The Philippine defense minister said the US F-16 fighter jet is “too expensive” and considering other options such as Sweden’s JAS 39C/D Gripen.
As a country with an important geostrategic position in the Asia-Pacific region, over the years, the Philippines has faced many security threats and challenges. Domestically, radical Islamic forces emerged in the southern region; in the South China Sea area, is a territorial dispute with its ambitious neighbor China.
In such a context, but the armed forces of the Philippines are equipped with very outdated weapons; Even before acquiring a squadron of FA-50 light fighters from South Korea, the Philippines had never had a jet fighter.
The Philippines’ defense procurement has always been entangled in constant controversies, the “inconsistent” views of the country’s leaders, when changing leadership parties. Besides, corruption raged, which destroyed the equipment strategy of the Philippine Army.
During the fight against terrorist Maute in Marawi City in 2017, the Filipino people were “surprised”, when they saw that their armed forces were poorly equipped; when soldiers do not have battle tanks, have to use dump trucks to carry out combat missions.
According to information, the plan to sell weapons to the Philippines by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency shows that the F-16C / D Block 70/72 fighter aircraft will be equipped with AN / APG- active phased array radar- 83 and can use the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile AIM-120.
In addition, the F-16 version that the US sells to the Philippines can use GPS/laser-guided bombs; Thus, this is the most advanced version of the F-16 series, currently equipped by many Western countries.
Under due process, the sale of US weapons to any partner, will also need approval of the US Congress. Foreign customers can also negotiate on price and quantity, both of which are subject to change.
The multi-role fighters, purchased by the Philippines, are part of a plan to modernize the country’s military. Currently, the Philippine Air Force only has the FA-50PH light fighter aircraft in service developed by South Korea, based on the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer aircraft.