FA-50s will make PHL air defense ‘effective’
MANILA (Mabuhay) – The first of the country’s South Korean fighter jets won’t arrive until 2015 year but the Philippine Air Force has slowly built up its capability over the past few years after decades of neglect, President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the 67th anniversary of the PAF in Clark Field, Aquino said the military already has two additional C-130 planes, 18 basic trainer aircraft, eight Sokol combat utility choppers, 20 upgraded MD-520 MG helicopters, and four of the 21 recently purchased Huey helicopters.
The modest build-up happened amid an ongoing dispute with China over territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino said he expected the remaining 17 Huey helicopters to be delivered by the end of the year and two of the 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers to arrive from South Korea next year.
“Kaya naman sa paglapag ng sarili nating FA-50 sa ating bakuran, muli nating magagawang ipagtanggol ang ating teritoryo sa mas epektibong paraan,” Aquino said.
Aquino said the government was moving to acquire eight combat utility helicopters, two long-range patrol aircraft, six close-air support aircraft, radar systems, and other upgrades for the Air Force.
The President said his administration has been seeking such upgrades since he assumed office in 2010.
“Sa apat na taong nakalipas, sinagad natin ang pagkakataon para lalong isulong ang modernisasyon sa inyong hanay. Para po sa Air Force, kabilang sa ating mga inisyatiba ang paglinang sa kasanayan ng mga piloto, pagpapalawak ng ating airlift capability, at pagdaragdag ng mga fixed-wing at rotary assets,” Aquino said.
He said this is a big difference from his predecessors, who supposedly did not give the Air Force the support it needed.
“Nakakalungkot nga pong isipin ang estado ng Air Force na ating dinatnan: Ang dating tinitingala bilang isa sa pinakamalakas na hukbong himpapawid sa Asya, tila hindi na naka-take-off dahil sa maraming dekada ng katiwalian, panlalamang, at kakulangan ng pansin. Tila ba sinalamin ng kalagayan ng Air Force ang malubhang estado ng ating lipunan dahil sa baluktot na pamamahala,” Aquino said.
“Malinaw po, sa tuwid na daan, ang hangad natin: Itama ang maling pamamalakad upang muli nating maabot ang matatayog na tagumpay na tatak ng ating Hukbong Himpapawid,” he added.
Before his speech, the President also witnessed the flyby of the Air Force’s assets.
These include: 3 S-211 jets, 3 C-130 Hercules, 1 F-28, 2 F-27 Fokker, 3 N-22 Nomad, 2 OV-10 Bronco bombers, 2 SF-260TP warrior, 16 SF-260FH/M trainer, 9 T-41D trainer, LC-210 weather aircraft, 4 MG-520 gunship helicopter, 4 UH-1H Huey, 1 Bell 205, Huey II, 6 Sokol rescue helicopters, and 3 S-76A air ambulance.
Aquino also led the recognition of the following PAF units and personnel:
Brigadier General Benito N Ebuen Air Base (Mactan Air Base) for Model Base of the Year
3rd Air Division for Division Category of the Year;
Air Logistics Command for Command of the Year;
205th Tactical Helicopter Wing for Tactical Wing of the Year
520th Air Base Wing for Support Wing of the Year;
TOG 10, 3rd Air Division for Tactical Operations Group of the Year
Headquarters Service Support Group, HPAF for Support Group of the Year
Maj. Jonathan De Leon O-13360 PAF for Officer of the Year
SSg. Winthor Caingles 842587 PAF for NCO of the Year
A1C Jayson DS Galvez 882869 PAF for Airman of the Year
Eusebio Ramos Jr CE (410th MW) for Model Supervisor of the Year
Elton Monet B Merelos CE (205th THW) for Model Employee of the Year
1st Air Force Wing Reserve, AFRC for Ready Reserve Wing of the Year
220th Airlift Wing for CG’s PAF Award for Flight Safety of the Year. (MNS)