Safeguarding the Philippine airspace and territorial waters is difficult as most of the country’s military aircraft are not in good shape. This was according to the Philippine air force when asked about its capacity to protect our territories against invaders.
Miguel Ernesto Okol, Air force spokesman, said the military fleet is in dire need of upgrading its combat ammunition, stressing the 2010 audit showing that only 91 of the 393 aircraft were “fully operational.”
Okol added the air force’s last fighter planes were deactivated in 2005, citing the five 40-year-old F5 jets bought from the United States in 1965.
He noted the air force only has one C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, shared among the 17,000-member within the agency. By end of this year or in 2012, two more aircraft will be acquired.
Okol claimed the air force prides itself of using the old, US-designed OV-10 planes to monitor the country’s wide territorial waters, including the battled South China Sea as being claimed by other neighboring countries.
According to the Commission on Audit, with our dilapidated air assets, the Philippine Air Force is at the outset with deteriorating capacity to be operationally responsive to national security. The air force spokesman noted this report drives the necessity for the agency’s capability upgrade.
The Philippines has recently purchased one Hamilton class cutter, an inactive US coast guard vessel, to strengthen its monitoring system in South China Sea where China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam are also claiming this territory.
Reports said the air force bought navy patrol vessel, six helicopters, and other equipment worth Php 4.95 billion (USD 118 million) to protect the South China Sea territories. The disputed South China Sea is believed to store huge amounts oil and gas deposits.
Tensions begin to rise this year as China is showing an aggressive move in expanding its military presence in the area. President Benigno Aquino has recently met Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao to talk about the issue peacefully. But the Palace said it will take its active stance to calm down the Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.