Saturday, 20 March 2010

RP to buy 18 SF trainer jets

MANILA (PNA) - Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales pushes for the revival of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' US$ 13.1-million project that calls for the purchase of 18 new SF 260 trainer aircraft for the Philippine Air Force military pilot training.

Gonzales said he approved an amended contract for the supply and delivery of the aircraft by Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and its local partner, the Aerotech Industries Philippines, which is based in Clarkfield, Pampanga.

The amended contract was earlier endorsed by new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit and by PAF Commanding General Oscar Rabena.

Gonzales made the announcement in his visit to the Aerotech Philippines’ aircraft parts manufacturing and assembly facility in Clarfield Freeport Zone to check on the implementation of the project under the AFP modernization program.

SF 260 aircraft parts supplied by Aermacchi will be assembled by Aerotech Philippines in Clarfield. Some parts of the aircraft will also be manufactured by the local company.

The project is expected to boost not only the AFP modernization program but also the country’s aviation industry because of its technology transfer aspect.

Aermacchi is transferring its aircraft assembly and some parts manufacturing to its local partner. This means that succeeding orders that the Italian company will henceforth receive will be coming from the Philippine facility, according to Aerotech Philippines.

The contract with the Italian company also involves integrated logistics package such as pilot, technical and maintenance training and after-sales support, including provision of initial equipment and spare parts.

The SF 260 trainer aircraft is in service with 27 different military customers, civil professional flying schools and private operations worldwide with almost 1,000 units in flight operations, said Aerotech Philippines.

Aside from the PAF, Aermacchi’s other latest customer is the Italian Airforce which acquired 30 SF 260 jets to upgrade its own fleet.

In his message after the project visit, Gonzales underscored the importance of upgrading and modernizing the country’s armed forces.

He said it was not only about building the country’s defense capability, but also about “triggering national pride by making the people proud of their armed forces, which are the ultimate symbol of their love for their country.”

“Making our people proud of the armed forces and of our country is essential in mobilizing them for national transformation. We need to make the transformation from Third World to First World,” Gonzales said.

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