President Duterte gives go signal for acquisition of fighter jets

Several sources in the past few days revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte has given his go signal for the acquisition of Philippine Air Force (PAF) jets under the second horizon of Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said one option is to purchase additional 12 Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50PHs.

The FA-50PHs were acquired as Fighter/Surface Attack/Lead-in Fighter Trainer Aircraft (F/SA/LIFTA) to beef up Philippines’ defense capabilities and also to prepare PAF in operating more capable fighter aircraft.

“Pagusapan pa namin dito sa ano – dito sa senior [defense and military] leaders [meeting], pero ‘yun ang gusto ng ano, natin, pati si presidente, nung makita niyang effective, baka dagdagan pa. Baka daw dagdagan pa ng another 12 pero it depends on kung ano ‘yung ating iniisip na build-up ng ating air force,” Secretary Lorenzana said at the sidelines of Air Force Symposium on June 7 at AFPCOC, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

However, source/sources cited by and said President Duterte approved the acquisition of more capable multi-role fighter (MRF) jets. But the source/sources said the acquisition program will be finalized in the upcoming senior defense and military leaders meeting expected to take place June 18.

MaxDefense Philippines said it received information from sources including a Department of National Defense (DND) top official that after the visit to South Korea, President Duterte said to Secretary Lorenzana that he is OK with PAF getting additional fighters considering they are useful not only for territorial defense but also against terror threats.

“But he did not mention if it means FA-50s or MRFs,” Maxdefense said. “Any formality will need to be made in paper, and the best time to do it is on June 18 2018 when the Senior Leaders Meeting happens and Pres. Duterte might be there.”

MaxDefense said that the upcoming high level meeting will discuss Horizon 2 Priority Procurement plan and confirm if whatever is in the list is acceptable for implementation by the president.