MANILA, Philippines - Contracts for two big-ticket items in the military's upgrade program will be signed today, bringing the Philippines closer to its aim of achieving minimum credible defense.
The contracts, with a total amount of P23.7 billion, involve the acquisition of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets worth P18.9 billion from South Korea and eight combat utility helicopters worth P4.8 billion from Canada.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista will sign the contracts in behalf of the government. South Korean Ambassador Lee Hyuk and Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder are expected to witness the event.
The 12 FA-50 jets will be purchased from the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The acquisition is so far the most costly military upgrade project to be sealed by the government.
“This would signal the start of our territorial defense initiatives. This brings us closer to what we plan to achieve – to become credible defense capable,” Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said yesterday.
The FA-50s have fighter capabilities but posses some features that are different from more advanced fighter jets. The FA-50’s design was drafted from the Lockheed F-16 fighter jet.
The F-16 has a long list of weapons that are certified for use while the FA-50’s weapon capabilities are limited to low-cost missile systems. Lead-in trainer jets can be used to prepare pilots for more advanced air assets.