DU30 zest fuels AFP

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the ceremonial distribution of food packs to the personnel of the 10th Infantry Division during his visit to Camp General Manuel T. Yan Sr. in Mawab, Compostela Valley Province on December 22, 2018. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now more capable of meeting external and internal aggressors as the current administration made huge headways in modernizing the defense capability of the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte said, thus far, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) achieved thousands of flight hours and performed thousands of sorties as well as ferried almost 160,000 passengers and airlifted more than 160,000 pounds of cargo “all in support of our territorial defense and security operations.”

Improved military capability “resulted in the surrender (or) arrest of terrorists, the recovery of their firearms, the dismantling of drug laboratories, the arrest of many drug personalities and the recovery of millions worth of illegal drugs,” he said.

Started in 1995, the Armed Forces Modernization Act or Republic Act 7898 was signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos and aims to modernize the branches of AFP which are the PAF, Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Army (PA).

But after five years, it was stopped due to the funding shortage during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and was only continued in 2012.

In 2012, under Republic Act 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Act, which was signed under the leadership of former President Benigno Aquino III, the AFP was given an initial budget of P75 billion for five years.

Eagles have landed

Completed in May 2017, fighter jets from South Korea were acquired to boost the country’s air capabilities. The acquisitions were the most expensive procurement by the PAF.

Twelve FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat jets were acquired from Korea Aerospca Industries for $421,638,000 or almost P23 billion.

The newly acquired aircraft are now being used by the 5th Fighter Wing where the 7th Tactical Fighter were flying.

The PN awarded the contract to a Filipino company Propmech Corp and Taiwanese boat-builder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

Worth almost P300 million, the vessels were tasked to create three Multi-Purpose Assault Crafts (MPAC) which was completed last 2017.

The three MPAC, namely BA-488, BA-489 and BA-491, are different from previous models as they are designed to be missile capable.

P300-billion plan

Under RAFPMP, the PA also recently completed one of its most ambitious projects. The procurement of night vision monocular goggles project was awarded to a Turkish defense company named Aselsan Elektronik Sanayi vi Ticaret A.S.

It was tasked to supply 4,464 units of A100 night vision monocular night vision goggles to the PA.

Mr. Duterte approved the proposed budget for the second horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program with a budget of P300 billion.

Unveiled during the Asian Defense, Security, Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference or ADAS 2018, the program seeks to acquire different aircraft, defense systems and helicopters.

Air surveillance radar system, ground-based air defense system, heavy-lift helicopters, attack and combat choppers, light utility aircraft, medium-lift aircraft, multi-role fighter aircraft, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft, trainer aircraft (basic and primary) and unmanned aerial vehicles are all in the order menu.

Range of defense assets

Amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, corvettes, frigates, landing dock, medium-lift naval helicopter, multi-purpose medium lift helicopter, offshore patrol vessels and submarines are all on the PN wishlist.

Armored recovery vehicles, crew-served weapons, fire support vehicles, ground mobility equipment, individual weapons, light tanks, missile systems, multiple launch rocket system, night fighting system and tactical radios are the PA’s goal.

The AFP said the third and last horizon of Revised AFP Modernization Program will start from 2023 to 2028 which will target first-world military equipment including submarines.

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