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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PAF is Ordering a Number of Brand New Aircraft this Year

The orders  include 12 LIFT jets, eight light transports, three medium transports and attack helicopters. (photo : sires9094)

PAF buying new trainer jets

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is ordering this year a number of brand new aircraft.
These include 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets, eight light transports, three medium transports and attack helicopters.
The PAF said the order is among 38 contracts that the air branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will sign this year. Delivery of the aircraft is expected in two years.
“Within the year we expect to sign contracts. We have 38 projects lined up, foremost of which is the FAA lead-in fighter trainer or LIFT. We have attack helicopters coming, light transports and medium transports that are slightly smaller than the C-130 cargo plane” currently in use, PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Okol said.
“They have been approved by the senior leadership (of the Department of National Defense),” he added.
He said the rest of the 38 contracts were still being finalized.
From being one of the best in Southeast Asia during the 1960s, the Air Force fleet gradually deteriorated and became obsolete without being replaced, leaving the country with no external defense capability.

To upgrade the entire military’s capabilities, the DND and AFP are working to fast-track the approval by July this year of a total of 138 contracts.
The contracts, mostly aimed at boosting badly depleted air and naval assets, would be implemented for the duration of the Aquino administration.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

PAF is Expected to Acquire Two Type of New Planes

For the LIFT planes the options include TA-50 Golden Eagle, M-346 Master, Yak-130 Mitten, and L-159B ALCA. For the SAA planes the options inculde AT-6B Texan II, EMB 314 Super Tucano, KA-1 Wongbee, andAir Tractor AT-802U. (photo : network54)

PAF getting new planes

QUEZON CITY, (PIA) -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is planning to revive the famed "Blue Diamond" Squadron as soon as it acquires new aircraft capable of defending the country's airspace and humanitarian missions.
This was learned from PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol in an exlusive interview at Villamor Air Base (VAB) in Pasay City.
“We have identified our needs through our capability upgrade program (CUP) and Defense Acquisition System (DAS) as identified by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,” Okol told the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
Okol said the highest priority is the revival of the country’s Air Defense System (ADS) which is in the form of Lead-in Fighter Trainers (LIFT)-Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA) role to be used for territorial defense as well as infrastructure.
He said the PAF is expected to acquire new planes July 2012. These include TA-50 Golden Eagle (Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) of South Korea; M-346 Master - Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); Yak-130 Mitten - Yakovlev Design Bureau (Russia); and L-159B ALCA - Aero Vodochody (Czech Republic).
Okol said the PAF is also looking to replace its entire OV-10 Bronco fleet which is currently used for close air support and aerial reconnaissance platforms.
Being considered are the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II, Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, KAI KA-1 Woongbi, and, reportedly, the Air Tractor Air Tractor AT-802U.
Hawker Beechcraft demonstrated their AT-6B Texan II, together with their other aircraft line, on April 2012 with a display at Clark Air Base
PAF retired its fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter with a ceremony on October 1, 2005. The F-5s were used by the PAF's Blue Diamonds aerobatics team and have appeared in several films and television programs shot in the Philippines.
Okol said PAF is prioritizing the resurgence of its capability by acquiring leading multi-role fighter jets and other aircraft with disaster response capability. “If we already have a hundred fighter planes then we can revive the Blue Diamonds,” he said.
In June 2010, the Department of National Defense (DND) was also looking at Canada for used CF-18s or France for its used Mirage F1s, although no decision or purchase came up
The PAF official said a country’s precision aerobatics team carries the type of a combat aircraft of a nation.
The United States has the “Thunderbirds” for the Air Force and “Blue Angels” for the Navy.
Recently, PAF acquired multi-role helicopters worth P 2.8 billion which the Philippines received as part of its modernization program.
The new W-3 Sokol (Falcon) helicopters are used for combat support as well as disaster relief missions.
“Our pilots are already training for the use of four of these newly acquired aircraft in time for the rainy season,” Okol said. (PAF/RJB/JCA-PIA NCR)


