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Saturday, June 30, 2012

DND Tend to Select Super Tucano

Tucano is set to replace OV-10 Bronco (photo : Dax M. Roman)

DND Eyes Korea, Brazil for Military Aircraft

The Department of National Defense said Thursday that it is eyeing government-to-government transactions with South Korea and Brazil for the procurement of T-50 advanced jet trainers and Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano turboprop light attack aircraft.
In a phone patch interview with reporters, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that these aircraft are needed to protect Philippine airspace.
The South Korean built T-50 is a supersonic trainer that can also perform in the light-strike role. The Super Tucano is designed for light attack, counter insurgency (COIN), close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions.
Government-to-government, or G2G, transactions are non-commercial interactions between two governments’ organizations, departments, and authorities.
Gazmin made the disclosure amid criticisms from Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teddy Casiño that the use of G2G transactions in the acquisition of military equipment is prone to corruption due to lack of bidding.
Gazmin countered that G2G transactions will eliminate middlemen who benefit from commissions, thereby resulting in cheaper acquisition prices.
Also, Gazmin gave assurances that under the transparency program of the Aquino administration, “all contracts and processes are open to scrutiny by the people.” He said this transparency is being observed in the bidding for similar assets.
“If you are going to go through a third party, there will be commissions and the price will be higher. Now, in government to government (deals), middle men are avoided and at the same time, government officials are accountable in their dealings,” he said.
The DND is also looking to obtain ships and communication equipment from either South Korea, Italy, France, Great Britain or Brazil. These acquisitions are also to be carried out through G2G transactions.
“But nothing is final yet,” said Gazmin.

Friday, June 29, 2012

PAF to Get 25 More Helicopters in December

PAF Huey helicopter (photo : Davis World)

MANILA, Philippines -– The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will get 25 more helicopters late this year to augment its depleting air assets.
This was announced during the Air Power Symposium 2012 held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia in Pasay City on Friday as part of its preparation for the forthcoming 65th PAF anniversary celebration on July 6.
The symposium was hosted by Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino G. de la Cruz, PAF commanding general.
This year’s theme was “Mobilizing Air Power for the Nation’s Multi-Dimensional Challenges.”
De la Cruz said four of the helicopters will be the last of the eight brand-new combat utility Sokol choppers the Department of National Defense ordered from PZL Swidnik of Poland.
The arrival of the final four Sokol helicopters will boost the firepower of the PAF which is in dire need of air assets, particularly fighter jets.
PZL Swidnik is the largest helicopter manufacturer in Poland.
The Sokol helicopter can carry 14 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot and has a maximum speed of 260 kilometers per hour and a range of 745 kilometers non-stop.
Each Sokol is armed with a variety of weapons such as air-to-ground rockets, air-to-air missiles, M-60 machine guns and 20mm cannons and climbs to an altitude of 19,680 feet.
The contract price of the Sokol choppers was P3 billion.
On the other hand, 21 refurbished UH-1H “Huey” helicopters will also be delivered in December this year.
“Hueys” are not only the workhorse of the military’s counter-insurgency operations in ferrying troops to combat areas but are also used during disasters, carrying food, water and medicines for victims stranded in remote areas.
Some of the 21 “Huey” helicopters were refurbished in the United States and the others were done by PAF engineers and aircraft mechanics.
The acquisition of new combat helicopters is part of the Modernization Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
During the day-long affair, De la Cruz said the symposium, which is an annual event of the Air Force since 1982, except for some broken years, “is designed primarily to discuss and promote the value of air power to a wider constituency.”
But for 2012, the forum was unique as it included the holding of “a 5-in-1 activity -- an academic forum, an air power symposium, a defense exhibit, a historical photo display, and the first Youth LEAP or Youth Leader Exchange for Air Power gathering.”
“We are holding this event no longer to cater mainly to an internal audience or our friends in aviation, but to a greater multi-sectoral representation of national security stakeholders and partners.”
De la Cruz stressed the importance of air power in the country’s defense.
“Today we all live in a highly complex and unpredictable security environment, and that the threats we face demand from us no easy solutions.”
Taking advantage of today’s new technology, De la Cruz allowed questions asked via the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, or mobile phones.
The questions were flashed on the wide screen during the question-and-answer portion of the symposium that turned out to be more lively.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Navy Gets Funds to Rearm Second US-Made Cutter

