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Military rethinks F-16 acquisition


THE military is rethinking its planned acquisition of F-16 fighter jets from the United States owing to various reasons, foremost of which are the maintenance and cost.
This was disclosed by Maj. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz, Air Force commander, during the turnover of four W-3A Sokol Combat utility helicopters to the Air Force in Clark Field, Pampanga, over the weekend.
He said that while the F-16s are among the military’s options, the Armed Forces high command is also seriously looking into the fighter jet’s acquisition cost and the cost of their maintenance.
“The F-16 is just one of the options. We are looking whether it will be beneficial for us in terms of cost, in terms of lifespan because it is also already secondhand,” de la Cruz said.
The US fighter jet has initially become the “aircraft of choice” by the military under its modernization program, with no less than Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier announcing it was being considered for the Philippine skies.
The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is a multirole jet fighter built by General Dynamics for the US Air Force. Designed as an air superiority fighter, it has evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft.
De la Cruz said the US fighter is just one of the many platforms the Air Force is considering along with other aircraft of such type.
In January Gazmin unveiled his plan to modernize the military through the procurement of tanks, long-range patrol aircraft, modern vessels, radar systems and jet fighters.
Until last week, he said they have not come up with any particular product yet despite the continued scouting for hardware, which already took a team from the Department of National Defense to Italy.
Still, the defense chief said the contracts for the modernization project should be finished within the middle part of this year or by November at the latest.
Washington had asked the government to come up with specifics on its shopping list with the US, and this was reportedly one of the reasons the bilateral talks originally scheduled this month had been moved to April 30.
During the turnover of the Sokol helicopters, de la Cruz said combat utility helicopters should provide the Air Force with increased capability to provide battlefield coverage to ground forces.
He said the arrival of the helicopters and the other materiél should scratch the hurting joke that they only have “air” and “no force.”
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Rene Acosta | Reporter | BusinessMirror.Com.Ph | Article Link

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