|Philippine Air Force
Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas
Philippine Air Force Emblem
|Founded||July 1, 1947 (as an independent service)|
|Country||Republic of the Philippines|
|Part of||Armed Forces of the Philippines|
|Headquarters||Villamor Air Base, Pasay City|
|Motto||The "First Force"|
|March||Air Force Hymn|
|Engagements||World War II
|Commander of the Philippine Air Force||Lt. Gen. Oscar H. Rabena|
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is the air force of the Republic of the Philippines, and one of the three main services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas. In January 9, 2009, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Maj. Gen. Oscar Rabena as the 31st commanding general replacing Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog. The change of command ceremony was held on January 11, 2009.
The Philippine Air Force became a separate military service on July 1, 1947, when President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 94. This order created the Philippine Naval Patrol and the Air Force as equal branches of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Constabulary. The Air Force was preceded by the:
Although the Philippines did not have its own air corps during World War I, Filipino volunteers from the Philippine National Guard were accepted for flight training at Fort Mills on Corregidor, which was then home to the 1st Company, 2nd Squadron of the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. By February 1918 these volunteers finished their ground schooling and were ready for flight training in the United States. On March 15 Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison's request for flight training for these volunteers would be denied as there were no more planes available.
These volunteers were then assigned to Fort Stotsenburg as part of the Artillery Corps of the Philippine National Guard. After the War, the National Guard was disbanded. Surplus material from the war was sold to the Philippine Militia Commission (PMC). Now equipped with aircraft, the PMC commissioned the Curtiss School of Aviation to provide flight training to 33 students at Camp Claudio in Parañaque, ten Philippine Constabulary officers and 23 recruits from the National Guard. On April 26, 1920 Lieutenant Leoncio Malinao became the first locally-trained Filipino military pilot to go on a solo flight.
On July 7, 1920 the Council of State established the Philippine Air Service, which was tasked to provide air mail and passenger flights between Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, and Zamboanga. In 1921, the Service was forced to shut down due to lack of funds.
On January 2, 1935 Brigadier General Basilio J. Valdes formally organized the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps, which was tasked to provide reconnaissance support to the Philippine Constabulary. On December 23 the National Defense Act of 1935 provided for the creation of the Philippine Army, which was to be composed of the Philippine Constabulary; the Constabulary Air Corps which became the Philippine Army Air Corps.
Up until the beginning of the Pacific War, the Army Air Corps focused on training pilots and on acquiring aircraft and facilities. Air Corps instructors were tasked to train both Filipino and American pilots. A prominent student was Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, who took flying lessons, while serving a tour of duty as part of General Douglas MacArthur's staff.
Shortly before the Pacific War began the Army Air Corps was absorbed by the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). At that time, the Air Corps had 142 pilots, 1,700 enlisted men, and four airfields: Zablan Field (east portion of Camp Murphy which is now known as Camp Aguinaldo), Maniquis Field in Nueva Ecija, Batangas Field, and Lahug Field in Cebu.
On December 8, 1941 the Japanese attacked Clark Airfield. Two squadrons of Boeing B-17s and a squadron of Curtiss P-40 fighters and other assorted aircraft were destroyed. By December 9 the Army Air Corps's 6th Pursuit Squadron at Batangas Field under Captain Jesus Villamor was the only intact aviation unit in the USAFFE.
The 6th Pursuit Squadron (later on it became 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron) then proceeded to engage the Japanese in dogfights over Manila and Batangas. The squadron possibly shot down two enemy fighters and a bomber, but these kills are unconfirmed. First Lieutenant Cesar Basa, after whom Basa Air Base in Pampanga is named, was the only one in the squadron not to survive the battle.
Villamor went on to gather intelligence for the Allied forces. He would later receive the Distinguished Service Cross; his men would receive the Silver Star with an oak leaf cluster. After the war, the Philippine government honored Villamor with the Medal of Valor as well as his squadron, with the Gold Cross with Bronze Anahaw Leaf.
