AFP to be potent force in two years -- Gazmin
Jun 23, 2012 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Friday vowed to equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with credible defense instruments in two years to make it a potent force capable of defending the country's territorial integrity.
Speaking at the Air Power Symposium at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Gazmin disclosed that AFP's upgrade and modernization program is on full swing but has limited financial resources.
On the pipeline, he said, are 138 upgrade and modernization projects to be implemented over the next five years--all aimed at providing the Air Force, the Navy and the Army with their defense requirements.
"These projects would surely provide the Philippine Air Force with brand new and reliable air assets for its air operations, along with the operational requirements of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Army," the defense chief said.
The Department of National Defense (DND) is also working out the acquisition of surface attack aircraft lead-in fighter trainer, attack helicopters, light transport aircraft, medium transport aircraft, and four multi-purpose combat utility helicopters. "All of [these] are expected to be delivered within two years," Gazmin said.
"The placement of these assets in our Air Force inventory shall surely boost its air operations capability. The availability of these aircraft shall, once and for all, erase the ironic and naughty commentary that our present air force is 'all air devoid of force'," Gazmin said.
July 31 is the deadline that the DND has set for the approval of 138 upgrading and modernization contracts and projects. Currently, 43 projects are completed and 19 instruments are delivered
Among the defense instruments delivered are 1,621 Night Fight-ing System, 6 APC M113, 18 Basic Trainer Aircraft, 1 Aerial Camera, 2 multi-purpose attack craft, 4 landing Craft Utility, 76mm ammunition, 402 squad automatic weapons, and 8,100 force protection equipment.
The AFP now also have an Integrated Radio Tracking System, base communication network project, mobile communication network, special operations communication equipment, improved four AFP Medical Center operating rooms and Busbus Station Hospital for the General Headquarters, and 62 units of audio-visual system for its Public Affairs Office.
Earlier, Lt. Commander Nerelito Martinez, acting chief of feet staff for plans and programs, said that around P500 billion is needed for a "mixed force" that would equipped the Navy with its desired warfare capabilities.
This mixed force, Martinez said, is a modest list of vessels, craft and aircraft that can provide surface warfare, naval air warfare, undersea warfare and naval special operations capabilities.
The fleet force mix was developed based on operational strategy, strategic defense concepts, tactical concepts, and deployment and sustainment concepts.
"Current market research and assessment will give us a figure of about P497 billion for the acquisition of all the listed equipment. It maybe costly at our current standards but it is not unrealistic," Martinez said.
On its mixed force list, the Philippine Fleet eyes the acquisition of three submarines for undersea warfare and deterrence and three mine counter measure vessels for defensive mining in the critical areas to deny enemy entry.
Also on the list are 6 frigates configured for anti-air warfare, 12 Corvettes primarily designed for anti-submarine warfare, 4 strategic sealift vessels, 18 landing craft utility, 3 ocean tugs to tow large units, 6 yard/fire tugs to provide critical support to the warships in docking/undocking, providing firefighting and salvage services, and providing personnel transfer platforms,
The Philippine Fleet also wants to buy 12 coastal patrol interdiction craft, 30 patrol gunboats for territorial and coastal patrol, 42 multi-purpose assault craft, 24 right hull inflatable boats for naval special operations, 18 amphibious maritime patrol aircraft for maritime surveillance, 18 naval helicopters, and 18 multi-purpose helicopters.
Martinez said that majority of the current equipments in the inventory of the Navy are not anymore fit with its operational requirement as they were acquired many years back through grants from the US and other allied countries.
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