|Posted by Manila Mail under Editorial|
The Philippines’ request for a dozen F-16 fighter jets comes up for approval on Capitol Hill. The Philippines undoubtedly needs new combat aircrafts and more naval vessels to protect its borders and air space..
It’s an auspicious time for the Philippines to upgrade its long-moribund external defense capabilities, finding common cause with the United States anxious that China does not choke vital sealanes in the South China Sea.
The F-16 deal, if it pushes through under the Foreign Military Fund (FMF) program, will be a quantum leap for the Philippine Air Force. But at about $20 million (about P860 million) apiece, excluding accessories, some will ask whether the Philippines can afford them? Current total military aid to the Philippines will only be enough to buy one F-16, far short of the dozen the Philippines says it needs.
Affordability will be a critical issue. Will the Aquino government use its little resources to alleviate poverty or to beef up its armed forces? Or should the United States help the Philippines obtain these resources considering that both have mutual objectives in the South China Sea?