Noy vows modern Air Force by 2016

Ding Cervantes, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

CLARK, Pampanga, Philippines – Soon there will be no more jokes about the Philippine Air Force (PAF) being all air and no force.

President Aquino vowed yesterday to modernize the PAF through the purchase of new and modern aircraft from a P75-billion fund before he steps down from office in 2016.

Aquino blamed past government leaders for neglecting the armed forces “as they got drunk on the trappings of power.” 

He underscored the need for the PAF to be fully modernized for the government to be able “to defend our territory and make Filipinos feel more secure against foreign intruders, or those who try to shock and pressure them.”

In his keynote address during the PAF’s 66th anniversary here, the President said that in the first 19 months of his administration, he had allocated P28 billion for the modernization of the armed forces, nearly equal the P33-billion combined allocations from the three previous administrations.

“Be assured that before I step down from office, our skies will teem with new and modern equipment such as lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, close air support aircraft, light lift fixed-wing aircraft, medium lift aircraft, attack helicopters, combat utility helicopters, air defense radar and flight simulators,” Aquino said.

In January, Malacañang announced that the government would buy 12 South Korean FA-50 fighter jets to be used for “training, interdiction and disaster response.” 

The Philippines, a former US colony, retired the last of its US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005 and lacks air defense. 

The President said the passage of the AFP Modernization Law has allowed the government to allocate P75 billion in the next five years for the upgrade of equipment and other related requirements of the armed forces.

The military is eyeing the purchase of modern aircraft, including FA-50 jets from South Korea.

“We cannot forever rely on repair and rehabilitation of equipment. Every time an air force plane flies, it’s not only the success of the mission that relies on the aircraft but also the lives of our pilots,” he added.

The President nevertheless lauded the air force’s capability to repair and rehabilitate its existing aircraft.  

He cited in particular the 140th Maintenance Wing which has earned ISO certification for its capability to repair and rehabilitate old military airplanes, including a C-130 Hercules, two N-22 Nomads, one F-27 Fokker, one Cessna 210, one MG-520 attack helicopter, and one UH-1H helicopter.

The Air Force, for its part, expressed readiness to defend the country’s territory even as it admitted that such task poses a huge challenge.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz said the challenge lies in the vast waters and air space of the Philippines as an archipelagic nation. – With Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero











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