Later than we – and some say even the Philippine Air Force expected – the first of two “new” Lockheed C-130T Hercules aircraft joined the Asian country’s military this week.
The aircraft landed at almost midnight on 5 April 2016 on Brig. Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City at Cebu. A full Philippine Air Force 12 persons strong crew manned the aircraft during the four day journey from Tuscon, Arizona (USA), where the plane left on 2 April. The airlifter was actually expected roughly a month earlier, but what caused the delay is not known.
Travelling along legs
Herc 5011 was travelling along legs typical for so many other flights that were flown without in-flight refuel in the past: first a short hop to one of the airbases in California (to test the systems), then to Hickam AFB/Honolulu IAP on Oahu (Hawaii), followed by Wake Island and Guam before entering Philippine airspace.
220th Airlift Wing
At BGNEAB – as the home of the 220th Airlift Wing is called in short – the Hercules gets additional interior fittings before becoming fully operational. The wing already flies older B and H models, as well as the Airbus C295 recently acquired by Manilla.
The offical public blessing of the former US Marine Corps KC-130 as C-130T is planned for 12 April at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
The Philippines have taken a step away from leasing some of the 100 Lockheed-designed by Kawasaki produced P-3 Orions from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). In stead Manilla will lease five Beechcraft King Air TC-90s from the JMSDF.
Although the announcement was made by Philippine president Benigno Aquino on Wednesday, no details have been released on the time frame of when the aircraft will start operations.
The JMSDF operates 34 TC-90s as trainers, mostly for P-3 crews, while it retains an additional five LC-90 transport versions and one UC-90 for photoreconnaissance. The Philippines are in desperate need for a capable aircraft for patrolling the island and seas of the much spread-out nation, while big China is increasingly military active close by in the Spratly Islands archipelago.
The first of two ex-US Marines Lockheed C-130T Hercules military airlifter/tanker aircraft is expected to arrive in the Philippines next week. Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado confirmed the upcoming delivery, which will seriously boost the island nation’s military and humanitarian respond capacity.
The pair of four propeller Hercules’s will be delivered with two reserve Allison T56-A-16 engines, parts, training and logistical support for a US tax payers price tag of 61 million dollars. Designated KC-130R/T within the US services the C-130T has underwing pods for probe-and-drogue (basket) in-flight refuelling of other aircraft.
Philippine Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the order of six Airbus A350-900s, with another six purchase options. The news was announced on Wednesday 17 February at the Singapore Airshow.
Philippine Airlines will configure its A350-900s with a premium three class layout and will operate the aircraft on non-stop flights from Manila to the US west coast and New York, as well as on services to new destinations in Europe. The aircraft will enable the carrier to operate non-stop service on the 8,000 mile New York – Manila route all year round with a full passenger load.
To date, Airbus has recorded 777 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers worldwide.
As expected the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has started to arm their new FA-50PH light fighter and close-air support aircraft with the purchase of 93,600 rounds of ammunition for the onboard General Dynamics A-50 3-barrel 20-mm rotary cannon.
Although only two of the twelve ordered fast jets from Korean Aerospace Industries have arrived, Manilla seems eager to get them up and running. Apart from the gun ammo chaffs and flares are being procured from Israeli Elbit Systems.
The FA-50s are also capable of carrying up to 8,250 lbs (3,740 kg) of payload on 4 underwing, 2 wingtip and one centreline pylons. Plans exist to equip the PAF’s FA-50 with at least AIM-9 Sidewinders and free-fall bombs, but at this stage it is not known yet if those weapons will be newly bought or come from existing stock.
The Philippine Air Force used to have combat jets with air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons until 2005, when the last of the Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighters were retired. The nation required 37 of those jets between 1965 and 1998. With China projecting its military might and tensions rising over the Spratly Island, the Philippines have restarted a re-weaponizing program, but with limited funds.