and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which is expected to be in the country by April.

Gazmin is optimistic that the signing of the new military modernization law would fast-track the acquisition of key equipment.

Gazmin admitted that the DND had failed to achieve its goal of signing 138 contracts by November last year due to lack of funds.

“That time (November) the law has yet to be enacted. It was signed in December so we were not able to enter into contracts. There was no source of funds. Who would transact with us if we do not have a funding source? Now that the President has signed the new law, the process can be fast-tracked,” he added.

President Aquino signed last month the new Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization law that allocated P75 billion for the first five years of the capability upgrade program.

The law would enhance the capabilities of the military, which have been seriously depleted due to lack of resources.

AIR FORCE

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

CROATIA AND AUSTRALIA

DEFENSE ASSISTANT SECRETARY PATRICK VELEZ

DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE

GAZMIN

GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT POLICY BOARD

ITALIAN NAVY

KOREAN AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES

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