CLARK FREEPORT — Four out of the six new Embraer Defense and Security A-29 “Super Tucano” close-air support aircrafts, which are intended to beef up the Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s close-air support capabilities are now at the Clark Air Base here.
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the two other aircrafts are still in New Delhi, India, awaiting clearance before flying home to the Philippines.
The Super Tucano is a turboprop aircraft designed for light attack, counter-insurgency, close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions in low threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. The contract purchase for the six aircraft is P4.968 billion.
Embraer company pilots flew the aircraft from their base in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They made refueling stops in the Canary Islands, Portugal, Malta, Egypt, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, and Vietnam before landing in the Philippines.
Andolong said Embraer pilots will train selected PAF pilots to fly the “Super Tucano” for two months as part of the accord under the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee.
The A-29s were earlier scheduled to be delivered end of July but the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions have skewed the delivery timetables.
The aircrafts will form part of PAF’s 15th Strike Wing, and beef up the remaining North American Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco” attack aircraft used by the Air Force in strike missions.
“They are a welcome and much-needed replacement for the PAF’s aged, close air support aircraft, and their mission versatility and capability to carry a variety of ordnances will be very useful in the field,” Andolong said.