US approves possible F-16 sale to Philippines

The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of F-16C/D Block 70/72 aircraft as well as range of anti-air and anti-surface missiles to the Philippines for a combined value of US$2.49bn.

In a series of statements announcing the approval on June 24, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that the possible sale included ten F-16C Block 70/72 aircraft; two F-16D Block 70/72 aircraft; 12 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air launched missiles; two ATM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II Exercise missiles; 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II tactical missiles; and 24 AIM-9X Block II Captive Air Training Missiles.

F-16 Block 70/72
The F-16C/D Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon is the latest variant of the design and is being offered to a number of export markets. Lockheed Martin

The possible FMS is linked to the Philippine’s planned Multirole Fighter Programme, with Manila also considering Saab’s Gripen C/D fighter.

Other equipment listed in the FMS included 15 F100-PW-229EEP or F110-GE-129D engines; 15 AN/APG-83 Advanced Electronically Scanned Array Scalable Agile Beam Radars; 24 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles AIM-120C-7/C-8 or equivalent; six Mk-82 500lb bombs; six Mk-82 500lb Inert training bombs, among other systems.

The principal contractor for the F-16C/D Block 70/72 along with the associated equipment will be Lockheed-Martin, with the potential deal worth US$2.43bn. Elsewhere, Boeing is prime contractor for the US$120m AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II sale, while Raytheon Missile Systems has been selected as prime contractor for the provision of AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II missiles, valued at US$42.4m.

The DSCA said that the proposed sales will improve the Philippines’ capability to meet current and future threats, including the ability to deploy fighter aircraft with precision munitions in support of counter-terror operations in the southern Philippines, improved air-to-air defence capability, as well as the ability to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults.

Further, it stated that the Philippines “is committed to modernising its military forces” and would have “no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces.”