PH Air Force to welcome 2 more fighter jets
MANILA, Philippines – Two brand new FA-50s will arrive in Clark, Pampanga, on Wednesday, February 22, to beef up the fighter jet capability of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
"This is the 3rd batch. They will arrive tomorrow in Clark," Air Force spokesman Colonel Antonio Francisco said on Tuesday, February 21.
This brings the PAF's total fighter jets to 6 or half of the squadron of 12 jets that Francisco said will be completed within the year.
The acquisition was made under the Aquino administration to improve the country's capability to deter intrusions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), one of two big-ticket items acquired with the fresh military modernization funds.
The first batch of two fighter jets arrived at the tail end of the Aquino administration, however, and have not been known to be deployed to the West Philippine Sea. (READ: PH Air Force a joke no more, gets fighter jets)
Instead, the FA-50s first saw action in Central Mindanao last month to help the campaign against local terrorists groups linked to the notorious Islamic State (ISIS). Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año said they were found to be "very efficient" and will be deployed again for similar operations.
The Duterte administration shelved the country's territorial dispute with China to focus on economic ties. The military was also ordered to focus on its counter-terrorism campaign.
Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said that the military modernization program will be sustained under the Duterte government.
Before the arrival of the FA-50s, the PAF had zero fighter jet capability since it retired the last of its US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005.
Over the decades, the PAF had deteriorated from a golden era when it had the most capable air force. The Philippines was the first to acquire fighter jets in the region and became famous for the 1962 Congo mission when it sent them – upon the request of the United Nations – to help secure the airspace of Congo and deal with secessionists.
In 1963, the Philippine Air Force also sent its men to Bali, Indonesia, after the eruption of Mount Agung affected thousands.
The country also hosted a US Air Force base in Clark, Pampanga, until the Senate voted to evict the US bases in a historic vote in 1991. The Philippine Air Force has since deteriorated. – Rappler.com