Tag Archives: paf

The RSAF “open house” experience

These planes are parked like cars

I visited the Royal Singapore Air Force museum in 2011. I heard then that the RSAF use to have a yearly  “air show” but that it had been put off indefinitely. It made a comeback this year. I thought I should see it. Who knows if they’ll have one again next year.

I’m a huge aviation fan and I try to see air shows and aviation museums when I’m near one. Not many know that the Philippine Air Force have a museum in Villamor near NAIA Terminal 3. There’s not much to see but the effort is laudable considering our military is cash strapped. The museum traces its beginnings in 1974 during Marcos’ rule (actually then it was called Marcos Museum).

The joke since I was a boy was that Philippine Air Force is all air, no force. Thanks to the intensifying tensions in West Philippine Seas we’re slowly building back air power. We recently bought Korean made FA-50’s. At least we’re back in the supersonic age.

The RSAF open house’s in Paya Lebar Air Base lasted for two day and was attended by some 400 thousand visitors. The biggest attendance in its history.

There’s no direct transport that goes to the base but you don’t worry about this here. Singaporeans are masters in securing and running events. The organizers paid dozens of private buses that shuttled people in and out of the venue.

The static display gave the public the chance to inspect the RSAF assets.  They even allowed visitors to sit on the cockpit of the F-15s and F-16s, the Apache, the Seahawk, the Chinooks, the C-130s and the Stratotanker KC135.

I remember having a poster of an Apache attack helicopter when I was in my teens. I have never seen one up close until last Sunday. So I joined the long line, together with some kids, to get a closer look.

I recall a Zamboangeño friend who had a brother-in-law in Armed Force of the Philippines. He would occasionally hitch a ride in one of the PAF’s C-130 from Villamor Air Base to Zamboanga back in the 90’s. I asked him if I could try and we were cleared to go except my Mother threatened to suspend my allowance if I did. Zamboanga and Sulu is a place no parent wanted their children to see even now.

The highlight of the show was how RSAF demonstrated their ability to go airborne in just minutes to intercept an unknown aircraft. The scramble demo involved two F-15s and two F-16s. Remarkable high level performance topped with aerial acrobatics.

Singapore has a 719.1 km² land area, smaller than Marinduque, but it has the biggest air force in South East Asia. According to experts, they’re the “best trained, led and equipped in the region.” 

There’s a reason why the smaller nations is spending more in military hardware than its neighboring countries. Bigger nations naturally coerce and influence what they perceive to be weaker states around them. History tells us this to be true.

We don’t need to look far—read what’s happening in the West Philippine Seas.

I tell people that the Scarborough now guarded by the Chinese coast guards is so near that Zambales fishermen frequents it—I heard this from some of them. The Chinese recently placed buoys around the shoal and there’s nothing we can do but to express our displeasure. Our neighbor is literally in our doorsteps and we can’t get rid of them.

In the 1990’s no foreign military vessel would wander off in Scarborough. The US, with their air bases in the area then, routinely went on target practice there. Truth is we won’t be getting what we lost anytime soon. We can only hope to continue building our military to defend what’s out there, what’s ours.

Let’s learn from the Singaporeans.

Formations above, static displays below…

All roads leads to RSAF’s Open House last Sunday

The mighty Apache


New Trainer Aircrafts for PAF

At least these days, there’s an apparent plan to upgrade and develop the flying capabilities of our air force. The acquisition of 18 new Aermacchi’s is a good indication that our government is concern over the unbelievable deterioration of our air force.

Today, believe it or not, we don’t have an air deterrent capability. Which means, when an air force fighter jet from another country flies over our country, all we can do is sit and watch them violate our sovereignty.

The staggering number of our force’s fleet is composed of: 31 active helicopters and 91 air crafts (considered mission ready). The last fighting squad we had, the freedom fighters (F5’s), were decommissioned six years ago.

My stand over the argument whether this is something that we can justify over the other pressing issues of our nation is that air defense is vital for the nation’s stability. We can’t neglect this area as this is a necessary component of economic growth. Back in the 18th and 19th century, when Moro raids were pillaging the coastal towns, it took ingenious defense planning (for example, manned sentinels as early warning device) that involved both church and people that  solved the perennial problem. When security was established economic growth followed.

Now, these are trainer aircraft’s — So these ac’s are not going to secure our air space even if it get fitted with missile launchers but upgrades in training will provide good experience to our young air force men that in the future would be using modern air crafts to serve the nation. We have to make sure that these people are safe and its important that we make them feel that we have their safety in mind when we send them out flying.

These are good investments that hopefully, little by little, our government can continue. We have to tighten our belts and makes sure no funds are wasted. We have to invest well now. I don’t mind having a two or three decade modernization plan as long as the execution is free from corruption.

Philippine Airforce Museum

The situation in Spratly’s has highlighted the issue of modernizing our military. Our Air Force and Navy are areas that needs to be improved.

We don;t lack capable body and minds. We have some of the bravest and best military service personnel in the world but they cannot fight a war with out modern arms and equipments.

The Philippine Air Force Museum, located in Villamor Air Base’s gate 4 is a good initiative to introduce the proud history of this great military organization to young Filipinos. Never mind the greedy, corrupt military generals of AFP – they don;t represent the storied tradition of the air force.

There’s much that can be improved inside the museum but with the small amount of the AFP funds appropriated to PAF, the organization deserve praise for their effort. I visited Singapore’s air force museum last year and I was blown away by their displays and presentation. PAF’s museum, although an upstart compared to that of Singapore, can have the same impact. I just hope it won’t get neglected. The goal aside from showing the proud history of this military branch is to remind people of the importance the air force plays in nation building.

I don’t know what happened to the so called modernization because the organization’s capability to protec our skies is still in question. And there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for hopes of upgrading hardware. We desperately need to provide our able pilots with the equipments they deserve.

I read in the news about the almost confrontation in the disputed islands where the Filipino bronco pilots  was buzzed by Chinese MIG-29 Fulcrums The Filipinos had stated their willingness to confront the Chinese but was recalled. Of course, they don’t stand a chance but their actions only goes to show the bravery of our men in uniform.

History has shown us how men like Villamor, the first Filipino who fighter pilot in WWII was already fighting in the air while most of our Asian neighbors were watching in the sidelines. The modernization of our local air combat unit would have not been possible without the pacific wars and the American’s need for personnel. We have gone down since. Now, more than ever we need to ask ourselves how long we can afford not to modernize our air force.

The Air Force Museum in Villamor Air Base's Gate 4

A brief history of PAF

Shark of Zambales

At the back of the museum is where you can find some vintage passenger planes

Examples of old jet fighters nose and cockpit

The Commander in Chief's salute vehicle. From Quezon to Marcos, this vehicle was officially utilized during ceremonies. This is my favorite item on display in PAF's museum.

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