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Monday, September 17, 2012

C-27J Spartan to join PAF

As Indonesia wins procurement for a spy plane

September 11, 2012

The Department of National Defence has selected Italy to supply three medium-sized military transport aircraft manufactured by Alenia Aeronautica, while Indonesia was awarded  the long-range maritime patrol and surveillance plane, says Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman.
"It is just a matter of approval now by the President" says Galvez. Once President Aquino approves the acquisition, the planes would strengthen the country’s air force and heightened navy's maritime domain awareness.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a medium-sized military transport STOL aircraft built by Alenia Aeronautica having the same engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules.
The C-27J was selected because of its communality with existing C-130 frames of the Philippine Air Force thereby minimizing cost for maintenance procedures, and at the same time training personnel for future C-130J acquisitions.
Meanwhile, CASA/IPTN CN-235 MPA is a medium-range twin-engined transport plane that was jointly developed by CASA of Spain and Indonesian manufacturer IPTN, part of Airbus Military, as a regional airliner and military transport. Its primary military roles include maritime patrol, surveillance, and air transport.
CN-235 MPA was chosen because of its ability to stay in the air longer which is good for maritime surveillance and its capability to double as a military transport. Its rear ramp access made the choice easier compared to the ATR-42MP says the DND spokesman.
The CN-235 MPA can be fitted with the Seaspray 4000 radar from BAE Systems, the AN/APS-134 from Raytheon or the Ocean Master 100 from Thales. DND did not disclose what radar they will fit in the plane.
“The long-range patrol aircraft would be devoted solely to conducting maritime surveillance.” says Galvez.
The surveillance plane has a crew of two, a pilot and co-pilot, and can carry 44 passengers and a payload of 13,120 pounds with a cruising speed of 454 kilometers per hour and a range of 2,730 nautical miles.

Coast Guard Needs 30 More Ships

Tennix class -  56 meter patrol vessel (photo : adroth92)
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard needs at least 30 more ships and patrol craft to help secure the country’s maritime boundaries, a PCG official said Saturday.
Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena, PCG fleet commander, said the Coast Guard needed additional vessels since its existing 15 ships were not enough to patrol the seas covered by the 54 PCG stations or outposts across the country.
“We really need more ships and patrol craft. That’s our No. 1 priority,” Isonera said in an interview. “Each station should have a ship so that if something happens in its area of jurisdiction, our unit can properly respond.”
Isonera said the Coast Guard actually needed 60 ships but could settle with half that number due to the high cost of acquiring new vessels.
At present, the PCG’s main work horses are the four 56-meter Tenix (San Juan class) search-and-rescue vessels which were acquired in the early 2000′s.
The four are considered  the PCG’s most modern vessels as they are equipped with decompression chambers and  helipads. However, two of these ships are currently under repair.
“If you are a passenger and your ship is about to sail, you’d feel safe seeing that there’s a Coast Guard ship ready to respond,” Isonera said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DND Plans to Purchase Indonesian Spy Plane

Naval version of CN-235MPA (photo : Stanthefan)
MANILA, Philippines – The government plans to procure a spy plane from Indonesia and a troop transport aircraft from Italy, the Department of National Defense (DND) said yesterday.
Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman, said the long-range maritime patrol and surveillance plane is manufactured in Indonesia under a joint venture agreement with Spain.
“On our shortlist is the Indonesian aircraft,” he said. “The long-range patrol aircraft would be devoted solely to conducting maritime surveillance.”
The DND is also scouting for a medium lift aircraft from other European countries at a lower cost, Galvez said.
BN-2 Islander (photo : Militaryphotos)

Once President Aquino approves the acquisition, the spy plane would strengthen the country’s maritime domain awareness.
For a long time, the Armed Forces has been relying mainly on a small number of Islander planes for maritime and territorial patrol.
The spy plane is the CASA/IPTN CN-235. The CN-235 surveillance aircraft can double as a military transport plane. Its largest user is Turkey with 61 aircraft.
The surveillance plane has a crew of two, a pilot and co-pilot, and can carry 44 passengers and a payload of 13,120 pounds with a cruising speed of 454 kilometers per hour and a range of 2,730 nautical miles.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

