Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 12, 1972: First Ever Philippine Made Rocket Launched- How TRUE?!

The Bongbong Rocket. Photo courtesy of Mitch Romero thru Youtube.
The first ever Philippine made rocket named "Bongbong I" was reportedly launched at Caballo island near Corrigedor in the Manila Bay on March 12, 1972 allegedly followed by several more tests in the succeeding months at the island. The rocket was named after the second child and first son of President Marcos- Bongbong Marcos. This was under the Philippine Navy Project Santa Barbara which was the local Rocket Program initiated under then President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the 1970s. 

On March 12, 1972, a Philippine made rocket named "Bongbong I" reportedly launched 
at Caballo island near Corrigedor in the Manila Bay and retrieved from the South China Sea. 
It was a Rocket program which used an artillery with no guidance system involved- a technology that has long been in use around the world way before the 1970s. This was supposed to be a part of the Philippine Military experiment to produce its own ballistic missiles  researched and developed by a group of Filipino and German engineers and scientists.

The Bukang Liwayway Rocket Launcher. Photo courtesy of mitch romero thru Youtube.
The following year, the rockets were featured during the 1973 Independence Day Parade at the Luneta Grandstand (see video below).


According to reports, the missile tested were of different configurations of a 180 MM liquid-propellant rocket: short version with fixed fins, long version with fixed fins, long version with folding fins, and the Pressure Assisted Take Off type. The launchers tested were the Fixed-Open Frame (short), Fixed-Open frame (long), Truck-mounted tube launcher, truck-mounted open frame, and the Submerged Launcher for underwater firing.

Notes and Controversy: 
- Evidences for these rockets are found only on a few news articles and still pictures like the ones posted here. Only one video was known to exist with only one public demonstration known to have been made.
– No videos of the launches are known to exist which puts into doubt IF the program was successful and if the Program itself was used mainly for Propaganda purposes,
–  The rockets were never mass produced. No surviving samples of the Bongbong and SB110 rockets nor of the Bukang Liwayway Rocket Launchers are known to exist.
Front view of the locally made Sumpak Rocket Launcher. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

– The only surviving sample of the program is the Sumpak launcher . This launcher was originally named “Mk 40 Mobile Assault Rocket Combat Operational System (MARCOS)” but was later changed to “Sumpak” (Filipino for “Blowgun” “Improvised Gun”). Note that it does NOT use locally made rockets.

Project Santa Barbara was discontinued after the Marcos administration.


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