Aircraft that can be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions, along with medium-lift and attack helicopters, are the assets needed the most by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.
He made this pronouncement when asked for a comment regarding American offer to sell its General Dynamic F-16 “Fighting Falcon” jet fighters and other weapon platforms to the Philippines.
For the moment, the Philippines does not need the F-16s as it is not planning to have a fight with other countries, Lorenzana said.
“Hindi naman tayo siguro makikipag ‘dogfight’ o makikipag-labanan sa Tsina or any other countries dito. So kailangan talaga natin yung pwede nating dual [use], pwedeng civilian use at saka military use, civilian use [in terms of] HADR. Yun ang talagang mas kailangan natin dahil napakadami nating calamities, mga disasters every year at dun natin kailangan, so kailangan natin ng mga medium-lift helicopters, yung attack siguro helicopter natin kelangan natin yun sa mga terorista, but mostly sa atin, ang tingin ko civilian use yung ating helicopters eh, not fighter planes,” he added.
While admitting that the military is planning to acquire multi-role fighters (MRFs) similar to the F-16s under Horizon Three of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, evaluations will still have to determine if these platforms are really needed.
“We will see if we really need those, from now up to that time is about five years pa eh, so we will determine if we really need the MRFs, yung multi-role fighters,” the DND chief added.
Horizon Three is slated for 2023 to 2028 and is focused on acquiring more external defense equipment for the military.