Use of Cubi Point pushed by PAF

December 23, 2012 1:10 am 

By Priam Nepomuceno

MANILA, Dec. 22 – With the modernization of the Armed Forces in full swing, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz is recommending to the national government that Cubi Point in Bataan be used as airfield for the PAF.

He made this statement after noting that Cubi Point has existing aerodrome facility and is largely unused.

"It already has an existing runway and building such things cost billions of pesos. We want it because it is already there," Dela Cruz said.

He added PAF has recommended this to the Dept. of National Defense and that Secretary Voltaire Gazmin appears to approve the concept.

"The concept seems okay to him," the PAF chief stressed.

He said having Cubi Point in PAF hands will greatly increase the loiter time of Filipino fighter planes tasked to patrol the western side of the country.

"Our fighters are presently based in Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga and, from there to their designated patrol areas in the west, it will take them 10 minutes to get there. But if we will base them in Cubi Point, they will get another 10 minutes of loiter time, thus increasing their patrol time," Dela Cruz said.

Cubi Point is a former American airfield established in 1956 by the US Navy Seabees.

The USD100 million facility was commissioned on July 25, 1956 and comprised an air station and an adjacent pier capable of docking the US Navy's largest carriers.

Cubi Point served as the primary maintenance, repair and supply center for the 400 carrier-based aircraft of the Seventh Fleet's carrier force.

During the Vietnam War, its jet engine shop turned out 2 jet engines a day to keep pace with demand.

Cubi Point and Naval Base Subic Bay were also prominently used during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

In June 1991, when Mt. Pinatubo, 32 kms from Subic Bay, erupted, Cubi Point was blanketed in ash one-foot thick.

After the evacuation of all dependents from the facility, an intense clean-up was begun to return the station to normal operations.

Within two weeks, Cubi Point was back in limited operation.

Soon most building had electricity and water service restored. By mid-July, service had been restored to most family housing units.

By September, most dependents were back to Subic Bay and Cubi Point, but it was also in September that the Senate of the Philippines voted to have the United States withdraw from all of its facilities in the Philippines. The withdrawal was completed in November 1992. (PNA)

HBC/PFN

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