MANILA, Philippines - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin expressed reservations over the country’s plans to purchase old F-16 fighter jets from the United States, as earlier announced by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
"The F-16 (acquisition) is still being studied because the F-16s are old in the inventory. If they give that to us, we have to upgrade them and after upgrading, we'll look at the flying hours left," Gazmin told reporters.
He said the Philippines will only feel short-changed if after the upgrade, “the flying hours left is one or two years.”
He noted a pilot will have to be trained for two years to fly a jet, he said.
He said the country does not have jet pilots. The Air Force used to have F-5 fighter jets but these were decommissioned due to high maintenance costs.
The Cabinet secretaries are due to meet with US defense Secretary Leon Paneta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Washington later this month.
They will seek “minimum defense posture” which, Gazmin said, are equipment needed so that the Philippines will not be "pushed around by those who want to bully us."