PAF to add 18 Trainers

Four new SF-260 to arrive in July

March 19, 2010

Manila - After two years delay, Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, is finally set to deliver $13.1-million worth of defense contract for the supply of 18 brand new SF-260 training planes for the Philippine Air Force.

Complete delivery is scheduled by year end with four units to be delivered in July, a statement from Alenia's local partner said.

Teresa Parian, chief operating officer of Clark-based Aerotech Industries Philippines Inc. (AIPI), Aermacchi's local partner, said the Department of National Defense had agreed to reconstitute the project in 2009 after price escalation problems plagued the contract due to foreign exchange fluctuations resulting to deferral of award.

The contract of Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A was approved in 2008, but the firm began assembling SF-260 planes only late last year due to due to foreign exchange losses.

"We're fast-tracking the assembly of these aircraft to meet the needs of the military," Parian said.

It is not known however if the provisions for training of pilots and technicians, technical assistance and the supply of ground support equipment and spare parts are included in the revised deal as AIPI refused to comment on it.

The Philippines air forces have been using SF-260 trainers since 1973 when the government placed an order for 48 SF.260's divided between 32 SF.260M's and 16 SF.260W's. They were replaced in 1991 by 18 SF-260TP turboprops.

The latest order calls for delivery of the standard SF-260F version powered by 260-hp, six-cylinder Textron Lycoming AEIO-540 D4A5 engines.

“The P622.5 million budget was made several years ago when the peso was worth 42 to the dollar,” Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said.

He recently inspected a set of trainer jets being assembled in Clark that were still 40 percent complete.

“The problem all boils down to the value of our currency. The Italians agreed on a contract denominated in dollars and our budget is pegged in pesos. Fortunately, Congress allowed us to proceed with the multi-year obligation for this procurement which will all be delivered this year.” Gonzales said.

He also confirmed that the Aermacchi contract requires the firm to provide the military with a complete training support package, which includes pilots, technical and maintenance training and spare-parts guarantees. Each aircraft costs government $700,000.

There are about 900 units sold around the world and operated by 27 military customers of different countries. Among the operators are Air Forces of Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations AFP! About time!