Friday, May 25, 2012

PH Navy Needs P500 Billion to Secure Territory

For combat fleet the Philippines Navy neds 6 frigates configured for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes, 18 offshore patrol vessels, and 3 submarines for undersea defense, and 3 mine countermeasure vessels.(photo : ManilaBoy)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy needs almost P500 billion to buy ships to effectively secure the country's vast territorial waters, a Navy official said Thursday.
The amount will go to the purchase of frigates, corvettes, patrol vessels, landing craft, submarines, and other vesseks and equipment, according to Lt. Commander Nerelito Martinez, Philippine Fleet acting chief of staff for plans and programs.
He said the need for such vessels and new equipment was thoroughly assessed during the Navy's strategic planning workshop last year.
"Current market research and assessment will give us a figure of about P497 billion for the acquisition of all the listed equipment. It may be costly at our current standards but is not unrealistic," Martinez said.
The vessels that the Navy needs now are 6 frigates configured for anti-air warfare. The frigates will be able to carry helicopters.
"The vessels shall be deployed for naval deterrence and naval presence in critical areas. The vessels shall also be deployed to support the country's international defense and security engagements having (the) capability for long-range high seas navigation," Martinez said.
He added that the Navy also needs 12 corvettes, 18 offshore patrol vessels, and 3 submarines for undersea defense, and 3 mine countermeasure vessels.
The list also inclues 4 strategic sealift vessels; 18 landing craft, 3 logistics support ships, 6 tugboats,  12 coastal patrol vessel, 30 patrol gunboats,  42 multi-purpose assault craft; 24 rigid-hull inflatable boats, 8 amphibious maritime patrol aircraft, 18 naval helicopters,  and 8 multi-purpose helicopters.
The Philippines and China are currently locked in a territorial dispute over ownership of Scarborough shoal in the waters just off Zambales.

Coast Guard Cutter Dallas Changeover to Philippines Completed

Aftaer handover to the Philippines, the new name for the ship is BRP Ramon Alcaraz (photo : USCG)
The Charleston-based Coast Guard Cutter Dallas officially transferred to the Philippines military today in a ceremony where America’s long ties to the Asian nation were repeatedly promoted.
Rear Adm. John H. Korn spoke of U.S. and Filipino cooperation during World War II, and the friendship that has been in place for decades.
“I hope she will serve the Philippines as faithfully and capably as she has served the United States of America,” he said during a transfer ceremony.
The American flag came of the Dallas for the last time. The new crew is going under training.
The Dallas is being transferred — without charge — after a 45-year career in U.S. service but amid the realization it had become too costly to maintain.
The boat’s new name will be the Ramon Alcaraz, to honor a Filipino naval officer who captained a torpedo boat in some of the earliest engagements with the Japanese at the start of World War II.

Weapons Not Included in Warship

Philippines wanted retained were its close-in weapons system, Bushmaster cannons, air search radars and fire control system, but all its weapons in USCGS Dallas were removed except for a 76-mm Oto Melara automatic cannon. (photo : alex w)
MANILA, Philippines - The United States did not give in to a request by the Philippines to include weapons and accessories in the second warship it will provide to the Philippine Navy.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said during an interview over radio dzRH that US Coast Guard ship Dallas would be similar to BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which had been stripped of its weapons system before it was turned over to the Philippines last year.
“Pareho lang ng del Pilar (The same with del Pilar),” Gazmin said when asked whether the US had granted the Philippines’ request to retain the armaments of Dallas.
Earlier, officials asked the US to retain some key features of the Dallas but Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said the request was turned down last May 8.
Among the ship’s features that Pama wanted retained were its close-in weapons system, Bushmaster cannons, air search radars and fire control system.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano will attend the symbolic turnover of the ship on Wednesday (Manila time) at North Charleston, South Carolina.
US Coast Guard ship Dallas will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a torpedo boat commanding officer during World War II. Alcaraz retired as a commodore of the Philippine Fleet in 1966 and died in 2009.
“What we are trying to prevent is the commission of transnational crimes that can affect our economy like poaching, piracy and drug trafficking,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said.
“Our borders are porous so we have to guard them closely and the acquisition of the long-range cutter will help the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added.
The Dallas is an all-weather, high-endurance cutter and has features similar to that of Gregorio del Pilar.
The cutter was used mostly for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness.
The ship can accommodate up to 180 officers and sailors.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Philippines Coast Guard Acquiring 10 New Patrol Vessel from Japan

