The Philippines’ latest intentions of purchasing dedicated fighter jets is one of the country’s moves towards a “minimum credible defense”.

The country, locked in a month-long standoff with Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, has been looking to the US for second hand military aircrafts and ships.

President Aquino said that he intends to buy two squadrons but the second-hand F-16s can cost the Philippines more than $400 to $800 million and have high maintenance costs. He revealed an alternative, stopping short of mentioning the country who will manufacture the brand new jets.

Manila’s air force consists mainly of hand-me-downs, with the last of its fighter jet, a Korean War-vintage, retired in 2005. The Italian-made S211 trainer jets, US T-33 and P-51 Mustang are its remaining aircraft. The Philippines considers the US military an ally, which Secretary of State Clinton reiterated through a mutual defense treaty and promised to help in beefing up the Philippines’ navy. A US submarine recently docked in Subic Freeport.