TWO MAJOR military aircraft procurement contracts, worth $524.7 million, will be signed by the Philippines on March 28. They include the purchase of 12 Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers and eight Bell 412 combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Philippine Undersecretary of Defence for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel, Fernando Manalo, revealed the date of the signature when speaking to the media on March 23. Plans for the FA-50 acquisition have already been well-publicised but the Bell 412 purchase, probably from Indonesia’s PTDI was unknown
The deal with KAI for the FA-50s will be worth 18.9 billion pesos ($417.95 million), while the Bell 412 order is worth 4.8 billion pesos ($106 million) and will see the first three helicopters delivered next year. The Bell 412s will be ordered through State-owned Canadian Commercial Corporation.
The deals are part of a major five-year plan to upgrade the Philippine armed forces, in particular to provide forces to patrol the disputed territory in the South China Sea. Arrival of the FA-50s will be a welcome boost to the PAF, which has not flown a jet fighter since the last of the F-5 fleet were retired in 2005. Since then the focus had been on buying helicopters and smaller aircraft, primarily for counter-insurgency and domestic security operations.