The Coast Guard is negotiating a loan for the acquisition of 10 units of 40-meter patrol ships (photo : pdff)

Phl acquiring 10 patrol boats from Japan
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will acquire 10 brand new patrol vessels from Japan for the Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he could not discuss details of the acquisition as it is still in progress.
“I know that they (Japan) have a standing offer (to bolster the country’s maritime territorial defense),” he said.
“The Coast Guard has the complete details of the procurement.”
Speaking to reporters, Coast Guard commandant Vice Adm. Edmund Tan said the acquisition of the patrol vessels is subject for approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“The arrival of the vessels in the country would depend on how fast the loan is being processed and approved by NEDA,” he said.
The Coast Guard is negotiating a loan for the acquisition of 10 units of 40-meter patrol ships, Tan said.
Quoting the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Korean Broadcasting System reported that Japan intends to provide the Philippines with patrol vessels after easing three Principles of the Arms Export law.
The handover of the 1,000-ton patrol vessels is scheduled before the yearend, the report added.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun also reported that the Japanese government wants to help boost maritime safety capabilities in the West Philippine Sea.

Japan Provides Patrol Ships to the Philippines

The oldest 1.000 ton ship operated by Japan Coast Guard is Shiretoko class high endurance cutters (970 ton and 77,8m in length), Japan has 26 ships of this type with hull number PL-101 to PL-128, all ships built between 1978 -1981 (photo : os-dream)
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Thursday that Japan has decided to provide the Philippines with patrol ships, to support the island country in its territorial dispute against China.
The newspaper said that Japan has decided to provide vessels, including 1.000 ton patrol ships, to the Philippines by the end of the year. The move comes after the Japanese government eased last year the Three Principles of Arms Export, which bans Japan from exporting its arms.
The newspaper explained that this is a move to raise the Philippines’ maritime safety capabilities in the South China Sea, where it is clashing with China over sovereignty rights.
The United States and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are said to be keeping China in check as part of their efforts to maintain maritime security, which Japan also supports.

Friday, May 18, 2012

President Mulls Buying Brand New Jets

One of candidates of brand new jets for Philippines Airforce is F/A-50 from South Korea (photo : bemil.chosun)

MANILA (AFP) — The Philippines is looking at arming itself for the first time with dedicated fighter jets made outside of the United States, President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday amid a territorial dispute with China.
The Philippines last month requested aircraft, patrol boats and radar systems from its US military ally to help it achieve what the government said would be a “minimum credible defense.”
Aquino said that his government had asked to buy secondhand F-16s from the United States, but their maintenance costs could end up being too high because of their age.
"We might end up spending $400 million or $800 million per squadron, and we were thinking of getting two squadrons," he said in an interview with Manila's Bombo Radio.
“We do have an alternative, and — this is a surprise — it seems we have the capacity to buy brand-new, but not from America," Aquino said, without mentioning the aircraft model.
"These are manufactured by another progressive country that I won't name at this point."
Aquino noted that Manila had retired its last fighter jet, a Korean War-vintage F-5, in 2005. It does continue to fly S211 trainer jets made by the Italian firm Marchetti, which are sometimes used as ground attack aircraft against various insurgencies.
But along with the F-5, the Philippines had previously relied on obsolete US hand-me-downs including the T-33 and the P-51 Mustang as dedicated attack fighters, and the country now has no effective air defences.
It is engaged in a tense maritime standoff with China over the disputed Scarborough Shoal and surrounding waters in the South China Sea. Both nations have stationed vessels there for over a month to assert their sovereignty.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Newest Warship Needs P247M For Fuel

