New AFP Chief admits there is a need to catch up with the latest technology

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AFP Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos, Jr.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — In hopes of being a credible line of defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos, Jr. admitted that the military still needs to catch-up with the latest technology.

“Magkakaroon tayo ng lahat ng...with the advanced technology, we are trying to catch up,” Santos told Politics as Usual on Tuesday.

[Translation: We will have all of the equipment with the advanced technology, we are trying to catch up.]

“We have to be a credible Armed Forces,” said Santos. “With all of this modernization program. Hopefully, we’ll attain that objective.”

The AFP Modernization Act or the Republic Act No. 7898 aims to modernize all the branches of the Armed Forces, namely: Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Army.

The revised modernization program is divided into three horizons. The first horizon was first implemented from 2013 to 2017, the second runs from 2018 until 2022, and the third horizon is from 2023 to 2028.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a budget of around P300 billion for the second phase of military modernization.

What to expect?

Santos shared that the military is expecting the arrival of two frigates this year.

“What to expect to arrive: this year we will have the two frigates,” he said.

On the other hand, the Philippine Air Force ordered 16 Black Hawk combat choppers, wherein five units are expected to arrive soon.

“We are ordering 16. But this year, we are expecting five units of the Black Hawk,” said Santos.

To recall, the Black Hawk choppers were the replacement for the cancelled helicopter deal with Canada in 2018.

Further, the AFP chief also said that procurement of tanks is also in the process.

“Yung light armor ang naka-program sa atin. We have programmed 30 units initially. But, still, yung mga requirements nailalatag natin for bidding,” said Santos.

[Translation: A light armor tank is programmed with us. We ... programmed 30 units initially. But, still, requirements are being laid down for the bidding.]

Another modernization project underway is the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance system or the C4ISTAR.

C4ISTAR is a telecommunication system that would help planes of the Air Force to connect with those in the ground.

“C4ISTAR is the command and control. We will control yung interoperability of all what we have. The airplane can communicate with the ground troops, magkakaroon ng common communication, pati computers, intelligence,” said Santos.

[Translation: C4ISTAR is the command and control. We will control the interoperability of all what we have. The airplane can communicate with the ground troops, we will have a common communication, as well as with computers, intelligence.]

The said telecommunications system is expected to be part of the third phase of the modernization program.

The AFP said that the modernization program is very important in protecting the country’s territory.

“Yung ginagawa ng kabila, they can just easily bully us kasi wala tayong panlaban,” said Santos.

[Translation: The other party could just easily bully us because we have nothing against them.]

He added that it would be easy for other countries to invade our territories at any moment if they knew of the Philippine military’s incapability.

“We have to be equipped,” he said.