BRP Ramon Alcaraz ex USCGS Dallas (photo : Philippines Embassy)

VICE Adm. Alexander Pama, Navy flag officer in command, on Sunday said the government has allotted funds to buy the weapons to rearm the second Hamilton-class cutter that was sold by the United States government without its weapons system.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, during their recent visit to Washington, requested the US government to retain the weapons system of the second cutter including the restoration of the same weapons that were removed from the first cutter, but to no avail.
The stripped weapons include missiles, search radar and close-in weapon system (CIWS), among others. What the Americans left only in the ship was a 76mm gun.
This led Gazmin to announce that the government is exploring defense articles from other countries, including the idea of buying new jet fighters instead of buying secondhand F-16s from the US.
“Well, we cannot demand. We [can only] asked if it’s possible, we also understand that they also have their regulations to follow and thus we’ve to make do with what’s left and will optimize it. Anyway, the government gave us fund to buy the needed weapons. Kaya nga ang actual na ibinayad natin dito sa pangalawang Hamilton is a little bit more than what we paid for BRP Gregorio del Pilar,” Pama said.
Pama said included in the additional funding is money for weapons training of the ship’s personnel.
The military said it bought the first weaponless cutter (BRP Gregorio del Pilar) in 2011 for P450 million.
The second, that will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is expected to arrive in the country on or before November for its scheduled commissioning the following month.
“We added communication equipment and some other equipment. We will see all these when the ship arrives,” Pama said.
The two high-endurance cutters were new additions in the inventory of the Navy’s mostly World War II vintage ships. But just recently, the Navy showcased some of the locally made fastcraft and medium-sized landing ships.
Pama added that there is no negotiation yet for a third cutter but this is part of the whole plan of getting at least three cutters with three helicopters.
“Our domain awareness needs naval equipment such as vessels and these vessels need helicopter on board. Kaya nga sa programa natin tatlong helicopter at tatlong Hamilton-class, one is to one,” Pama said.
The money that is being used to modernize the Navy is part of the almost P12 billion derived from the Malampaya gas project of the Department of Energy (DOE) and leftover of the Armed Forces modernization fund that was earlier approved for release by President Aquino to boost the naval and air capabilities of the Armed Forces for maritime security patrol and operations.
And just recently, Mr. Aquino has approved an initial P70 billion for the defense and military to work out for capability upgrade.
Gazmin said there are 138 modernization projects on board to be implemented over the next five years.
“Our department is now working speedily on the approval of the contracts for the 138 upgrade and modernization projects of our Armed Forces… The deadline that we have set for ourselves for the approval of all these contracts is on July 21, 2012,” he said.

Philippines Eyes Purchase of Third Warship, Plus Three Naval Helicopters

BRP Gregorio del Pilar (photo : saver111)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is planning to purchase a third warship and three naval helicopters to bolster its maritime defense capabilities in a region increasingly wary of China's looming presence.
The Philippines currently has one warship in its possession, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. Another warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is expected to arrive in the country later this year.
Apart from a third warship, the Philippine Navy said it was planning to purchase three "marinized" naval helicopters to complement its available warships.
No definite date has been set, but Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama told reporters Friday the plan is to buy these using funds generated from the Energy department's Malampaya project.
Pama, in an interview with reporters at the Air Power Symposium in Pasay City, said the three will eventually be attached to the Hamilton-class cutters purchased from the United States.
"Our budget is set for three [helicopters] since domain awareness calls for helicopters on board; that’s why in our program there are three helicopters [for] three Hamilton Class [ships]. One is to one," Pama explained.
At the moment, officials are busy preparing for the arrival of the second warship, BRP Alcaraz. A 90-man crew from the Navy has been in Charleston, South Carolina since April for training and repairing of the ship.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New PAF Choppers to be Used for Search and Rescue

W-3A Sokol helicopters (photo : matriks1)

