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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Should The Philippines Buy The FA 50 Jet Fighters?

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A few days ago, the Philippine Star reported that the Philippines will be signing an Php 18.9Billion contract with Korea Aerospace Industries for the acquisition of 12 FA 50 lead-in fighters. This deal will allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to get back to the jet age.
The news item stirred a discussion among my FB friends who don't seem to be happy with the acquisition. Legitimate reasons such as the cost, necessity, etc. were cited against the deal. For my part, I had my own opinion on the deal via a comment, long enough to be worthy of a blog post. I am sharing that FB comment below for you guys to read:

Thank you guys. Points well taken. However, I do believe we need to acquire capabilities and my reasons are:

1. We have (not just practically) literally no air defense at all. Zero. Whether we have a dispute with China or not is beside the point. We need to have even just a minimum yet credible air defense. Having no air defense is the same as surrendering control of our skies to someone else (foreign power or another group). We can't just let anybody to come and go in our air space (the same with our land and seas), right? Think of the security, economic and aviation safety implications of not having even the bare minimum defense. 

We don't ask security guards to secure our homes without any guns, right? Would we feel comfortable sleeping under an unsecured sky? 

This is not about China or anybody else. For me, the issue is first and foremost the duty of the State through its armed forces to secure its borders: land, sea and air. The armed forces cannot perform their mandate without the proper capabilities.

If the issue is timing, when do we do this then? Do we keep the habit of "Shutting the doors of the barn long after the horse has run off?" Why don't we consider this is acquisition as an investment with quantifiable and non-numerical benefits.

2. Cost. Now, this is something ALL of us should be conscious about. Defending and securing our skies in not cheap. When is securing our borders (skies, land and seas) cheap? Freedom, security and safety comes with a price. The question is: are we willing to pay this in terms of lives, lost territories (and all the resources, future benefits for our grand kids and theirs) or do we play our cards right and start investing in capabilities so that ordinary citizens or the country as a whole won't have to pay up? 

Is this acquisition costly for us? I don't know. That's what we citizens have to be vigilant about. Will there be corruption? Its up to us still. 

If corruption, shady deals and misuse of public funds are the reasons why we shouldn't be acquiring equipment to enhance our defense capabilities then we are burning the entire house to get rid of a nasty rat colony. Whatever internal problems we have inside our house, it should not be used as a reason to leave our gates and doors unlocked for anyone to enter-leave as they please. 

Solution: Let's be more conscious and cautious with regards to public spending (not just arms, but also all other expenditures). This is the reason why I posted this item so that we can discuss how the money was spent... or if the FA 50 is really worth the price? Are these planes suitable for our defense needs? I am not a defense expert but every citizen should know about how the government is spending public funds. But I will disagree with that point we don't need buy any air defense assets at all. We are just inviting more trouble...not now but in the medium and long term. 

I have more reasons to add but this is getting to be long comment. Again, I wish to emphasize that we can agree to disagree and that's a very good start. Discussions like these are healthy and in the end all of us, hopefully will benefit from it."

Do you think the Philippines should start investing in defense capabilities at this time? Post your views at the comment section.

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