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), the Philippine’s frigates (photo : Philipiines Navy)
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is procuring P247 million worth of additional diesel and lubricants for the use of the country's newest warship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15).
The DND is also bidding out P133 million worth of aviation fuel and diesel requirement for its QRF (Quick Response Fund).
An invitation to bid for was posted at the DND website for additional petroleum, oil, and lubricants for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with P381,384,101.14 approved budget for the contract (ABC).
Of the total approved budget,  P247,596,691.50 will be for the additional diesel and lube oil requirement for the Del Pilar; P88,245,591.81 for diesel requirement for QRF; and P42,541,817.83 for aviation fuel requirement for QRF.
As stated in the invitation to bid signed by defense assistant secretary Patrick M. Velez, chairman of the DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), "the bidding will be conducted through an open competitive bidding procedures using non-discretionary pass/fail criteria as specified in the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act."
The bidding is "restricted to Filipino citizens/sole proprietorships, and organizations with at least 60 percent interest or outstanding capital stock belonging to citizens  of the Philippines, and to citizens or organizations of a country the laws and regulations of which grant similar rights or privileges to Filipino citizens, pursuant to Republic Act 5183 and subject to Commonwealth 138."
As the DND called on eligible bidders to send in their sealed bids, it also said that only bids from bidders who pass the eligibility check will be opened.
Velez said interested bidders may obtain further information from his office.
Pre-bid conference is scheduled May 17, while formal bid opening will be on May 29.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Philippines Junks Plan to Buy 'Ageing' F16s

The Philippine government has lined up the purchase of several air assets, including 21 UH1H helicopters, 10 attack helicopters and two C130 cargo planes. (photo : 144fw-ANG)

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines has abandoned plans to purchase “ageing” F16 fighter jets from the United States after deciding repairing and refurbishing the aircraft would cost too much.

“F16 is an ageing air asset that will be given to us. It’s mothballed and if you’re going to refurbish it, we have to evaluate because it will cost too much,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told a news briefing.

Even after refurbishing, he added, the jets would only have three to four years of flying time left.

“Lugi ka (You lose),” Gazmin said.

The defense chief said the fighter jets were not brought up during the 2+2 meeting with US officials in Washington.

However, the Philippine government has lined up the purchase of several air assets, including 21 Vietnam War-vintage UH1H helicopters, 10 attack helicopters and two C130 cargo planes.
The Philippines is also expecting four additional SoKol choppers within the year.


Second Hamilton Class Cutter to Arrive by November

The second Hamilton ship ex USCGS Dallas will be named BRP Ramon Alcaraz, will be turned over by May 22 or 23 and could arrive in the Philippines by November after refurbishments, repairs and training of crew in the United States. (photo :motoryachtsoco)
MANILA, Philippines—A second Hamilton class cutter will be turned over by the US Coast Guard to the Philippine Navy late this month, Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said Tuesday.
The 45-year-old retired seacraft will be turned over by May 22 or 23, Pama told reporters in a phone interview.
He said the ship could arrive in the Philippines by November after refurbishments, repairs and training of crew in the United States.
Transfer cost will be about the same as its sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which cost the Philippine government about P450 million, Pama said.
He said that just like BRP del Pilar, some equipment will be taken out from the newest ship to join the Philippine fleet.
Among those removed from the BRP del Pilar before its transfer to the Philippine Navy were the sensors, communications and electronic equipment and close-in weapon systems.
On the 70th commemoration of Fall of Corregidor Sunday, President Benigno Aquino III announced that the new Hamilton ship will be named BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
Alcaraz was a World War II hero who commanded motor torpedo boats, known as Q-boats.
The Q-112 Abra, manned by Alcaraz and his crew, brought down three of the nine Japanese “Zero” fighters attacking his boat, before being captured. In captivity, Alcaraz became head of the Prisoner of War camp in Malolos, making sure that his fellow POWs were kept hopeful and alive, said Aquino.

