US Declines F-16 Request to appease China

As Aquino shops for $1.6 billion jets in Europe

May 17, 2012

The content of the confidential two plus two meeting may now be clearer as President Aquino declared Wednesday that they are shopping for fighter jets in Europe to modernize its defenses.

The Philippines last month requested aircraft, patrol boats and radar systems from the US to help it achieve a “minimum credible defence.”
The Philippines hopes to buy two squadrons of military jets for as much as $1.6 billion to modernize its territorial defenses until 2020, President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday.

“We do have an alternative, and — this is a surprise — it seems we have the capacity to buy brand-new, but not from America,” Aquino said.

Mr. Aquino said that it is more "economical" to buy trainers from Europe or other countries that offer cheaper prices for brand new jets. 

"We do not have any fighter jets right now -- zero. We only have two trainer jets. But it seems we now have the capability to buy brand new. There is what we call a lead-in jet trainer and its airframe can be converted into a fighter jet," he said.

"It may be more expensive to buy secondhand jets because it has a shorter life-span. I think the minimum we can get is a lead-in trainer that is also a fighter aircraft," Mr. Aquino added.

Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said minimum requirements for the jet include supersonic ability, multifunction displays and On Board Oxygen Generation System.

The government intends to buy new training jets for between $400 million and $800 million per squadron and upgrade the planes to fighters, Mr. Aquino said.

A squadron is made up of between 16 and 24 jets.

There are only two aircraft considered by the Philippine Air Force as trainer jets. 

They are the Korean made TA-50, a joint venture program of Korea Aerospace Industrie (KAI) and Lockheed Martin of the United States, with a price tag of USD $25 million, and  the Italian made Alenia Aermacchi M-346 of the Finmeccanica Group, which is a twin engine, two seat aircraft, a deriva­tive of the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130. It has a price tag of USD$20 million.

Italy is a country in Europe and the company is a major defense contractor.

The Aermacchi M-346 has a “Fly Away” price tag of about USD $15 million per plane, while the TA-50 settles at USD $21 million based on Singapore and Indonesia offer.

The T-50 and M-346 are considered to be among the best advanced trainer jets on the global market. Both Singapore and the UAE bought the M-346 for their training needs while Indonesia opted for the T-50.

The trainer aircraft is intended to ensure pilots to be properly trained to fly new generation fighters like the F-16 or F-18.

Mr. Aquino was however mum when he was asked whether the US did offer the country F-18 Super Hornets instead. 

“That’s what the Armed Forces of the Philippines is studying.” Mr. Aquino said.

F/A-18 Super Hornets is manufactured by US Aerospace giant Boeing Co. with a price tag of $65 million dollars. The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft introduced to the US Navy in 1999. It is also flying with Royal Australian Air Force  since December 2010. It is not immediately known if the same variant used by the RAAF is the same variant offered to the PAF as Australia fully upgrades its front-line to F-35 JSF fighters in 2020.

Both the M-346 and F/A-18 has twin engines.

A Pentagon official said China's growing military power justified the Philippines need for such a high tech plane to be more or less respectable with Beijing air assets.

"To have this plane they need the trainers for proficiency" says the official who doesn't want to be identified. 

Lead-in fighter training (LIFT) jets simulate operational fighter planes and they provide efficient training in combat scenarios with reduced training cost as compared to moving straight to operational fighter jets.
A Pentagon security paper disclosed that "the Philippines needs up to four squadrons of jet fighters to defend its airspace.

The same report from the Center for a New American Security CNAS) also confirmed the need four squadrons for the Philippine Air Force.

The Aquino administration has embarked on a plan to upgrade the country’s military Air Force which has no viable fighter jets. The plan is part of efforts to better address external threats, which include increased tension with China over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

PAF is seeking funding for the purchase of six (6) multirole interceptors, supported by 6 to 12 Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA)/Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) jets.

The Philippines signed a five-year agreement with Italy earlier this year for the purchase of trainers. Delivery date of the trainer jets is scheduled in 2016.

Aquino has poured $395 million on the AFP since coming into office in 2010, compared to annual budget of $51 million in the previous 15 years.


  1. I hope this pushes through 100%... this will also motivate more people to be in the military...

    btw, love reading your blog... kudos!

  2. Not the S211 trainer jet anymore please! It killed PAF pilot Erwin Alcoseba (who was my company commander during Univ. of San Carlos ROTC days). So, for optimum cost to performance, I would love the PAF to acquire the F-16. But if we can afford it, might as well get the F15 or F-18. The F-23 and the F-35 are just a dream at this point because they are way too pricey.

  3. f-16 is the best lead aircraft to the PAF with its aero dynamics capability and been successfully succeed in many dogfights and ground attack role

  4. it will be cheaper and stratigic if we restore rewire and rebiuld PAF F-8 crusaders many veterans or expirience pilot stil prefer the aging F-8, PAF still have the f-8 airframe, ( France F-8 still in used )

  5. Repair F8 as additional to air assets. Consider also the carrier from Britain its cheaper.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. We should have another 2 squadrons f-16F or f-16V, 2 squadrons f-18 Super Hornets and 1 squadron F-2 for anti warship.. These should be after the MRF fa-50 is delivered, because fa-50 is not capable to compete with russian made figthers of China.
    we also need warships, frigates, 4 submarines, and advance anti warship weapons .. Then China will back out from philippine waters, because we are capable to defend our territory already if that purchased will happen. Don't worry, no land battles will be fought because of our defense alliance with US.
    These military weapons is for teritorial protection only but not capable to support war because we are far behind from China overall. But in terms of territorial defense, thus on my list the best pick. I swear.