PH Air Force seeks funding for 5 C-130J cargo planes
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force needs funding to acquire five C-130J cargo planes to boost its transport capacity.
At a budget hearing at the House of Representatives, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes said President Rodrigo Duterte approved the plan to acquire five C-130J cargo planes in May.
The C-130J Super Hercules is the newest variation of Lockheed Martin’s C-130 aircraft.
“This would be enough to serve our mandate to be able to transport one rapidly deployable battalion at one stroke,” the Air Force chief told lawmakers Tuesday, September 8.
He said the planes would also be sufficient to ferry personnel, equipment, and supplies during disasters similar to Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, the strongest typhoon to ever hit the Philippines.
The procurement of additional five C-130Js is currently part of the “unfunded priority projects” for 2021.
Paredes said the planes would cost P37 billion and would be paid under a multi-year contract.
“We can have a financing agreement. What the proponent needs is 15 percent downpayment or about P5.5 billion for the first year hopefully for 2021,” he said.
Currently, there are four C-130 cargo planes in the Air Force fleet — two are operational while the other two are undergoing scheduled maintenance in Cebu and Portugal, Paredes said.
The Air Force is also expecting the delivery of two refurbished C-130H Hercules from the US in 2020 and 2021. Both planes cost P2.5 billion but the Philippines would pay only P1.6 billion while the US would bankroll the rest of the amount or P900 million.
The Air Force has been using its C-130s nonstop to transport personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to support the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It has also been using its other air assets to shuttle stranded foreign and local tourists in provinces.
Paredes said the Air Force also needs P1.8 billion to “recover” 10 Huey helicopters.
“We have 10 which are sidelined right now because of lack of funds but we can recover 10 of them at P1.8 billion,” Paredes said.
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