‘We need this’: Lorenzana presses for multi-role jet fighters
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday (May 6) pressed for the acquisition by the Philippines of multi-role jet fighters which he said were indispensable assets.
“We are pushing for the acquisition as it is a critical capability for the defense of our country’s territorial airspace from any form of threat and enforcement of Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone,” he said in a speech at the Sanay-Datu Air Defense Exercise in Basa Air Base, Pampanga.
“With multi-role fighter aircraft we can explore the facets of airpower,” said Lorenzana, a frustrated Air Force pilot.
“Likewise, it is imperative to fast track the establishment of standardized tactical data link so that all our assets may be able to talk to each other,” he said.
Today, at the SANAY DATU Air Defense Exercises, I got to experience actual “flying” aboard an FA-50 jet, our lead-in…
President Rodrigo Duterte himself, according to Lorenzana, had shown interest in acquiring multi-role fighters.
“When we went here in Clark, I presented to the President a mock-up, the miniature,” Lorenzana said, recalling his talk with Duterte about the multi-role fighters. “He said let’s fly 12 of these but I guess we ran out of money so it didn’t push through,” Lorenzana said of Duterte’s response.
But Lorenzana said the acquisition of multi-role fighters remained “on track,” although he did not elaborate on details.
“We need this especially that the situation in this part of the world is deteriorating,” Lorenzana said.
The defense department has yet to make public its choice of fighter jets. Insiders said it is a toss-up between Saab JAS 39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin F-16.
Lorenzana was flown on the FA-50 lead-in fighter, the PAF’s first supersonic aircraft after the retirement of Northrop F-5 Tiger jet fighters in 2005, as part of tactical capability demonstration.
“Today’s event gives us a glimpse how far the Philippine Air Force has come in its acquisition of new assets in terms of continuously improving its capacity and capability,” he said.
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