BREAKING: 468 Million US$ worth of AFP fighter jets, gone?

In one of his speeches, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced that the Mindanao, particularly Marawi Crisis is in a critical level.

The battle between the government troops and the members of the Maute group is ongoing and continues to worsen.

In line with this, it is only just for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to utilize its advanced munitions acquired through the AFP Modernization Program, especially during this time of crisis. 

One of which, are the 12 units of Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 jet aircrafts which cost US$ 468-Million. However, the previous attacks made by the Philippine Air Force against the abovementioned terrorist group, does not involve any unit of the said KAI FA-50 fighter jets. That fact triggered a netizen named Manny SD Lopez, a former consultant at Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to scrutinize and dig into the anomalous aircraft acquisition.

According to Lopez, it was the previous Aquino administration and some of his cabinet members who manned the said transaction. 

“The Benigno C. Aquino III administration as recommended by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and approved by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa acquired 12 units of Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 jet aircrafts…The overpriced, unproven and limited production jet aircrafts were advertised as Multirole Fighters (MRF) for air defense, ground attack and reconnaissance using air-to-air, air-to-ground missiles and precision guided bombs among other munitions,” said Lopez.

Lopez continued his description of the said KAI FA-50 fighter jets by stating that:

“The KAI FA-50 multirole fighter aircraft was advertised as capable of attacking ground targets with Maverick air-to-ground missiles and precision bombs, guided by advance Israeli-made Elta radar and fire control system," wrote Lopez.

He added, "The features, performance envelope and combat capabilities were cited to justify the high price tag of US$ 38.8-Million per unit contracted by the Department of National Defense for the Philippine Air Force."

However, after digging deeper into the said transaction, Lopez found out some monetary discrepancies in terms of the price. He revealed an 8.8 US$ overprice. In support of his claim, Lopez cited other acquisitions made by some countries which reinforce that the fighter jets are indeed overpriced.

“However, my research indicate an overprice of US$ 8.8-Million per unit, when compared to the acquisition price of the same KAI FA-50 model acquired by the Republic of South Korea Air Force at US$ 30-Million per unit, while Indonesian Air Force acquired the KAI TA-50 model optimized for attack role at US$ 25-Million per unit with provision for technology transfer,” speculated Lopez.

Moreover, Lopez disclosed that the said aircraft units face certain performance issues.

“After PRRD criticized the Korean-made aircrafts as useless and good only for fly-bys, sources from the PAF leaked serious technical issues of incompatibility between the radar-fire control system with the U.S. Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and perhaps with the ground attack missiles, rockets and bombs it was suppose to carry for the required combat missions,” Lopez claimed.

Lopez also cited the absence of the said advanced fighter jets during a series of Marawi encounters between the AFP and the Maute. Lopez even mentioned how National Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana acknowledged the AFP’s lack of appropriate and necessary munitions for battling against terrorists.

“After 10 days of intense fighting in Marawi, the PAF could have deployed these MRFs for precision ground attack role. So far we have witnessed only helicopters and propeller-driven SF260 light attack aircrafts doing ground attack, using unguided 70mm air-to-ground rockets and machine gun fire for strafing and conventionally dropped 250 kg. bombs. No precision TV or radar guided AGMs or JDAMs! Perhaps this is the reason why DND Sec. Delfin Lorenzana went public to reveal the shortcomings faced by our soldiers fighting on the ground and pilots providing air support.”

In the closing paragraph of Lopez’ speculative Facebook post, he furthered his speculation claiming that:

“A pro KAI FA-50 lobby group will surely crank up into action to defend / rationalize the flawed acquisition of these overpriced, unproven limited production jet trainers passed off as high performance multirole fighters.”

Lopez also emphasized the inefficient leadership of the previous DND, AFP, and PAF heads which, instead of promoting the security of the Philippines, cultured a lot of discrepant transactions including this controversial KAI FA-50 acquisition, thus endangering the lives of the Filipino soldiers and airmen deployed in Marawi, as well as compromising the safety of the Filipino people.

“The past DND-AFP-PAF leadership binded the national government in a lopsided, plunderous contract costing the Filipino taxpayers US$ 468-Million for under rated combat aircrafts. Worst, these past officials compromised the national security of the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino people. They endangering the lives of our soldiers and airmen, but more so the safety of the citizenry they are duty bound to protect. The amount involved makes the pork barrel fund anomalies look like petty cash. Is a public inquiry necessary in this regard?” Lopez concluded.


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