$500-M new PAL airport sets off guessing game

WHEN Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Ramon S. Ang announced before the weekend that they will build a $500-million airport as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), he did not say where the new facility would be located but hinted that it would be about 15 minutes away from the Ayala business center in Makati City and would sit on a 2,000-hectare property.
Why the secrecy? Is it because he does not want speculators to grab surrounding real estate, whose value would zoom to the skies, and make real-state dealers instant millionaires?
Ang’s conundrum sent the media into a guessing spree.
Try as we can, we could not envision a place that is that big, or wide enough to accommodate an airport complex, with two runways that could handle 150 flights per hour.
Ang said the site for the $500-million airport could accommodate up to four runways, and that they would present their plan to President Aquino in January or February next year.
A source helped us figure it out where the PAL president could be coming from, telling the BusinessMirror over the weekend that the new $500-million PAL airport might find a home in Binangonan, Rizal.
The highly reliable source said the coastal town of Binangonan figured in a study made by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) almost 10 years ago as a possible site for a new modern airport. He added that nothing much about the study has been heard since.
The source said the possible site has an area of a little more than 2,000 hectares. He could be referring to a 2,170-hectare property in Bina­ngonan that belongs to IRC Properties Inc.
According to the IRC web site, the property lies about 20 kilometers east of Metro Manila in what is “envisioned to be the next growth corridor, where major business and economic activities would take place.”
The company has prepared a master plan for the land.
Its web site said, “The plan, formulated by Palafox and Associates, draws up a multiple land-use program characterized by a balanced and [complementary] mix of industrial, agro-industrial, commercial, residential, recreational and institutional projects. Feasibility studies, architectural and engineering plans for the low- and medium-cost housing projects have also been prepared.”
But, IRC said, a “very weak and greatly affected real-estate market continuing up to 2002” prompted it to suspend “development and clearing activities” until the property market becomes active again.
The first thing that came to mind as to where the new airport facility will be built was not Binangonan but Sangley Point in Cavite, home to the Air Force 15th Strike Wing. It is about 15 minutes away from the Ayala business center by helicopter, it has an existing runway built by the American military, and a little reclamation of Manila Bay would increase its present 140 hectares to one that could equal Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok Airport, or Singapore’s Changi International Airport.
Sangley is one of the few remaining military assets, out of the 23 facilities that the Americans left when they withdrew from the Philippines in 1991. It used to be the home of a squadron of P-3 Orion “submarine hunters.”
The other former US facilities are Clark Air Base, now the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport; Subic Naval Base, now the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; and Mactan Air Base, now the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) air-traffic controllers from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) exercise jurisdiction over Sangley air traffic, so there is no conflict at all regarding their simultaneous operations.
A newspaper reader suggested that since the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), formerly the Philippine Estate Authority (PEA), is reclaiming 635 hectares of Manila Bay, the money spent could be used to realign the reclamation so that a modern airport could be built at the Naic, Cavite, side and spare the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Lagoon, where a bird sanctuary is located.
The reader said, “Sangley’s 138 hectares, plus the planned 635 hectares to be reclaimed, will be a little bigger than half of Changi in Singapore and that of Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong.”
A total area of 773 hectares is more than enough to host a modest but modern, safe and accessible airport of world standard, the reader opined.
The reader said that half of the present facilities of the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) can be operated as a domestic airport and half as a commercial center to complement Megaworld.
“To avoid traffic congestion, the domestic airport must be linked to Sangley from Terminal 3 via Pagcor Entertainment City by a monorail on a viaduct or a tunnel. Fast-craft ferries can double as Manila Bay Tour and serve the transportation needs of the new airport from the Mall of Asia harbor, which could also be developed into a central transport terminal for the convenience of passengers.”
Several other groups earlier suggested turning Sangley Point as alternative to the Naia, but the government simply would not listen.
Newly appointed Interior Secretary and former Transportation top honcho Manuel Roxas II said during his stint at the Department of Transportation and Communications that Sangley Point cannot be a viable alternative to the Naia.
According to Roxas, expanding Sangley Point airport to allow the layout of another parallel and independent runway would entail reclamation of a huge swath of Manila Bay in Manila and Cavite.
“Sangley is probably going to be a single-runway facility for GenAv [general aviation],” he said, adding that reclaiming a large tract would only equal the area now occupied by the Naia, which proves to be “too small to allow two parallel and independent runways.”
Roxas said Clark is still “the long-term alternative” with its available 2,000 hectares that could accommodate up to three parallel independent runways.
Making Clark airport as the main gateway, however, requires a fast rail access to Metro Manila.
This is the same objection voiced by Ang, who said plans for a $10-billion fast train to connect Makati and Clark is not practical.
Since Sangley remains a poor choice, that leaves the 2,000-hectare San Miguel property in San Jose City, Bulacan, the best alternative for an international airport, according to an airport source.
The source said that for years, it is a little-known secret that San Miguel has been offering its San Jose City, Bulacan, property as an alternative airport to the then-Air Transportation Office  (ATO), Caap’s forerunner. But nothing came out of it after the ATO was abolished.
There are certain problems that would have to be addressed before the runways are built, but knowing that Ang appears to enjoy a degree of closeness to the Aquino administration, these problems are “not insurmountable,” the source added.
Constructing an airport complex, including the runway, is not just building any infrastructure.
The source said that normally, a 10-year compilation of the site’s wind direction and velocity, rainfall, precipitation and several other weather parameters would have to be studied, in order to determine the runway’s feasibility and eventual layout.
“What good is a runway if most of the year, the airport is drenched with rain, has poor visibility, adjacent to mountains or man-made obstacles? What if airplanes are buffeted by strong crosswind during landing and takeoff?” he asked.
As an example, the source pointed out that the east-west layout of the Naia is not accidental. It is also not an accident that it is located where it is now, when Metro Manila is usually drenched by rain, and yet the airport is usually rain-free in more days than other places in Metro Manila.
The Naia runways straddle the Pasay City-Parañaque City area and is usually affected by the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon or habagat, blowing almost equally from the northeast and southwest directions during the year.
The source, an aviation expert, said airplanes sometimes take off toward Antipolo, Rizal, in a northeasterly direction using Runway 06. “060” degrees is the northeasterly bearing of Runway 06 starting from the Parañaque side toward Antipolo, while airplanes taking off on Runway 24 on a southwesterly direction, hence the bearing is 240 degrees, starting from the South Luzon Expressway side toward Parañaque.
That is how Runway 06-24 is named, the source said.
But why is there a Runway 13-31 running in the north-south direction?
The airport expert said in the early days of aviation, when most airliners are small, airplanes have to land and take off directly into the wind because they could not handle strong crosswinds, so the choice was either Runway 06-24 or Runway 13-31, depending on the wind direction and velocity.
Today, jumbo jets can withstand 15-knot crosswinds, which would sweep off the runway smaller airplanes.
Another obstacle that Ang had to face is an existing CAAP regulation that says no international airport should be built within 24 kilometers of an existing international airport.
San Jose City, Bulacan, if this is where Ang’s airport is finally built, sits at the south side of the province and shares a common boundary with Metro Manila and Rizal. It is yet to be determined whether it is within the 24-kilometer-limit of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA).
The aviation expert, who said a long study was needed before any new airport could be built, noted that it is now the norm for private firms to run an airport complex. Formerly a ranking Caap official, he also cited findings showing that government-run airports could not keep up with developments and usually run into red ink, unless subsidized by the government.
Although Changi in Singapore and Chep Lap Kok in Hong Kong are run by government-owned and -controlled corporations, the expert said, airports in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Germany (Frankfurt Airport) and many others are privately operated and proved to be financially successful.

