PAF morale up, new planes purchases set

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    BASA AIR BASE, Pampanga – Its morale driven high by Pres. Aquino’s commitment to modernize the military, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is set to soon purchase brand new aircraft, including 22 trainer jets, seven  attack helicopters and eight combat utility helicopters.

    In an interview with Punto Central Luzon, PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Ocol also said the PAF is slated to buy refurbished aircraft including C-130 cargo plane, and one special mission aircraft.

    “For 2010, the Armed Forces of the Philippines AFP is awaiting the release of P5-billion from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

    These are projects of the modernization program that were funded from the BCDA (Bases Conversion Development Authority) remittances (from the sale of military lands at Fort Bonifacio,” Ocol said.

    Ocol and Air Defense Wing commander Lt. Col. Manuel Renatigue whose unit is based here, said in separate interviews that despite the Aquino administration’s first faux pas in the recent hostage tragedy at the Quirino grandstand in Manila, the morale of the military, particularly those in the PAF, is “high and hopeful.”

    “It’s a morale boosted by Pres. Aquino’s commitment to the military and faith in his capable leadership as our commander-in-chief,” Ocol said.

    Renatigue said “unlike before, the morale of the military is really up, because of the confidence that Pres. Aquino has the solid mandate of the people.”

    Ocol said that the first package of purchases to be made by the PAF would consist of 22 propeller-driven, basic trainer aircraft or SS-260 from Marchetti manufacturer in Italy, at the cost of over P600 million.

    The second package would consist of seven new attack helicopters, eight combat helicopters, eight combat utility helicopters, also brand new, plus refurbished aircraft that would consist of 10 Uh1H helicopters, C-130H cargo plane, and one special mission aircraft.
    Ocol could not immediately say how much the aircraft under Package 2 would cost, as he noted that “the seven attack helicopter purchase is currently on the bidding stage with the bid opening scheduled on Sept. 9.”

    He said that on the other hand, the eight units of combat utility helicopters is on the level of “- contract implementation and awaiting for the opening of the letter of credit.” These aircraft would be purchased from Poland whose military also uses such aircraft.

    “We do not purchase from countries whose military do not use the aircraft we’re buying,” he said.

    Ocol also said that the acquisition of 10 UH-1H helicopters “is undergoing review of technical specifications”, while the purchase of an “upgraded

    C130H is currently on the bidding process with the Pre-bid conference to be participated in by interested proponents on Sept. 20.”

    “The plan for a special mission aircraft is also currently in the process of requirement determination,” he added.

    Ocol said that the P5-billion expected for military modernization is provided for by the AFP Modernization Law that allocates such amount yearly since the law was approved in 1995.

    Renatigue said that the purchases being made by the PAF are according to three phases referred to as “Horizons” which lasts six years each.  

    He said Horizon 1 pertained to internal security operations (ISO) which was supposed to have ended last July.

    “While Horizon 1 already ended, we are still implementing its last phases with the purchases of trainer aircraft. Horizon 2 is supposed to provide the transition towards external defense which is Horizon 3,” he also said.

    Ocol said that under Horizon 3, the PAF plans to purchase multi-role fighter aircraft, surface attack/lead-in fighter aircraft, air defense radar systems, long range patrol aircraft, ground based air defense systems equipment,  among other needs for external defense.

    “While there is not external threat that needs air defense at the moment, these modern aircraft can be used for other purposes that might suit national interest,” Ocol said.


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