Tag Archive: FA-50 fighter jets

The Philippines’ acquisition of fighter jets for its air force continues to advance but the procurement of essential air surveillance radars cannot commence because the government has yet to approve it, a defense official said Wednesday.

Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, and materiel, said construction of the 12 FA-50 fighter jets being bought from South Korea are now in “different stages of completion.”

“I think it is fair to say that the construction is within the target milestone. Baka nga mapaaga pa ang delivery ng dalawa,” Manalo said in a text message.

South Korean manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) may deliver two of the jets as early as the third quarter of 2015, Manalo said in an interview on December 18.

Manalo, however, said Wednesday that the project to buy aerial surveillance radars that are much needed in deploying fighter jets has not yet started because the government has not yet approved the AFP Modernization Program.

The Department of National Defense had announced plans to buy three air surveillance radars for P2.68 billion.

Israel Aerospace Industries is reportedly being eyed as the supplier of the radars, but Manalo declined to reveal the prospective contractor until a notice of award is issued.

“It should follow a process. First is the approval of the AFP Modernization Program. Without the approval, we cannot proceed with the procurement,” he said, when asked when the contract is expected to be awarded.

Having fighter jets on hand without radars telling them where to go could prove dangerous for the country’s just-recovering military prowess, especially in the face of China’s continuous force buildup in the disputed Spratly Islands.

In a recent interview with reporters, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang said China’s reclamation on one feature at the Spratly Islands is “about 50 percent complete” and Beijing was setting up what looks like an air field.

The Philippines currently has one air surveillance radar left at the Wallace Air Station in La Union province which defense officials admit has a “very limited” scope.

Recently, the Air Force admitted to relying on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ radar when it enforced a 3-nautical mile “no-fly zone” during Pope Francis’ visit from January 15 to 19.

“Fighter jets will not be effective without radar systems,” Manalo, a former Air Force official, said when asked how important the radars are when using fighter jets.

“Radars are early detection instruments to aid fighters where to intercept unidentified air traffic,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya explained.

The modernization program is still awaiting the approval of President Benigno Aquino III after it was submitted to MalacaƱang last February 2013 for review.

Under the revised Armed Forces modernization law, the President, upon recommendation of the defense and budget secretaries, shall submit the upgrade program to Congress within 60 days since the law took effect.

Manalo clarified that the pending approval will not affect the fighter jet acquisition, which had been approved separately. (John Roson)

– end –

Fort del Pilar, Baguio City – The Philippines will buy two anti-submarine helicopters for the Navy as part efforts to modernize the Armed Forces, President Benigno Aquino III said.

Acquisition of the helicopters will start soon, Aquino said in his speech at the graduation ceremony of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) here.

It will be the first time for the country’s military to have such aircraft, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters later.

The country where the helicopters will be bought from has yet to be determined, he said.

Fighter jet deal signed this week

Aquino also announced that the government is set to sign contracts for the purchase of eight new combat utility helicopters and 12 units of FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets.

“Within next week magkakaroon tayo ng pirmahan ng contract, ‘yung FA-50 with the South Korean government at saka ‘yung sa Canada ‘yun combat utility helicopters,” Gazmin told reporters.

The fighter jets will be sourced from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. for P18.9 billion.

The government aims to have the combat utility helicopters patrolling the country’s skies by 2016, Aquino said.

Meanwhile, the President said the military will receive 63,000 brand new rifles in the next few months to replace its ageing guns.

“Ang mga ripleng ginagamit ng ating kasundaluhan, panahon pa raw ng Vietnam War ang marami sa mga ito,” he said. (John Roson)

– end –

An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

The Philippines may start getting fighter jets in 2015 under a deal being negotiated with South Korean aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday.

Deliveries of the FA-50 lead-in fighter jets are expected to start “June 2015,” Gazmin said in a text message.

Gazmin made the remark after saying that the defense department has already recommended measures on how to resolve issues on the P18.9-billion project.

“We recommended the approval of the downpayment and progress billing,” Gazmin said.

Earlier this month, Undersecretary for modernization Fernando Manalo said KAI is asking for a 52 percent downpayment but the department can only pay 15 percent under the law.

Another key issue is the “turnaround time,” or the period required for the supplier to deliver spare parts under warranty. The department requires the supplier to deliver spare parts within 30 to 45 days, while KAI wants a 180-day period.

The DND recommended that KAI be allowed a period of 60 days, Gazmin said.

Recommendations on the project have been sent to the Office of the President, he added.

“The FA-50 project is ongoing. There are just terms that require prior approval of the President,” Manalo said in a separate text message.

The government and KAI began negotiations early this year on the former’s plan to buy 12 FA-50 fighter jets.

The country retired its last seven F5 fighter jets in 2005, after being in service for 40 years.

The absence of fighter jets and other modern equipment for almost a decade now has left the country’s far-flung territories – like the Spratly Islands off Palawan and Scarborough Shoal off Zambales – virtually “open” to intrusions by other countries, especially muscle-flexing China. (John Roson)

– end –