By Recto L. Mercene
A version of this article appeared on September 1, 2012 edition of the Philippine Business Mirror, with the headline: $500-M new PAL airport sets off guessing game.

New Equipment For Navy Ships

BRP Ramon Alcaraz PF-16 (photo : ManilaBoy45)

MANILA, Philippines — A top defense official said the Hamilton-class cutters of the Philippine Navy (PN) will get sophisticated radars and an anti-ship missile system to make the vessels more capable of engaging intruders to Philippine territorial waters.

According to the official, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and the soon-to-arrive BRP Ramon Alcaraz, will be equipped with Harpoon, an anti-ship missile system, and will also be fitted with more sophisticated radars capable of detecting and tracking incoming surface threats and anti-missile and torpedo decoying systems.
The official said the Harpoon is the ideal missile system for Del Pilar and Alcaraz, noting that a sister-ship of the vessels, the USCGC Mellon (WHEC-717), has been fitted with the Harpoon missile launchers and test fired the weapons in January, 1990. Both Del Pilar and Alcaraz were acquired from the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
“These upgrades will make our Hamilton-class cutters more capable vessels. It will definitely satisfy our minimum deterrent capability as far as naval defense is concern,” the official emphasized.
Del Pilar is currently the biggest ship of the Philippine Navy, while Alcaraz is due to arrive before the end of the year.
The vessels were originally equipped with an AN/SPS-40 air-search radar Mark 92 Fire Control System, and armed with one Oto Melara Mark-75 76mm gun, two Mark K-38 25mm machinegun systems, two Mark 36 SRBOC systems,
one Phalanx CIWS missile defense gun, along with multiple mounted M2HB .50 caliber machineguns, and M240 7.62mm machineguns.
But under the PN service, the weapons and sensor systems were removed with the exception of the Oto Melara Mark-75 76mm main gun.
“With the Harpoon, we will not be getting an unproven weapon system as the missile has been successfully test fired from the USCGC Mellon,” said the defense official.
He added that the weapons refit might be done in the United States under a government-to-government deal.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Air Force Wants Delivery of TA-50 Aircraft Completed Before 2016

