The Philippine Air Force’s (PAF’s) newly purchased Gulfstream G280 business jet worth P2 billion ($36 million) made its maiden flight to Davao City to deliver medical equipment.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, and PAF chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes led the turnover and blessing ceremony of the G280 command and control (C2) aircraft at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase, Mabalacat, Pampanga, on Monday.
“It (new jet) will join our other transport aircraft like the (Airbus) C-295, (PT Dirgantara Indonesia) NC-212i and (Lockheed) C-130,” PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Aristides Galang said in Filipino Tuesday.
He said the air force now has sufficient trained pilots and personnel to man the new aircraft.
The Gulfstream G280 arrived at the Clark Air Base in Angeles, Pampanga last Sept. 20, and was formally turned over to the PAF Monday.
After the ceremony, the aircraft transported Lorenzana, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, National Task Force (NTF) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., and other officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte, to check on the COVID-19 situation there and transport personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies.
According to Gapay, the C2 aircraft will be primarily used by the PAF to “transport senior leaders and commanders, especially in the event of a crisis.”
“Aside from C2 operations, the aircraft can also be used for airborne warning systems, medical evacuation, high-altitude atmospheric research, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions,” he added.
Paredes said the aircraft will allow top defense and military officials to conduct time-sensitive decisions while airborne “especially during operational exigencies and emergencies.”
The brand new aircraft was purchased under the revised AFP modernization program from Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, an American aircraft company, through the Foreign Military Sales Program of the United States government with the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG).
The acquisition was approved in November, 2018.
Gulfstream said the G280 has a maximum range of 3,600 nautical miles at its long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80 and a high speed cruise of Mach 0.84 which means that it can fly non-stop for eight hours.
The procurement of a luxurious business jet was criticized by cause-oriented groups in 2019 when the country was hounded by transport problems such as the recurring breakdowns of the Metro and Light Rail Transit (MRT, LRT) trains and the planned phaseout of old jeepneys. (With a report from PNA)