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Monday, November 26, 2012

DND Eyes 100 New APCs from Italy

M-113 armored personnel carrier (photo : aereimilitari)
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to acquire 100 armored personnel carriers (APC)s and dozens of artillery equipment from Italy in support of the military’s capability upgrade program.
Documents obtained by The STAR showed that the Italian government might donate 100 units of operational M113 APCs and 25 units of operational FH70 155 mm howitzers.
The possible donations are in connection with the procurement of other equipment that may become part of what the DND called the “Italian package.”
The DND is currently negotiating with Italy for the procurement of Maestrale-class ships, medium-lift fixed wing aircraft (C27J-Spartan), special mission aircraft and three naval helicopters.
If the procurement pushes through, the 100 APCs and 25 long-range cannons may be included in the package.
“In connection with the acquisition of the aforementioned equipment (ships, aircraft, helicopters) the Italian government will donate 100 units operational M113 armored personnel carriers and 25 units operational FH70 155 mm howitzers,” the DND document read.
The APCs and artilleries are expected to enhance the military’s security operations.
FH-70 155mm howitzer (photo : vecio)
The DND said the Italian defense ministry has designated a liaison officer to the Philippines to handle the acquisitions and represent the Italian government in the discussions with suppliers.
The department said it is also negotiating with the supplier regarding the specifications of the equipment.
“The imprimatur to contract with them is directly from the Italian government,” it said.
The Philippines is resorting to government-to-government transactions to fast-track the acquisition of key defense equipment.
Earlier, DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the negotiation for the acquisition of the two Maestrale-class warships from Italy may be completed by yearend.
Last August, the DND announced plans to acquire the Maestrale-class ships from Italy to boost the country’s maritime security capability.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had said the two missile-firing warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy and cost about P11.7 billion.
The ships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities. They also have missile systems and modern radars.

Royal Brunei Navy and Philippine Navy Conducts SEAGULL Exercise

PS-37 BRP Artemo Ricarte and PS-38 BRP Mariano Alvarez (photo : Brunei MoD)
MUARA NAVAL BASE - The Royal Brunei Navy and the Philippine Navy will be conducting a combined naval exercise code-named Maritime Training Activity (MTA) SEAGULL 05/12 on 19 - 25 November 2012. This is the fifth in the series of bilateral engagements between both navies, which is held bi-annually. The Royal Brunei Navy will be host to this year's event and all military activities will be conducted in Negara Brunei Darussalam.
This training activity aims to strengthen bilateral security relationship and cooperation as well as to enhance interoperability between the two navies, promote mutual understanding and to bolster the existing long-standing relationship among the officers and men of both navies.
KDB Syafiat P-19 (photo : Tolli)
This year, two ships from the Royal Brunei Navy. KDB SYAFAAT and KDB AFIAT, will be joined by two patrol ships from the Philippine Navy namely BRP ARTEMIO RICARTE (PS-37) and BRP GENERAL MARIANO ALVAREZ (PS-38). The exercise will involve almost 150 personnel from both navies.

This morning, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy, First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Abdul Halim bin Hj Mohd Hanifah received a call from the Commander of Philippine Fleet, Rear Admiral Orwen J. Cortez. Present during the Call was the Ambassador of the Republic of Philippines, His Excellency Nestor Z. Ochoa, Commander Leofilo G. Pulmano (DCTG 12.1), and both Philippine Patrol Ships' Commanding Officers.
Upon completion of the Call, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy presided over the Opening Ceremony with the Commander of Philippine Fleet in attendance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Philippines to Buy 2 Brand New ASW Helicopter

DND will select one of four different types of anti-submarine helicopters, including AgustaWestland AW-109 (photo : Pakforum)