After General MacArthur landed in Leyte, the remaining Army Air Corps pilots were sent to Leyte and subsequently to the United States for refresher flight training. Undergraduate cadets of the Flying School were also sent to the United States. When they returned to the Philippines, the Air Corps was reorganized by Lieutenant Colonel John Ryan of the U.S. Army Air Corps, who was also acting chief of the Philippine Army Air Corps until Lt. Col. Edwin Andrews arrived in the Philippines.
In September 1945 the Air Corps regained flying status when the 1st Troop Carrier Squadron at the Lipa Army Air Base in Batangas was activated with two Douglas C-47s. By January 1946 the squadron had 22 such aircraft.
After Philippine independence was granted on July 4, 1946 the Hukbalahap rebellion would become the predominant focus of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. To quell the insurgency, the Air Force primarily employed the North American P-51D Mustang.
At the height of the Cold War, the Philippine Air Force would become one of the best-equipped air forces in Asia, and would remain such for over three decades. At one point, the Air Force had more P-51 Mustangs than it had pilots.
Jet aircraft were introduced to the inventory in 1954 when Colonel Godofredo Juliano, Majors Pestaña and Rancudo, and Captain Jose Gil flew an initial batch of T-33 jet trainer aircraft from Japan. These aircraft landed at Clark Air Base as the PAF's Basa Air Base was not yet able to handle jet aircraft.
In 1953 1Lt. Jose Gonzalez and other pilots from the 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 5th Fighter Wing at Basa Air Base formed the Blue Diamonds, a group of pilots which excelled in precision aerobatic flying. The Blue Diamonds first used the P-51s, then the F-86s, and finally, the F-5s. It was considered the Philippine counterpart to the USAF Thunderbirds.
By the 1960s the Philippine Air Force was totally dependent on the United States for equipment and funding, that the Philippine Air Force could be candidly referred to as the "United States Air Force run by Filipinos." An extensive radar network had been activated across the country, and the first batch of F-5 Freedom Fighters armed with AIM-9B "Sidewinder" missiles had arrived.
In 1962 United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld asked the Philippine Government to send a tactical air squadron to neutralize secessionists in the Congo. In 1963 Filipino, Swedish, and Iranian fighter units secured the airspace over the Congo. This earned the Limbas Squadron the United Nations Service Medal.
In the same year the PAF sent a mercy mission to Bali, Indonesia after Mount Agung erupted. Air Force paramedics, including a team of doctors and nurses from the Department of Health, treated and vaccinated thousands of evacuees in a field hospital. Seven Douglas C-47s ferried the team along with medical supplies and relief goods.
In the 1970s the PAF had a complete array of bases and airfields, including landing strips in the Sulu Sea and the Kalayaan Islands. This Marks the glory days of the Philippine Air Force not only in the Armed Forces of the Philippines but second in Asia.
After the Hukbalahap insurgency was quelled, the focus turned its attention to the New People's Army (NPA) and the Moro National Liberation Front. The Air Force would play a significant role in the continuing effort to destroy the NPA. One of the most significant battles against the NPA occurred in November 1972 during the Battle of Sibalu Hill in Jolo, Sulu. During this operation, numerous waves of F-5 and F-86 fighters, as well as T-33 jets and C-47 gunships, took to the skies from Mactan for Jolo every minute, continuously bombarding the insurgent camp.
In late 1977 the Philippine Air Force acquired 35 F-8P Crusaders (refurbished F-8H Crusaders). As part of the deal, the United States Air Force would train Filipino pilots in the TF-8A. The F-8s were withdrawn from service beginning in 1988 and were finally withdrawn from service in 1991, after they were badly damaged by the Mount Pinatubo eruption. They have since been offered for sale as scrap.
Defectors from the Air Force, then under Vicente Piccio, Jr., also played a significant role in the success of the 1986 People Power Revolution. On February 24, 1986, at the height of the revolution, Colonel Antonio Sotelo defected the 15th Strike Wing to the Ramos-Enrile camp, taking with him his squadron's Sikorsky S-76 gunships. Later in the day, Captain Wilfredo Evangelista of that particular wing fired warning shots at Malacañang Palace; at noon, three other gunships disabled the Marcos forces at Villamor Air Base.
