Saturday, April 9, 2016

Air Force City

The visit to Clark Air Base in Angeles City this Saturday is apt, as the nation is commemorating the Day of Valor, celebrating the Filipino bravery during the World War II. What a better way to celebrate that by viewing military aircraft that was displayed at the end of the Balikatan military exercises (between the US, Philippine and Australian forces) in Air Force City in Clark?

KAI FA-50 aircraft

We set out early, me and my friends from the UP Astrosoc, James and Ramon, (plus two friends of James who tagged along), driving to Clark via NLEX. We arrived there around 10 am, and after registering in the visitor center, went to the hangar to view the aircraft on display.

AugustaWestland A109 Power helicopter

Among the highlights were the recent purchases for the Philippine Air Force: the KAI FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer, the Italian-made AugustaWestland AW109 Power helicopter, and the PZL W3 Sokol helicopter, made in Poland and used for SAR missions. 

The Polish-made PZL W3 Sokol SAR helicopter

I was particularly glad to see the South Korean-made FA-50, as it is the first supersonic aircraft for the PAF since the F5 jets were decommissioned more than a decade ago. I think I was fangirling when I saw the two aircraft being towed to the tarmac after doing some flybys over the airbase. I can almost hear Kenny Loggins singing Danger Zone in my mind while I was watching the aircraft flew overhead.

I chatted some of the PAF personnel while it was being towed, and I think they were happy with the purchase as well.

The CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter

The US military displayed many of their wares too. Among them are the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft, the P8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster II and C-130 cargo planes, an E3 AWACS early warning and electronic warfare aircraft, the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, several helicopters (the CH-53, which is the largest in their inventory, and the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter), and a carrier-based transport aircraft. They also displayed the HIMARS rocket launcher system.

Inside the cavernous cabin of CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter

There was some talk that a B-52 strategic bomber will be displayed as well, but it was a no-show, so it was kind of disappointing not to see the 50-year old aircraft.

The C-17 Globemaster strategic lift aircraft

The A10 Thunderbolt

The HIMARS rocket launcher

Inside the C-17

For the Australians, they showed their P3 Orion ASW aircraft, and while not on the display area, an A-4 Skyhawk attack plane. I went inside the Orion and was able to talk to the pilot and the weapons specialist, querying them them about the weapons and the sonobouys that they use to detect the submarines. I was also able to take some snaps while sitting in the pilot's seat while inside the cockpit.

The P3 Orion ASW plane cockpit

I think the sunburn was all worth it today.

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