KAI TA-50 LIFT and Light Attack aircraft (photo : defence21)
Air Force Gains credibility with South Korea Light Attack Jets
BASA AIR BASE, Floridablanca, Pampanga— Not too long ago, the Philippines Air Force was frequently ribbed as being all air with no force, but PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz hopes the snickering will soon stop with the looming acquisition of 12 TA-50 light attack jets from South Korea.
“There’s an ongoing top-level discussion at the Department of National Defense for the acquisition of the much needed air assets,” De la Cruz said during the 51st anniversary of PAF Air Defense Wing stationed at this air base.
The defense department announced the selection of the South Korean jets last Aug. 1 and officials expect the signing of the purchase contract within the next few months.
De la Cruz said top defense officials want to request the immediate delivery of two TA-50 jets so that PAF pilots can begin training and be ready for the delivery of entire order of 24 jets by 2016.
“This is a realization of the dream we have dreamt a long, long time ago,” De la Cruz said. “That is why many of our personnel will be sent to schooling abroad for air traffic control and related courses.”
Aside from the jets, De la Cruz said the PAF will also construct three radar stations at Lubang Island, Palawan and Zamboanga next year, boosting the air force’s ability to monitor all aircraft entering Philippine territory.
AFP also confirmed procurement of 3 fixed air surveillance systems and wants 1 mobile radar over the next 5 years.  Three radar stations will be constructed at Lubang Island, Palawan and Zamboanga next year (photo : Defense Industry Daily)
“We will make sure that the proposed facilities and aircraft are tailored-fit to our requirement,” De la Cruz said, noting that even the choice of the South Korean jet was based on the advantages it offered to the military in consideration of the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
The TA-50 is the light attack version of the T-50 Golden Eagle, South Korea’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world’s few supersonic trainers, built by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin of the United States.
The jet’s design is largely derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.
The TA-50 mounts a M197 20mm three-barrel cannon and a fire control radar system. It can accommodate the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and a variety of additional weapons can be mounted to underwing hardpoints.
Compatible air-to-surface weapons include the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, Hydra 70 rocket launchers, CBU-58 and Mk-20 cluster bombs, and Mk-82, ?83, and ?84 general purpose bombs.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spyplanes, Spyships, & Seizures

a deadly dance of dark suspicion
& dangerous curiosity

Copyright 2001, 2003, 2004
Richard Harris
(316) 685-3371  -
photos courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense, generally
Excerpts previously published by Aero News Network ( ) and In Flight USA

The emergency landing of an American EP-3 Aries spyplane, in China, March 31, 2001 (described at the end of this story) opened up the book on a lot of historical "precedents," where America and other nations lost or gathered aircraft and ships in the endless game of cat-and-mouse that is a part of spying along foreign borders (and sometimes over them).  Here are a few key events and milestones in spycraft operations, attacks on suspect craft, and seizures of aircraft, ships and crews, which have kept the battle for information edgy, dangerous and dramatic:
1944:    U.S. B-29's confiscated by Russia.   During World War II, in operations against Japan, some U.S. Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers landed in Eastern Russia, after overflying Japan. The world's's most advanced bomber in 1944, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Though Russia was officially a U.S. ally in the war, Russia impounded the B-29's, and -- though returning their crews -- refused to return the aircraft.

Instead, Russian plane-maker Tupolev disassembled the 76,000-part B-29's -- the war's most advanced bomber -- and copied them, to build a virtually-identical Russian bomber, the Tu-4 (NATO code-named "Bull").

It became the chief Soviet postwar bomber for nearly a decade.  At the same time, Boeing built an improved version of the B-29, the B-50 Superfortress, with the resulting irony that each nation's greatest threat to the other -- in the early postwar "Cold War" years -- was from nuclear bombers built from the same original design:  the Boeing B-29. Exacerbating the irony, in the mid-1950's the Soviets gave several TU-4's to Communist China, where they continued to serve for many more years -- as China's chief long-range, strategic heavy bomber.

1953-1954:       Korean War pilots shot down over China. During the Korean War, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber an American B-29 Superfortress bomber, with 14 American servicemen aboard, was shot down when it apparently strayed over China's border with North Korea. The servicemen were captured, and -- following the Quemoy and Matsu crisis -- China announced plans to try them as spies (with the implicit threat of execution), despite the fact that all but two had been in uniform. All were given lengthy prison sentences.