MANILA, Philippines – The eight brand new combat helicopters purchased by the Philippine Air Force as part of its equipment upgrade will also be used for search and rescue operations in times of calamities, its spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Okol told Radyo Inquirer 990AM that the PAF leadership has decided to use the W-3A Sokol helicopters not only for combat but also for search and rescue operations.
Four of the eight helicopters were received by PAF last March from Polish manufacturer PZL-Swidnik SA.
By the end of the year, the brand new two-engine helicopters may be used for search and rescue operations.
Okol said they were also looking to acquire new fighter planes, radars and other equipment to beef up their operations for territorial defense.
PAF will be opening to the public its Fernando Airbase in Lipa, Batangas on July 6 as part of its 65th founding anniversary.
Okol also encouraged the public to attend their air power symposium on July 22 and participate in a fun run with PAF officers on July 24 at the Venice Piazza in McKinley Hill.
The PAF spokesman said they would like to explain to the public how the upgrade of equipment could benefit the country and its people.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Air Force to Acquire 12 Jet Fighters from Korea

KAI T/A-50 Golden Eagle (photo : Militaryphotos)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said they will be acquiring fighter jets in the next two years.
Twelve surface attack aircraft lead-in fighters or TA-50s from South Korea are expected to be delivered by 2013.
Each jet costs P1.25 billion for a total of P25 billion for the dozen jets.
The TA-50 is a supersonic aircraft that requires more experienced pilots.
Authorities said bulk of the P70 billion allocated for the modernization of the Armed Forces under the Aquino administration will go to the Air Force.
“Dati hindi natin pinapansin ang territorial defense dahil wala nga tayong capability gaya ngayon. ‘Yung  bangka ‘yung atin, ‘yung kalaban natin napakalaking platform. Ngayon, tumaas ang rating ng problema natin sa territorial defense. Hindi pala natin pwedeng isantabi,” said Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin.
The Air Force currently has two trainer jets, which are now nearly 25 years old.
The S-211s were originally meant for training purposes but the military was forced to use them in actual operations.
The PAF admits that this is the current image of the air power of the Philippines, which has been left behind by its neighbors.
The country's lone fighter jet, an F-5, was sidelined in 2005 and has yet to be replaced.
“At that time, the leadership decided that we didn’t need this because there's no threat in that area kaya nag-concentrate tayo sa mga ginagamit nating aircraft para sa internal security operations,” said Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, spokesman of the PAF.
But the current tensions at the Scarborough Shoal have placed a spotlight on the country's air inferiority.
Last week, a suspected Chinese fighter jet flew over the disputed shoal.
Gazmin says President Aquino is serious in beefing up the military so as not to be ignored by foreign powers

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Defense Deal With Italy

Philippines will be buying combat aircraft, radar from Italian firms (photo : radartutorial)

MANILA, Philippines --- The Philippine government will buy military aircraft and equipment from Italy.
The purchase of Italian military equipment was announced by Malacañang after President Benigno S. Aquino III met with Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola yesterday.
The meeting sought to forge “strong defense cooperation between the two countries,” according to a Palace press statement.
Among the equipment being considered for procurement are “medium lift aircraft, coast watch system radar, multi-role combat aircraft, and long-range patrol aircraft,” the Palace said.
Medium lift aircraft are helicopters.
It added that the military agreement with Italian defense suppliers seeks to boost the Armed Forces modernization program.
The announcement comes at the heels of a commitment from US President Barack Obama to beef up the Philippines’ defense system.
The US military aid package includes a radar network center and another upgraded US coast guard cutter.
Last year, the Philippines bought 18 basic trainer planes from an Italian company known for designing and producing military trainers. A defense acquisition team also traveled to Italy to shop for naval assets.
President Aquino earlier said the government intends to buy jet fighters from Europe after abandoning the idea of acquiring US-made F-16s.
Joining Aquino and di Paola in the Malacañang meeting were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa. Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari, Diplomatic Counsellor of the Ministry Gabrielle Checchia, chief of acquisition and logistics Gen. Gianpaolo Miniscalco and chief of Military Policy Office Giorgio Lazio also attended the meeting.
(Manila Bulletin)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

US Military to Help Philippines Monitor Coastal Waters

The US military said it plans to provide a land-based radar to the Philippines, to help track ships off the island nation's coast line (photo : Raytheon)

The US military has said it planned to help the Philippines monitor its coastal waters as Manila faces an escalating dispute with China over territorial claims.

