FA-50 fighter jets South Korea
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MANILA — The Philippines is aiming to complete this year the acquisition of 12 fighter jets worth P18.976 billion from South Korea.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has announced that both governments agreed to hasten the acquisition of a dozen FA-50 lead-in jets during his meeting with President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea last Thursday (Oct. 17).

“We are just finalizing the procurement (of the jets) both under their laws and our laws. The details are long but bottom line, both sides agreed to try and expedite the arm purchase and the delivery of these planes,” the President said in a media interview.

Aquino said acquiring the brand-new military planes would enhance the capability of the Philippine Air Force in guarding the country’s skies.

“Our expertise to fly jets is slowly fading away so the purpose of this lead-in fighter is to maintain our ability to fly jets, at least for the Air Force to fly jets,” Aquino said.

Last Oct. 17, the Philippines and Korea forged a defense cooperation agreement that would allow the exchange of military information, personnel, and training between the two nations.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed that they hope to complete the military purchase from Korea before the end of this year.

Gazmin said the new planes, which will cost P1.5 billion each, will come from Korean Aerospace Industries in South Korea. He assured that Korea offered a reasonable cost for the each military plane, compared to the cost offered by other foreign suppliers.

“We are building a pool of jet pilots. This is our interim solution. After this, we will upgrade and buy jets,” Gazmin said.

Gazmin was among the Cabinet members who accompanied President Aquino in his two-day state visit to Korea. (Manila Bulletin)