Military to buy 2 anti-submarine choppers

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to acquire two brand new naval helicopters with anti-submarine capabilities to enhance the capabilities of the military.
DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the department is now awaiting the issuance of an acquisition defense memorandum (ADM), which would start the procurement and would signal the project’s implementation.
Manalo said the ADM, which is a key component in the procurement process, would be issued by DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
“(This acquisition is) part of our modernization program,” Manalo said, adding that each helicopter costs P2.5 billion.
The two helicopters are expected to be placed on the two Maestrale-class missile-firing warships to be acquired from Italy. There is no information yet as to where the helicopters would be procured.
Manalo said the implementation of the project hinges on the enactment of a measure seeking to revive the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.
“If it (law) gets approved, the P75 billion (funding) for the first five years would be part of it,” the defense official said.
The old AFP Modernization Act, which took effect on February 23, 1995, has given the military the opportunity to modernize in 15 years with a total fund of P331 billion.
The implementation of the law, however, has been stalled due to lack of funds. The law lapsed in 2010 without achieving its purpose of modernizing the military.
Last September, the legislature ratified a bill seeking to revive the military’s modernization program and to allot P75 billion for the first five years of its implementation.
The new modernization bill only needs the signature of President Aquino before it can be enacted into law.
Among the items that the DND wants to acquire once the bill is signed into law are communication equipment, lead-in fighter trainer jets, closed air support aircraft, long range patrol aircraft, radar systems and engineering equipment.

The DND is also resorting to government-to-government transactions to fast-track the procurement of key military equipment.
The Aquino administration has promised to equip the military to enable it to perform its mission.
The Army would be given new assault rifles, armor assets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, force protection equipment like helmets, and bulletproof vests, night-fighting equipment and radios.
On the other hand, the government would buy surface attack aircraft, air defense radars, long-range patrol aircraft and closed air support aircraft for the Air Force.
For the Navy, the government seeks to acquire strategic sea-lift vessels with amphibious vessels, off-shore patrol vessels, naval helicopters, coast watch stations and weather-heavy endurance cutters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Philippines Eyes Procurement of Small Boats, Ammunition Equipment from Canada

The total value of the military procurement program wasn't mentioned but it will be implemented within Canada's $12.6 billion (US$12.6 billion) defense industry. (photo : the globe and mail)

The Philippines is planning to procure small boats and ammunition equipment from Canada as part of its continued efforts to upgrade the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
This was announced by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday after he signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation last Saturday with Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast.
The small boats that Manila plans to buy should be able to maneuver rough waters, he said.
Manila already has placed an order to improve the country's capability to produce ammunition, Gazmin said. "We are also looking at small boats for rough waters."
No "big-ticket" items such as fighter jets would be procured from Canada.
With the MOU, the Philippine government can have access to the expertise and skills from Canada.

Monday, November 5, 2012

DND Deal for Italian Warships Nearing Completion

05 November 2012

Two warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy at a cost of about P11.7 billion or 282.5 million USD (photo : dmilt)
MANILA, Philippines - Negotiation for the acquisition of two warships from Italy may be completed within the year.
In an interview, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the Navy is expected to come up with a decision package, a document needed to make the ships ready for operation.
“I would like to say that it (negotiation) is in its advanced stage,” he said.
“When we receive a decision package, we will submit to the (defense) secretary the acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) and then submit the proposal to the president for approval,” he said.
“We are just waiting for the decision package from the Navy.”
Manalo said a decision package includes the terms of reference for the refurbishment of the ships, the needed training for personnel that will man the vessels, munitions and other things needed to make them operational.
“The ADM would start the procurement and would signal the implementation of the project,” he added.
Manalo said negotiations may be completed within the year and the warships may arrive in the Philippines within the term of President Aquino if the project pushes through.
“G to G (government to government) negotiations are fast,” he said.
“Even with little delay in implementation, we can still hit that before the end of 2012.”
Last August, the Department of National Defense bared plans to acquire two missile-firing warships from Italy to enhance the country’s maritime security capability.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the two warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy at a cost of about P11.7 billion.
The two warships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, and missile systems and modern radars, he added.
The Maestrale-class ships were commissioned in 1982 and are more capable than any of the vessels in the Navy’s inventory.
The frigates may be delivered to the Philippines in November 2013 if the government manages to sign a contract by January.
If the acquisition pushes through, the Italian warships could beef up the country’s defense posture in the West Philippine Sea.
The ships are also expected to strengthen the military’s anti-terror drive and the enforcement of maritime laws.
In an earlier interview, Manalo said Italy has expressed readiness to include the weapon systems and other vital accessories of the ships.
Last year, the Philippines acquired its first Hamilton-class cutter BRP Gregorio del Pilar from the US Coast Guard to boost its territorial defense capabilities.
Another warship acquired from the US – the BRP Ramon Alcaraz – is expected to arrive by February.
The DND initially intended to acquire a third warship from the US, but has put the plan on hold to focus on equipping the Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Agusta Westland wins bid for Navy Choppers