The Pentagon revised earlier comments and said there was no firm plan to deliver a land-based radar to the Philippines, but that a radar could be part of future assistance.

"We are in the initial planning stages of assisting the Philippines with a National Coast Watch Center," Major Catherine Wilkinson told AFP.

The centre is designed "to create an overall picture of what is going on in the Philippines' territorial waters," she said.

"Right now we are discussing a range of options and no details have been finalised. Radars may be an eventual part of the package but it hasn't been determined yet."

The cost and the time line for the project were still being worked out, she said.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Italy Could Surrender Some of Its Fleet to Third Countries

Maestrale class frigates has 122,7m in length and displacement 3.100 ton (photo : Naval Technology)
Italy is suffering severely for the current economic crisis and, despite the measures taken to stem the losses, the forecasts for the future is bleak. The data presented at Eurosatory - arms fair held in Paris - show a country in great difficulties even in the defense sector: the Ministry of the total budget is spent 22.4M-17.6M dollars in four years, with a reduction of 21.4% in 2012 compared to 2008.
The Italian government is trying, like many other European countries, to cut the unnecessary and at the same time find ways to sustain capacity and invest in new technologies. No wonder, then, that Italy is planning to get rid of some of its vehicles in service in favor of potential buyers, to reduce costs and raise cash.
It will be the Navy to be more affected by this process, if ever the government decides to implement it. The Navy has 82 ships in service of various kinds and 6 submarines. The plan is to get rid of 26-28 vessels, according to a statement by Admiral Louis Binelli Mantelli, Chief of Staff of the Navy, during a hearing at the Senate defense committee. In the list of 'offers' there would be 7 frigates, 6/8 corvettes, 4 ships trainer, 4 offshore tugboats, 3 coastal minesweepers and 2 carriers.
Not all ships in the list will bring money into the bank of the Navy Department. Some units have reached the maximum number of years of life and will be withdrawn from service and were not included in the list because now considered unusable. Others, such as deminer Lerici, retired from service last March, is still considered suitable for sale as the Maestrale class frigates, including the most 'old' will still be retired at the end of 2013.
At the moment it is not yet clear which (or which) countries the ships will be offered. Whispers in the corridors of the ministry of an interest in the Mistral frigates from the Philippines, but there is nothing concrete. Nor is it clear what ships will be sold and which will be given away for free. The latter possibility, keeping in view of the Admiral. Part of the vessels on the list, in fact, require significant work and upgrades, and the Navy is aware that discarding will have to make them palatable for free. On the other hand, if they were to be scrapped would still represent a cost to the Italian State.
Binelli Mantelli also supported the need to involve industry in the sale of Italian naval ships. The example to follow is the sale of two Lupo class frigates to Peru in 2005, the ships were withdrawn from service with the Italian Navy, renovated in the shipyards of Fincantieri and later sold to Peru. The agreement has thus resulted in an advantage for our Navy, but also for the Italian shipbuilding industry.
The transaction, however, poses two risks: the first is that the wave of enthusiasm is decided to reduce the excessive number of vessels in service, compromising the functionality of the Navy. The second risk relates to the implicit competition against Italian shipping industry: ship used to market low cost could halt the construction / purchase of new vessels, because potential customers would turn to MMT.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

