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U.S-made F-16 “Too Pricey”, Philippines Considers Sweden’s Gripen and Used Fighter Jets

Due to the perceived high cost of the latest F-16 fighter jet variants offered by the United States, which is beyond the "affordability" of the Philippines, the Southeast Asian nation is exploring alternative avenues to acquire fighter jets for its air force.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — In 2021, the United States approved the potential sale of 12 latest variants of F-16 fighter jets to the Philippines, however, the purchase has been delayed due to financial constraints faced by Manila, which deems the offered price by Washington as “too pricey”.

The potential sale comprises 10 F-16C Block 70/72 aircraft and two F-16D Block 70/72, with a total value of US$2.5 billion (RM11.25 billion).

Additionally, the U.S. sales package includes 12 Harpoon Block II air-launched cruise missiles, two training guided missiles, spare parts, and other equipment.

The F-16 aircraft will also be equipped with 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II guided missiles and 24 training guided missiles, developed by Raytheon Technologies.

“It is still too expensive, so we (the Philippines) have to find a way to finance the purchase in the long term,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez in a recent interview with Nikkei Asia.

Due to the perceived high cost of the latest F-16 fighter jet variants offered by the United States, which is beyond the “affordability” of the Philippines, the Southeast Asian nation is exploring alternative avenues to acquire fighter jets for its air force.

F-16

According to the Philippine ambassador, the country is considering the “possibility” of canceling the purchase deal for new F-16s from the United States and replacing them with used F-16s from a third country, such as Denmark.

“There are still unused second hand F-16s in Denmark,” he said, but the country needs to amend its laws to allow funds from the national budget to be used to buy used equipment from other countries.

However, the Philippines’ proposal to obtain used F-16 fighter jets from Denmark is likely to face obstacles because, in October of last year, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of Denmark-owned F-16s to Argentina.

 Washington’s approval is required for any F-16 sales to a third country.

The Philippine ambassador stated that if acquiring used F-16s is also hindered, the Southeast Asian nation hopes Washington can provide financial assistance to expedite the modernization of its military.

F-16
F-16

 

“In this critical situation, the sooner we get it (U.S. military aid), the better,” he said.

Apart from the F-16, the Philippines has also been offered JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets developed by the Swedish company Saab Group.

A few months ago, the Philippines and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would see the involvement of Swedish companies in the modernization efforts of the Philippine Armed Forces, particularly the Philippine Air Force.

The MoU between the two countries occurred as the Philippines was in the final stages of selecting a Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA), with the final two candidates being the JAS-39 Gripen and the F-16 from the United States.

Saab Group
Three Gripens belonging to Thailand.

 

The Gripen and F-16 superseded other candidates, including the Tejas from India and several other fighter jets such as the Rafale, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, MiG-35, Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker, Tejas, and JF-17 Thunder.

A month before the MoU between the Philippines and Sweden was signed, senior officials of the Philippine Air Force were reported to have visited Sweden, touring Saab Group facilities to closely inspect the Gripen aircraft and Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft. — DSA

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