A Maestrale-class frigate (photo grabbed from Marina Militare [Italian Navy] website http://www.marina.difesa.it)

The Philippines is looking at buying frigates from Italy, jet fighters from South Korea, and attack helicopters from Eurocopter, defense officials said today.

Two Maestrale-class frigates used by the Italian Navy have been proposed for acquisition to President Benigno Aquino, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a press forum.

The two ships, which cost a total of P11.7 billion, will come armed with anti-air, anti-submarine, and surface-to-surface missiles, Gazmin said.

“They will be our most potent naval assets. They will help a lot in giving us a good defense posture,” he said, adding the ships may be delivered by November next year if the project is approved soon.

T-50 jets conducting maneuvers (photo grabbed from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. website: http://www.koreaaero.com)

The department has also proposed to the President to consider acquiring 12 T-50 lead-in fighter jets from South Korea, Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations and materiel, said in the same press forum.

“The T-50 is the most advantageous considering the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Once the project is completed, the country will immediately get two jets to train pilots, Gazmin said.

Meanwhile, Manalo said negotiation is ongoing to acquire 10 attack helicopters worth P3.2 billion from Eurocopter in France.

Two to four of these helicopters can be delivered within the year if the contract is signed before the end of the month, he said. (John Roson)

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