10 New Attack Helicopters from France has been Approved for the PAF

Ten new attack helicopters from France has been approved for the PAF to upgrade its defence capabilities (photo : Airliners)
PAF Chief visits Cebu as part of 65th founding anniversary, says PAF to upgrade its defense capabilities
CEBU CITY (PIA) -- Philippine Air Force (PAF) Commanding General Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz in a recent visit to Cebu announced that PAF will be acquiring new external defense equipment to upgrade their capabilities.
De la Cruz told the good news during a media interview at the Brigadier General-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City last Friday as the commanding general made a round of visits nationwide as part of the highlights in commemorating the PAF 65th Founding Anniversary next month.
The PAF recommended a P75-billion budget for additional aircraft in order to implement the modernization program, which is spread in a five-year period.
Dela Cruz said they already submitted to Malacañang the list of necessary equipment that needs to be purchased and the first equipment they want to acquire is the air defense radar.
“We will be acquiring other weapon systems and other equipment needed by the PAF,” said Dela Cruz.
At present, the PAF received four new helicopters for use during search and rescue operations and an additional four helicopters will be delivered in November.
For the meantime, the approved purchase was based on the recommendations that include 10 new attack helicopters from France, 21 additional UH-1H utility helicopters to augment the existing utility aircrafts, three medium airlift fixed wing, and 18 trainer aircrafts.
In addition, Dela Cruz also recommended purchasing N-24 Nomads aircraft and two light lift aircrafts to replace the existing F-27 Fokker.
In his message, the PAF Chief encouraged the air force personnel to strengthen their forces and capabilities in protecting the country and create more programs to enhance professionalism and promote the welfare of the soldiers.
On its 65th anniversary, the PAF carries the theme “PAF @ 65th, Bagwis ng Kapayapaan, Tagapagtanggol ng Kalayaan.” (FCR/HFG/PIA-7/PAF)


Sunday, June 3, 2012

PH Navy Needs Bigger Warships

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (photo : US Embassy)

WASHINGTON D.C. - A ranking Philippine Navy official said they will need more and bigger ships to protect the nation’s maritime borders miles away from one of the longest coastlines in the world.
Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano, Philippine Fleet (PhilFleet) commander, said the country has no choice but to acquire ships like the US Coast Guard’s Hamilton-class cutters because of seasonal changes in the South China Sea that make it treacherous to smaller vessels about half of the time each year.
Alano and Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa formally accepted delivery of the USCGC Dallas, the 378-foot, 3,250-ton sister ship of the Hamilton that was turned over to the Philippine last year and rechristened the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, during formal rites in Charleston, South Carolina May 22.
Bigger ships, especially like the high-endurance, all-weather Hamilton-class cutters, can sail through huge waves and stay longer at sea, he explained.
He downplayed reports that like the Hamilton, the US had stripped the Dallas of its advanced weapons and electronic equipment despite a request from Philippine officials last January to keep them. They retained the 76mm Oto Melara but removed the 2 Mark 38 25mm cannons and the more sophisticated sensors.
Alano told the Manila Mail that since the Dallas underwent its last major retrofit in 1988, many of the machinery and equipment aboard needed replacement anyway.
He added that the Philippine Navy is buying its own Mark 38 “Bushmaster” chain guns that can spew 200 rounds per minute to distances of as far as 6 kilometers. One will be installed on the Dallas (to be rechristened BRP Ramon Alcaraz) and the 2nd will be installed on the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, after the Dallas arrives in Manila sometime in November.
Mk-38 Bushmaster (photo : militaryphotos)

Alano revealed they are also putting in new surveillance and command and control equipment. “This is part of arrangements when the vessel’s capabilities will be upgraded,” he explained. The equipment is being procured on “cash basis” under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
But he admitted their bigger concern is how to sustain the naval modernization after decades of neglect. He said the development of a private-sector defense industry is crucial to the military’s long-term plans to build a credible defensive deterrent.
That is why they are excited about an ongoing acquisitions of Philippine-made 65-foot Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs). A local company is constructing them, borrowing technology from Taiwan and Sweden. The MPACs have a top speed of 48 knots.
Although they are not exactly the “big ships” the Philippine needs to operate in the disputed parts of the South China Sea, Alano said the deal can kick-start a modest but home-bred naval defense industry. In the US, he noted, private companies – not the military – are the most active proponents of military modernization and are not timid about lobbying the Pentagon and Capitol Hill for funding.
A domestic defense industry would also help create demand for workers that have the skills needed for staffing a modern military. Alano explained that unlike ground forces, the Philippine Navy will need to recruit and train additional sailors who can operate the electronics and complex gadgets standard to most new warships.
He said they plan to buy up to 40 MPACs but most of them will go to replacing older patrol crafts that have become too expensive to maintain.
Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the government will award 138 contracts worth about P70 billion (about $1.2 billion) before July to boost military modernization.
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