Warplanes: Vietnam Veteran Adopts Smart Bombs


April 10, 2012: The Philippines has equipped at least one of its OV-10 aircraft to use American made JDAM (GPS guided bombs). Two months ago OV-10s used these smart bombs to attack an Abu Sayyaf (Islamic terrorist) camp on Jolo Island. American UAVs provided reconnaissance, using heat sensors to spot the terrorist camp and night cameras to confirm who was there and provide the Filipino OV-10 with GPS coordinates. The attack was made before dawn and the American UAVs recorded video of the survivors dragging off the dead and wounded before Filipino ground troops showed up. The Philippines Air Force later denied they had used smart bombs but hitting a target like that, at night, is nearly impossible with unguided bombs. In any event, the aircraft delivering the 227 kg (500 pound) bombs was definitely an OV-10. Accepting American technical advice, including high tech weapons, is a touchy political subject in the Philippines, which may explain the denials.

Since the 1990s, the Philippines have received 32 used OV-10s from the U.S. and Thailand. Only about ten of them are currently flyable. The OV-10 is a 6.5 ton, twin prop aircraft that could carry over two tons of weapons and stay in the air for three hours per sortie. Wingspan is 40 feet (12.2 meters) and length is 41.6 feet (12.7 meters).

The first OV-10 was delivered to the U.S. Air Force, for use in Vietnam, in 1968. The last one was produced (for export to Indonesia) in 1976. The U.S. Air Force and Marines were the primary users of OV-10s and the last of these was retired, by the marines, in 1994. Over a hundred were exported to Germany, Thailand, Colombia, Venezuela, Philippines, and Indonesia. Several dozen of these are still in use out of over 300 manufactured. In Vietnam the OV-10 was used more for reconnaissance and directing air and artillery strikes than in using its own firepower.