MANILA

Gapay: AFP modernization a key to ending terrorism

THE continuous support of the government to the modernization of the military is the key to ending insurgency and terrorism in the country, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Gilbert Gapay.

"The AFP Modernization program provides us with the necessary tools in defeating internal and external threats. It particularly gives us the leverage in facing terrorist groups," he said in a statement.

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

Among the AFP's latest acquisitions are the six units of Super Tucano A 29B made by Brazil's Embraer SA for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Gapay said the fixed-wing light attack aircrafts 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," he said.

In May, the Philippine Navy got its first missile-frigate named BRP Jose Rizal.

Another missile-frigate, which will be named BRP Antonio Luna, is expected to arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021.

"The delivery of the second frigate was originally set this October but was delayed due to the prioritization of 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," said Gapay.

The Navy said the acquisition of the vessel provides a significant boost to their fulfillment of the thrust of having a modern and multi-mission capable platform competent enough to conduct anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and electronic warfare operations that the maritime nation can depend on.

It has a maximum designed speed of 25 knots, a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.

The Philippine Army (PA), meanwhile, recently received two R-44 Raven Light Training Helicopters from anonymous individuals.

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 military, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to finish terrorist groups by 2021, before the latter steps down from the office.

Aside from defeating the terrorists groups, Gapay said the newly procured military assets are also being used to boost the government's effort against the coronavirus disease 2019.

He said since the pandemic broke, military vehicles were deployed to distribute 2.4 million food packs nationwide and accommodate stranded passengers here and abroad.

He said 1,094 military personnel, 1,054 civilians and 230 foreigners, and 781.8 thousand kilograms of cargoes were transported through 741 flight missions.

Gapay said naval vessels were also 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," he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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