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Advanced aircraft seen as boost to defenses

STATE-OF-THE-ART air assets will soon fly the country’s skies, a boost to the country’s defense against external threats, as a number of projects have been lined up for acquisition.

Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto G. Okol in a press release yesterday said that "more advanced aircraft are expected in Phases 2 and 3 where PAF related components are grouped into what it calls ‘Horizon Programs,’ with Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2012 to 2016 time frame."

Horizon 2 includes the procurement of Surface Attack Aircraft, Lead-In Fighter Trainers, Long Range Patrol Aircraft, Air Defense Radar and a Special Mission aircraft, among others.

The first phase of the PAF’s program targeted to obtain eight combat utility helicopters, seven attack helicopters, one C-130 aircraft and a long-range patrol aircraft, and 18 Basic Trainer Aircraft now in various stages of acquisition.

Mr. Okol said that the continuation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program is due to the efforts of Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and President Benigno S. C. Aquino III "to see a modernized Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during his term."

Newly appointed PAF chief, Maj. Gen. Lauro Catalino G. Dela Cruz in a statement said: "the AFP continues to initiate programs that will ensure that the PAF also modernizes from within by strengthening the inner core of its airmen with discipline, a strict sense and value for time, continued fiscal and financial reforms and an appreciation for the organization’s role in Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) ‘Bayanihan.’"

The first half of the combat utility choppers from AugustaWestland-PZL Swidnik S.A. the "Sokol" or Falcon in Polish, will officially be turned over to the PAF on Friday.

The Philippines has been speeding up its military capability upgrade acquisitions including its air units which is often criticized to be one of the weakest in the region.
Mariae Francesca C. Ramos | Business World Online | March 05, 2012 | Article Link


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