April 19, 2012
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that the Philippines will seek a squadron of F-16 fighter jets and a third coast guard cutter, communications and electronics jamming equipment as well as modern weapons systems for its two new cutters that is scheduled for delivery.
"We are upgrading the capacity of our armed forces and we are glad that the US government approved our request to acquire those fighter jets", says del Rosario who decline to reveal further details.
The jet deal would be for second-hand F-16s block C/ D with the Philippines paying for reconditioning, maintenance and pilot training which will run for two years, del Rosario added.
A recent naval stand-off between the Philippines and China has not gone unnoticed by the United States which agreed to immediately schedule high-level talks between Manila and Washington on April 30 to establish the country's “minimum defense posture” against aggressors.
Secretary del Rosario will be accompanied by Defense Chief Voltaire Gazmin who is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta in Washington next week to discuss the terms of the grant.
The Foreign Secretary said that the potential jet deal was raised during a visit last month by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pledged a wide-ranging commitment to its former colony, from military to economic cooperation.
The Philippines is offering the United States greater access to its airfields in exchange for military hardware necessary for its defense.
The April 30 talks between and among foreign and Defense Officials will precede the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino later this year who is expected to issue the formal announcement.