On the 28th of September, 2005, went into history as the day the Philippine Air Force completely lost all vestiges of fighter capability. Although S211 trainers were later pressed into combat roles as part of Project Falcon, and painted air superiority grey, the retirement of the long suffering F-5A/B “Freedom Fighters” was the end of an era.
The following article marks the passing of these birds.
PAF to retire F-5 fleet
By Ding Cervantes
The Philippine Star 09/29/2005
FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga — Goodbye, “Freedom Fighters.”
The Air Defense Wing of the Philippine Air Force at Basa Air Base here is retiring this Saturday the remaining fleet of F-5 supersonic jet fighter-bombers, referred to as “Freedom Fighters,” in ceremonies befitting their historic 40-year role in the country’s air defense.
The “Freedom Fighters” were also flown by the Blue Diamond aerobatics team, captivating the public in spectacular air shows during public events, including presidential inaugurations, since they were first acquired by the government from the United States on Aug. 27, 1965 under the Philippine-US military agreement. Their last air show was in 2002 at the Clark special economic zone.
Capt. Ephraim Suyom, spokesman of the Air Defense Wing, said the decommissioning rites will be held at the 431st maintenance hanger at Basa Air Base, with Lt. Gen. Jose Reyes, Air Force chief, as guest of honor.
Highlighting the ceremonies will be the final taxiing and engine shutdown of F-5 No. 191 by Brig. Gen. Manuel Natividad, commander of the Air Defense Wing, Suyon said.
To be decommissioned are 10 F-5s, the only ones which have remained operational out of the 37 acquired by the government from the US from 1965 to 1998, he said.
Suyom said Philippine authorities agreed to decommission the F-5s due to difficulties in maintaining the single-seater supersonic aircraft.
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