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Aquino vows modern Air Force to take off soon

/ 09:46 PM July 01, 2014

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday vowed to restore the Philippines’ tarnished reputation of having a modern and reliable air force.

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During the Philippine Air Force’s 67th anniversary, Aquino recalled the valiant history of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) during the World War II.

“Moderno, maaasahan, at maipagmamalaki: Ganito nga po mailalarawan ang ating Hukbong Himpapawid noong mga panahong iyon,” Aquino said at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

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(Modern, reliable, and something to be proud of: that was how our air force was described at that time.)

“Nakakalungkot nga pong isipin na ang estado ng ating air force na ating dinatnan: Ang dating tinitingala bilang isa sa pinakamalakas na Hukbong Himpapawid sa Asya, tila hindi na nakaka-take-off dahil sa maraming dekada ng katiwalian, panlalamang, at kakulangan ng pansin,” he added.

(The condition of our Air Force when I assumed the presidency is saddening: What used to be looked up to as one of the strongest air force in Asia has not been able to take off because of decades of corruption and neglect.)

At one point, the PAF could not afford flying suits for their pilots, forcing the officers to buy simple crew suits from Quiapo or Dau in Pampanga.

The President said such neglect would not happen again, especially under his watch.

He then enumerated the new aircraft being acquired by the government.

Aquino said the PAF now has three C-130 planes, 18 basic trainer aircraft, eight Sokol combat utility helicopters, 20 upgraded MD-520 MG helicopters and four UH-1 helicopters. Another 17 UH-1 helicopters will also be delivered this year.

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Also expected for delivery, in several batches until 2017, are 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets from South Korea.

The President said the government is eyeing the purchase of eight combat utility helicopters, two long-range patrol aircraft, six close-air support aircraft, radar systems, and other equipment that will help the capabilities of PAF personnel.

He thanked the PAF for its good work, especially during its response to the disasters.

During his speech, PAF commanding general, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, thanked Aquino for his “staunch support for the modernization program” of the military.

The PAF demonstrated its aerial capability by showcasing more than 50 aircrafts followed by the awarding of outstanding offers and groups.

Attending the event were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista.

Delgado is among the Army top brass qualified to succeed Bautista who is retiring on July 20. Delgado and Gazmin met with the President in Malacañang a day before the PAF anniversary.

The PAF, which traces its lineage to the Philippine Army Air Corps, was a founded on July 1, 1947.

Originally posted: 12:42 pm | Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

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