Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Air Force: 4 new trainer planes from Italy to boost pilot training

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday expressed confidence that the scheduled arrival of four new trainer planes from Italy will boost the training of its pilots.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the four SF-260 trainer planes, which are expected to arrive by Thursday, are part of the 18 basic trainer aircraft purchased by the Philippine government for P621.67 million from Agusta, an Italian aircraft manufacturer.

"The arrival of the four SF-260 Marchetti planes will boost the training capability of the Air Force and ease the backlog of students required to undergo flying exercises," Okol said.

Currently, the Air Force lacks training aircraft, with at least 150 to 170 Air Force officers forced to wait in line for an actual training to fly an aircraft.

The SF-260 was originally manufactured by SAIA Marchetti, which was later purchased by Agusta and Alenia Aermacchi, both Italian firms.

The remaining 14 SF-260 planes will be delivered to the Philippine in the first quarter of 2011.

The 18-plane package deal, bought through the AFP modernization program, already includes spare parts, training and integrated logistical support, Okol said.

In 2009, the Philippines acquired from South Korea 15 T-41 aircraft, which along with SF-260 are used by trainees of the Philippine Air Force Flying School in their primary and basic flight training.

The propeller-driven SF-260 offers "flight characteristics and performance levels that allow effective pilot candidates screening early in the program and minimizes the costs incurred when students wash out on jets or complex turboprops," Okol explained.

The SF-260 is currently used various military institutions, civil professional flying schools, and private operators worldwide

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