This outraged the American public, already angry with China over its support of North Korea -- with members of Congress and virtually the entire Pentagon leadership calling for nuclear war against China. It was the sixth time in a year that the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council had urged President Eisenhower to use nuclear weapons. Eisenhower stood firm against all his advisers, and Washington was eventually able to negotiate the airmen's release.

1960:     The U-2 Incident;  Russia.  At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy were over-flying the Soviet Union (Communist Russia and its border colonies) -- frantically trying to discern Soviet military developments.

At first the tightly-closed Communist nation was ill-equipped to combat the flying spies. Soviet defenses were concentrated around its few major cities, and its fighters had limited range, speed and altitude capabilities. Still, many of the American spyplanes were intercepted and shot down.

Generally speaking, neither government publicly acknowledged these hot flashes of the Cold War, and the outside world was largely unaware, as were most of the people in their own countries. a B-29, desginated as a 'WB-29' -- 'weather plane' -- assigned to gather samples of air around Siberia's borders, actually looking for traces of fallout from Soviet nuclear tests.

At first, the propellor-driven Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers (re-labeled "RB-29" for "Reconnaissance") were used, mostly -- due to their long range, high altitude, substantial speed, defensive armament, and enormous payload (needed for the bulky cameras and electronics of early spy flights).

But as the Soviets developed fast, well-armed jet fighters which could shoot them down (and did), the RB-29's were gradually replaced by the faster, higher-flying jet-powered Boeing RB-47 Stratojet (shown at left), also a modified bomber.

The overflights quite unnerving to the Soviet Union -- a nation who had recently lost one-tenth of its people to a surprise invasion by the Nazis -- especially since American overflights were by planes derived from, and visually identical to, U.S. nuclear strategic bombers. Soviet defenses, particularly fighter development, evolved rapidly to counter the U.S. intruders. In time, even the 600-mph Stratojets could not outrun, nor outclimb, the latest Soviet fighters.

The U.S. government finally decided the solution was a "non-military" reconnaissance plane, designed from the start for that purpose:   the Lockheed U-2 -- a high-flying reconnaissance plane stripped of all identification, and assigned to the CIA. The high-flying U-2 recon jet The long-winged U-2's, powered by a single jet engine, were designed to fly over 60,000 feet up (12 miles high, on the edge of space; U-2 pilots wore pressurized suits like astronauts).  Designed to fly higher than any known jet fighter or anti-aircraft missile, they would fly over Soviet territory with impunity.  The U-2's soon became America's chief resource for hard data on Soviet military developments.

Pilot Francis Gary Powers, on the longest U-2 overflight mission ever, was to fly a zig-zagging course across the entire Soviet Union, south to north.  The key object was to photograph suspected new Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's), capable of striking the U.S. He took off May 1, 1960 -- "May Day" -- the international holiday of Communists. About one-third of the way through his twisting, 3,788-mile Turkey-to-Norway overflight, an explosion (whether an engine failure or a Soviet missile was never known outside the USSR) blew the U-2 out of the sky.  Powers successfully parachuted to Soviet soil, and was promptly captured.

Khrushchev views U-2 wreckage
The Soviets displayed the captured plane to the world, while the U.S. lamely claimed it was only a weather-research plane that had strayed off course -- way off course. Eventually President Eisenhower admitted the obvious, and defended his actions as "necessary." Though pilot Powers was treated civilly by his Russian captors, he was tried as a spy (with the implicit risk of a death sentence) in a public show trial.  The incident gave Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschchev a chance to humiliate President Eisenhower just before their Paris summit meeting, and greatly embarrassed the Eisenhower administration at home -- while Ike's vice president, Richard Nixon, was running for President.  Nixon was narrowly defeated by his opponent, Senator John F. Kennedy.

(Russia, a few years later, traded the imprisoned Powers to the U.S. for a captured Russian spy, Rudolf Abel. Powers returned to mixed appreciation, with many damning him for having confessed the obvious at his trial, and many others damning him for not having chosen suicide over capture. The CIA discharged him, but secretly funded his employment at Lockheed, as a U-2 test pilot, until he published a book about his experiences. After years of difficulty finding work, Powers became a prominent Los Angeles newscaster/pilot, and died in 1977 when his newscopter crashed.)