Over 10 years after passage of the AFP Modernization Act (Republic Act 7898), the Philippine Air Force remains in dire need of modernization. The current incarnation of the AFP modernization program is the Capability Upgrade Program (CUP) which defers PAF-related modernization efforts to the second and third phases of a three-phase program. Much to the consternation of PAF observers and personnel, the first phase, dubbed "Back to Basics" focuses on improving the AFP's ability to conduct Internal Security Operations (ISO). What little funding the PAF receives in this phase revolve around the PAF's role in supporting ground operations.
More advanced aircraft are expected in Phases 2 and 3 of the CUP, which is when genuine modernization is expected to start. PAF-related components of these phases are grouped into what it calls "Horizon programs", with Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2010 to 2012 time frame.
During the 1990s PAF also had planned to purchase modern fighter aircraft, when the modernization law was enacted, and in 1992 received offers for both the IAI Kfir and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. According to a 1996 article in Flight International magazine, PAF was also offered embargoed Pakistani Lockheed Martin F-16A/Bs and new-build F-18C/Ds, and considered the Dassault Mirage 2000, the JF-17 Thunder and the MAPO-MiG MiG-29. The article also reports that earlier offers of secondhand French Dassault Mirage F-1s and Denel Cheetahs from South Africa appeared to have been rejected. However, these modernization programs were put on hold after the Philippines' economy was impacted by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
As the service focuses on the current Internal Security Operations (ISO) of the AFP, current efforts are concentrated on the acquisition of aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, in particular, more helicopter gunships and transport aircraft.
The Department of National Defense, on behalf of the PAF, is currently pursuing the following acquisition projects: eight (8) Combat Utility Helicopters (CUH), 14 attack helicopters (AH), and 10 additional UH-1H helicopters.
An older acquisition project, the Night Capable Attack Helicopter (NCAH), was abandoned due to procedural irregularities. The Office of the Ombudsman is currently investigating this project.
Engines of 20 MD-520 attack helicopters are currently being overhauled. The PAF elected to pursue this project via FMS.
On December 2009, the Department of National Defense (DND) issued a notice of award worth PhP 2.8 billion to PZL Swidnik S.A. of Poland, as the winner of the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) program for eight (8) helicopters, probably armed version of the PZL W-3 Sokol.
The first aircraft to be acquired for five-year modernization plan were the Aermacchi S-211. With the retirement of its F-5s in 2005, these trainers have assumed the role as principal jet combat aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.
To address a chronic backlog in pilot training, where prospective pilots are temporarily assigned alternative functions because of a lack of training aircraft, the PAF issued requirements for additional T-41 Mescaleros and SF-260 trainers. Fifteen (15) additional second-hand T-41Bs arrived in December 4, 2008 by way of Korea. These were given free, but in disassembled form. These arrived at the 410th Maintenance Wing in Clark AFB, whose personnel completed re-assembly of the aircraft February 12, 2009 – 4 days ahead of schedule. These were inaugurated into service on March 5. The SF-260 acquisition, however, has been put on hold pending resolution of exchange rate issues with the aircraft vendor.
In 2007 the Philippine Air Force sent a delegation to China upon the formal invitation of China Aviation Industry Corp. (CATIC). The five-man team, led by Major General Pedro Ike Insierto, inspected the company's line of utility helicopters and fixed-wing transport aircraft. Lieutenant General Horacio Tolentino, Air Force chief at the time, clarified that the inspection did not signify an intent to purchase the aircraft being offered.
According to Air Force Public Information officer Major Gerardo M. Zamudio Jr., that aside from the new SF-260 trainer planes and night capable attack helicopters, the PAF is set to purchase under its capability upgrade program, 8 primary trainer aircraft, 10 additional Huey UH-1H utility helicopters, 8 brand new combat utility helicopters, 8 new attack helicopters, 2 light lift aircraft, and 12 trainer helicopters.
