Military confirms sighting of 2 fighter jets over Spratly’s

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed over the weekend the sighting of at least two fighter jets flying over the disputed Spratly’s chain of islands at the South China Sea early this month and denied any buzzing incident.

But unlike in previous reports where the two aircrafts were said to be Chinese MiG-29 fighter jets, the military this time said that the pilots failed to make proper identification of the two jet aircrafts.

The military said the two unidentified aircrafts, initially thought to be an airliner, were spotted by two airforce OV-10’s fighter bombers while on a routine maritime patrol mission in the Spratly’s.

“The pilots were not able to identify the aircrafts and their markings since they were at a very high altitude,” said AFP chief, General Eduardo Oban, Jr.

The AFP chief said the air force’s OV-10’s were flying an altitude of 5,500 feet while the two jet aircrafts were spotted flying at 18,000 to 20,000 feet, thus making it impossible for the pilots to identify them.

“There could not have been any provocation at the part of the jets since it maintained its course. Contrails come from water vapors forming at the wingtips of an aircraft normally at 24,000 feet or higher,” Oban said.

The jets were initially observed coming in from their left passing them from above still maintaining course and altitude proceeding to their destination which is towards the South West of the Western Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Oban said.

“Fighter jets normally go lower in a fighting wing position usually attacking the rear of another aircraft if it is hostile. In this case there was nothing of that sort that was observed. The jets were transiting towards an intended destination,” Oban said.

Regardless of the said incident, the AFP chief said that the country needs to upgrade is external defense capability by acquiring more modern military hardware and equipments that could identify any foreign aircrafts intruding into Philippine air space.

“Equipment acquisition is imperative at this point in time. It may cost a lot of money but the Philippines cannot afford to remain an idle spectator in a region that is increasingly gearing itself towards a modern and better defense capability,” Oban said. Anthony Vargas

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