by Staff Sgt. Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs
5/5/2015 - CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines -- For
the first time in Philippine Air Force history, PAF air battle managers
controlled aircraft while airborne by integrating with the U.S. Air
Force's 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron as part of Exercise
Five PAF air battle managers have flown in the AWACS each day since the exercise began April 20.
It's the first time in roughly a decade the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning
and Control System (AWACS) and its crew from the 961st AACS stationed at
Kadena Air Base, Japan, have participated in the exercise, making the
aircraft an unusual sight and the missions unforgettable for each of the
"It was a really nice and memorable experience for me because it was my
first time being a part of Balikatan and flying on an AWACS," said PAF
Maj. Frederick Facia, 581st Aircraft Control and Training Squadron
commander. "I had the chance to get familiar with the AWACS and control
Philippine aircraft from the sky. I learned a lot from that experience -
especially about the AWACS' equipment and crew's functions."
According to PAF Maj. Generoso Bautista Jr., 580th Aircraft Control and
Warning Group director of operations, modernization of PAF aircraft is
becoming a more prominent objective to better defend the Philippines in
Bautista, who noted the PAF's potential to purchase similar equipment to
the AWACS, said getting first-hand experience behind the consoles
provides key insights to procedure and response.
"The purpose of this training was for us to familiarize with a system we
hope to acquire in the future since we are modernizing, and the bulk of
our modernization will be on air defense," Bautista said. "We hope to
learn how the system works and how we can apply it to our future
equipment. What we obtained here was the first-hand experience on how
the system really works."
Though Bautista said he studied weapons control at Tyndall Air Force
Base, Florida, he said performing the art in flight aboard the AWACS was
"I feel like I learned a lot," he said. "In our point of view, it's new
equipment. We learned a lot about the system and how the U.S. Armed
Forces applies their air tactics."
"This is a good basis for acquiring the equipment that operates the same
as the AWACS," Facia said. "It's nice to have the experience of going
onboard and seeing how the AWACS crew performs their duties during the
mission. Hopefully we can apply what we learned here to training our
So far the U.S. has effectively integrated 20 different PAF weapons
controllers onboard the aircraft. Being able to work alongside each
other gives both forces a better understanding of how to work together
in the future.
"Balikatan is an important exercise to conduct for both sides," Facia
said. "It's a good opportunity to work together and test the integration
of the equipment as well as the U.S. and Filipino personnel. It's a
good chance to strengthen the friendship between the Philippines and the
"In the future, I hope this training will be repeated," Bautista said.
"It's much better for us to continue this kind of training, especially
with some air defense."