The Philippine Air Force (PAF) revealed on Saturday that it sent several FA-50 fighter jets to intercept an unknown aircraft that entered the country’s air defense identification zone.
According to PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, the still unidentified aircraft was detected by the Philippine Air Defense Control Center (PADCC) via radar. It was reportedly flying at 120 nautical miles (222 kilometers) northwest of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
“The PADCC issued a ‘scramble’ order to two FA-50s stationed at the Air Defense Alert Center and were given the mission to intercept the unknown aircraft for visual identification,” the spokesperson told Philippine News Agency. He added that the FA-50s flew at the maximum allowed speed toward the unknown plane, which was flying at 265 knots (490 kilometers per hour).
The PADCC radioed the aircraft for identification, but it did not respond. Four minutes into the intercept, the unknown plane increased speed and changed direction, exiting Philippine airspace.
Despite the aggressive move, Mariano clarified that the PAF had no intention of firing on the unidentified aircraft. He said the intercept was merely for identification.
‘Always On Watch’
Mariano explained that this is not the first incursion on the country’s air defense identification zone. However, he said that foreign aircraft “willfully violated” the country’s airspace many years ago because they knew no one would challenge them.
Now, the PAF and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) closely monitor Philippine airspace, immediately issuing warnings to aircraft entering without authorization.
“Your PAF is always on watch for aircraft entering our airspace without proper clearance or permission. The FA-50s are always on alert even before the Sept. 2 (scramble),” the official told the state-owned news agency.