Air Force to get South Korean planes
March 6, 2009
MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be getting 15 training planes donated by South Korea, a spokesman of the service branch said Wednesday.
The 15 T-41B trainers are a "token of friendship" from South Korea, Major Gerardo Zamudio, Jr. said.
The aircraft will be turned over by Korean Ambassador Choi Jung Kyung to Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. Thursday in ceremonies at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
After the ceremony, Teodoro, a certified pilot, and Air Force chief Lieutenant General Oscar Rabena, will lead pilots in the maiden flight of all 15 planes as an "act of confirmation to the[ir] airworthiness," Zamudio said.
"The arrival of the trainer planes will greatly enhance the operational readiness of the entire Philippine Air Force, especially in training its pilots for the transition to territorial defense mode in 2012 from the current internal security operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Zamudio said.
He said the donation of the aircraft is part of a program to improve the logistics support capabilities of the Korean and Philippine armed forces as provided for in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation both countries signed in May 24, 1994.
"The MOU covers expanded and enhanced logistical cooperation such as procurement, supply, maintenance, and transportation, among others," Zamudio said.
"The bilateral relationship between both Armed Forces also helps the Korean military and defense establishments who regularly send their officers to the National Defense College and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command and General Staff Course in Camp Aguinaldo," he added.
The latest delivery of the planes is the ninth delivery from Korea to the Philippine military since 1993 with earlier consignments included 16 buses for the Philippine Military Academy, 12 high speed coastal surveillance patrol boats, 10 medium high speed coastal surveillance patrol boats, army field telephones, Kevlar helmets, mobility and engineering equipment and maintenance parts for the boats, Zamudio said.
‘Diamond’ flies again over RP
“The Korean government is one with you in helping advance the Philippine military,” said South Korean Ambassador Choi Jung-Kyung as he presented the T-41B and a SF-260 Marchette trainer planes at the site of the former US Clark Air Base near Angeles City, north of Manila.
The 15 surplus South Korean planes were given to the Philippines as part of a military cooperation program as well as in commemoration of Philippine assistance provided to allied forces during the Korean War.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Philippine-South Korea relations, and the South Korean Embassy in Manila has lined up activities for the next 12 months. Last week, the embassy kicked off celebrations with a 100-man business mission from South Korea to Manila, and then on Tuesday, Ambassador Choi hosted a Korean food festival and fireworks display in Manila.
Buying the planes would have cost the Philippine government P37 million ($761,300), but the donation meant the military only spent P4 million on the transport and assembly of the aircraft, Air Force officials said.
The 15 planes, piloted by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Air Force pilots, took off from the base and flew in a diamond formation to show off their capabilities.
The diamond formation, which symbolizes pride, cohesion and unity in the Philippine Air Force, was last performed during the late ‘70s when the Armed Forces was considered as one of the most modern militaries in the Southeast Asia, officials said.
First Air Division spokesman Allan Ballesteros said the last large diamond formation flown by Filipinos was composed of 16 F-86 saber jets under the defunct Fifth Fighter Wing in Basa Airbase, which is also in Pampanga.
Similar formations have not been done for the last three decades, because the Air Force does not have enough planes.
Air Force spokesman Major Gerry Zamudio said the arrival of the second-hand planes would help end the shortage of trainer aircraft for student pilots.
“We only had eight flyable T-41s and with these 15 trainer planes from South Korea, we will have 23 flyable trainer planes. This will address the gap in terms of flying training,” he said.