PAF, US aircraft do a ‘Top Gun’ as part of ‘Balikatan’

Philippine Air Force (PAF) fighter pilots flying the FA-50PH light jet fighters and their American counterparts aboard Hawker Hunter transonic aircraft did a “Top Gun” by conducting tactical air intercept (TAI) sorties over Pampanga on April 20. “Pilots from the 5th Fighter Wing of the PAF, together with Hawker Hunter pilots from the US, performed TAI sorties at Clark Air Base, Mabalacat City, Pampanga on April 20, 2023,” Air Force spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said in a statement Tuesday night. She said the training, part of this “Balikatan” iteration, allowed pilots to showcase their skills in tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) using FA-50PHs and Hawker Hunter aircraft over bodies of waters in Luzon. “TAI is a crucial military operation that involves launching fighter aircraft to intercept unknown aircraft entering Philippine airspace. The primary objective of this operation is to identify any unauthorized aircraft and determine whether they pose a threat,” Castillo said. And should the intercepted aircraft be deemed hostile, the fighter aircraft must take necessary actions to prevent the enemy from carrying out their mission, she said. Castillo said this includes shooting down, if deemed necessary, or forcing these hostile aircraft to retreat. “Typically, TAI operations are conducted during aerospace control alert operations, which usually occur during peacetime. In the event that an intercepted aircraft is experiencing an emergency, the fighter aircraft will coordinate with air traffic control to guide and assist the aircraft,” she added. And this is why PAF fighter pilots need to be proficient in recognizing closure rates, visual cues, and other attack cues in performing this mission, Castillo said.

Source: Philippines News Agency