Philippine Air Force is planning to acquire LIFT & SAA aircraft by July 2012
Northrop F-5A 38389 stored at Clark AB, "Blue Diamonds" and Phil Air Force inscriptions...
|Northrop F-5A 38389 stored at Clark AB, "Blue Diamonds" and Phil Air Force inscriptions overpainted. (F-5 Enthusiast Page)|
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is planning to revive the famed "Blue Diamond" Squadron as soon as it acquires new aircraft capable of defending the country's airspace and humanitarian missions.
This was learned from PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol in
an exlusive interview at Villamor Air Base (VAB) in Pasay City.
“We have identified our needs through our capability upgrade program (CUP) and Defense Acquisition System (DAS) as identified by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,” Okol told the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
Okol said the highest priority is the revival of the country’s Air Defense System (ADS) which is in the form of Lead-in Fighter Trainers (LIFT)-Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA) role to be used for territorial defense as well as infrastructure.
|M-346 Master - Alenia Aermacchi|
He said the PAF is expected to acquire new planes July 2012. These include TA-50 Golden Eagle (Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) of South Korea; M-346 Master - Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); Yak-130 Mitten - Yakovlev Design Bureau (Russia); and L-159B ALCA - Aero Vodochody (Czech Republic).
Okol said the PAF is also looking to replace its entire OV-10 Bronco fleet which is currently used for close air support and aerial reconnaissance platforms.
Being considered are the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II, Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, KAI KA-1 Woongbi, and, reportedly, the Air Tractor Air Tractor AT-802U.
Hawker Beechcraft demonstrated their AT-6B Texan II, together with their other aircraft line, on April 2012 with a display at Clark Air Base
|AT-6B main features (airforce-technology)|
PAF 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.
Okol said PAF is prioritizing the resurgence of its capability by acquiring leading multi-role fighter jets and other aircraft with disaster response capability. “If we already have a hundred fighter planes then we can revive the Blue Diamonds,” he said.
In June 2010, the Department of National Defense (DND) was also looking at Canada for used CF-18s or France for its used Mirage F1s, although no decision or purchase came up
The PAF official said a country’s precision aerobatics team carries the type of a combat aircraft of a nation.
The United States has the “Thunderbirds” for the Air Force and “Blue Angels” for the Navy.
Recently, PAF acquired multi-role helicopters worth P 2.8 billion which the Philippines received as part of its modernization program.
The new W-3 Sokol (Falcon) helicopters are used for combat support as well as disaster relief missions.
“Our pilots are already training for the use of four of these newly acquired aircraft in time for the rainy season,” Okol said.
Philippine Information Agency