Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the air station would be refitted and equipped with radars through the military’s upgrade program.
“We give primacy to the enhancement of our capability to monitor and secure our territory. Gozar Air Station will play a major role as we shift our focus from internal security operations to territorial defense,” the defense chief said in a statement.
Gazmin visited the facility last March 21 and was welcomed by local officials led by Lubang Island Mayor Juan Sanchez.
Aside from Gozar, the government is also considering installing radars in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte and Salakot in Palawan. Gazmin and other security officials visited the Salakot Air Station on Tuesday to inspect the facility.
The Philippines is upgrading its territorial defense capabilities amid the aggressive expansion of China, which has been occupying disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Security officials have repeatedly claimed that the military’s modernization program has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and is not directed against any country.
Gozar Air Station was named after Lt. Jose “Pepe” Gozar, who served as instructor in the Flying School at Zablan Air Field until the outbreak of World War II. The facility became operational in 1961.
Earlier, The STAR reported that the Philippines would acquire three air search radars from Israel to enhance its monitoring activities in the West Philippine Sea.
The radars will be acquired from state-run Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – Elta for P2.6 billion. Defense officials have signed an implementation arrangement that would pave way to the purchase.
Officials said the radars could also be used for civil aviation because the country derives income from aircraft flying within its airspace.
The Gozar Air Station Lubang Island, Occidental Mindoro -- On July 1st. 1957 the Philippines government started construction of the Gozar Air station. The radar installation incorporated was designed to guard the central south western airspace of the Philippines.
Gozar AS (Air Station) became the main radar check-in facility for military aircraft moving between (from/to) Southeast Asia (Saigon, Danang, etc), and Clark Air Force Base, north of Manila.
The Philippines is fast tracking the acquisition of air defense surveillance radars from Israel’s Elta Systems so it can monitor intrusions in its air space.
The project worth P2.68 billion ($62.85 million*) will fund the installation of radar systems in Palawan (Mt. Salakot) to cover the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) and old radar sites Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro (Gozar Air Station) and Pasuquin Air Station in Ilocos Norte (Paredes Air Station).
The first radar system is expected to be installed 22 months after the notice to proceed is issued and the letter of credit is signed. The radar systems will cover a 350-nautical mile radius.
Acknowledgement: Credits to John Schuiteman for the aerial photo of Gozar