The February Fort Bonifacio Incident
Date Updated: Monday September 04, 2006


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The PAF has been in a steady decline over the past 30 years that has only been reversed in recent years.  It still has fewer operational aircraft now than at any time since the 1950’s but its operational levels and tempo have increased. While large numbers of aircraft are unavailable for operations, efforts are being undertaken to increase the availability of its most important types. Efforts to acquire new equipment (new builds or second hand) have been stymied either by a lagging economy, by political factors or both.  Lately however this log jam has been broken by the US which has stepped up its assistance. 

It is worthy to note that the last acquisitions of totally new aircraft made by the PAF were Bell 412s for service with the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing and are used to fly politicians around.  Together with the 412s, the most modern and up-to-date equipment is operated by the 250th.  The Wing also enjoys better aircraft availability rates than the rest of the PAF. A situation which sadly shows where the government’s priorities lie.

Personnel Strength

Over 17,000 personnel.

Air Force Bases and Operating Locations

Plans and Programs

The PAF has been forced by events of September 11 to re-orient itself yet again.  In an effort to combat local opposition forces, the PAF is concentrating on maintaining those units that are directly involved in supporting ground operations. 

The supply of OV-10s from any source has all but dried up with the Thai OV-10s being the last ones anywhere in the world that the PAF had any hope of acquiring.  The rest of the OV-10 operators, like the PAF, are keen to keep their aircraft operational for as long as possible.  The OV-10 really has no equivalent as far as twin turbine engined counter-insurgency aircraft go without resorting to jet aircraft which are inherently less efficient and therefore not as cost effective.  With that in mind, the PAF has initiated a OV-10 Service Life Extension Program that incorporates changes to the propulsion systems as well as overhauls and zero timing of the airframe.  Marsh Aviation has been contracted by the Philippine Air Force to assist with the program.  In the meantime, to make up for the lack of COIN assets, the PAF has re-assigned SF-260TPs and S211 aircraft to supplement the OV-10s.

The PAF fighter acquisition program has been put on hold and the PAFs 5th Fighter Wing has been stood down and its units and S211s reassigned to the 15th Strike Wing..  With limited funds allocated by the Philippine government, the PAF is increasingly dependent on US aid for an F-5 replacement.  With the US pre-occupation on counter-terrorism, the US is in no mood to provide aircraft that don’t directly fulfill that mission.  In other words, don’t look toward any fixed wing replacements for the grounded F-5s any time soon.

The 20 Hueys overhauled by Singapore Technologies have all been delivered.  Contrary to other published reports, the Singapore Hueys are not ex-RSAF machines but are ex US Army.  Singapore Technologies simply won the contract to overhaul them.  The Hueys were bought in the open market and shipped to Singapore for overhaul.  They were not acquired from Amarc stocks.  A  further 50 Hueys are due directly from the US and the PAF is negotiating with the US for an additional 8 Hueys from EDA stocks.  One of the main reasons for the seemingly slow acquisition of surplus Hueys is the fact that there are few surplus Hueys in good condition available from US stocks. 

The PAF Huey II upgrade program started with US help but will end with one fully factory certified aircraft.  The story does not end there however – the PAF has taken the experience gained from the program and undertaken its own Huey II program – basically ordering the same parts from the manufacturer and putting it together on their own without the benefit (some would say scrutiny of the Bell reps).  This is a remarkable and welcome development which shows how long the PAF has come in its maintenance and upgrade capability.  The "new" aircraft also sports a radome with Stormscope in the nose and a rescue winch on the starboard side.  Like the earlier Huey II, it is already operational with the 505 ARG. 

Ed:  This development brings up a new, rather interesting question.  Does the official end of the Huey II program simply mean that the PAF is doing it all in-house?  If so, we could see more H model Hueys converted to the Huey II standard in the near future.

Another interesting development is the acquisition of six MDH530 helicopters to supplement the MDH520 helicopter fleet.  This is apparently in addition to six "Night Attack" helicopters that the PAF is currently planning to acquire – long rumored to be an upgrade of the AH-1F Cobra optimized for night attack missions.   

S211 numbers have gone up through a local refurbishment program, also with the assistance of Singapore Technologies and availability rates have come up somewhat from the low of 6 or 7 aircraft available for operations.  Maintenance of the S211s are being done through local private industry with some participation from the air force.  Technical expertise, supplies, and technology being supplied by the contractor.  Funding has also been increased to bring a large number of grounded aircraft back into service after putting them through extensive overhauls.

Operational Aircraft
(Speculative and incomplete.  Please email corrections and suggestions to: Manokski@hueybravo.net

Please double-click on the aircraft type to view Technical Details, Service History, Current Status, Photos and Fleet Information (Bandit Listing).

Pages under construction. Please excuse the mess.

Aircraft

Operational

In Inventory

Fixed Wing Aircraft

F-5

*

15

OV-10

14

33

S-211

7 (?)

19

SF-260TP

7 (?)

13

T-41

?

15

F-27

2

10

F-28

1

1

Nomad

2

6

C-130/L100

3

13

Rockewell
Aero Commander C690A

1

1

Rotary winged aircraft

MDH.520G

15 (?)

20

UH-1H

55 (?)

55 + 20 +50

B.205A-1

5 (?)

8 (?)

Huey II

2

2

Bell 212

1

1

S.76/AUH-76A

4

14

Bell 412SP

2

2

Bell 412EP

5

5

Puma

2

2

Bell 214 Huey Plus
"Big Lifter"

1 (?)

1

S70

1 (?)

1

 

*     Remaining operational F-5s grounded after crash on Jan 05, 2002.  Two reported operational on January 15, 2003.
**    12 operational SF.260TP grounded after a crash on Dec 12, 2002
***   4 operational Nomads grounded after crash on Dec 17, 2002.