Philippines military to buy four Bell 412s from Canadian firm
March 31, 2014 By The Associated Press
March 28, 2014, Manila, Philippines - The Philippines on Friday signed contracts worth $527 million to buy 12 fighter jets from South Korea and four combat utility helicopters from Canada to boost the capability of its air force, one of the weakest in Southeast Asia.
Armed forces chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista signed a contract
with Korean Aerospace Industries for 12 FA-50 fighters worth 18.9
billion pesos ($420.4 million) and another with Canadian Commercial
Corp. for four Bell 412 combat utility helicopters worth 4.8 billion
pesos ($106.8 million). Deliveries will start next year.
The fighter jets contract is the biggest deal so far signed under the military's long-delayed modernization program.
The signings come amid tensions with China in the South China Sea.
"With the eventual delivery and
acquisition of these new air assets, our air force can already forget
the lingering naughty joke that it is all air without force," said
Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who witnessed the signings.
The FA-50s serve as jet trainers, lead-in
fighters and multipurpose fighters, according to Korean Aerospace
Industries' president and chief executive officer, Ha Sung Yong.
Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel
Ernesto Okol said the acquisition of the fighter planes "would signal
the start of our territorial defence initiatives" and "brings us closer
to what we plan to achieve, which is credible defence capability."
The air force has had no fighter aircraft in its inventory since 2005, when a fleet of F-5 jets was decommissioned.