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PAF’s skyhigh public service


Skyhigh public service – this is what the Philippine Air Force (PAF) can deliver as an essential result of the AFP modernization program and the renewed pride and confidence of the Filipino people in its enhanced capabilities! Thus declared President P-Noy during the PAF’s 66th anniversary celebration at the Clark Air Base last July 1st.

Consistent with the theme “Makabagong Lakas, Matatag na Bukas” (Renewed Strength, Secure Future), President P-Noy “pledged to upgrade the country’s air assets to strengthen [our] nation’s defense and security before he steps down from office in 2016.” (Manila Bulletin online, July 2, 2013) This will be fulfilled through the procurement of such new aircraft and equipment as lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, attack helicopters, close air support planes, light-lift fixed-wing aircraft, medium lift aircraft, combat utility helicopters, air defense radars, and flight simulators.

During the same ceremony, President P-Noy praised the PAF for the following noteworthy accomplishments:

(1) its initiative in refurbishing . . . 17 M-35 trucks, one N-22 Nomad transport aircraft, one UH-1H utility helicopter, one LC-210 aircraft, and one MG-250 attack helicopter;

(2) its swift response and relief in times of calamities . . . apart from its staunch support of the peace process in Mindanao; and (3) its prudent management of funds as indicated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) report that the “Air Force has a 99.9 percent financial obligation efficiency.”

President P-Noy also commended National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for the latter’s dedication and initiative in enhancing and modernizing the capability of the military, as well as PAF Chief Lt. Gen. Lauro de la Cruz “for his competent and honest leadership of the air force. (Manila Bulletin online, same date)

About a week earlier, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Dr. Peter Paul Galvez revealed that as part of the AFP modernization program, our Government was considering “the possibility of acquiring air defense missiles to further bolster [the AFP’s] capabilities.”

In relation to this, there were “unconfirmed reports that [the Government was] in the closing stages with the Israeli Military Industries regarding the acquisition of [our country’s] first-ever air defense missile system.” (Manila Bulletin online, June 24, 2013)

Relatedly, an Aquino spokesman had announced six months earlier that our Government would buy 12 South Korean FA-50 fighter jets to be used for “training, interdiction and disaster response.” The budget required would be taken from the 75 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) that has been earmarked for the modernization of the military within the next five years. Such modernization funding is on top of the more than 19 billion pesos that was spent for the same purpose during the past three years. (AFP News online, July 1, 2013)

The fruitful initiative and remarkable performance of the Air Force must have inspired President P-Noy’s confident statement about its evolving capability. Indeed, with the committed all-out support of the Aquino Administration, the PAF’s capability to render skyhigh public service may be expected even before President P-Noy’s term ends in 2016.

By Ric Adjawie

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