Posted to the conservative Heritage Foundation Website (Sep 24): Getting the Philippines Air Force Flying Again: The Role of the U.S.–Philippines Alliance
The recent standoff at Scarborough Shoal between the Philippines and China demonstrates how Beijing is targeting Manila in its strategy of maritime brinkmanship. Manila’s weakness stems from the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) lack of air-defense system and air-surveillance capabilities to patrol and protect Philippine airspace and maritime territory. The PAF’s deplorable state is attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ single-minded focus on internal security since 2001. Currently, the Aquino administration is undertaking a major reform to shift the PAF from its focus on counterinsurgency to its original role of air defense, an effort hindered by the perennial lack of funds. It is imperative for the U.S.— Philippines’ alliance—to assist the PAF in developing the air power and skills to spread its wings and protect the country’s territory.