PAF OV-10 planes back in action

November 30, 2011 10:55 pm 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Nov. 30 – “The OV-10s are back in action.”

Thus said Maj. Jose Tony Villarete, the commander of the 3rd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), following the lifting of the grounding of the highly versatile United States-made planes over the weekend after the Air Force Accident Investigating Board said no defect was found in the aircraft.

Villarete said all OV-10 aircraft of the PAF were grounded on November 9 after the crash-landing of one Bronco plane in Zamboanga City.

“The planes are flying again,” Villarete told the Philippines News Agency in a phone interview.

Investigators found that the cause of the crash-landing was the “unusual gusty winds” while the OV-10 was about to land with only one single engine functioning at Edwin Andrews Air Base.

Villarete also said the two pilots of the ill-fated plane would not be sanctioned since they followed the proper procedures in the event an aircraft engine conked out in mid-air as what happened in the November 9 incident. Both pilots were hurt but not seriously.

On November 9, the pilots asked for a priority landing at the Zamboanga International Airport because their aircraft was flying on a single engine.

Civil Aviation Authority personnel gave the go signal but warned of strong winds over the area.

OV-10 Bronco planes are safe to fly, Villarete assured.

The double-body OV-10 is being used by PAF for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations by giving close air support to ground troops.

The PAF received 33 OV-10A from the U.S. in 1991 and another eight donated by Thailand in 2003 and 2004.

The aircraft is operated by the 16th Attack Squadron of the 15th Strike Wing based in Sangley Point, Cavite.

Aside from being used as a COIN aircraft, the PAF also utilizes the Broncos for search-and-rescue mission.

Today, PAF women pilots fly the OV-10.

The planes saw extensive action against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu and during the fighting in Central Mindanao against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in 2000.

Villarete said the OV-10 is primarily designed as an observation plane but since the retirement of the F-5 jets, the aircraft is doubling as a counter-insurgency aircraft and proved to be very effective.

The planes are armed with air-to-air sidewinder missiles, air-to-ground rockets, four 7.62mm machine guns and 500-pound bombs and are extensively used in patrolling the country’s territorial waters, including the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Another feature of the OV-10 is that it can land and take off on short runways measuring 800 meters. It has a speed of 560 kilometers per hour.

The plane first saw action during the Vietnam War in 1965 doubling as a light attack aircraft and reconnaissance plane. It can fly more than five hours non-stop and at an altitude of 18,000 feet (5,500 meters).

Aside from the Philippines and the United States, other countries using the OV-10 planes at one time or another are Indonesia, Colombia, Thailand, Venezuela and Lebanon. (PNA) scs/RBC/utb

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