Why the Revival of the Phil Air Force Exercise Matters

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Late last month, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) revived an air defense exercise that had been discontinued for over 20 years. Though the development is just one of a series of activities within the context of the PAF and the Philippine military more generally, its significance bears noting from both a historical and a contemporary perspective.

The PAF, like the other services within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has long suffered from a range of limitations and challenges. That said, we have seen some inroads made over the past few years in terms of the modernization of the PAF, with the approval of new projects and the actual realization of some of them, such as the new FA-50 jets bought from South Korea. As this has occurred, we have seen the PAF undertake a series of new moves both domestically as well as in its ties with key regional partners.

An example in this respect at the domestic level is the recent revival of an old air defense exercise. The PAF had begun organizing air defense exercise Sanay Sibat back in the 1990s following the withdrawal of U.S. forces at Clark Air Base and the transfer of exercise Cope Thunder, an exercise sponsored by the Pacific Air Forces, to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. But following the last iteration of the exercise in 1995, with F-5 Freedom Fighters and AS-211 aircraft, the exercises were discontinued.


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