Controversial ₱2-B jet turned over to Air Force

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — The government is now using its newly-acquired Gulfstream G280 aircraft which drew criticisms last year for its ₱2 billion price tag.

The jet was formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force in a ceremony at Clark Air Base, Pampanga province Monday morning.

From there, the aircraft had its inaugural flight to Davao City with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Franciso Duque III, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and COVID-19 response chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. on board. Other members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the policy-making body of the government's anti-pandemic efforts, were also on the plane to attend a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last night.

The Gulfstream G280 was also used to transport personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

In October last year, Lorenzana said the government did not consider the Gulfstream G280 a “luxury aircraft,” but a necessary part of the military's modernization program. He said that the aircraft was needed especially during a crisis since it could be used to quickly transport wounded soldiers and critically-ill civilians.

While it can also be used by government officials, including the President, it "was not intended to be a Presidential plane,” he said.

“The C2 aircraft will become part of a system designed for enhanced control of operations through continuous communications especially during operational exigencies and emergencies. It will allow for time-sensitive decisions to be made while airborne,” the PAF said in a statement on Monday.

The U.S. aircraft company Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation said the high-speed jet, which can fly eight hours nonstop, may be used for the transport of heads of state, ground surveillance, maritime patrol, and aeromedical evacuation, among others.