Aquino to lead turnover of new fighter jets to PAF
President Benigno Aquino III is expected to lead the blessing and turnover of new aircraft, including jet fighters and helicopters, to the Philippine Air Force at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Saturday.
To be officially turned over to the PAF are two new FA-50 lead-in fighters, a C-295 medium lift aircraft, and six AgustaWestland AW-109E attack helicopters.
Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said the new aircraft, specifically the AW-109E attack helicopters and the C-295 medium lift aircraft, arrived weeks ago.
The newest acquisitions were two FA-50 lead-in fighter jets which arrived from South Korea last week.
“Our pilots are getting excited to use our new aircraft. We don’t see pilots getting out now (of the Air Force) unlike before,” said Delgado in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday.
The new acquisitions are part of the military’s modernization program.
The six AW-109E attack helicopters arrived in October, the last batch delivered to the Air Force. The Air Force has already commissioned its first two attack AW-109Es.
The Air Force bought eight units of the helicopters for a total of P3.4 billion in 2013.
The AW-109E is a three-ton class, eight-seater helicopter equipped with a .50-cal. machine gun and 2.74 in rocket.
Delgado said the new choppers arrived earlier but they had to assemble these first and test if these passed the criteria of the Air Force.
“These will be equipped with weapons. We have to conduct further training to ensure that our pilots are proficient in the use of these aircraft,” the Air Force chief said.
Meanwhile, the C-295 medium lift aircraft manufactured by Spain’s Airbus Defense and Space arrived last September.
It is the second arrival since the first unit flew into the country last March. A third aircraft is expected to arrive before yearend. The three aircraft are worth P5.29 billion.
The C-295 aircraft is a medium lift transport and surveillance aircraft capable of carrying 71 people or nine tons of cargo.
Meanwhile, the two FA-50 lead-in fighter jets landed in Clark Air Base over the weekend, the first of 12 new aircraft bought from the Korea Aerospace Industry.