DND Eyes Second-Hand Jets, Gunboats from Four Countries apart from US

The DND is eyeing second-hand fighter jets and missile-firing gunboats from at least four states apart from the US, there are France, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Korea. (photo : enemyforces)
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is eyeing second-hand fighter jets and missile-firing gunboats from at least four friendly states apart from the United States in line with the country’s ongoing effort to build a credible territorial defense.
According to Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman, there are now ongoing acquisition efforts for these air and sea fighting equipment from France, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Korea.
“We now have this defense cooperative arrangements with these countries and through this scheme we will able to acquire fighter jets and gunboats at a lower price from them,” Galvez said yesterday.
Among the factors being considered by the department in its defense procurement program are the capability, longevity and cost of maintenance of these air and naval assets.
Now locked in a standoff with China over Panatag Shoal in Zambales, the country was earlier reported to be eyeing the procurement of a squadron of second-hand F-16 fighter planes and gunboats from the US Coast Guard.
“It’s not necessarily F-16s. We are also looking at jetfighters with the same capability as that of the F-16s but are cost-efficient and low in maintenance,” he said.
He added the acquisition program would also cover the Navy, which is awaiting transfer of the Hamilton-class cutter USS Dallas later this year.
The defense acquisition program is among 132 projects the department is eyeing to complete before the end of July.

“With the full backing of the President and with the assistance coming from friendly states, we will be able to achieve... a credible territorial defense,” Galvez said.
The US-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has said that the Philippines needs up to four squadrons (48) of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, well-armed frigates and corvette-size, fast to surface combatant vessels and minesweepers and four to six mini submarines, possibly obtained from Russia, to build a credible defense force in the face of China’s increasing belligerence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In an article “Defending the Philippines: Military modernization and the challenges ahead” written by Richard Fisher, CNAS pointed out that this level of capability would far exceed current Philippine planning and finances and it would be in Washington’s interest to make it easier for Manila to acquire US fighters, frigates and other weapons system and encourage other countries such as Japan and South Korea to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Philippine Air Force is presently relying on a single trainer jet converted into a fighter aircraft as well as several units of Vietnam-vintage OV-10 Bronco bombers, UH-IH and M520 attack helicopters as well as four newly delivered Sokol helicopters from Poland to guard the country’s skies.
The Navy, aside from several Peacock-class warships and a couple of World War II-vintage ships, simply relies on its newly acquired Hamilton-class cutter from the US, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, to secure maritime domain.
The country, through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and absent a credible territorial defense, could only watch China lording it over Panatag Shoal, a rich Filipino fishing ground 124 nautical miles from Zambales province.

Another Warship from Europe for Philippines ?

Some time ago it was reported that Philippines interested in second hand's Maestrale frigates ex Italian Navy  (photo : Eunavfor)

AFP to get warships, helicopters

TALISAY CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines is getting two more ships from the United States and Europe, and also acquiring 10 refurbished UH-IH Huey helicopters this year, in a bid of the government to modernize its poorly equipped military.

President Benigno Aquino III announced Saturday that the Philippines is due to receive another ship from the United States- a Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter, following the acquisition last year of a similar patrol ship, which is now the BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

We have another one from Europe, Aquino said, adding that Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will now have one ship each.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, formerly a Hamilton 378-foot High Endurance Cutter of the United States Coast Guard, beefed up the poorly-equipped Philippine Navy vessels, majority of which had been built during World War 2.

Built primarily as a patrol ship of the US Coast Guard in the 1970s for open ocean and long range operations, BRP Gregorio del Pilar is now the pride of the Philippine Navy.

The government spent P400 million to refurbish the former US Coast Guard ship.

Aquino said the government will soon have 10 more refurbished Huey helicopters, in addition to 24 Philippine Air Force helicopters, that used to be at least 100 , whom General Rodolfo Biazon was still the AFP vice chief of staff.

The PAF recently received four of the eight brand new Sokol combat utility helicopters ffrom Swidnik—which is touted as the "biggest helicopter manufacturer in Poland.”

Aquino said the refurbishing of Huey choppers is expected to be completed within eight months. “They will be utilized during evacuations, if there are floods and landslides”, he added.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez had earlier said that the United States will double its military aid to the Philippines, which is engaged in a prolonged maritime standoff with China over a shoal off Zambales.

Hernandez said the “foreign-military financing” aid could be used to buy new equipment or maintain existing military resources.

The Philippines has been asking the United States to supply its armed forces with patrol boats and aircraft as well as radar systems amid an escalating territorial dispute with China.

