MANILA – The fleet review and wing flyby held off Morong, Bataan on Wednesday highlighted the development of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) into a respectable military force.
“The fleet review and wing flyby showcases the AFP’s development into world-class armed forces and a regional power through the modest but well-planned AFP modernization program,” AFP chief-of-staff General Gilbert Gapay said.
The event is one of the highlights of the AFP’s 85th founding anniversary which is on December 21. Around 63 air and naval assets took part in the said activities. Among those who participated were the newly-commissioned missile frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), and strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), which led the Philippine Navy (PN) contingent while three Mach 1.5 capable FA-50PH light-lift jet trainers and two S-70i “Black Hawk” combat utility helicopters spearheaded those of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Other naval assets present include the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), BRP Batak (LCC-299), BRP Abraham Campo (PC-296), and BRP Ang Pangulo (AT-25).
Meanwhile, 36 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft also joined the FA-50PH and the S-71is, including the two AugustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine and three AW-109 “Power” combat utility helicopters.
Onboard BRP Batak, a Navy landing craft, is the Philippine Army’s Simba armored personnel carrier and the Philippine Marine Corps’ V-150.
“We are truly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, for the unprecedented support to our modernization,” Gapay said.
A short ceremony was held on-site and was headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was aboard BRP Tarlac (LD-601) that served as the viewing deck for defense officials and senior military officers attending the activity.
“This showcase of our reliable and modern assets is our gift to the Filipino people. This is where your taxes go. The AFP as protector of the people and the state shall continue its judicious use of its resources and protect the trust and support the people have vested on us,” Gapay said.
In an interview with reporters, Lorenzana said the fleet review and wing flyby shows to the Filipinos that the AFP is starting to upgrade itself albeit modestly.
“I feel proud (that) this happened during my term as the Secretary of Defense but more than anything else, we should thank the President for his concern, his push to buy more equipment,” he said. (PNA)