The Philippine Navy is acquiring 5 AW 109 naval version choppers for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.

The Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring five naval helicopters from Agusta Westland to boost the Navy’s maritime security and disaster response capabilities.

The AW109KN version will be stationed on all frigate vessels acquired recently by the Philippine government, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz. The navy acquired from the United States (US) two Hamilton Class Coast Guard Cutters and converted it to frigate warships to patrol its maritime area. Two more missile-armed Maestrale Class frigates from Italy are expected to join the Philippine Navy starting next year. The other ASW choppers will be assigned to the Italian-Maestrale class frigates when they arrive in 2013.

DND Assistant Secretary Ernesto Boac said the project costs P2.2 billion and would be funded by the Armed Forces modernization program and the Department of Energy.

“The helicopters will improve the capabilities of the Navy. These will be used for maritime security, internal security operations and disaster response,” Boac said.

The fuselages of AW109 are made by PZL-Świdnik, the same company that manufactured the Sokol helicopters of the Philippine Air Force.

The first batch of  AW 109 helicopters is scheduled to arrive on Oct. 17, 2013 and delivery is expected to be completed by Dec. 17, 2013.

US Navy back in Subic

As China makes reconciliatory gestures to PH

The nuclear powered US Navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington anchors in Manila Bay on Wednesday October 24. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier together with two escort destroyers are here for a goodwill visit.

After confirming that Americans are indeed back at Subic, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and Special Envoy of the Chinese Government Fu Ying wasted no time to call President Benigno S. Aquino III last week at Malacañang to impart the message from Chinese President Hu Jintao that China places great importance and value to the long-standing friendship with the Philippines.
Beijing began to have second thoughts on its expansionists plan and sent Vice Foreign Minister Fu to expressed the Chinese government’s desire to move Philippines–China relations forward to benefit the peoples of both countries.
The sudden change of tack by China in what W. Scott Thompson, geopolitics and defense expert, writing for New York Times and New Straits Times, called serious "miscalculations" on the Philippine resolve to protect its territorial sovereignty.
Thomson said that China flexed its muscle into the country after its President for nine years Gloria Arroyo, let the Chinese have whatever they wanted, in return for personal favours, like broadband project, which allegedly carried a 50 percent cut to President Arroyo before it blew up in their faces.
The United States military, particularly Admiral Samuel Locklear III, Chief of the US Pacific Command based in Hawaii, has said last July that the US is committed to develop a “minimum defense capability” for the Philippines, for which they are now building at Subic Bay transforming it into military logistic hub for Asia Pacific region guarded by three confirmed US nuclear submarines patrolling the South China Sea.
Locklear confirmed that the US Navy will have a semi-permanent rotational presence at Subic Bay, describing deployment as providing "peace of mind" for Southeast Asia amidst increase maritime insertions of Chinese Navy vessels into the South China Sea.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, arrives in the Philippines to meet with senior military officials in Manila, Sunday. The United States and the Philippines share a Mutual Defense Treaty, and the two nations work closely together through bi-lateral and multi-lateral training to enhance interoperability. U.S. NAVY PHOTO
US Air Force Brigadier General Mark McLeod of the US Pacific Command's (PACOM's) Director of logistics, engineering, and security, said that SBIA will likely be used to pre-position US logistics assets. Pacom is working with the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to identify what materiel assets might be transferred to Subic as U.S. forces draw down in Afghanistan,.