1962:    U-2 shot down; Cuban Missile Crisis.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis -- when the Soviet Union attempted to place nuclear-tipped, intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, just off American shores -- the U-2 was again used to discern Soviet developments.  One of the two U.S. Air Force U-2 pilots who first photographed proof of the missiles deployment -- Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. -- was shot down during one of his overflights by a Soviet missile.  1960's -- Cuba- an aerial view of the San Cristobal medium-range ballistic missile launch site number two. November 1, 1962 (U.S. Air Force Photo)
The event heightened tensions, as each side faced the other with an arsenal of nuclear weapons poised to annihilate millions of each others' men, women and children.  Some cabinet members and belligerent military leaders, particularly U.S. Air Force chief of staff Gen. Curtiss LeMay, urged war -- and with the loss of Anderson, the military's demands for attack grew passionate.  Kennedy held his ground, and settled the matter with a naval blockade of Cuba, until the missiles were withdrawn, peacefully.

The president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, wrote in his memoirs that the President "talked a lot about Major Anderson, and how it is always the brave and best who die.  The politicians and officials sit at home pontificating about great principles, and issues, make decisions, and dine with their wives and families, while the brave and the young die."

The day Soviet Premier Khruschchev ordered the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, as the cabinet members departed the oval office, his brother looked back and saw President Kennedy sitting down at his desk to write a private letter to Major Anderson's widow.

1967:     Israel attacks U.S.S. Liberty in 6-Day War.  Egypt, Syria and Jordan began massing troops along the borders with Israel, in an apparent move to invade the Zionist nation, and return it to the Palestinians.  Israel decided to strike first.  In an apparent attempt to conceal its initiation of hostilities, Israel targeted the U.S.S. Liberty, an American spy ship loitering in international waters between Israel and Egypt.

The Liberty, was among the first targets of a wave of Israeli fighters and bombers attacking Arab targets, signaling the outbreak of the Six-Day War -- in which Israel seized control of Gaza and the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Several crewmen were killed and injured, in a series of sea and air attacks lasting over an hour -- despite repeated radio calls from the ship to the attackers and others.  Israel lamely argued that the U.S. ship was mistaken for an enemy vessel.

The Liberty eventually limped back to port in Malta, listing to starboard from a hole blasted by a torpedo (see close-up picture) and punctured throughout with holes from Israeli cannon and machine-gun fire.
1968:    The U.S.S. Pueblo;  North Korea.   North Korean gunboats harassed, then attacked and seized the American spy ship, U.S.S. Pueblo, whose captain, Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher, claimed he'd been sailing outside the 12-mile territorial limit (which evidence later supported); the North Koreans claimed otherwise.

For over an hour, the crew frantically tried -- unsuccessfully -- to destroy its classified documents and equipment (using axes and hand-grenades, seriously injuring themselves in the process), while radioing for American help that never came.

The 82 surviving crewmembers were held captive, paraded in front of international media (as shown at left, Bucher standing), interrogated and beaten until "confessions" were extracted by North Korean authorities.  They were eventually released, exactly 11 months later, Dec. 23, 1968.

1969:    EC-121 spy plane shot down by North Korea.  Over international waters in the Sea of Japan, near the North Korean coast, an unarmed U.S. Navy Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star spyplane (shown at right; a modified Lockheed Constellation 4-prop airliner) was shot down by North Korean fighters, 90 miles southeast of North Korea -- closer, actually, to American ally South Korea.

The April 14 incident killed all 31 servicemen aboard.  This incident, along with the preceding Pueblo incident, led to a series of Congressional investigations of U.S. surveillance practices.
1976:    Stolen MiG-25 lands in Japan:  A Soviet military pilot defected to the West, fleeing to Japan in his MiG-25 fighter jet.  The Mach-3 jet (NATO designation "Foxbat")  was a mystery craft to the Western powers, particularly the U.S., who were eager to examine the latest, "most advanced" Soviet fighter.  The Defense Department had long used the mystery of the MiG-25 as a "boogeyman" to scare the government into funding advanced U.S. weaponry.

The Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 interceptor fighter was the subject of NATO military hysteria, until one actually fell into U.S. hands -- and turned out to be a turkey. From the Air Force Times Library On September 6, Russian pilot, Lt. Viktor Belenko, landed his MiG-25 fighter (NATO designation "Foxbat" shown below) at an airfield near Hakodate, on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, and asked for asylum, and it was temporarily granted.  The Soviet government furiously demanded the prompt return of their stolen plane, and the pilot who took it.  And when Japan refused, the Russian Navy, in retaliation, captured Japanese fishing boats and imprisoned their crews, while Soviet military craft menaced Japanese military craft over international waters.

