MANILA: The Philippines has signed contracts worth $527 million to buy 12 fighter jets from South Korea and four combat utility helicopters from Canada to boost the capability of its air force, one of the weakest in Southeast Asia.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista signed a contract with Korean Aerospace Industries on Friday for 12 FA-50 fighters worth 18.9 billion pesos ($420.4 million) and another contract with Canadian Commercial Corp. for four Bell 412 combat utility helicopters worth 4.8 billion pesos ($106.8 million).
Deliveries will start next year.
The fighter jets contract is the biggest deal so far signed under the military’s long-delayed modernization program.
The signings come amid tensions with China in the South China Sea.