Saturday, March 15, 2008

Philippine Airforce

Heavily dependent on the U.S. for it's air defense, modernization of the Philippine airforce has been on hold. Recently with the help of U.S. anti insurgent advisors, especially in Mindinao, this is slowly beginning to change. Technology and hardware is being updated.

By the time the United States Armed Forces left the Philippines in 1991, the Philippine Air Force was direly in need of modernization. By the 1990s, it was still using 30-year-old F-5A fighter jets. The first aircraft to be acquired during its five-year modernization plan were the Aermacchi S-211, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-520MG Defender.

The planned purchase of modern fighter aircraft, with the IAI Kfir, F-16 Fighting Falcon, JAS 39C/D Gripen and the F/A-18 Hornet being the most popular choices, has been put on hold as the PAF concentrates in bringing its current fleet of aircraft into current and flyable standards.

Current efforts are concentrated on the acquisition of aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, in particular, more helicopter gunships and transport aircraft. The PAF has put up a requirement for Night Capable Attack Helicopters (NCAH), and a replacement for the UH-1H, with 8 units planned initially. There is also a requirement for additional T-41 and SF-260 training aircraft.

At present the of the PAF inventory consists of:

17 -Aermacchi S-211 - for ground support and jet training
7- Aermacchi SF-260TP/-WP - for primary training and counter-insurgency (COIN)
14- North American OV-10A/-D Bronco - for light ground attack
15 -McDonnell Douglas MD-520MG Defender - attack helicopter
1- Sikorsky S-70A Blackhawk - multirole helicopter
4- Sikorsky S-76 Spirit - multirole helicopters
2 -AĆ©rospatiale Puma - multirole helicopters
3- Lockheed Martin C-130B/H Hercules - heavy transport aircraft
2 -Fokker F27 Friendship - mainly as support to the Lockheed C-130 Hercules
2- GAF Nomad - light transport aircraft
18- Britten-Norman Islander - light transport aircraft
55 -Bell UH-1H Iroquois - for transport duties
1 -Fokker F28 Fellowship - mainly for domestic trips of the president of the Philippines
14- Cessna T-41 Mescalero - used for primary training
8 -Bell 412 - for VIP transport

Wherever possible the PAF has relied on local skills for modification projects as in the recent Huey II program.

The Philippine Air Force retired its fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter with a ceremony on October 1, 2005. While retired, they are still being maintained and are serviceable in case of future need. The F-5s were used by the PAF's "Blue Diamonds" aerobatics team, and have appeared in several films and television programs shot in the Philippines.

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