MANILA — The Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) fifth Lockheed C-130 ‘Hercules’ cargo aircraft, acquired from US stocks and formally turned over to the 220th Airlift Wing Monday, is a perfect example of American and Filipino military partnership, outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg has said.
“This aircraft is a perfect example of how and why our partnership works through procurement or co-investment, the pooling of our assets, our money, our time, our talent. That’s what partnership is all about,” Goldberg said during the aircraft’s blessing ceremony at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
“With this new addition to your fleet, I know the PAF will be even more prepared when called upon to deliver tremendous assistance in case disaster strikes,” the US official added.
Goldberg expressed hope that this kind of cooperation between the US and the Philippines would continue.
“We hope to continue to build upon this kind of cooperation, upon our hard work together over many, many decades and the success of our partnership that has (been) realized in the past to face up to the common challenges that will rise in the future,” he said.
He noted that due to their 70-year alliance, the Philippines’ and the US’ partnership is built on mutual respect and admiration.
“We are partners, we are friends, we are allies, we work closely on issues common to both our national security interests, including maritime security terrorism and transnational crime, as well as to respond to all manners of crisis, including those that endanger public health and safety. We intend to maintain focus on this relationship,” he added.
The C-130, with tail number 5040, is the second T-model acquired from the US Excess Defense Article Program aimed at beefing up the PAF’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.
The second aircraft arrived at the Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu at 7:56 p.m. last October 9.
The C-130 aircraft took off from Guam’s Andersen Air Base at 2:50 p.m. on the same day for the final leg of its flight to the Philippines.
PAF spokesperson Col. Antonio Francisco said the pilots who flew the C-130 back to the Philippines were Lt. Col. Joey Inacay, mission commander; Lt. Col. Jason Rom Lacida, aircraft commander; Maj. Anthony Amora, test pilot and pilot-in-command; Maj. Meritto Jay Quijano, pilot-in-command; and Maj. Marjorie Mukay, pilot-in-command and Maj. Ronel Salas, pilot.
The PAF spokesperson also noted that Mukay is the first female to be certified as a pilot-in-command of a C-130.
The PAF’s fifth C-130 took off from Tucson, Arizona (Davis-Monthan Air Base) last October 6 (US time).
The Air Force’s fifth C-130, as well as the fourth, belong to the “T” model of the class and originally configured as an airborne tanker.
The fourth C-130 arrived at the Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu last April 5.
It was flown by Filipino pilots headed by Col. Alejando Baclayon, Lt. Col. Ian Earth Lamzon, Maj. Ian Dexter Danes, Maj. Anthony Amora, and Maj. Ramil Daet.
The two C-130Ts are worth USD61 million and were acquired through the US Excess Defense Article Program.
Francisco said the additional C-130s will boost the PAF’s transport and logistic capabilities.
Aside from the C-130s, the PAF has three Airbus Military C-295 medium and three Fokker F-27 transports for its logistics and lift missions. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA-northboundasia.com