PH can’t get F-16 jets for now due to budget woes

PH can’t get F-16 jets for now due to budget woes

Reality check for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) modernization, regarding the acquisition of its own multi-role fighter jet fighters in its inventory.

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines is unlikely to acquire Lockheed Martin F-16 jet fighters for its multi-role fighter (MFR) program for now due to budgetary constraints.

“Sa ngayon, malabo pa dahil yun pera natin, yun perang nakalaan ay kung bibili tayo ng F-16 jets, ay dalawa lang ang mabibili natin. Samantala kung bibilhin tayo ng Gripen, yung Swedish-made fighter aircraft, ay anim (For now, it is very unlikely that we will be able to acquire F-16s as our budget for (the MRF project) will only allow us to get two (if we will proceed). And if we will decide to acquire the Gripen, the Swedish-made fighter aircraft, (Saab JAS-39), we can get six),” Lorenzana said in an online press briefing.

(F-16 Viper, Photo credit to owner)

Fighter aircraft manufacturers do not normally advertise the prices of their jet fighters but it is known that F-16Vs, the specific jet fighter version the Philippines is looking to acquire, costs between USD12 million (around PHP598 million) to USD35 million (around PHP1.7 billion) each and depending on its configuration.

Lorenzana made this comment when asked whether the F-16 fighter aircraft is the top pick for the country’s MRF program after pictures of him trying its simulator during his visit to the United States last week appeared on social media. 

“Alam ng mga Amerikano na iyong ang atin dahilan kung bakit tayo tumitingin sa iba (The Americans know of our reason and why we are still looking at other (aircraft manufacturers),” Lorenzana said.

He, however, admitted that the F-16 is a very good aircraft as even new or rookie pilots can operate and land it safely after some instructions as proven by his experience in the aircraft’s simulator.

He said the only way the Philippines can acquire F-16 jet fighters is through a favorable “financing scheme” by the US.

These proposed MRFs are expected to augment the existing fleet of 12 South Korean-made Mach 1.5 capable FA-50PH jet aircraft acquired from 2015 to 2017 by the PAF as its first supersonic aircraft after the decommissioning its Northrop F-5 “Tiger” jet fighters in 2005.

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