Air Force unveils 18 new trainer planes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2011 06:19 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2011 02:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force's (PAF) showed off its 18 new trainer aircraft at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas on Wednesday.

The SF-260FH propeller-driven trainer planes from Alenia Aermachi S.p.A were unveiled by Air Forces chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena during the 12th anniversary of the Air Education and Training Command at the air base.

The purchase was made through a P622.59-million contract that the Department of National Defense signed with Alenia Aermachi S.p.A.

Delivery of the aircraft began in September last year and was completed in June.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol described the trainer aircraft as a "modest modernization for the country's Air Force and a big boost for the PAF's capability to train its pilots."

Okol said the Air Force is also improving its pilot training curriculum. He expects the new aircraft to "further enhance and develop pilots professionally and keep them up to date with the changing times and advancements of technology."

Other countries also use the propeller-driven SF-260s to train pilots before they move on to jet aircraft, according to the PAF.

The PAF also has older model SF-260M trainers, as well as T-41D planes.

"The basic trainer aircraft aims to address the trainer aircraft (requirement) in the Air Education and Training Command which is a vital tool in the training of aviation students," Okol said.