THE world’s biggest defense contractor offered on Wednesday to fill in the requirement for air assets of the Philippine Air Force in the ongoing capability upgrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
American company Lockheed Martin offered its unrivaled fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets and Black Hawk helicopters from its subsidiary Sikorsky to fill the capability gap of the Air Force.
The defense manufacturer was among the exhibitors at the ongoing 3rd Asian Defense, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference (ADAS) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
The Department of National Defense is currently looking for sources of attack helicopters for the Air Force after President Duterte scuttled the contract with Bell following the Canadian government’s pronouncement that it needs to review the contract between the firm and the Philippine government.
Canada cited the Duterte administration’s human-rights record as the reason in reviewing the contract.
Duterte recently disclosed that top United States officials wrote him a letter, offering to supply the military’s needs for assets and equipment in its ongoing modernization program.
While mentioning the F-16, the Commander in Chief said what he wanted are attack helicopters and small planes. While the Air Force has already acquired a squadron of Korean-made FA-50—a modified and lesser version of the American F-16—the military wanted to beef up its inventory of modern fighter jets.
Randall Howard, business development head for the F-16 and the director for business development of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said the F-16 should transition Filipino fighter pilots into flying a more sophisticated plane.
Lockheed Martin will also beef up the much-needed air power of the Air Force in the league of Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Japan, which flies the plane in the region.
Howard said air forces in 25 countries around the world employ the “most combat-proven in history” F-16 and orders from countries—including Slovakia, which sealed the contract for the delivery of 14 fighter jets two months ago—keep coming.
The F-16 shares almost the same platform as the FA-50, except that it is more capable and advanced in almost all aspects compared to its Korean copy. Other than the difference in systems, avionics and capabilities, it carries some of the features of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet.
On the other hand, Jacob Sifers, regional manager for business development of Sikorsky, said the Black Hawk should meet the requirement for attack, medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance, and search and rescue of the military.
The Black Hawk is currently in operation in 31 countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes
The Philippines also have a Black Hawk, unfortunately, it is used as a Presidential VIP transport