Brutal weapons of bombing and strafing

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As a brutal counterinsurgency tactic, the employment of drones, helicopters and fighter jets for aerial bombing and strafing started under the Duterte fascist regime.

Over the past years, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bought weapons left and right to strengthen its “air superiority.” Hundreds of billions of pesos were squandered to buy drones, helicopters, fighter jets, rockets, cannons and bombs. These purchases were made purportedly for “modernization” of the country’s military equipment to defend against incursions in the South China Sea. In reality, most of these are being used in the all-out war against the people in the countryside.

At present, the AFP has 17 medium-altitude long-endurance drones, including eight Hermes 450 and nine Hermes 900. These were brought from the Elbit Systems of Israel, a firm in business with the US. In addition, the AFP has at least 15 ScanEagle drones. These drones are used for strategic surveillance of large areas.

The AFP also has smaller and less capable drones such as the Raptor 1, Knight Falcon1 and the RQ-11 Raven 3 which can only rise to a maximum of 5 kilometers. There are smaller quadcopters that fly at lower altitudes that are used in tactical operations. There is a scheduled delivery of 1,066 such quadcopters. The AFP also coordinates with US forces who operate drones controlled from their base in Zamboanga City.

Drones are unmanned aircraft controlled remotely via satellite or radio link. These carry powerful electro-optical cameras, infrared thermal imaging cameras and other equipment for aerial surveillance. The AFP does not have armed drones yet, although there were reports in 2018 that bombs were dropped from drones. Drones are mainly used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition. The AFP also uses manned Cessna airplanes that carry surveillance equipment.

Attack helicopters such as the MD-520MG and the Agusta Westland (AW 109) are used by the AFP for bombing. The AFP right now has 13 AW 109s and 15 MD-520MGs. These helicopters carry 6-7 rocket bombs which have a diameter of 2.75 inches and weigh 15 kilograms each. There are also Hydra rockets that weight 6.2 kilos. The AFP also uses Sikorsky helicopters that can be fitted with machineguns used for strafing.

The AFP also uses war planes for its bombing runs such as the FA-50 fighter jet (purchased in 2014) and the A-29B Super Tucano (set to be used in 2023 after a period of training). The FA-50 can fly at a speed of 1,837.5 kilometers per hour, while the Super Tucano can fly at 590 kph. These war planes can carry up to seven large bombs. The AFP bought AGM-65 Maverick bombs that weigh 210-304 kilos (equivalent of 4-5 sacks of rice). The AFP also uses Bronco airplanes, OV-10 and Marchetti jets to drop bombs. These drop bombs based on information collected by the drones.

Aside from bombs, these war planes can also carry rockets. These are also fitted with M61 Vulcan machineguns that can fire 6,000 rounds per minute. Aerial strafing is done without a clear target on land. This puts in danger anyone who might be in the vicinity, and destroys trees, plants and others. Aerial strafing is part of the tactic to cause widespread fear while emboldening their own troops.

Rockets and bombs are extremely powerful weapons. In warfare, these are often used against hard and heavily fortified targets such as military camps and warships. A 500-pound bomb can demolish a medium-rise building or create a crater 15-feet deep and 30-feet wide. These bombs are even more destructive when attached with a proximity fuse which causes the bombs to explode before hitting the ground.

In addition, the AFP also uses howitzer cannons in senseless shelling. These cannons fire 105mm (13 kgs) or 155 mm (43.7 kgs) bombs. It can fire a 105mm to a distance of 11 km, and a 155mm to a distance of 23.5 km. These cannons sit on wheels, are drawn by military trucks and positioned typically within the vicinity of a village. Every time that these cannons are fired, residents experience untold fear.

Brutal weapons of bombing and strafing