(Visayan Daily Star)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Philippines and US in Talks for Third Hamilton Class

USCGS Jarvis 725 scheduled to be decommissioned in 2013 (photo : USCG)
U.S. triples military aid to Philippines in 2012
(Reuters) - The United States will nearly triple its military funding for the Philippines this year, the Philippine foreign ministry said on Thursday, as tensions rise with China over disputed islands and Washington bolsters its alliance with Manila.
However, the Philippines expressed concern over what it said was a sharp decline in its share of U.S. foreign military financing (FMF) despite Manila's central role in the U.S.'s military "pivot" back to Asia.
Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said the Philippines accounted for over 70 percent of total FMF allocation for East Asia in 2006, compared to 35 percent this year.
"We hope this is not indicative of the priority placed on the Philippines as a regional partner, as even non-treaty allies appear to be getting a bigger share of the FMF allocation," del Rosario said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Del Rosario was in Washington for the first "two-plus-two" dialogue among their foreign and defense secretaries as they look at ways to deepen ties and help Manila build a "minimum credible defense posture".
Washington agreed to provide $30 million in FMF this year, up from an initial 2012 allocation of $15 million and from $11.9 million last year. In 2003, funding amounted to $50 million as Washington sent forces to help the Philippines battle al Qaeda-linked militants.
The Philippines is offering the United States greater access to its airfields and may open new areas for U.S. soldiers to use as it seeks stronger military ties with its ally and faces rising tensions with China in the maritime dispute.
The United States also agreed at the meeting to share "real-time" data on the South China Sea, suggesting it will give Manila more of its surveillance data on naval activity. The State Department also promised to explore "creative funding streams" to help the Philippine military.
Del Rosario, who previously served as Manila's ambassador to Washington, also urged the U.S. to lift conditions on a portion of FMF allocation for the Philippines.
Since 2008, the United States has withheld the release of about $3 million in military financing for the Philippines due to political killings and human rights abuses.
He said the current government of President Benigno Aquino has already taken significant steps to end these killings and has improved human rights conditions.
Since 2002, the Philippines has received nearly $500 million in military aid from the United States, according to the U.S. embassy in Manila. The amount does not include the transfer of 20 reconditioned helicopters, a Cyclone-class ship and a Hamilton-class cutter.
A second Hamilton-class cutter will be transferred later this month and the two sides are discussing the possibility of a third Hamilton-class ship and a squadron of second-hand F-16 fighters.

Philippines Needs 48 Fighter Jets, 6 Mini Submarines

Philippines Air Force need up to four squadrons of fighter jets (photo : Cavok)

WASHINGTON – The Philippines needs up to four squadrons (48) of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, more well-armed frigates and corvette-size, fast to surface combatant vessels and minesweepers and four to six mini submarines, possibly obtained from Russia, to build a credible defense force in the face of China’s increasing belligerence in the South China Sea, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) said.

This level of capability would far exceed current Philippine planning and finances and it would be in Washington’s interest to make it easier for Manila to acquire excess US fighters, frigates and other weapons system and encourage other countries such as Japan and South Korea to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), it said in an article “Defending the Philippines: Military modernization and the challenges ahead.”

The CNAS article on Thursday written by Richard Fisher said the AFP’s modernization program was estimated to cost about $1 billion over the course of President Aquino’s six-year term – an amount that pales in comparison to China’s 2012 official military budget of more than $100 billion.

A high-level Philippine delegation led by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was in Washington this week for discussions on each other’s needs to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

A Hamilton-class frigate, now the flagship of the Philippine Navy, was turned over by the US last year and a second one is forthcoming. A third frigate is being sought.

The article lauded Aquino’s determination to build up his country’s military forces and said he has spent more than $395 million on AFP modernization since coming into office, compared with $51 million annually in the previous 15 years.

It said he is seeking to purchase a small number of F-16s supported by six to 12 Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA)/Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) aircraft such as the subsonic Italian Aermacchi T-346 or the supersonic Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T/A-50, both of which could be modified to perform secondary combat missions.

A considerable investment in training, logistical support and basing will have to precede the aircrafts’ service entry, estimated to be in 2016, the article said.

In 2011, the Philippine Navy (PN) restored a program to acquire two multi-role vessels in the form of 5,000-to-10,000-ton Landing Platform Deck (LPD) ships capable of supporting Marine amphibious operations supplying outposts in theSpratly Islands or conducting disaster relief operations.

