Murphy's Law: Grounded By Oil Prices


October 31,2008: The rising price of oil has forced yet another military force to curtail operations. The Philippines Air Force will sharply cut back maritime patrol flights by its five Italian made S211 jets. These five aircraft also serve as the only fighter aircraft the Philippines has. Three years ago, the Philippines removed from service its eight F-5 fighters. These 1960s era aircraft were not much of a match for any more recent warplanes, and were expensive to maintain. The Philippines bought more helicopters, which were very useful in fighting Moslem and communist rebels. The Philippines also kept in service five S211 jet trainers, which can be used for ground attack, or air-to-air operations (like against terrorists who have hijacked an aircraft.) The Philippines originally bought 25 S211s in the 1980s, but due to accidents and lack of maintenance, only about five are available for service most of the time.

The Philippines really has no practical need for a jet fighter force. While this is dicey, because of possible clashes with China, the Filipinos are being practical. They could never afford to buy and maintain warplanes sufficient to deal with a Chinese air threat. The Philippines depends on its friendship with the United States for protection. American warplanes provide better protection than any jet fighters the Philippines could put in the air.

The 2.7 ton S211s have a max speed of 665 kilometers an hour, and can stay in the air for about five hours per sortie. The S211s were not really doing much with the maritime reconnaissance flights, as the aircraft lacks a search radar, and must depend on the eyes of the two pilots to spot anything.


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