According to the officials from Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is currently undertaking negotiations aimed at the purchase of two fighter jet squadrons.In actual numbers, this will mean that the PAF fleet will get bigger by 30 to 35 aircraft. The officials claimed that apart from the European powers such as France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, they are also approaching South Korea for the possible purchase of new fighter jets.
Dr. Peter Paul Galvez, high ranking official within the DND claimed that acquiring second hand aircraft and warships will be continued, even as the Philippine Armed Forces look forward to the purchase of new equipment from friendly nations. However, any purchase of new or used equipment will be based on the financial feasibility and the affordability of maintenance costs. The PAF is currently operating aircrafts such as the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco light attack aircraft and the Aermacchi S-211 trainer jets. However, the PAF had recently decided to replace the OV-10 aircraft, which forms the backbone for its offensive operations.
The Philippine president, Benigno Aquino has requested a dozen of the old General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from the US earlier this year, but the American authorities are still analysing the feasibility and financial viability of the deal. According to the defence experts, the PAF will not be able to maintain the aging aircrafts with its limited budget.
The PAF is considered as one of the most ill-equipped air force units in the entire Asia-Pacific region. Although Philippines is not as wealthy as some of its neighbours to purchase new state of the art fighters, a part of the blame should be put on the government also, which ignored the severe shortage of fighter jets and trainer aircraft for too long. After the decommissioning of the last Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter aircraft seven years ago, the PAF is not operating even a single fighter jet in its fleet.