AFP gets 114 APCs from US PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 December 2015 11:55

The Philippines military’s fighting capability has been  further boosted with the turnover by the United States of 114 armored cars ideal for combat operations against armed groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the communist New People’s Army.

In a statement Thursday, the US Embassy in Manila said the transfer of 114  M11342 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines is made through the Excess Defense Article (EDA) Program.

Seventy seven of the APCs arrived at the former US military base Subic Bay in Olongapo City Friday night

The embassy said the second shipment of 37 units is scheduled to arrive on December 14, and the rest will be delivered later this month.

The EDA Program grants excess U.S. military equipment from the U.S., without cost, to qualified allied countries. The transfer is a result of a formal request made by the AFP to assist in their defense modernization efforts.

The M113 armored car was developed to provide a survivable and reliable light tracked vehicle that allows for troops to be brought forward under armor for dismounted operations. A number of the vehicles are scheduled to participate in the annual AFP Day Parade on  December 21.

The armored cars’ arrival comes days after eight modern attack helicopters have been acquired by the Philipines military that may soon be utilized for airstrikes against the al-qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf in Jolo island.

Philippine Air Force chief-of-air staff Major Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar said  the newly-acquired AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” attack helicopters could be deployed for military operations against the militant group that is holding foreign and local hostages in Jolo island near the border with Malaysia.

Kintanar said the new attack helicopters could do the role of MG-520s, older attack aircraft in the Philippines’s list of air assets, that have been used in then campaigns against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), one time largest Muslim rebel group, and are still being utilized in airstrikes against the Abu Sayyaf and communist insurgents.

“If the operation will call for it, yes we will do the same role that the MG-520s are doing in Mindanao,” Kintanar told the state-run Philippine New Agency (PNA).

The AW-109 choppers are set to be deployed in Mindanao island by the second quarter of 2016.

This southeast  Asian country  currently confronted by a security threat over the maritime dispute in the South China Sea has also recently acquired two Korean made fighter jets to boost its air defense. Both planes landed last week at the Clark Air Base, a former major US base in the country’s northern province of Pampanga.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the deliveries of the two FA-50PHs marked the return of the PAF to the supersonic age.

“We’re glad we’re finally back to supersonic age,” the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) as saying.

The Philippine Air Force’s  supersonic capability was eliminated in 2005 when it was forced to retire its aging Northrop F-5 “Tiger” jet fighters due to lack of spare parts.

The planes will undergo acceptance flight and testing before being commissioned into the PAF service.

The F/A-50 (the other designation for the FA-50PH) has a top speed of Mach 1.5 (990 miles per hour) or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons, according to DND information sheet.

It will act as the country’s interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

Philippines is pushing its military modernization program as it confronts internal security problems from armed groups like the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Freedom Fighter (BIFF) and loose groups of “lost command” Muslim rebels in the south and communist insurgents scattered accross the archipelago, in addition to security threat from China amid tension resulting from the territorial dispute in the South China Sea