NAVAL AIR GROUP HISTORICAL EVENTS
The Naval Air Section
The Naval Air Group traces its beginning on 07 October 1947. It was first established as an air section of the Philippine Navy which was then called the Off Shore Patrol (OSP).The unit initially received an L-5 land plane with a crew of one officer and two enlisted personnel. Years later in June 1947, the Navy acquired another plane – a PT 13 land plane. These were based at the former Nelson Air Base in Makati, Rizal. It was then manned by Philippine Air Force and Philippine Naval Patrol personnel under the leadership of CAPT CONRADO C CHUIDIAN JR PAF as the Officer In charge. In 1951 two (2) air assets were converted into seaplanes with the help of the late COL LAMBERT USAF (RET) and were effectively utilized for anti-smuggling, reconnaissance, air evacuation, mercy and administrative flights in support to operating task forces particularly in the southern waters.
Realizing the importance of aircraft to naval operations, the Navy acquired in December 1960 three (3) new De Havilland L-20 (U-6A) Beavers. These seaplanes were extensively utilized for maritime patrol, reconnaissance and administrative support missions. The unit, however, suffered the tragic but glorious history with these assets. The last of these aircraft was lost in Lamao, Bataan while ferrying COMMODORE RUDIANO BROWN during his field visit on 30 January 1973.
Notwithstanding the unit’s unpleasant experience, the Philippine Navy still negotiated for the purchase of six (6) BN-Islanders and six (6) BO-105C Helicopters from the Philippine Aerospace development Corporation. On 15 November 1974, the first Navy helicopter (PN 412) was delivered to the unit at Naval Station Sangley. It was formally commissioned on 26 March 1975 and this even was very significant for it assured the units continued existence after it had been planeless since the last tragic incident in Bataan.
On 09 July 1975, two Britten Norman Islanders (PN 426 and PN 428) were again delivered and thus begun the realization of the unit expansion. Few months later, On 16 September 1975, The Philippine Navy recognized the Naval Air Unit into Naval Air Group which consequently established also five (5) air detachments strategically based at Cavite City, Zamboanga, Puerto Princesa, San Fernando, and Pag-Asa. By 1978, NAG has already four (4) BO-105 and five (5) BN Islanders. Its complement of Naval Aviators had also increased to 60.
On February 1979, the Naval Air Group was formally detached from the Naval Defense Forces and was designated as a special unit of PN under the operational administrative control of the FOIC, PN. It then continued supporting the fleet in the attainment of the Philippine Navy two fold missions in national security and national development.
Some years later, PN negotiated for the transfer of a BN Islander from the office of the Secretary of National Defense on (10 Sept 1987) and a BO-105 from the Philippine Air Force (6 Jan 1988). These events significantly bolstered the unit’s operational capability after suffering losses in the previous years.
During the organizational shake-up of the PN on 01 March 1988, the unit becomes an integral part of the newly created Philippine Fleet. Nevertheless, it continued to pursue its mission of supporting various naval operations under the operational control of the Naval Districts. On 29 November 1990, the unit effected some changes within its organization and activated the Group Support Squadron, primarily to assist the Headquarters and its operating air units/detachments. Few months later, on 24 May 1991, the Multi-Purpose Fixed Wing (MF-30) and Multi-Purpose Helicopter (MH-40) Naval Air Squadrons were also activated. The Naval Air Group in its quest to professionalize its growing number of aviators and to meet the challenges of modern air warfare has instituted another step. That on 01 October 2003, the Naval Aviation School Center which was formerly under the Group Support Squadron was upgraded to Naval Aviation Training Squadron (NATS 50).
On 25 March 2005, the group activated the Naval Air Station San Vicente (NASSV), located off the tip of Northern Luzon in Santa Ana, Cagayan. This is the first and only air station of the group which primarily serves as forward base for PN aircraft conducting naval air operations at Northern Luzon.
On February 2007, with the untiring effort and coordination made with Olympic Aviation, Naval Air Group received a Cessna 172F Trainer Aircraft as donation and was subsequently commissioned as Philippine Navy 330 on 23 March 2007.
On July 2007, General Headquarters AFP issued a bidding directive of Procurement of PN project including the acquisition of trainer aircraft. Following the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, the Philippine Navy, through the Naval Air Group became the premier recipient of the Robinson R22 Beta II trainer aircraft in the whole AFP. It was delivered last 25 September 2007 by Manila Aerospace Products Trading. This was succeeded by another acquisition when on 11 July 2008, Welcome Export Inc. delivered to HNAG the Cessna 172N which was later commissioned to the naval service as PNC 331.
With the enactment of the AFP Modernization Law and implementation of Coast Watch South System, which gives primordial significance of a maritime aircraft, the upgrade of three Britten-Norman Islander Aircraft was materialized. This capability upgrade comprises the installation of newly overhauled engines and propellers, avionics systems, which include weather and search radar, GPS and communications equipment desired to enhance the surveillance and night flying capability of the aircraft. The blessing and acceptance ceremony of the newly upgraded PNI 312 and 314 aircraft was done last 14 April 2008 at the Hangar of Headquarters Naval air Group with REAR ADMIRAL PETRONILO MAGNO AFP, the Commander of the Philippine Fleet then, as guest of honor.
The Naval Air Group, over the glorious years have recorded several thousand flying hours supporting the Fleet, other AFP units and even civilian government agencies. Today with its over 200 pilots and crew, 17 aircraft consisting of Britten Norman Islanders, Bolkow Helicopters, Cessna and Robinson R-22 Trainers, the Naval Air Group continues to manifest their loyal service to the Filipino people towards the dream of having a peaceful and progressive nation.