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Purchase Of Korean Jets Recommended

The Department of National Defense (DND) has recommended to President Aquino the purchase of South Korean-made jet fighters to boost the country’s external defense capability.

Fernando Manalo, DND undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations and materiel, said the assessment conducted revealed that it is South Korea’s T50s which is ideal for the country’s Philippine Air Force.

“Based on our assessment it is the T50 of South Korea that is most advantageous to us in consideration to the obtaining situation in the West Philippine Sea,” said Manalo.

Aside from capability, the T50s are also ideal in terms of the country’s limited budget for Air Force modernization, he said.

If the contract is signed with South Korea before the end of 2012, Manalo said the fighter jets could be delivered to the country within two years from 2013.

What would happen if the contract is signed, according to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, is that they would request for immediate delivery of two of the T50s to facilitate the training of Air Force pilots.

“We will negotiate so we can get the two immediately for training so that when the rest of the 10 arrives, our pilots are already trained,” said Gazmin.

Manalo stressed the need to sign into law the P75-billion modernization budget for military modernization.

“Without the law, we cannot implement the acquisition of these fighters . . . because there is no budget,” said Manalo.

The Philippines is now focusing on its external defense after it became locked in a standoff with China a few months ago near the Scarborough Shoal.

The two Philippine civilian ships have already pulled out several weeks ago to deescalate the tension but Chinese ships remain in the area and even set structure to block other ships from entering the Shoal.

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Aaron B. Recuenco | Manila Bulletin | August 2, 2012 | Article Link

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