The PN is also looking for a land-based anti-ship cruise missile like a version of the US Boeing AMG-84 Harpoon which has a range of 120 kms and could also be used by frigates and F-16s, said Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in his article.

“Finally, the PN would like to acquire a submarine by 2020, which would become its most ambitious and expensive program to date,” the article said.

Given the economic and political stakes in ensuring that all East Asian countries maintain unimpeded access to the sea lanes near the Philippines, both those nations and the United States now share a real interest in the success of the AFP modernization.

The timing is also fortuitous, the article said, because “the United States now has a pragmatic partner in President Aquino who has proved his intention to invest in national defense and is willing to rise above nationalist resentments from the bases era.”

The Philippines booted the Americans from Clark Air Base and Subic Bay in 1992.

Philippines Asks US for Radar, Patrol Boats and Aircraft

Philippines Navy acquired one Cyclone class patrol ship ex US on 2004 (photo : Phil Navy)
The Philippines said Wednesday it has asked the United States to supply its armed forces with patrol boats and aircraft as well as radar systems amid an escalating territorial dispute with China.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the hardware would help his country achieve a "minimum credible defense," a phrase he used in unprecedented talks with senior US officials in Washington earlier this week.

"We need to know what's going on around us. That's maritime domain awareness," del Rosario said in answer to a question following a speech at The Heritage Foundation think tank.

"And we also need to deter any additional incursions into our seas where we have sovereign rights," the chief Philippine diplomat said, referring to its dispute with China in the South China Sea.

"We are submitting a list of hardware that the US can help us out with. This would be in terms of patrol vessels, patrol aircraft, radar systems, coast watch stations," del Rosario said.

"We're looking for assistance from other international partners who have also been very forthcoming," he added.

In his speech, del Rosario said the Philippines was strengthening its partnerships with Japan, Australia, South Korea and others in areas like maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

While awaiting new hardware, he said it is important for the Philippines and its treaty ally the United States to continue to conduct military exercises "in a better way, in more locations, in a more frequent manner."

The two nations, which completed extensive war games earlier this month, are bound by a mutual defense treaty in which the United States has pledged to come to the aid of its weaker ally if it faces military aggression.

"The US needs a stronger ally in the region who will be able to take on a bigger share of guaranteeing the stability of that region," del Rosario said in his speech.

"It is therefore in the strategic interest of the US to invest in the development of the Philippines' defense and military capability," he said.

"For the Philippines, the tension in the West Philippines Sea are particularly challenging," he said.

The Philippines and China have been embroiled in a dispute over a shoal in the South China Sea, or West Philippines Sea, with both nations stationing vessels there for nearly three weeks to assert their sovereignty.

The Philippines says Scarborough Shoal is its territory because it falls well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognized by international law.

The Philippines has called for arbitration through the United Nations to end the dispute, but China has refused.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Capable Hamilton Class Soon to Arrive

USCGS Dallas wil be delivered to Philippines with all her equipment (photo : USNavy)
Soon-to-arrive Hamilton cutter more capable -- DND

MANILA — Department of National Defense (DND) Spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said on Thursday the country's newest Hamilton-class cutter, which is expected to arrive before the end of the second quarter, is more capable than its predecessor, the former "USS Hamilton" which is now commissioned and in service as the Philippine Navy's "BRP Gregorio Del Pilar."
"The newest Hamilton-class cutter to enter is the 'USS Dallas.' It would be more capable than its predecessor," Galvez said during the "Talking Points" program over DZRB Radyo ng Bayan at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bldg. in Quezon City.
The DND spokesperson declined to comment on how capable the new ship would be, but he stressed that it would be good for the naval service in general.
Sources said that "USS Dallas" could be coming in the Philippines with all her equipment and armaments, unlike the "BRP Gregorio Del Pilar" which arrived in the country minus her Phalanx close-in weapon systems, 25mm Bushmaster cannons, and sonar systems.
"USS Dallas," the next frigate for the PN, will be indeed more capable in protecting the country's maritime territory from encroachment, the sources added. (PNA)

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