MANILA, Nov 8 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday expressed optimism that the newly acquired ground-based air defense system (GBADS) and a C-295 medium lift aircraft will help the Philippine Air Force (PAF) boost its capabilities in protecting Philippine territories.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (MNS photo)

During the formal acceptance, turnover, and blessing ceremony at the Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, Marcos said the acquisition of the GBADS and the C-295 aircraft will make a “very big difference” in promoting the country’s security from “aerial threats.”

“This is a day that is a momentous event for all of us, especially of course the Philippine Air Force, as our reason for gathering is a significant stride to our ability to shield our territories from aerial threats of different kinds, whether from inside or outside the country,” Marcos said in a keynote speech.

“As we accept and bless the new Ground Based Air Defense Systems and the C-295 Aircraft, I call upon our Philippine Air Force personnel to continue performing their duties. May you remain as the bastions of freedom that our ancestors have fought for and of the peace that we unceasingly have worked hard for generations to gain,” he added.

Marcos also thanked Israel and Spain for helping his administration bolster the Philippine troops’ defense capabilities to protect the country’s sovereignty.

“We must of course extend our deepest gratitude to Israel and to Spain for helping us bolster our defense systems to safeguard our sovereignty. I believe that this is a clear testament of our strong defense relations — one that we can develop in — as their Excellencies mentioned, in other areas besides defense,” he said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the formal acceptance, turnover, and blessing ceremony of the newly acquired ground-based air defense system (GBADS) and a C-295 medium lift aircraft at the Philippine Air Force’s headquarters at Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga. (MNS photo)

Marcos said it is vital to modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to make it “ready for all eventualities.”

“It is for this reason, that we strengthen our country’s capabilities in territorial defense, counter-terrorism, and internal security. In keeping our defense systems updated with the latest technology, we fortify our capabilities to provide humanitarian assistance to respond immediately in times of calamities and disasters,” he said.

“With terrorism and external security threats brought by geopolitical tensions looming around us, around the Asia Pacific region, and around the world, it is imperative that we continue to equip and empower ourselves in whatever capacity we are able,” Marcos added.

The GBADS, consists of the Surface-to-Air Python and Derby (SPYDER) air defense missile system developed by the Israeli defense technology firm, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries.

The new air defense system will be used to enhance the country’s air defense posture toward a credible and agile Air Force that is responsive to national security and development.

The GBADS, specifically called SPYDER Air Defense System (SPADS), is a mobile air and missile defense system designed to protect critical installations, land-based fixed assets, mobile platforms and friendly forces from aerial threats such as combat aircraft, attack helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, incoming missiles, guided munition, and rockets.

The system may also be used to neutralize surveillance threats.

On the other hand, the C-295 aircraft is capable of performing a variety of missions such as troop and cargo transports, surveillance and medical evacuation, among others.

The aircraft accepted by the PAF is part of three of its kind acquired from Spain’s Airbus Defense and Space under the Medium Lift Acquisition Project.

The first aircraft arrived in the country in March this year, while the third one is having its flight test in Spain.

The new planes will augment the four C-295 aircraft previously acquired by the PAF in 2015 and 2019.

In July, Marcos vowed to make the PAF “stronger, bigger, and effective” under his leadership. (MNS)