MANILA - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday defended the purchase of a US-built aircraft for Philippine government officials, estimated at P2 billion.
The Gulfstream G280, set for delivery next year, will be used "in the event of a crisis situation," according to a defense official.
"Let me emphasize that we do not consider the G280 as a luxury aircraft, but a necessary component of the AFP modernization program for command and control of our Armed Forces to manage operations on air, land, and sea. This particular aircraft is being acquired for the purpose of keeping pace with current technological advancement," Lorenzana said in a statement.
"It will be operated in consonance with other command and control platforms that we currently have, and those we plan to acquire in the future," he said.
In a press release dated October 2, 2019, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has a contract through the United States government for the G280, including parts, tooling and contractor logistics support.
The aircraft reportedly will be configured for command and control missions.
Previous reports said President Rodrigo Duterte and other senior leaders will be using the plane.
Lorenzana denied this, saying Duterte "does not want the procurement of an executive jet for his own use."
"The President has stated from the beginning that he does not want the procurement of an executive jet for his own use. This aircraft was not intended to be a Presidential plane but as a Command and Control plane of the AFP and the DND," he said.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the aircraft was not requested by Duterte, and that the deal with the US was negotiated by Lorenzana.
Duterte had vowed his administration would no longer buy military equipment from the US after the superpower threatened to impose sanctions on countries buying military equipment from Russia.
Duterte later said he would reconsider since he "likes" US President Donald Trump.