Defense chief says fighter jets needed to ensure detection of intruders

July 24, 2013 10:23 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, July 23 (PNA) – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday said that fighter jets are needed by the military to ensure that that no hostile force will pop out of nowhere.

"Fighter jets are important because they can patrol long distances and detect and monitor incoming threats," he added.

Gazmin also said that the Philippines' plan to acquire 12 F/A-50 "Golden Eagle" from South Korea will push forward.

He added that the sale agreement for the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) jet aircraft is now at the Office of the President.

Once signed, the Philippines and South Korea's KAI can start negotiations for the final price and delivery date of the plane which will be the country's interim fighter plane.

Gazmin issued this statement in wake of President Benigno S. Aquino III's claim that it is impossible for the country to invest every cent of its budget in acquiring fighter jets and modern weapons for the military.

He also pointed out this only means that the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines cannot just spend all the P75 billion allocated for military's modernization for fighter aircraft.

"We need to acquire a lot of equipment for this money and we cannot use it all just to buy fighter jets," Gazmin stressed.

With a limited budget, the DND chief said that they decided to acquire only 12 F/A-50s as the country still needs to acquire additional ships, tanks and other equipment so that the country's defense forces can have a minimum credible deterrent.

Gazmin also that fighter aircraft are needed to protect the country's airspace against intruders.

The DND earlier announced is expect to compete and release the contract for the South Korea jet aircraft by November of this year.

"Hopefully, the contract will come out this November and by 2014 or 2015 (at the latest), the aircraft will be delivered to us," it stated.

The Philippines is in the market for 12 supersonic trainer aircraft which can double as interim fighter and attack planes for the Philippine Air Force. It has allocated P18 billion for this program.

The Government Procurement Policy Board earlier gave the DND the "green-light" to start pre-negotiations with the South Korean government for 12 F/A 50 aircraft last January.

The F/A-50 is also known as the TA-50.

Its design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons. (PNA)

/PFN

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