Philippine Air Force chief Jose Reyes said on Thursday that the military may acquire new fighter jets in six years to defend the country, but not before the rebel militant groups were neutralized.
In a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Reyes said the Air Force will have to make do with S211 trainer jets which he admitted has "very limited fighter capability" to defend the country from external threats.
At present, there are at least 14 S211 jets in the inventory of the Air Force, but Air Force spokesman Restituto Padilla admitted that only about four or five of them are currently operational.
"As of now, our thrust now is to clear our internal security problems. Once this internal security (problem) is finished, then that's the time we will move on to the acquisition of these high value items," said Reyes.
"After 2011, we're planning for external defense," said Reyes, adding that by 2011, the F18s being used by the US Air Force at present will be "obsolete" already.
The Air Force decommissioned its last five F-5 fighter jets, which were acquired from the United States in 1965, primarily due to their oldness and rising cost of maintenance.
S211 jets were used by the Philippine Air Force in conducting reconnaissance patrol over the South China sea. Now the OV10 bomber planes took over the old responsibilities of the S211s.