By Ben Cal
MANILA, Dec. 27 - For the first time, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is now capable of refurbishing its C-130 Hercules aircraft instead of sending them abroad for major repairs, saving the government millions of dollars.
The first major repair done by the 410th Maintenance Wing will be formally turned over to Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz at Villamor Air Base in suburban Pasay City on Friday.
This is the first time that the Air Force overhauled C-130 transport plane in the country following the acquisition of high-tech equipment from abroad.
Through the years, the PAF sent their C-130 planes to the United States or Malaysia for major repair.
The PAF Public Information Office (PIO) said the last C-130 that was repaired in California was in October this year.
At the height of the Mindanao war in the 70s and 80s, the Air Force had a dozen C-130 planes in its inventory in addition to several C-123 aircraft but the number slowly went down to just one due to wear and tear and lack of spare parts.
C-130 planes are the main workhorse of the PAF in transporting military troops and supplies across the country.
The additional Hercules plane that will be turned over Friday will boost the Air Forces lift capability a little bit though still far short from the 12 C-130s it had before.
Also to be turned over Friday is one refurbished LC-210 (Rainmaker) aircraft, a UH-1H helicopter and 12 M-35 trucks donated by the United States for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Twenty-four other M-35 vehicles are scheduled for refurbishing.
The PAFs refurbishing capability is part of its self-reliance defense program, saving the country millions of dollars.
Earlier, the Air Force started repairing UH-1H Huey helicopters instead of sending them to other countries.
However, what the Air Force needs badly now is the acquisition of modern jet-fighter interceptors to replace the F-5s fighter jets which were phased out in 2005.
The PAF has no jet fighter aircraft in its arsenal, denying the country to secure its airspace from foreign intruders.
Air Force pilots interviewed by PNA have expressed hope that the PAF will soon have new supersonic jet fighters to protect the countrys vast airspace and territorial waters. (PNA)