MANILA, -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has identified several procurement priorities as it continues its medium-term modernisation programme, Flight Plan 2028.
Speaking at the Asian Defence and Security 2016 (ADAS 2016) exhibition in Manila, a senior PAF officer involved in the planning of Flight Plan 2028 said these priorities include securing orders of additional light combat aircraft and attack helicopters.
The PAF ordered 12 FA-50 light combat aircraft in March 2014, with deliveries starting in December 2015 and scheduled to conclude in late 2017. The officer said the PAF is aiming to procure an additional 36 FA-50s in order to meet a requirement specified in Flight Plan 2028 to "detect, intercept, and neutralise" any perceived threat in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
He also confirmed that the PAF would look to secure government approval for the additional FA-50s following the delivery of the initial 12 aircraft.
In addition, the official said the PAF is seeking to procure 12 more AW109 Power light attack helicopters produced by Finmeccanica (Leonardo from January 2017). The PAF has already acquired eight AW109s ordered in November 2013 and delivered from 2014.
The official confirmed that the requirement for additional AW109s had become more urgent for the PAF since president Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016.
He said Duterte has tasked the PAF with focusing on addressing anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency, and as a result the Philippine administration has moved the new AW109 acquisition into the so-called 'second horizon' procurement plan, which runs from 2018-23. The requirement was previously scheduled for the third horizon, he confirmed.
According to the official, other near-term procurement priorities include close air-support (CAS) aircraft and additional transport aircraft, while a longer-term requirement is multirole combat aircraft.
The South Korean-made FA-50 multirole light fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force taxi shortly after landing at the Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga province, north of Manila on November 28, 2015.