2013: A year to remember for the Philippines Air Power

2013 was a year of great challenges for our country; China’s designs for the West Philippine Sea; the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) siege of Zamboanga; and the earthquake-super typhoon that wreak havoc at the central part of the Philippines… The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) did everything in its power to face each of these problems and alleviate the situation for the country and our people…

Perhaps the most glaring of the AFP’s operations is the extensive utilization of Air Power, a military application proven to be vital and decisive in every operation, proven throughout the history of modern warfare both in times of peace and in war… The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has proven this, as it demonstrated its ability despite the limitations, to cover every aspect of National Security, be it external defense, internal security or disaster relief operations…

CHALLENGES IN THE WPS – Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea became more aggressive in 2013 as they “imposed” themselves at Panatag/ Scarborough Shoal off Zambales… Other serious actions were also made at the Spratlys Islands, emphasizing China’s resolve of controlling the area… As a counter our country also projected its interest through various actions spearheaded by ships from the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard, with air surveillance and air patrols provided by various combat aircraft from the 15th Strike Wing and Air Defense Wing… Limited radar surveillance is also done by the 580th Aircraft, Control and Warning Group to monitor air activities of foreign aircraft…

ZAMBOANGA SIEGE BY THE MNLF – An unexpected move by some of the supposedly “friendly” units of the MNLF at Zamboanga city, where a vicious street-to-street fighting developed… Here the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police fought and defeated the rebels after several days of fighting… The PAF provided air support through precision delivery of ordnance at rebel targets, using combat helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from the 15th Strike Wing and 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing… Also during the siege transport aircraft from the 220th Airlift Wing brought in supplies and reinforcements and evacuated the wounded and civilians, as Zamboanga’s airport was close to airline aircraft… The 3rd Air Division managed the air operations while personnel from the 530th Air Base Wing and 710th Special Operations Wing secured Edwin Andrews Air Force Base…

BOHOL EARTHQUAKE AND TYPHOON YOLANDA – These two natural disasters devastated various areas in the Central Visayas and some other parts of the country, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos… Here almost every major PAF unit were brought to bear, transport aircraft from the 220th Airlift Wing brought in equipment, vital personnel and relief personnel to Tacloban Airport and evacuate the injured and refugees to safer areas… The 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing and 505th Search and Rescue Group utilized its helicopters to deliver relief supplies to the isolated barangays… Personnel from the 710th Special Operations Wings provided security and maintained order in the area… Air Force Engineers from the 355th Aviation Engineer Wing helped rebuild vital infrastructure while specialists personnel from the 900th Communications, Electronic and Information Group contributed to the repair communications network… While Air Traffic/ Weapons Controllers from the 580th Air Control and Warning Group provided initial control of air traffic in vital aerodromes in the affected areas… The 2nd Air Division and 560th Air Base Wing maintained control of air operations of PAF and foreign transports and provided personnel for the affected areas and lastly the various Headquarters PAF staff offices provided vital support and requirements for the effort…

Despite the inherent weaknesses in equipment, the odds against them and other limitations, the men and women of the PAF will continually perform their mission and serve the people with utmost pride and dedication… These valiant and well motivated Filipino Airmen can perform even better if properly equipped and supported, and such development is now forthcoming due to the President’s tireless effort in modernizing the AFP… KUNG ANO MAN ANG HINAHARAP NG ATING BANSA SA TAONG 2014, MAKAKAASA ANG SAMBAYANANG PILIPINO SA KANILANG KASUNDALUHAN… MABUHAY ANG HUKBONG SANDATAHAN NG PILIPINAS, MABUHAY ANG HUKBONG HIMPAPAWID NG PILIPINAS…

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