‘New fighter jets to be used for territorial defense’
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The newly acquired FA-50 fighter jets, along with other aircraft, will be used for territorial defense, search and rescue, disaster response and combat operations, Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said yesterday.

“These FA-50s shall be employed to secure our land, air space and maritime territory to include our Economic Exclusive Zone. It can also be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as air interdiction and close air support missions,” Delgado said.

Delgado made this announcement during the blessing and the official turnover of the two  FA-50 lead-in fighter jets, two C-295 medium-lift fixed-wing aircraft and six Augusta 109 attack helicopters at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

President Aquino attended the event shortly after arriving from Italy.

Aquino witnessed the traditional breaking of a champagne bottle at the nose of the FA-50 supersonic jet as part of the blessing and turnover ceremony.

In his arrival speech, Aquino said the new acquisitions were fruits of the straight path policy.

He said the people could remember that not so long ago, the government was not even dreaming of acquiring modern and quality aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.

“The Philippines is very much different now and the way the world looks at it,” the President said.

With the acquisition of the first two of 12 FA-50 fighter surface attack lead-in trainer aircraft from South Korea, Delgado said the flagship project of the Air Force to return to the supersonic age is now in sight.

Delivery of the remaining FA-50 supersonic jets will come in batches starting next year until 2017. 

On the other hand, the C-295 medium-lift fixed-wing aircraft will be utilized for combat support, territorial defense and disaster response missions, Delgado said.

“The third aircraft (C-295) is due to arrive before the year ends,” Delgado said in reference to the multi-billion government procurement program of twin turboprop tactical military transport aircraft from Spain’s Airbus Defense and Space.

The first C-295 was delivered to the country last March 20 and the second touched down at Clark Field in Pampanga last Sept. 17.

On the other hand, six of the eight AW109 attack helicopters that the government has acquired from Agusta Westland of Italy will be commissioned following completion of technical inspection and acceptance procedures.

Two of the attack helicopters are already in the service following the aircraft’s advance delivery last Aug. 17.

Delgado said the brand-new helicopters are going a play a major role in providing air to ground combat support currently being performed by the Air Force’s dwindling number of MG520 attack helicopters as well as the Vietnam war-vintage UH-IH combat utility choppers. 

“All these (acquisition of brand-new aircraft) are good indications that we are steady on our course towards realizing our vision of a professional and competent air force, responsive to national security and development as embodied in our Flight Plan 2028,” Delgado said.   – With Aurea Calica  







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