Four out of the six new Embraer Defense and Security A-29 “Super Tucano” close-air support aircraft, which are intended to beef up the Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s close-air support capabilities, have landed in Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga on Saturday.
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the four aircraft have landed in Clark Air Base around 1:06 p.m. while the other two are still in New Delhi, India, awaiting for clearance and would be flown to the Philippines at a later date.
Embraer company pilots flew the aircraft from the company airfield in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and made fueling 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 PAF pilots selected to fly the “Super Tucano” for two months as part of the agreement under the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee.
The A-29s were earlier scheduled to be delivered by the end of July but the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent travel bans have skewed the delivery timetables.
The aircraft, which will be part of the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing, will 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 ordnance will be very useful in the field,” Andolong said.
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 for the six aircraft is worth PHP4.968 billion and was issued in late 2017. (PNA)