These acquisitions and upgrades, including aerial surveillance cameras, communication equipment, 1.2-ton trucks, and additional military hardware, are part of PAF’s Horizon 1, the internal security - centered stage of modernization focused on making insurgent groups irrelevant by the year 2010.
Horizon 2, the transition stage to territorial defense, is set to take effect by 2012. Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog said the Air Force is presently in the process of making a study of what type of fighter jets they are going to acquire. He said the acquisition can only start after 2010 which is the projected defeat of internal security threats.
At present the backbone of the PAF inventory consists of:
|Aermacchi S-211||Italy||ground support and jet training||S-211||13|
|North American OV-10 Bronco||United States||attack aircraft||OV-10A/C/A SLEP||11||Obtained in two batches. First batch from USAF stocks, with a follow-on acquisition from Thailand.|
|Aermacchi SF-260TP/MP/WP||Italy||attack aircraft and trainer aircraft (MP/WP)||SF-260TP/MP/WP||25 (+18)||all MP / WP variants was traded-in for the TP procurement during 1991-1993 18 SF-260E on order|
|McDonnell Douglas Defender||United States||attack helicopter||MD-520MG||25|
|Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk||United States||multirole helicopter||S-70A||2||presidential aircraft|
|Sikorsky S-76 Spirit||United States||multirole helicopter||11||The PAF originally received 17 aircraft|
|Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules||United States||medium transport aircraft||C-130B/H||2+6 stored |
|Fokker F27 Friendship||Netherlands||personnel transport||F27-MPA||2||medium transport|
|GAF Nomad||Australia||light transport aircraft||12||+1 stored|
|Fokker F28 Fellowship||Netherlands||light transport aircraft||1||presidential aircraft|
|Boeing 737||United States||transport aircraft||737-300||1||used also as a transport for the President of the Phillipines|
|Cessna T-41 Mescalero||United States||training aircraft||29||The most recent delivery for this type was in the last quarter of 2008, when South Korea donated 15 aircraft. These were delivered, disassembled, last December 4, 2008 to the 410th Maintenance Wing. All aircraft were reassembled last February 12, 2009 and were inaugurated on March the 5th. |
|Bell Huey II||United States||transport helicopter And SAR Helicopter||2||The PAF acquired a license to perform in-house Huey II upgrades circa 2003|
|Bell UH-1H||United States||transport helicopter||UH-1H||52|
|Bell 205||United States||light transport helicopter||8|
|Bell 412||United States||transport helicopter||3||These aircraft are leased, and operated by the Presidential Airlift Wing. Originally, four helicopters were leased. However one crashed due to bad weather in April 2009.|
Wherever possible the PAF has relied on local skills for modification projects, as in the recent Huey II program. However only 2 Hueys were modified in that program, which may not be continued.
The Philippine Air Force retired its fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter with a ceremony on October 1, 2005. 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.
At one point, the PAF also operated 25 F-8H Crusaders—the most advanced fighter aircraft to see service in the PAF to date. Unlike the comparatively newer F-5As which were day- fighters with ranging radars only, the Crusaders gave the PAF true all-weather interception capability. These have since been retired, and the airframes are now being sold for scrap.
In 1992 the Philippine Air Force received 24 OV-10A Broncos from the USAF-operated Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, replacing the AT-28D Trojan as the PAF's main air to ground aircraft to complement the MG-520s of the 15th Strike Wing based at Sangley Air Base, Cavite City. These OV-10s have been credited with numerous air strikes against the MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayaff, and NPA rebel forces, with zero losses during these sorties. Most PAF OV-10 losses have been due to pilot errors, technique and other mishandling, with aircrew losses mostly coming from the second batch of OV-10s delivered. Almost all of the original PAF OV-10 pilots are either on administrative duty or have left the PAF for civilian jobs.