The condescending bluster and arrogant challenges of the Soviets only insulted the Japanese -- who dug their heels in more forcefully, and welcomed U.S. requests to examine the aircraft. Then- U.S.-Defense-Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld (who, ironically, is now again  the Secretary of Defense) admitted "we wanted the plane. We wanted metal samples; to fly it, take it apart, then fly it again." He got his wish.  The Japanese government allowed the U.S. to disassemble the plane, stuff it in a giant C-5A Galaxy transport, and fly it to a Japanese airbase near Tokyo for a thorough disassembly and inspection. Two months later, it was shipped back to the Russians in pieces.

What was expected to be an intelligence bonanza turned into an embarrassment for the U.S. Defense Department.  The MiG's crude, bulky, stainless-steel construction, poor aerodynamic qualities, limited weapons capacity, short range and utterly archaic electronics discredited Defense Department paranoia over the new aircraft, and over Soviet military technology, generally.
The pilot, Lt. Belenko defected to the United States, and spent months answering questions for the Defense Department and the CIA.

1970's-1980's:  U.S. submarines in Soviet waters.  In a super-secret program (most famously labeled "HOLYSTONE"), U.S. submarines spied on the Soviet Union, by sailing submerged into Soviet waters, and sometimes even up Soviet rivers -- even tapping Soviet undersea cables.   The program "surfaced" during the "Year of Intelligence" (1975), among the many revelations (first made by reporter Seymour Hersh) about U.S. intellegence operations run amok (many of them subverting U.S. law) which ultimately sparked Congressional investigations.

The intruder-submarines story broke with Seymour Hersh's front page articles in the New York Times, May 25, 1975 and July 6, 1975, including the revelation that one of the subs had actually collided with a Soviet surface ship March 31, 1971. But the Navy kept rolling the dice, intruding into Soviet waters -- until the discovery of the Walker family spy ring, inside the U.S. Navy, which had tipped off the Soviets about key details of this and many other U.S. naval spy operations. That disaster reportedly brought the program to a screeching halt.

Korean Air Lines 747 (Korean Air Lines photo)
The RC-135RJ aerial reconnaisance aircraft, derived from the Boeing KC-135 tanker and 707 jetliner
Korean Air Lines
Boeing 747
EC-135 / RC-135
1983:    South Korean 747 airliner shot down by Soviet fighters.  On September 1, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 with over 200 people aboard, was blasted out of the sky in the night, killing all aboard (including an American Congressman) after straying into Soviet Airspace near the Kamchatka Peninsula, a Soviet territory on the eastern edge of Russia, which served as a key Soviet miitary testing ground.
The peninsula had regularly been stalked by American spy planes, including RC-135 (modified Boeing 707 airliners) surveillance aircraft, particularly during recent sensitive Soviet missile tests.  Soviet authorities claimed that the trespassing South Korean 747 airliner had been mistaken, in the murky skies, for an American RC-135 spy plane.

The incident fueled cold war tensions, and rattled the Soviet military establishment, severely discrediting it, and setting the stage for later shakeups and marginalizing of Soviet military leadership which would help bring about the weakening of Soviet Communism.

1992:     U.S. EC-130 attacked by Peru.  in April, a U.S.
EC-130 Hercules -- electronic reconnaisance variant of the C-130 transport
Lockheed EC-130 spyplane, a modified C-130 Hercules 4-prop transport, purportedly engaged in a drug-war mission, was attacked by Peruvian fighter aircraft over waters near Peru, killing one crewman and injuring others.  The plane landed safely in a field in northern Peru, near the border with Ecuador.  The crew was returned to the U.S.

Peru claimed that the U.S. plane was 300 miles off its officially-claimed course when attacked.  At the time (as often) there were heightened military tensions between Peru and Ecuador, who had been in territorial battles over sea rights. Further, the Peruvian government, in a leadership crisis, had just suspended its constitution.
2001:  EP-3 spyplane forced down in China:  March 31, 2001, an American EP-3 electronic-sensing spyplane (a modified U.S. Navy P-3 Orion, which, in turn, was a modified Lockheed Electra turboprop airliner) was patrolling off the coast of China, in international airspace over the South China Sea.

