NEW AIRCRAFT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. witnesses the acceptance, turnover and blessing of the C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in a ceremony at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga on Tuesday (March 7, 2023). In his speech, Marcos said the aircraft is expected to boost the country’s defense capabilities. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday led the acceptance and turnover of the last of three C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft units acquired by the Philippines from Spain, saying these planes are expected to boost the country’s defense capabilities.

This unit is one of the three brand-new C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft of which two units were delivered last year. They are expected to augment the four units previously acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in 2015 and 2019.

The PAF now has seven units in its inventory.

In his speech during the turnover ceremony at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Marcos congratulated the PAF for its successful acquisition of the newly delivered C-295 Medium Lift Aircraft.

“This attests to the progress of our nation in upgrading our defense capabilities,” Marcos said.

He also thanked the government of Spain for assisting the PAF in the acquisition, describing it as one of the “meaningful outcomes” of the longstanding relationship between the two countries.

Marcos said the additional C295 aircraft will allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to provide “more responsive support” to government agencies especially in emergency situations and on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

He also welcomed the demonstration of the flight capability of the FA-50PH fighter jet, saying that these jets will improve the Philippine maritime patrol capability, aid air force in monitoring the development within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone and provide close air support to combat troops.

“Our country’s archipelagic nature and geostrategic location is both a blessing and a challenge. As much as our maritime environment provides us with much needed resources, it also requires us to constantly adapt to become more mobile and agile,” he said.

While recognizing efforts to beef up defense capabilities, Marcos also cited the need to further improve capabilities “to effectively cover our territory.”

“Equally important is to ensure the airworthiness of air force assets and the corresponding training of crew and personnel to guarantee the safety of all. Hence it is this administration’s will to remain steadfast in pursuing our modernization efforts,” he said.

Marcos, likewise, called on the PAF and AFP to continue defending the nation and its people amid challenges such as various climate related hazards which can potentially paralyze government and business operations.

“As we accept and bless this new C295 medium airlift, may your passion to defend the country and to serve the Filipino people deepen as we strive to maintain the peace that we have fought so hard to achieve,” he said.

Marcos flew onboard PAF’s FA-50PH Fighter Jet to witness its capability in a flight demonstration, an activity conducted upon the invitation of PAF for the Commander-in-Chief to personally test the aircraft.

Lt. Col. Malbert Maquiling, who accompanied Marcos as his pilot in command, honored the President with a “Fighter's Toast” in celebration of a safe, successful, and triumphant flight, ensuing with a presentation of symbolic patches and certificate.

Manufactured by the Airbus Defence and Space, the C-295 twin-turboprop transport aircraft is the newest generation of tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment that can be utilized for various missions such as medical evacuation, paradrop/airdrop, civic and humanitarian airlift mission, among others.

According to the PAF, the aircraft will complement its capability, as well as of the AFP as a whole, in providing airlift support in times of disasters and calamities.

In its recent operations, the PAF has been utilizing C-295 aircraft extensively to transport relief goods and equipment, and evacuate affected communities following the consecutive typhoons and floodings.

The C-295 aircraft has a cruise speed of 480 kilometers per hour and can endure 11 hours of flight.

It has a maximum operating altitude of 30,000 feet with a maximum range of 5,400 km. (PNA)