According to the janes.com report, Philippine Air Force has revealed multirole fighter jets options that service is considering to acquire to enhance the air defence and border protection capabilities of the country’s air force.
Speaking on 14 November, a senior Philippine Air Force (PAF) official presented a briefing slide showing the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Sukhoi Su-30 ‘Flanker, and Saab Gripen as the options being considered to augment the service’s current fleet of Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light-strike fighters.
Commenting under the Chatham House Rule, the official noted that a memorandum of acquisition has already been processed for approval at the Department of National Defense (DND)-level, and that government funding to launch the project is expected in either the first or second quarter of 2020.
During an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said:
“The acquisition of multi-role jetfighters is badly needed to protect the country’s airspace.”
PAF currently operates F-50 jets that were purchased from South Korea.
The Philippine Air Force has been in need of a new fighter aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter light combat aircraft since the early 1990s.
Several attempts have been made from the early 1990s up to now, which all ended in failure due to a lack of funding from the Philippine government.
In the mid-1990s, the PAF shortlisted several fighter aircraft offers made as part of the AFP Modernization Program and ultimately selected the McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet to be its next multi-role fighter. The best attribute on the selection was having twin engines, which allows for a higher safety parameter especially when one engine fails. The first batch of 12 units was planned, with a possible option of up to 24 more units within the next 10 years.
Sadly, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 hit the Philippine economy badly, forcing the PAF to abandon its dreams, and making do with whatever is left of their budget after the exchange rate of the Philippine Pesos severely dropped and the government reduced its allocations.
There were also several offers made between that and the current Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), although the PAF was not able to take a full grasp of the chances.
As part of the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP, the Philippine government approved the PAF’s plan to revive the Multi-Role Fighter acquisition project, with a Phase 1 budget of up to Php61.2 billion. MaxDefense believes that part of the package includes an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, and all necessary arrangements, equipment, training, tools, documents and technical support, logistics and transportation, and possibly spare parts.