MANILA, Philippines - The government is moving closer to acquiring 12 fighter trainer jets for the Air Force after the defense department’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Wednesday approved the terms of reference for the project.
Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the terms of reference, which contain key details of the acquisition, would soon be forwarded to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for final approval.
Once the terms of reference are approved with finality, the defense department could begin negotiations with the aircraft supplier, state-run Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI).
Velez told The STAR they hope to finish the negotiations by the end of August.
“We are expediting it because it is a priority project,” Velez said.
The government has allotted P18.9 billion for the acquisition of the 12 FA-50 fighter jets for the Air Force, which has suffered from a depleted inventory due to recent aircraft accidents.
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo had said that they are awaiting the sales agreement from Malacañang, which will pave the way for the start of negotiations with KAI.
Manalo previously told The STAR that the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), a state-run firm that coordinates with other countries seeking to acquire South Korean military assets, would sign in behalf of Seoul.
He said DAPA would also guarantee the performance of the assets to be bought even if a private firm manufactured the aircraft.
President Aquino has vowed to modernize the military to enable it to secure the country’s territory and to perform internal security operations.
For the Air Force, the government aims to acquire fighter jets, radar systems, close air support aircraft, and combat utility helicopters.
The Navy will be provided with two warships, amphibious assault vehicles, naval helicopters, multi-purpose attack craft, and base support facilities.
The government would also acquire rocket launchers, hand-held radios and night fighting system for the Army.