US gov't offers anew F-16 to PH

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

September 28 2018, 1:42 pm

MANILA -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday night the United States government has again offered its F-16 fighter jets to the Philippines.

Lorenzana visited the Pentagon last week.

"They offered us some equipment that we might want to buy like the F-16s and the attack helicopters," Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of China's 69th founding anniversary reception in Makati.

He noted that the government has plans to acquire a multirole fighter plane but is still considering Washington's offer, given the equipment it is offering is expensive and costly to maintain.

"Not immediately but in the future we need that because all others here have these fighter planes. It's a multirole fighter but we need more the helicopters than the fighter planes," the defense chief said.

"They offered it to us and we’re thinking about it. We told them we will consider, we will think more because this is very expensive. Expensive to buy, expensive to maintain," he added.

Lorenzana revealed that Washington also raised its concerns over Manila's plan to acquire military equipment from Moscow.

"They said that it might not be good for the interoperability of our equipment when we go on exercise. So they raised the problem there, plus there is a sanction," he said, admitting the sanction may have a general effect to some extent.

"If you buy from them, it is the company of Russia that is sanctioned, not us. So the bank will not pay them," the official pointed out, saying the government "will look into" the matter carefully.

"We will decide according to our interest," he said when asked what was his reply when the subject of acquiring from Russia came up.

Lorenzana was in the US on Sept. 19 to meet with his counterpart, Secretary James Mattis. During a bilateral meeting, he reaffirmed that the Philippines-US alliance remains robust.

The Filipino official also met with State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, whom he asked for "help" to push for some of the country's procurement in the US.

"Practically, I mentioned the same thing to Secretary Mattis and to other people I talked to," he said.

Lorenzana said Manila is procuring 74,000 Glock pistols from Washington, which is now being certified by the US Congress.

"Every defense article that they sell outside must be certified by the US Congress. Those are what we've talked about, plus we also talked about exercises here that are going (on) every year, plus the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement)," he added. (PNA)