Philippine Armed Forces / Pilipinas Hukbong Himpapawid
Being a Spanish colony from 1565 the Philippines were 'handed over' to the US in 1898. During 1946 the country became independent. The country consists of numerous islands mostly covered by rainforests and subject to earthquakes and typhoons. Over 60 million Filipinos live on this 300.000 square kilometre country.
The US influence is still noticeable in the structure of the armed forces. The Philippine Air Force became independent of the Philippine Army during 1947 and has since been a major command of the countries armed forces.
The current fleet of aircraft operated by the PAF is outdated and too small to defend the country against all external threats. The fleet of combat jets consists of only 15 F-5 Freedom Fighters. Training-capacity is provided by T-41s, SF-260s and S211s. Counter-insurgence (COIN) missions are handled by ex-USAF OV-10s, SF-260TPs, MD500/520s, UH-1s and Bo105Cs. The need for a transport and maritime patrol resulted in the current fleet of C-130s, F27s, Nomads and a single F28.
The Philippines also operate a small Naval Air Wing with four BN-2 Islanders and four Bo105 helicopters. These aircraft are stationed at Sangley Point.
A major re-equipment and modernisation program was launched in 1995. Hampered by the economic recession thus far practically nothing has changed. Plans for re-equipping the Air Force with new-built fighters have changed to looking for second-hand platforms. The New Zealand Skyhawks have been in the picture for quite a while, but with New Zealand changing its own plans the current option is to procure second-hand F-5s. In the years to come several decisions on future equipment are needed and expected.
At the end of the last century many transport aircraft carried "Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas" titles. On July 14th 1999 the new Air Force seal was introduced with the new Air Force name: "Pilipinas Hukbong Himpapawid"