|Northrop F-5||United States||fighter/bomber||F-5A
|37||Retired. The 10 remaining F-5s, out of a total of 37 acquired by the Philippine government from 1967 to 1998, were decommissioned in a ceremony in September 2005|
|Vought F-8 Crusader||United States||multirole fighter||27||Placed in open storage 1988-01-23 at Basa Air Base. They suffered irreparable damage from Mt. Pinatubo's eruption on 1991-06-15.|
|North American F-86 Sabre||United States||fighter/bomber||F-86F
|50||Replaced by the Northrop F-5A|
|North American P-51 Mustang||United States||fighter/bomber||100+||PAF's 1950s Fighter|
|North American T-28 Trojan||United States||light strike aircraft||70|
|Beechcraft T-34 Mentor||United States||trainer aircraft||70||Replaced by the SF-260 and the OV-10|
|P-26 Peashooter||United States||fighter plane||31||destroyed during World War II|
|Bell 212||United States||utility helicopter||1||A presidential aircraft that was crashed in Benguet Province.|
The Philippine Air Force has five major Commands (including those downgraded or inactive).
The activation of the Air Defense Command last 1 May 1997 ushers in a new era towards the realization of the Philippine Air Force’s vision of a credible and effective air defense. The command was organized in accordance with the PAF modernization program, which is basically realignment and consolidation of existing units with similar and complimentary functions designed to enhance security and economy of force and services. Under the Command umbrella are the 5th Fighter Wing, 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing and the Composite Tactical Group (1, 3 & 4).
The mission of the Air Defense Command is to defend, secure and protect the Philippine archipelago. The command is responsible not only for the country’s air defense, it also conducts strategic air strikes and combat air patrol over our exclusive economic zone. Air surveillance, early warning, aircraft control, command and control, and the communications network of the entire defense system is also falls the command and strategic deployment of missile systems which the air force still has to procure, for point defense against enemy air attacks. Air Support to combat focus in maritime environment is also its prime functions. Monitoring surface traffic on our territory especially in our exclusive economic zone is its last although not the least of its functions unless higher headquarters otherwise decides to give additional responsibilities to the command.
The functions of the ADC are divided into four major areas: air defense operations, tactical air operations; disaster and relief operations, and special air operations.
The country’s present inventory of F-5’s and S-211’s are our means of air defense if ever-such a need arises. These aircraft are also forced to meet our current air patrol requirements.
On the other hand, the 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing is responsible for the operation of the PAF radars, strategically located in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. At present, however, only two radar stations are operational, covering the surveillance requirement of the entire Luzon. One in Wallace Air Station in San Fernando, La Union and the other in Lubang, Occidental Mindoro.
On Tactical Air Operations, the Composite Tactical Group (CTG) located in Luzon will, meanwhile, be under the Air Defense Command. The function of these CTG’s is to plan, coordinate and control the employment of tactical air support elements for the ground forces.
Disaster Relief Operations is among the additional functions of the ADC. Relief operations, however, covers the Luzon area only.
Another additional function of the ADC is the supervision of special air operations. This includes the control of aerial activities like fly-by’s, sky-diving, flower drops, confetti drop and other related activities. Air to ground operations seminar conducted for the different PNP and AFP Units in the Luzon area is likewise conducted by this command.
With the activation of the Air Defense Command, the Philippine Air Force has started the transition from internal security to its traditional role of external air defense. The envisioned air defense modernization program includes surveillance of air intrusion within our territorial airspace, the protection of our resources within our exclusive economic zone, and the provision of air support to maritime forces. The planned acquisition of multi-role fighter aircraft will enable the command to conduct an effective defense of our territorial airspace. And a total of six radar systems shall be strategically positioned to cover the whole Philippine Air Surveillance Network integrated with civilian radar systems.
The eventual realization of this envisioned air force will greatly contribute to our capability to protect our airspace and guard our territorial sovereignty towards peace and progress.
