Philippines and Sweden sign pact on fighter purchases

MANILA: The Philippines and Sweden have signed a key agreement to support Manila’s planned acquisition of multi-role fighter (MRF) aircraft for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Titled “Implementing Arrangement Concerning the Procurement of Defense Materiel and Equipment,” the deal provides the government framework for the Philippines to purchase Swedish-made defence equipment.

The two countries signed the accord on May 17, the Embassy of Sweden in Manila said on its official Facebook page.

An accompanying photo showed Joakim Wallin, Swedish defence materiel head of exports and Joselito Ramos, Philippines’ assistant secretary for logistics, acquisitions and self-reliant defense posture of the Department of National Defence, leading the signing.

“The logistics cooperation is part of the commitment of the two countries under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning cooperation in the acquisition of defense materiel signed by the two countries on 3 June 2023, ratified on the same day by Sweden and by the Philippines on Sept 4, 2023,” the embassy said, referring to the MoU signed on the sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last year.

According to a separate statement from the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration, the Philippines has expressed “great interest in Swedish systems” including fighter aircraft, command systems and airborne early-warning aircraft.

“We are now taking a concrete and important step forward in the cooperation with the Philippines. The door is now open for Swedish defense companies to participate in procurements for the Philippine defense,” Wallin said.

Aghon heading to Sariaya, Quezon; signal # 2 up in 4 Luzon provincesAghon heading to Sariaya, Quezon; signal # 2 up in 4 Luzon provinces

The signing came ahead of Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson’s visit to the country next week as part of a weeklong three-country swing in the Asia-Pacific.

According to Sweden’s Ministry of Defence, the Philippines will be Jonson’s final stop of the trip that will start on June 5, following his visits to Singapore and Australia. He will meet with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr and participate in the Swedish Embassy’s National Day celebrations.

Stockholm has long been offering to supply Swedish-made Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets to the PAF. It is one of the two jet fighters identified by the PAF for its MRF acquisition project, besides Lockheed Martin’s F-16 of the United States.

Military sources said the planned acquisition of the MRF aircraft under the “Re-Horizon 3” would be “multi-platform” and would consist of a “mixed fleet.”

The US$35 million or around P2-trillion worth “Re-Horizon 3” is the final stage of the three-phase Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Programme, a military capability upgrade plan that started in 2013.

Last year, PAF chief Lt. Gen. Stephen Parreño led a small delegation to Sweden, where they engaged with the Swedish Air Force and toured the Saab facility to check the JAS-39 and Saab 340 airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The continuing effort to build up the Philippine military’s capability comes amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea.

The PAF has long sought to acquire proper fighter jets for deterrence. It is currently using a dozen of South Korean-built light combat aircraft after it retired its remaining fighters in 2005. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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