MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president says his country’s ill-equipped military will get its first fighter jets in nearly a decade next year to help defend the country’s territory.

President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday that 2 of 12 new FA-50 multi-purpose fighters would be delivered by its South Korean manufacturer next year and the rest were expected to follow in the next three years. The Philippines has scrambled to modernize its military amid increasingly tense territorial disputes with Beijing.

Aquino says the Philippines has had no fighter jets for territorial defense since a fleet of F-5 jets was decommissioned in 2005.

The Philippine military signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. in March to buy 12 FA-50s for 18.9 billion pesos ($420 million), the biggest deal under a military modernization program.

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