Linggo, Abril 10, 2016

U.S, others display fire powers at Clark

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

After I read at the Pinoy Aviators' Community Page Group at Face Book the aircraft static display at Clark of the American, Australian, and Filipino troops who used them at the military exercise dubbed as Balikatan 2016, I told myself to go again there just like last year.
A-10 Thunderbolt

AIR POWER DISPLAY. Philippines civilians and military officials milled last April 9 around the various combat aircraft of the United States, Philippines, and Australia at the static display at Clark Air Base in Pampanga. The combat planes and surface to surface rockets HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) were used in the March 18 to April 22 Balikatan (military exercise) 2016. The U.S brought A-10 "Thunderbolt" attack aircraft, HH-60 "Pave Hawk" Combat Utility Helicopters, C-130 "Hercules" Medium lift/transport aircraft, Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS, B-52 "Stratofortress" strategic bomber, C-17 "Globemaster" Heavy lift/ transport aircraft, RQ-4 "Global Hawk" unmanned surveillance aircraft, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), PJ flying boat, P-3 Poseidon, Bell Boeing V-22 OspreyOsprey, others. The Philippines had their C295 Martime Patrol Aircraft, C-130 "Hercules" medium lift/transport aircraft, PZL W-3 "Sokol" CUH/Rescue Helicopter, UH1H Combat Utility Helicopter OV-10C/M "Broncos" FAC/attack aircraft, MG520 "Defenders" Scout/light attack helicopters, FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" light fighter/combat aircraft, B412 Combat Utility Helicopters, others, while Australia brought there its P-3C "Orion" anti-submarine/maritime patrol aircraft.

The display was on April 9 (Saturday) 2016 at Haribon Hangar of the former American ran Clark Air Base in Pampanga – an almost three hours drive from my home in Dagupan City.
“Be there at least before 8 am because the free show was for a half day only,” the announcement at Aviators' said.
I arrived at the hangar at almost 9 am where the April's summer sun started to “blister” my skin, joined one of the two rows queue composed of excited civilians and military men mostly officers from different parts of Luzon and probably Visayas and Mindanao.
There were even Filipino family members in tow by their U.S Air Force and U.S Marine relatives who joined the queue.
We were required by the local air force to write our name and our address on a bond paper before we were allowed for our ingress at the gate of the 6012th Operation Squadron Base and into the hangar where bevy of combat planes from the Vietnam War era like the Super Huey to the modern era P-8 Poseidon .
Some of the planes and rocket battery displayed there were from the U.S Marines.

Sikorsky Pave Hawk
When I stepped on the hangar I saw people of various persuasions like the group of noisy Aeta (mountain people) children milling curiously on the different air assets.

Sikorsky Pave Hawk

“Gusto ninyo rin ba mag piloto ( Do you want to become a pilot)," I asked two tiny curly haired and wide eyed black skinned Aetas who looked like Vice President Jojo Binay, with a worn-out clothes of course, as they clambered just like what they do in the trees to a huge Sikorsky MH-60G/HH-60G Pave Hawk of the U.S Air Force.
“Oo, gusto namin maging piloto!” shouted by the duo whose province mate who made raves and waves globally is Allan Pineda Lindo alias Apple Dee Ap of the Black Hawk Down, er, Black Eyed Pea hip -hop group.
TV 5's host with wide eyed Aeta kids

“Was this the same chopper used by the (U.S) SEAL Team 6 in inserting themselves near a military academy at Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 10, 2011 to kill Osama bin Laden?” I posed to one of the pilots who was in a group of the crew of the American made combat chopper.
“Hey Jim, was this the same chopper used by SEAL Team 6?!” the pilot shouted at a sergeant who was amused watching the antics of those Aetas jumping in and out of the chopper.
“I ain’t know, sir!” the sarge shouted back.
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military.

Even though the Yanks there ain’t know the choppers used in extracting the SEAL Team 6 and the cadaver of ole’ man Osama, I found later that what was used in Pakistan were the stealth Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanches or a modified UH-60 Sikorsky Black Hawk.

P-8 Poseidon, P-3 Orion, and E-3 AWACS

Near the Sikorsky was the guarded Boeing made P-8 Poseidon that was used by the U.S to make fly- by at the Mainland Chinese held islets supposedly owned by the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
"Hmmm, it got limited windows," I told myself as I scanned behind my Ray Ban sunglasses the right side of the white jet.
P-8 Poseidon

The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role.
P-3 Orion

I went to the nearby Boeing E-3 Sentry, commonly known as an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and asked the crew there the difference of the converted Boeing 707, first manufactured and saw service in 1962, in intelligence gathering and the Poseidon.

“I ain’t know about the difference of the Poseidon. What we know is the features of the AWACs,” a male captain crew told me.
A-10 Thunderbolt

ME: Hi, you’re a Marine pilot and a captain. You fly this ugly monster’s Warthog?
CAPTAIN: Yes sir.
Crew of  A-10 Warthog with Filipino spectators

ME: You’re probably a graduate of the United State Naval Academy in Annapolis?
CAPTAIN: Yes sir, an USNA alumnus.
ME: Have you seen war in Afghanistan and Iraq?
CAPTAIN: Naah, we are assigned in South Korea.
Then we discussed about a 1998 West Point graduate Captain Nate Self whose platoon was ambushed by the Al Queda’s supported Afghan rebels (click full story here) in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was hit for several times by rocket propelled grenades from the enemies below.
A-10 Thunderbolt

“Your rescue mission was impressive, you used a lot of air assets like F-16 and F-15 and even a C-130 with all those blazing Gatling guns before the Chinooks (helicopter with two huge horizontal rotors) pull out your besieged men and geez in a nighttime to avoid being shot at by the rebels,” I told the all ears captain.

AWACS and C-17 Globemaster III

I met this pretty Air Force captain who guided high school students composed mainly of Aetas who probably lived near Clark,.
C-17 Globemaster III

ME: You speak fluent Tagalog.
CAPTAIN: I was born in Pangasinan.
ME: Oh, I’m from Pangasinan, too. Are you an alumna of the USAFA (United States Air Force Academy) at the Rocky Mountain?
CPT: No, I was a graduate of a university in California then I joined the Air Force and was assigned as intelligence officer of the AWACS.
ME: What’s the difference between the AWACS and Poseidon?
CPT: Oh sorry, I’m not privy with the Poseidon, only of AWACS.

AP-3C Orion