By Anthony Vargas
PAMPANGA, Philippines – A US$13.1 million project that will purchase 18 new Italian-made SF 260 trainer aircraft for military pilot training has been revived by the Department of National Defense (DND).
Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales announced on Friday the approval of an amended contract for the supply and delivery of the aircraft by Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and its local partner, the Aerotech Industries Philippines.
Aermacchi will supply parts of the SF 260 aircraft that are now being assembled by Aerotech Philippines. A local company will manufacture parts of the aircraft.
General Delfin Bangit, new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, and Lt. General Oscar Rabena, Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief, endorsed the amended contract.
Gonzales reasoned it was important to upgrade and modernize the nation’s armed forces as he visited the Aerotech Philippines’ aircraft parts manufacturing and assembly facility in Clarkfield Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
“Making our people proud of the armed forces and of our country is essential in mobilizing them for national transformation. We need to make the transformation from Third World to First World,” Gonzales said.
Defense officials said that project is expected to boost not only AFP modernization but also the country’s aviation industry.
Aernachhi will provide technology transfer, officials said, adding that the Italian company will transfer its aircraft assembly and some aspects of manufacturing to its local partner.
This means, succeeding orders that Aermacchi will receive will be provided by the Philippine facility, officials of Aerotech Philippines said.
The contract with the Italian company also involves an integrated logistics package such as pilot, technical and maintenance training and after-sales support including provision of initial equipment and spare parts.
Aerotech Philippines said the SF 260 trainer aircraft is in service with 27 different military customers, civil professional flying schools and private operations worldwide, with almost 1000 units in flight operations.