₱2-B jet not a presidential plane, Lorenzana says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — The ₱2-billion jet recently bought by the government was never meant for the sole use of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Defense Department said Friday amid allegations the purchase was luxurious.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement said the Gulfstream G280 aircraft "was not intended to be a Presidential plane" but as a "command and control" plane of the Armed Forces and the Defense Department.

"Let me emphasize that we do not consider the G280 as a luxury aircraft, but a necessary component of the AFP modernization program for command and control of our Armed Forces to manage operations on air, land, and sea," Lorenzana said.

He said the aircraft is a necessity especially during crisis since it can be used to quickly transport wounded soldiers and critically ill civilians.

Lorenzana admitted the jet can also cater to government officials, including the President. "Will the President be using it? As the Commander-in-Chief all assets of the AFP are at his disposal when he needs them."

The Defense chief assured the public that the acquisition was "not a frivolous pursuit," but was a result of careful assessment of the needs of the Armed Forces.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier called it a "necessary purchase" following criticisms from militant groups.

American aircraft company Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation announced on October 2 that it has signed the contract with the Philippine Air Force through the US government. It said the G280 is slated for delivery in 2020.

“The G280’s unmatched performance combined with the backup of our world-renowned Customer Support makes it an agile and reliable platform for the Philippine Air Force,” Gulfstream President Mark Burns said in a statement.

He said the high-speed aircraft can fly eight hours nonstop, and can be used for the transport of head of states, airborne early warning, ground surveillance, maritime patrol, and aeromedical evacuation, among others.