MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will continue to pursue its acquisition of 12 fighter jets from South Korea even as President Benigno Aquino III emphasized the need to “balance” the country’s needs in warfare.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Tuesday that the papers for the purchase of the jets have been submitted to the Office of the President.
“We are waiting for the sales agreement. Once that is approved, negotiations will begin,” Gazmin told reporters in an interview.
Although Gazmin said they were originally eyeing to buy a squadron or 24 jets, the Philippines cannot afford all the jets with the P75 billion modernization funds.
Although Gazmin has assured that these fighter jets will not be directed towards any country, he said this will beef up the country’s defense against external threats.
The imminent acquisition of fighter jets will be the first of the war planes by the Air Force since it last retired its US fighter jets in 2005. The new fighter jets will come from Korean Aerospace Industries in South Korea.
In his fourth SONA speech last Monday, Aquino emphasized the need to “balance” the country’s needs in building a minimum credible defense posture.
“There are those who insist on upgrading our Armed Forces. I agree with this, but some of them act as if they want us to invest every centavo of our country into fighter jets, tanks, and other equipment for warfare. They may not know that one fighter jet costs 1.58 billion pesos—equivalent to 6,580 houses for our soldiers and our police force, or nearly 2,000 classrooms for our children. And what can one jet do? To be truly effective, we would need a squadron—and one squadron is composed of twenty-four fighter jets,” the President said.
“At 1.58 billion pesos per jet, we would have to devote 37.92 billion pesos of the nation’s coffers just to assemble one squadron. And what about practice missiles? And it is not as if jet fuel, a radar system, ground bases, and ground intercept controls are free. Building a minimum credible defense posture is not something we can take lightly. Do we follow others who prioritize the possession of a nuclear option at the expense of everything else? I do not think anyone would agree. We will balance our needs. We are committed to meeting the needs of our society, while remaining a good and upstanding member of the community of nations,” he added.