(File photo courtesy of Philippine Air Force)

Two FA-50PH fighter jets were deployed Thursday by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to intercept an unidentified aircraft in the country’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) some 120 nautical miles northwest of Bolinao, Pangasinan.

PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, in an issued statement, said their FA-50PH fighter planes were “scrambled” on September 2 to prevent the unidentified aircraft from continuing to its destination.

Scramble refers to the rapid deployment of fighter aircraft to intercept an unknown or hostile aircraft in military aviation.

“The Philippine Air Defense Control Center (PADCC), through its radars, detected an unidentified inbound aircraft in the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ), approximately 120 nautical miles northwest of Bolinao, Pangasinan,” PAF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, said in a statement.

Mariano said the unidentified aircraft was heading towards Philippine airspace and upon succeeding coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), it was classified to have an “unknown track of interest.”

He said the unidentified aircraft did not respond to radio calls made by the PADCC.

“(The) PADCC issued a ‘scramble’ order to two FA-50 stationed at the Air Defense Alert Center and were given the mission to intercept the unknown aircraft for visual identification. The unknown aircraft was at 21,000 feet flying at 265 knots heading northeast. The FA-50s flew at the maximum allowable speed towards the direction of the unknown aircraft,” Mariano said.

Four minutes into the intercept, he said, the unknown aircraft changed direction towards the north and increased its speed to 400 knots, and headed away from the Philippine airspace.

The intercept was terminated at 9:45 a.m., he added.

Mariano said they are still investigating to determine the exact type of the unidentified aircraft.

“In the past decades, aircraft flying without clearance would willfully violate the Philippine airspace knowing that they will not be challenged. Today, our airspace is being closely monitored jointly by the PAF and the CAAP,” he said. (PNA)