Philippines confirms T/A-50 purchase

JDW Correspondent


The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has chosen the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T/A-50 to fulfill the Philippine Air Force's (PAF's) requirement for a light attack Trainer.
Philippine officials said they would like to have two of 12 T/A-50s in country immediately to begin pilot training.
  • The Philippines has announced the acquisition of 12 KAI T/A-50 light attack/ lead-in-fighter trainers in its first fast jet procurement in years

  • Manila is also in negotiations to buy second-hand Italian Navy frigates and corvettes and utility/light attack helicopters from France and Italy

The government has requested the delivery of 12 aircraft from KAI, the DND said in an announcement on 1 August in Manila. It also announced that negotiations had almost finished for the purchase of two Maestrale-class frigates from the Italian Navy and released details of plans to procure four Eurocopter AS 550 Fennecs for the PAF, with an option for a further six.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines would request the immediate delivery of two T/A-50s to expedite training.

"We plan to negotiate so we can get the immediate delivery of two airframes to start the long-overdue process for training so that when the rest of the 10 arrive, our pilots get out there and start training,"Gazmin said.

The T/A-50 is an armed version of the T-50 Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainer.It is equipped with a General Dynamics M197 20mm three-barrel Gatling-type internal cannon and an ELTA EL/M-2032 fire control radar, and has achieved weapons certification for the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

The terms of the deal were not announced. However, Indonesia signed a contract for 16 T/A-50s in May 2011 valued at approximately USD400 million.

Gazmin said the Maestrale-class frigates to be retired by Italy will boost Manila's ability to defend its territorial waters, particularly the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). The two Italian vessels, which would be the Philippines's first missile-armed and modern anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable ships, are expected to be part of the government-to-government agreement that is now being finalized. Gazmin said the frigates could arrive in the country after being refurbished in late 2013.

Officials are waiting for the enactment of the PHP75 billion (USD1.7 billion) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization law -  which has already been passed by both houses of Congress and is now awaiting specific stem selection, Which Gazmin said is expected by the end of 2012 - to continue negotiations with Italy. Along with the two frigates, which are worth PHP 11.7 billion, negotiations are under way for two Minerva- class corvettes or other offshore patrol craft, which the Italians are also offering to Manila.
Employees work on a TA-50 trainer jet on the production line of the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. plant in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province. (Bloomberg)

IHS Jane's has also learnt that the Philippine Navy is evaluating Oto Melara's advanced 76mm smart munitions, such as the DART (Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of Flight) guided projectile, for its fleet of former UK Royal Navy Peacock-class patrol vessels and its ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutter.

DND spokesman and Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Galvez said that due to availability issues with the preferred option - the AW109E Power Attack Helicopter - Manila had chosen to procure four AS 550 Fennecs this year. The Fennecs are reportedly part of a cancelled or reduced order from an unspecified Middle Eastern Country that IHS Jane's believes could be Libya. In 2007 Paris said it was in negotiations to sell 10 Fennecs to Tripoli as part of a EUR4 billion (USD4.8 billion) package that also included 14 Dassault Rafale multirole fighters, eight Eurocopter Tiger combat helicopters and 15 EC 725 transport helicopters.

Galvez said the Fennecs were needed urgently to provide air cover for Philippine forces conducting counter-terrorism and insurgency operations while the PAF's McDonnell Douglas MD530 Defender light attack helicopters are upgraded under a service-life extension programme (SLEP).

The commander of the PAF said the AW109s would be procured at a later date and would be operated by the Philippine Marines/Navy.

Gazmin said that 60 per cent of 140 contracts negotiated under the AFP's recapitalization programme have been agreed, with the rest dependent on the enactment of the AFP modernization law. According to the spokesman, by the end of 2012 Manila also expects the delivery of 21 refurbished UH-1H helicopters, "two to four"attack helicopters and two multipurpose assault craft.
A version of this article appeared August 8, 2012, on page 4 in the U.K. edition of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, with the headline: Philippines confirms T/A-50 purchase.

Philippines Acquires MK38 Mod 2 Gun Systems for Navy

MK38 Mod-2 naval gun sysyem (photo : BAE Systems)
BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc., U.S. Combat Systems Division, Louisville, Ky., is being awarded a $24,257,531 firm-fixed-price contract for 21 MK38 Mod 2 machine gun systems and associated spare parts in support of the U.S. Navy and the Philippines.
This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (92.7 percent) and the government of the Philippines (7.4 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
The MK 38 Mod 2 machine gun system ordnance alteration kit consists of two-axis stabilization with remote control capability and an on-mount day/night electro-optical suite along with an eye-safe laser range finder.
The spare parts being procured on this contract include 13 toplight assemblies, 12 multi-function displays, four main control panels, six battery chargers, and one installation and checkout spare with deliveries starting in November 2013.
Work will be performed in Hafia, Israel (68 percent) and Louisville, Ky. (32 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2014.  Contract funds in the amount of $9,509,007 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity (N00174-12-C-0026).
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