The Philippine Air Force is likely to commence procurement of attack helicopters and close-air support (CAS) aircraft in 2017 for possible purchase the following year.
In addition, the Philippines is looking to procure additional KAI FA-50 aircraft from Korea as well as additional AW 109 attack helicopter from Agusta Westland.
“The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has identified several procurement priorities as it continues its medium-term modernisation programme, Flight Plan 2028. These priorities include securing orders of additional light combat aircraft and attack helicopters,” a senior PAF officer involved in the planning of Flight Plan 2028 was quoted as saying by IHS Janes during at the Asian Defence and Security 2016 (ADAS 2016) exhibition in Manila last week.
Near-term procurement priorities include close air-support (CAS) aircraft and additional transport aircraft, while a longer-term requirement is multirole combat aircraft.
CAS aircraft such as the Brazilian Embraer Super Tucano, US Beechcraft and IOMAX, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Airbus Defense and Space, and Israeli Elbit Systems had expressed interest had expressed interest to participate in the bidding for the aircraft acquisition in October last year after Philippines planned to acquire six CAS aircraft.
The PAF ordered 12 FA-50 light combat aircraft in March 2014, with deliveries starting in December 2015 and scheduled to conclude in late 2017. In order to meet a requirement specified in Flight Plan 2028 to "detect, intercept, and neutralise" any perceived threat in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
PAF would look to secure government approval for the additional FA-50s following the delivery of the initial 12 aircraft, he said.
In addition, the official said the PAF is seeking to procure 12 more AW109 light attack helicopters produced by Finmeccanica-Leonardo. The PAF has already acquired eight AW109s ordered in November 2013 and delivered from 2014.
The Philippines has severe budgetary issues despite an increase in military spending this year. The new administration of President Duterte is not keen on big budget defence purchases such as combat aircraft and instead is focussing on military assets that will help it to combat terrorists, drug dealers and insurgents. It is with this view it is moving away from a confrontation with China over the Spartly Island dispute.