Air Force hopeful of Duterte's support - CNN Philippines |...

Air Force hopeful of Duterte's support - CNN Philippines

Shared/Posted: Jun 12, 2016 at 12:32pm

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) wants to be ready for combat especially as tensions rise in the South China Sea.

But with its meager resources, it remains ill-equipped.

PAF officials hope president-elect Rodrigo Duterte's incoming administration will boost the country’s defense capabilities.

During the Air Force Symposium in Pasay City on Thursday, Air Force Spokesperson Col. Arf Musico said that PAF's "Flight Plan 2028" program must push through so that it could establish "minimum air defense posture" and protect Philippine territory.

Flight Plan 2028 is a 14-year program under the Aquino administration designed to "detect, intercept, and neutralize" any intrusions in the air defense zone and local waters in areas like the West Philippine Sea.

“The program has been laid out for the air force to follow. And of course, every plan needs the support of whoever the administration is. What his or her perspective is in ensuring that we have capabilities to defend our country,” Musico said.

He added that PAF would need a huge amount of funds to secure aircraft and equipment on its wish list:

24 surface attack aircraft
2 airborne early warning and control systems or flying radar stations
4 electric counter-measures aircraft
1 aerial refueling aircraft
12 combat aircraft (multi-role FA-50 fighter jets)
Under the program, 12 combat aircraft or multi-role FA-50 fighter jets have already been purchased, two of these were delivered last November. The remaining 10 are expected to be delivered in 2017.

The flight plan also includes two more C-130 planes, which are expected to arrive this September, and three ground-based radars or early warning detectors of intrusion, which will arrive in batches until 2018.

The Air Force said one of the radars would be placed in the West Philippine Sea area.

Related: Better relations with China, better economic opportunities for PH - experts

The Aquino administration has allotted ₱56.79 billion for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). That is 44 percent higher compared to the combined AFP modernization budget during the Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo administrations, which only totaled ₱31.75 billion.

Incoming AFP Chief Lt. General Ricardo Visaya vouched for Duterte's plans to strengthen the air force. According to Visaya, Duterte wants the country to be self-reliant in national security and not rely on other countries to protect its sovereign territory.

“Para hindi tayo nagde-depend lagi sa ibang bansa. [So that we don’t have to always depend on other countries.]” Visaya said.

While the Philippines is still improving its air defense capability, both the United States and Japan Air Forces offered joint air defense operations, particularly in areas where freedom of navigation and flight must be ensured – like in disputed waters.

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