AFP modernization to boost defense vs. threats – Gapay

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Gen. Gilbert Gapay, on Monday said the government’s strong support to the ongoing AFP Modernization Program is of great help in defending the country’s sovereignty and defeating terrorist groups.

Gapay was referring to the strong support of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to the ongoing AFP Modernization Program.

“We cannot stress the importance of being well-equipped as we face all these adversaries in our territorial defense, counter-insurgency efforts, including humanitarian response. Enhancing our capabilities in terms of equipment and assets gives us the motivation and preparedness to overcome these challenges,” Gapay said in a statement.

Some recent acquisitions include six units of Super Tucano A-29B made by Brazil’s Embraer SA, which were acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF), to beef up the North American OV-10 “Bronco” and SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 attack planes of its 15th Strike Wing.

The first four Super Tucanos arrived in Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga last September 19 while the remaining two landed on October 1.

Embraer company pilots flew the aircraft from the company airfield in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and made fueling stops in the Canary Islands, Portugal, Malta, Egypt, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, and Vietnam before landing in the Philippines.

Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong earlier said Embraer pilots will train PAF pilots selected to fly the “Super Tucano” for two months as part of the agreement under the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee.

The A-29s were earlier scheduled to be delivered by the end of July but the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent travel bans have skewed the delivery timetables.

At least 14 air forces around the globe are using the said asset which has electro-optical infrared and laser-firing technology beneficial in counterinsurgency efforts of the military.

The Super Tucanos will also complement the ground attack capabilities of the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 “Fighting Eagles” which was used during the five-month Marawi Siege in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced on October 8 that the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) positively passed its first sea trial conducted off Ulsan waters, South Korea last September 24-29.

BRP Antonio Luna is the Philippine Navy (PN)’s second missile-frigate after the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

The delivery of the second frigate was originally set this October but was delayed due to the prioritization of the Covid-19 response.

It is now expected to arrive in January or February of 2021 and will boost the PN’s anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW) operations.

Moreover, the Philippine Army (PA) recently received two Robinson R-44 “Raven” light training helicopters from anonymous donors.

Army commander, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, led the commissioning of the two new assets at the Aviation Regiment in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last October 6.

The light choppers will be used for aviation regiment training as the army looks forward to acquiring additional aircraft in the coming years.

Under the AFP Modernization Program, the PA also has light tanks and self-propelled artillery in the pipeline.

Apart from defeating terrorist groups, military assets were also utilized in Covid-19 containment efforts.

Military vehicles were deployed to distribute 2.4 million food packs nationwide and accommodate passengers.

Moreover, 1,094 military personnel, 1,054 civilians and 230 foreigners, and 781,800 kilograms of cargoes were transported through 741 flight missions.

Meanwhile, 15 naval vessels were used to conduct sealift operations and transport military personnel, civilians, and around 433 thousand kilograms of cargoes.

“Having the government’s support in the AFP Modernization program is the primary key that we need to fulfill our mandate of protecting the people, upholding our sovereignty and preserving territorial integrity,” Gapay said. PNA.GOV.PH