From the first quarter through the third of 1973, PAF mainly through composite Air Support Force Cotabato, provides vital air support in the campaign to liberate Central Mindanao from the clutches of the MNLF. Aside from airlifting troops from Manila and Cebu to the war zone, the PAF swooped into the thick of battle. Composite Air Support Force Cotabato (CASFCOT) under the Regional Air Command (RACMIN) commanded by Col Angel C Okol PAF, fielded UH-1H choppers, L-20 “Beaver” rocket-bearing aircrafts and C-47 gunships as CEMCOM troops advanced to recapture town after town from rebel hands. The continuous air strikes performed by the PAF eventually destroyed the enemy’s logistics based in the town of Lebak.
In 1974, the PAF Self-Reliance Development Group, the forerunner of the Air Force Research and Development Center (AFRDC) was created. The Center enabled the PAF to locally produce as much of its requirements as possible and went into partnership with the private sector. The AFRDC boasted its prototype aircraft as well as its vital equipment and supplies.
On February 24, 1986 at the height of the EDSA Revolution, the 15th Strike Wing defected to the Ramos-Enrile camp, taking their squadron’s of S-76 “Sikorsky” that later dictated a bloodless revolution at EDSA which not only ushered in a new order led by a woman president, but also earned the respect of the global community for the country.
The change brought about by the new order became even more pronounced three years after the People Power Revolution. Even as the AFP was struck by numerous attempts of military coup d’états, nationalistic fervour burned steady flames fuelled by driven people with renewed faith in government. Thus in 1989, following proclamation No. 389 by then President Corazon Aquino, the PAF changed its Anniversary date from May 2 to July 1. The original date use to mark the 1936 maiden flight of American officer Lt Lee, while July 1 was the actual date that the PAAC was renamed to Philippine Air Force and elevated into a major branch of the AFP.
In like manner, as society opened up various opportunities for women, the PAF admits its first female pilots by virtue Republic Act. 7192 (signed in December 11, 1991), also known as Women in Development and Nation Building Act. This undertaking promotes the integration of women as full and equal partners of men in development and nation building and for other purposes.