“Part of what this office is doing is looking at the options of where we can forward locate humanitarian assistance capabilities in the theater,” says. McLeod, during an interview at the command’s Honolulu headquarters. “We want to posture them somewhere in the theater that would allow us to react very quickly.”
He said that the US was looking for a "very low-cost storage capabilities" for equipment and supplies in bulk readily available in case of armed conflicts in the Asia Pacific region.
Macleod further said that it might make more sense to forward equipment and supplies to a place where there is "easy access" as opposed to bringing it home and putting it in central storage facilities.
DFA Visiting Forces Agreement Director Edilberto Adan described the deployment as providing "peace of mind" for Southeast Asia in the wake of a series of renewed territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Adan said the US will be developing Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA), and San Fernando Airport as military airport. San Fernando Airport is currently being used for general aviation and charter flights while Subic Bay Airport used to be the Asian hub of American cargo carrier Fedex.
While Philippine and US officials are keen to emphasise that neither increased military visits nor the rotational presence of US forces at Subic are a threat to any other country, they are clearly a point of tension with China. Several dozen USN ships have anchored in Subic Bay since April's escalation of the Spratly Islands territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila.
"We go to many places in [the] region, even the People's Republic of China itself," a senior US diplomat told Michael Cohen, a correspondent of Jane's Defence Weekly magazine. 
"All we offer is stability and security, and we certainly have shown a respect for sovereignty. We go when asked to leave, and do not claim what is not ours."
Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) subsidiary AMSEC recently signed an agreement in April 2012 with Korean shipbuilding giant Hanjin Heavy Industries subsidiary in the Philippines Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, Inc. (HHIC-PHIL) for maintenance, repair and logistics services works to the US. Navy.

2nd Philippine Navy Warship from US to Arrive February

BRP Ramon Alcaraz PF-16 (photo : pdff)
MANILA, Philippines - The second warship to be acquired by the Navy from the United States (US) is expected to arrive by February, Defense Secretary Voltraire Gazmin said Monday.
Gazmin said US Pacific Command chief Adm. Samuel Locklear III gave him the assurance of the second warship's delivery during their meeting in Hawaii early this month.
“Our new ship will be coming sometime next year, about February. I met with Admiral Locklear in Hawaii before I joined the trip of the president to Australia and New Zealand. He assured us that the ship will arrive by February 2013,” he said.
The scheduled arrival of BRP Ramon Alcaraz in February is a month later than the initial expectations.
During his state of the nation address last July, President Aquino said BRP Alcaraz was expected to reach Philippine shores by the end of January.
Gazmin said the BRP Alcaraz is “a better conditioned water craft” than the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the first ship provided by the US last year.
“We have sailors undergoing training [on how to maneuver the ship] and they will be the ones who will bring the ship here from Charleston (South Carolina),” the defense chief said.
Last year, the government acquired its first Hamilton-class vessel from the US Coast Guard to enhance the military’s external defense capabilities.
The ship, which has been renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, has been deployed to the West Philippine Sea to secure energy projects in the area. It is now the Navy’s largest vessel.
The US, however, stripped the ship of some of its accessories before it was turned over to the Philippines.
Officials earlier said that the BRP Alcaraz, the second warship to be acquired from the US, would cost more than BRP del Pilar since the government had to buy weapons and accessories that were removed from the vessel.
The ship was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer, who distinguished himself during the Second World War when the patrol boat he commanded shot down three Japanese aircraft.
BRP Alcaraz was largely used by the US Coast Guard 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.
Meanwhile, the military hailed the awarding of a contract for the purchase of modern weapons system for BRP Alcaraz.
Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the weapon system would boost their maritime security capabilities and enable them to guard the country’s territory.
“This acquisition will greatly and significantly contribute to the fulfillment of our mandate which is to protect the people and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of the national territory,” Burgos said.
“The system acquisition will definitely help us in the enforcement of maritime laws and support us in our fight against transnational crimes like drug trafficking, human trafficking human trafficking piracy illegal fishing and poaching,” he added.
On Sunday, the Philippine embassy in US announced that the Pentagon has awarded a $1.8 million contract for the purchase of modern weapons systems for BRP Alcaraz.
The purchase and installation of two Mk38 Mod 2 autocanon systems for the Alcaraz is part of a $24-million contract the Pentagon recently awarded to the Kentucky-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc.
The contract, which is covered under the Foreign Military Sales Program, involves the purchase of 21 units of the remotely controlled naval gun systems and spare parts.
The new weapon systems are upgraded versions of the Mk38 M242 Bushmasters that were removed from BRP Alcaraz prior to its turnover to the Philippines. The remotely controlled chain gun system can fire as many as 180 25m rounds per minute at targets as far as two kilometers.

