MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) fleet of FA-50 jets are on guard keeping watch of the country’s skies even before the Sept. 2 incident of a detected unidentified aircraft flying 120 nautical miles northwest of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
“Your PAF is always on watch for aircraft entering our airspace without proper clearance or permission,” PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). “The FA-50s are always on alert even before the Sept. 2 (scramble).”
Scramble, in military aviation, refers to the immediate deployment of fighter aircraft to intercept an unknown or hostile aircraft.
Through its radars, the Philippine Air Defense Control Center (PADCC) detected last week an unidentified inbound aircraft in the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone.
The unidentified aircraft was heading towards Philippine airspace and upon coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), it was classified to have an “unknown track of interest.”
The unidentified aircraft did not respond to radio calls made by the PADCC.
The PADCC issued a “scramble” order to two FA-50 and were given the mission to intercept the unknown aircraft for visual identification.
Four minutes into the intercept, the aircraft changed direction towards the north and increased its speed to 400 knots and headed away from the Philippine airspace. The intercept was terminated at 9:45 a.m.
Mariano said the incident is under investigation and they are trying to determine the exact type of the unidentified aircraft.
Meantime, Mariano said the PAF does not want to speculate on the sighting of an unknown aircraft in Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon, also on Sept. 2, that was posted on social media.
“We might not be able to really know the origin of the said aircraft, and what type of aircraft, and we don’t want to speculate on the sighting of our netizen. But it is good to know that our countrymen are beginning to appreciate the importance of the security of our airspace, nagiging aware po ang iilan (they are becoming aware) and this is a big help for us, to help us watch the skies,” he said. (PNA)