Cessna T-41D Mescalero ex Korea (photo : XAirforces)
SOUTH Korea will turn over to the Air Force on Thursday 15 T-41D “Mescalero” primary trainer planes in a formal ceremony at Clark Air Base in Pampanga on Thursday.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teorodo will receive the airplanes from South Korean Ambassador Choi Jung Kyung.
Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, Air Force commander, and Kim Joo Won, deputy minister for force and resource management of the Korean Ministry of Defense, will lead military, defense and diplomatic personalities in the said activity.
The 15 T-41Ds, which are propeller-driven trainer aircraft, were reassembled and tested until they mustered full mission-capable status by Air Force mechanics at Clark Air Base, will be flown by PAF pilots to the Basilio Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, home of the 100 Training Wing.
The planes will first proceed to nearby Cesar Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, before flying straight to Batangas. Leading the maiden flight are Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, a certified and licensed pilot, and Rabena.
The knockdown planes left the port of Pusan, South Korea, on December 4 and arrived four days later at Manila’s South Harbor. These were then taken to the Air Force’s 410th Maintenance Wing facility in Clark for assembly.
Initially targeted for completion on February 16, the Air Force mechanics finished reassembling the 15 planes four days ahead of schedule on February 12.
“The arrival of the trainer planes will greatly enhance the operational readiness of the entire Air Force, especially in training its pilots for the transition to territorial defense mode in 2012 from the current internal security operations of the Armed Forces,” Rabena said.
The delivery of the trainer planes is part of a program strengthening the logistics-support capabilities of both the Korean and the Philippine armed forces under their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation signed on May 24, 1994.
The MOU covers expanded and enhanced logistical cooperation such as procurement, supply, maintenance and transportation, among others.
The delivery of 15 T-41D trainer planes is the ninth delivery from Korea to the Armed Forces since 1993. Earlier deliveries included 12 PK Boats (high-speed coastal surveillance patrol boats), 10 PKM Boats (medium high-speed coastal surveillance patrol boats), three F-5A fighter jets, 16 buses for the Philippine Military Academy, parachutes, army field telephones, Kevlar ballistic helmets, mobility and engineering equipment, ammunition and maintenance parts for PK and PKM boats.
The bilateral relationship between both armed forces also helps the Korean military and defense establishments, who regularly send their officers to the National Defense College and the Armed Forces Command and General Staff College in Camp Aguinaldo.
The delivery of the 15 T-41D trainers will boost the primary trainer fleet of the Air Force to 29.
Owing to lack of aircraft, Air Force personnel are now being used as infantry troops to fight communist guerrillas in areas near air bases like Batangas, Pampanga and Tarlac.
The T-41 Mescalero, a short-range, high-wing trainer aircraft, is the military version of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. It is used primarily for pilot candidate screening.
The US Air Force and the US Army both used the T-41 as trainer for new pilots. The aircraft was phased out of the US military in the late 1990s.