The Philippines were authorized to buy American F-16 fighter jets and an array of weapons for them, the US State Department announced.

According to the agency, the government of Philippines has requested to buy 10 Lockheed Martin F-16C and 2 F-16D aircraft in Block 70/72 (“Viper”) configuration, along with engines, radars, avionics and other equipment for them. 

The request also included an assortment of weapons, from medium-range AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and unguided bombs to targeting pods and electronic warfare suites.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced that the State Department has cleared the sale on June 24, 2021.

According to the press release of the DoD, the purchase will enable “the Philippines to deploy fighter aircraft with precision munitions in support of counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, increasing effectiveness and minimizing collateral damage.”

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the release also states.

Philippine government is locked in a bitter war with Maoist rebels, which has been running since the 60s and is one of the longest still-ongoing conflicts in the world.

The country has also found itself clashing with Chinese interests over the South China Sea. Since March 2021 Philippine Air Force has been sending its FA-50 light fighter jets to monitor Chinese vessels that have been building military installations in what Philippines claims as its exclusive economic zone.

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The Philippine Air Force was sent to monitor 180 to 200 fishing vessels suspected of belonging to the Chinese maritime militia near Julian Felipe Reef.
 

The sale of F-16s, if concluded, would almost double the combat potential of the Philippine Air Force, whose main combat aircraft is the South Korean KAI T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer, employed as a fighter jet. The country also possesses several North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco and Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft