From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 8): Duterte makes turnaround, wants more FA-50 fighters
PRESIDENT Duterte wants the defense and military establishments to acquire 12 more FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea for the use of the Air Force, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.
Before assuming the presidency in 2016, Duterte criticized as “waste of money” the acquisition of 12 FA-50s by the previous administration worth P18.9 billion from the Korean Aerospace Industries, under the Armed Forces modernization program.
Duterte said then that the aircraft are only good for air shows, adding the funds spent to buy them should have been used to acquire helicopters and boats needed in the fight against Abu Sayyaf and other internal security threats.
Lorenzana was among the security officials who accompanied Duterte during a recent visit to South Korea.
Military officials had said there were plans to acquire 12 additional FA-50s as early as last year. The FA-50s saw action in the siege of Marawi City by the Daesh-inspired Maute Group last year.
Lorenzana, however, said a final decision has yet to be made, adding: “We are still discussing it at the level of senior leaders.
“But that is what we want, even the President, when he saw that these are effective (aircraft),” Lorenzana said. “There may be additional 12 but it depends on the buildup of the Air Force that we are thinking.”
Lorenzana said the South Koreans did not pledge any military assistance during the presidential visit aired their “preparedness” to transfer military technology to the AFP.
“We talked about a lot of things, not only the helicopters, but also firearms. They (South Koreans) want to transfer technology so that we can produce our military equipment,” Lorenzana said.
The defense department is considering South Korea as the source of helicopters following the cancellation of the procurement of 16 Bell helicopters, worth P12 billion, from Canada a few months ago.
Duterte ordered the cancellation of the contract after the Canadian government said it is reviewing the deal after the Philippine military declared the aircraft will be used in the fight against rebels.