The S-70i Black Hawk choppers. | Photo courtesy of the AFP Modernization & News Update

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said Tuesday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act has increased its operational preparedness.

In a statement, the PAF said they are gaining capability upgrades through Republic Act (RA) 10349, also known as the Revised AFP Modernization Act, which extends the modernization program for another 15 years, allowing it to effectively fulfill its constitutional mandate of upholding the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

PAF said the modernization act is helping them, especially in terms of improving their air defense posture.

“Seeing the need to revive and support PAF’s modernization, current government and AFP efforts have been fast-tracked,” PAF said, adding that other sectors of society are also helping to generate necessary funds.

PAF stated it is proud of its successes in recent years, notably the purchased aerial platforms and equipment, “thanks to the government’s overwhelming support”.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana recently oversaw the transfer, acceptance, and blessing of five S-70i Black Hawks and four Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the PAF.

PAF’s air and ground capabilities were greatly enhanced as a result of the acquisition of these flying units and equipment, it said.

The PAF said to meet its demand for combat utility helicopters, the S-70i Black Hawk helicopters were bought under the AFP Revised Modernization Act’s “Horizon 2” phase. These helicopters are capable of carrying troops and conducting air assaults, as well as command and control, border patrol, search and rescue, freight transport, and VIP transport.

“Despite its recent arrival, the Black Hawk helicopters have already performed a variety of missions, such as the conduct of disaster response operations in the areas of Cagayan, as well as the transport of vaccines and personal protective equipment sets to the remotest areas of the country,” it added.

The Scan Eagle UAVs, on the other hand, were acquired from the United States through foreign military financing grant. These UAVs will strengthen the AFP’s ground, air, and naval operations as they are capable of performing internal security operations, counter-terrorism, limited maritime patrol, humanitarian assistance and disaster, damage assessment, and aerial survey.

Super Tucano planes find new home at MDAAB
Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force’s fleet of newly purchased Embraer A-29B “Super Tucano” aircraft was formally relocated to Major Danilo Atienza Air Base at Sangley Point, Cavite on October 21.

The Super Tucano is a Brazilian-made trainer/light attack aircraft produced by Embraer Defense & Security. Close air support, light assault, observation and reconnaissance, air-to-air interception, counter-insurgency, and pilot training will all be conducted with these platforms.

Replacing the PAF’s OV-10 Bronco turboprops, the arrival of the A-29s to its fleet fulfills the 15th Strike Wing’s ambition of modernizing its fixed-wing platforms and ensuring the AFP’s continued ability to provide critical firepower.

“Despite some unforeseeable situations causing the delays of some big-ticket projects, PAF has been working harder to beef up its air defense capabilities in order to become a dependable and credible air force, which was then one of the most well-equipped air forces in Asia,” PAF said.