MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) highlighted the need for modern replacement of its aircraft following the crash of a military plane this week, an official has said.
PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said the country’s current fleet have already aged, including the SF260TP Marchetti plane that plummeted onto a rice paddy in Pilar, Bataan on Thursday, killing the pilot and another aviator.
The Philippines had used the ill-fated Italian light aircraft since 1992.
The attack aircraft had been “very effective” in internal security operations and counter-terrorism efforts, including in the Marawi siege, according to Castillo.
“Big factor po kung bakit minsan nagtatagal po ang utilization natin of a certain type of aircraft is siyempre kailangan din natin ng more modern replacements. That’s why napaka-importante po na masuportahan ang ating modernization projects to have more updated aircrafts,” she said.
Castillo, however, assured that PAF’s fleet are all are all well-maintained and in good condition.
“Even if medyo may edad na po ‘yung mga current fleet natin, we ensure na well-maintained po sila. Just like any other vehicle, kahit na hindi na po siya modelo basta ho maganda ang ating maintenance procedures, we are very strict in our…scheduled maintenance, we will be able to maintain the good condition of our aircraft,” she said.
Castillo said investigators are still determining the cause of the crash as they would look at all possible angles, including material, human, and weather factors.
All other four SF260TP aircraft in PAF service are grounded as part of standard operation procedure while the investigation that could possibly take weeks is ongoing.
“[This is] to establish the circumstances behind the incident and for the safety of our airmen,” the Armed Forces of the Philippine said in a statement.
Castillo said PAF will still be able to deliver its air support through its other attack aircraft.
“Kung ma-ground man po ‘tong ating aircraft na ito, patuloy pa rin ang ating mission accomplishment because we have other types of attack aircraft, fixed-wing and rotary po, to perform this combat operations,” she said.