The participation of Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) FA-50PH Fighter/Surface Attack/Lead-in Fighter Trainer (F/SA/LIFT) supersonic aircraft and AgustaWestland AW109 attack helicopters in the Marawi City battle against terrorists was dubbed as ‘game changer’.
The game changed when “the roar of the after burns” of FA-50PHs was heard over Marawi City, Philippine aviation information provider Pinoy Aviators said in its Facebook page.
Pinoy Aviators said PAF 5th Fighter Wing’s (5FW) 7th Tactical Fighter ‘Bulldogs’ Squadron “successfully delivered their surgical air strike, flying their brand new FA-50 supersonic fighter aircraft against [the] local Islamist terror group in Marawi City.”
It added that 15th Strike Wing’s (15SW) 18th Attack ‘Falcons’ Squadron pilots with their AW109 attack helicopters “gave everything in providing reconnaissance and tactical close air support to our Army and Marines in the frontline to liberate Marawi City from the local Islamic State Terrorist group.”
The Marawi City siege started May 23 and on May 25 the 15th Strike Wing unleashed their attack pilots from the 17th Attack ‘Jaguars’ Squadron (SF260TP Light Attack Aircraft), 18th Attack ‘Falcons’ Squadron (AW-109E), 20th Attack ‘Firebirds’ Squadron (MD520 MG Defender), and 16th Attack Eagles’ Squadron (OV-10 Bronco), Pinoy Aviators said.
On May 31 the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave the green light to PAF to let the Bulldogs (FA-50PH) join the attack pilots of 15th Strike Wing.
Aside from these war birds manned by their attack pilots, several PAF aircraft which included the C-130 Hercules and C-295 of PAF’s 220th Airlift Wing; and UH-IH and Bell-412 combat utility helicopters were heavily utilized in transport, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation missions in support of Marawi’s liberation from terrorists.