Philippines to Buy 5 French Patrol Boats

 Ocea class-24 meter patrol vessel of France (all photos : Mer et Marine)
THE government will spend P4.8 billion for the acquisition of five patrol vessels from France next year, the Philippine Coast Guard announced on Monday.
Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, Coast Guard officer-in-charge and commandant for operations, did not specify the manufacturer and class of vessels they plan to acquire, but stressed that the vessels will be brand new and French made.
“The President has ordered the procurement of additional ships for the Coast Guard,” said Tuason. “We have a forthcoming one unit 82-meter and four 24-meter long brand new patrol vessels from France.”
Tuason said the funding for the vessels will come from the Office of the President.
“We have allocation from the Office of the President that was approved already,” Tuason said. “I’m not sure about the budget but I think they will come from projects that did not push through and unused funds that were allotted for Coast Guard vessels.”
He said the four 24-meter vessels are expected to arrive by December next year while the 82-meter vessel will in 2014. “We’re still finalizing the papers,” Tuason added.

He said the vessels will be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea.
“When we patrol the West Philippine Sea, we encounter huge waves, turbulent waters so it will be better if we will use bigger ships,” said Tuason.
The Coast Guard is also set to build a support base at the West Philippine Sea to immediately respond to sea emergencies in the area. The base will be built in Ulugay, Palawan.
At the moment, the Coast Guard has district in Palawan, but it is at the eastern coast of the province. It is also supported by five stations and 17 detachments.
Apart from being the largest province in the country, Palawan also hosts the Malampaya natural gas project.
“It will be quicker for quick response and law enforcement activities in the West coast of Palawan, especially if there is a problem in the Malampaya or other government projects. We will have a faster response time. We will also be able to provide shelter in the area for ships during bad weather,” said Tuason.
“We can easily do that if we are near the western side (of Palawan),” he said, adding that the government is expected to give P1.5 billion from Malampaya fund for the upgrade within the year or next year.
Part of the money will also be used to repair two of their 56-meter vessels and one 35-meter vessel.

Air Force Opens Bid for 21 Hueys

PAF's Huey helicopters (photo : TriztaN19)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to spend P1.26 billion to purchase 21 combat helicopters to give a much-needed boost to the Philippine Air Force.

In a notice posted on the DND website on Monday, October 29, the department said it intends to acquire the refurbished Bell UH-1 ("Huey") helicopters along with the corresponding logistics support package through "open competitive bidding procedures" as specified by Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The UH-1 is a multipurpose military helicopter famous for its use by the United States in the Vietnam War, and is commonly known as "Huey."

The purchase is under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program, which seeks to develop the military into a multi-mission oriented force capable of effectively addressing internal and external security threats.

A pre-bidding conference will be held on November 2 in Camp Aguinaldo and bidding documents may be purchased for P75,000.

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