The mission of the Tactical Operations Command is "to conduct tactical air operations in support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) forces." It is tasked to provide close air support to AFP ground forces; conduct aerial reconnaissance, medical evacuation, disaster relief & rehabilitation, combat search & rescue; and performs aerial activities to support the government in nation-building and socio-economic activities. Further it develops, operates and maintains strategically located air bases and stations. Under its operational control are the 560th Composite Tactical Wing, 530th Composite Tactical Wing and the Composite Tactical Group
The Air Logistics and Support Command provides logistics, maintenance and engineering support to the Philippine Air Force. Under its operational control are the 355th Aviation Engineering Wing, 410th Maintenance Wing, 420th Supply Wing and the Air Force Research & Development Center.
The only support in the Philippine Air Force is the Air Reserve Command, which manages the inactive reservists of the PAF or the Air Force Component of the citizen army. The specific functions cover the registration, management, and assistance of PAF reservists, conduct of assembly and mobilization tests, promotion of national interest in cooperation with civilian entities, reservist utilization in times of calamities and disaster relief operations, management of civil affairs activities, intensification of reserve training, conduct of seminars regarding value formation, and ROTC and CAT training.
Under this Command are various Reserve Air Transport Support Groups (RATSGs) and Air Reserve Wings. In times of war or national mobilization, these reserve groups get conscripted into service and are given their assignments. In this way the Command maintains the reservoir of military talent and labor so essential during national crisis.
The Air Education and Training Command took the mission and functions of the deactivated 100th Training Wing at Fernando Air Base, Lipa City. It is primarily responsible to conduct education and training for all Philippine Air Force personnel.
|[15th Strike Wing]||HQ, Maj. Danillo S. Atienza AB, Sangley Point, Cavite)|
|16th Attack Squadron (Eagles)||OV-10A/C/A SLEP|
|17th Attack Squadron (Jaguars)||SF.260TP|
|18th Attack Squadron (Falcons)||MD-520MG|
|20th Attack Squadron (Firebirds)||MD-520MG|
|25th Attack Squadron (Lobos)||OV-10A/C/A SLEP; SF.260TP; MD-520MG|
|Air Defense Wing||Basa AB, Pampanga|
|7th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Bulldogs)||S-211|
|205th Tactical Helicopter Wing||HQ, Benito Ebuen AB, Mactan Island, Cebu|
|206th Tactical Helicopter Squadron (Hornets)||S-70A|
|207th Tactical Helicopter Squadron (Stingers)||UH-1|
|208th Tactical Helicopter Squadron (Daggers)||UH-1|
|220th Airlift Wing||HQ, Benito Ebuen AB, Mactan Island, Cebu|
|221st Tactical Airlift Squadron (Fokkers)||Fokker F-27|
|222nd Tactical Airlift Squadron (Hercules)||C-130B/H|
|223rd Tactical Airlift Squadron (Nomads)||N-22B/C Nomad|
|Air Education and Training Command||Basilio Fernando AB, Lipa|
|101st Primary Flying Training Sqn (Wildcat)||T-41D/Cessna 172-k|
|102nd Basic Flying Training Sqn (Cougar)||SF.260MP|
|505th Search and Rescue Group (Angels)||HQ, Col. Jesus A. Villamor AB, Pasay City, Metro Manila|
|5051st Search and Rescue Squadron||Huey II, Bell 205, S-76, UH-1H|
|5052nd Search and Rescue Squadron||Huey II, Bell 205, S-76, UH-1H|
|5053rd Search and Rescue Squadron||Huey II, Bell 205, S-76, UH-1H|
|5056th Search and Rescue Squadron||Huey II, Bell 205, S-76, UH-1H|
|250th Presidential Airlift Wing (Code one)||Col. Jesus A. Villamor AB, Pasay City, Metro Manila|
|251st Presidential Airlift Squadron||Fokker F28|
|252nd Presidential Helicopter Squadron||S-76, S-70A, Bell 212, Bell 412|
|900th Weather Support Group||Col. Jesus A. Villamor AB, Pasay City, Metro Manila|
|901st Weather Squadron||Cessna T-210TG|
The Philippine Air Force has nine air bases located throughout the Philippine archipelago: