AFP Chief: Government’s support to modernization key in defeating terrorist groups

by Warren Ryan Revoltar

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Gilbert I. Gapay said that the government’s support to the AFP Modernization Program is vital in military operations securing sovereignty and defeating terrorist groups.

General Gapay said that the AFP is grateful for the unprecedented support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to the AFP Modernization as the military undergoes implementation of the program’s Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 projects.

Recent acquisitions include six (6) units of Super Tucano A-29B made by Brazil’s Embraer SA, which were obtained by the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The fixed-wing light attack aircraft are now being utilized by the 15th Strike Wing to support and eventually fully replace the remaining OV-10 Bronco and SF-260 attack planes of PAF.

At least 14 air forces around the globe are using the said asset which has electro-optical infrared and laser-firing technology beneficial in counterinsurgency efforts of the military. The Super Tucanos will also complement the FA-50 which was used during the Marawi siege.

The Philippine Navy (PN) meanwhile announced on October 8 that the BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) positively passed its first sea trials conducted in South Korean waters on September 24-29.

BRP Antonio Luna is the Philippine Navy’s second missile-frigate after the BRP Jose Fizal (FF-150).

The delivery of the second frigate was originally set this October but was delayed due to the prioritization of the COVID-19 response. It is now expected to arrive in January or February of 2021 to boost anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW) operations.

Moreover, the Philippine Army (PA) recently received two (2) R-44 Raven Light Training Helicopters from anonymous individuals. The Commanding General of the Philippine Army Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana led the commissioning of the two new assets at the Aviation Regiment in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on October 6.

The light choppers will be used for aviation regiment training as the army looks forward to acquiring additional aircraft in the coming years. Under the AFP Modernization Program, the army has light tanks and self-propelled artillery in the pipeline.

“The AFP Modernization program provides us with the necessary tools in defeating internal and external threats. It particularly gives as the leverage in facing terrorist groups,” General Gapay stated.

“We cannot stress the importance of being well-equipped as we face all these adversaries in our territorial defense, counterinsurgency efforts, including the humanitarian response. Enhancing our capabilities in terms of equipment and assets gives us the motivation and preparedness to overcome these challenges,” General Gapay added.

Apart from defeating terrorist groups, military assets were also utilized in COVID-19 efforts. Military vehicles were deployed to distribute 2.4 million food packs nationwide and accommodate passengers. Moreover, 1,094 military personnel, 1,054 civilians, and 230 foreigners, and 781.8 thousand kilograms of cargoes were transported through 741 flight missions. Meanwhile, 15 naval vessels were used to conduct sealift operations and transport military personnel, civilians, and around 433 thousand kilograms of cargoes.

“Having the government’s support in the AFP Modernization program is the primary key that we need to fulfill our mandate of protecting the people, upholding our sovereignty and preserving territorial integrity,” General Gapay concluded. — Press release courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

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