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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

DND Bidding for 2 Navy Vessels Still Open

At least five countries have reportedly interest to supply the Philippine Navy with the  SSVs. (image : ST Marine)

MANILA, Philippines - The programmed purchase of two Navy vessels is on track, with the scheduled opening of bids next month.

Department of National Defense Bids and Award Committee (DND-BAC) chair Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez said in a public notice the multibillion defense acquisition project is still open for interested but qualified foreign and local contractors before the holding of the pre-bid conference scheduled on July 2.

“Bid opening shall be on July 15 at 10 a.m., at the DND-BAC Conference Room. Bids will be opened in the presence of bidders’ representatives. Late bids shall not be accepted,” Fernandez said.

He added that bids received in excess of the Approved Budget for the Contract, a funding sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund, would be automatically rejected at the bid opening.

The winning bidder is required to deliver the first Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) within 730 calendar days from the opening of the Letter of Credit and the second SSV to be delivered a year later, Fernandez said.

The delivery of the first SSV is expected to take place in 2015 and the second in 2016 before the term of President Aquino ends.

At least five foreign defense contractors have reportedly expressed interest to supply the Philippine Navy with the  SSVs.

The DND has a P4-billion budget to purchase the SSVs, required to have Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) capability for the Navy.

The two SSVs will serve as the Navy’s platform in its sea- and land-based civil-military operations.

A non-combat ship, the SSV is capable of transporting large numbers of military personnel and logistics like military trucks, tanks and other supplies.

While a little smaller than the Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) the Navy earlier planned to acquire, the SSV is equipped with a mini-hospital, a helipad and watercraft that could bolster the response capabilities in times of maritime disaster.

On top of this, the Navy is awaiting the arrival of its second frigate, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, now enroute to the country from the US.

The former US Coast Guard Weather High Endurance Cutter had just sailed through the Panama Canal and is now en route to San Diego, California.

Alcaraz is expected to reach the country by the first week of August.

Once commissioned in September, Alcaraz will join her sister ship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, now serving as the Navy’s flagship in securing the country’s maritime territorial domain.

Aside from Del Pilar and Alcaraz, the Navy is also working to purchase two brand new missile firing warships from South Korea, also being eyed to supply the Philippine Air Force with a squadron of T-50 lead-in trainer supersonic fighter jets.


Army Eyes Hi-tech Mounted Artillery

Soltam Atmos 2000 Wheeled self-propelled 155 mm howitzer (photo : Elbit)

THE Philippine Army is planning to purchase a number of self-propelled 155mm artillery to bolster the country’s territorial defense capability, defense and military sources told Manila Standard Today.

The sources did not disclose how many guns are being considered, but Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes is pushing for the acquisition of a computerized autonomous truck-mounted 155mm artillery system produced by the Israeli defense contractor Soltam Systems.

The military already has 14 Soltam M-71 155mm towed howitzers, 12 M114A1 155mm towed howitzers and hundreds of 105mm howitzers, including 12 that were recently donated by the Italian government.

One source said the delivery of 12 more 155mm howitzers of unspecified make has been delayed and Coballes wants to junk the order and replace it with advanced wheeled howitzers made by Soltam.

The system is called Autonomous Truck Mounted System (ATMOS) 2000, a long range, fast moving, truck mounted howitzer with high firepower and mobility, rapid deployment, short response time, operable in all kinds of terrain.

The system is integrated with a fully computerized system, providing an automatic control, accurate navigation and target acquisition, the system is offered with various gun calibers, but the military is interested in the 39 calibre, or 155mm.

However, the source said the ATMOS 2000 will likely need the approval of the Department of National Defense because the cost of the system may surpass the P50-million cap given to the Armed Forces chief of staff.

Moreover, the source said the project may pose a “little problem” because the prime movers, or artillery tractors, of the 12 155mm guns that the defense department ordered three years ago from an unidentified overseas supplier gas already been delivered.

“I think there are at least 12 prime movers – those big military trucks you saw during one of the presentations made by the AFP – have already been delivered,” the source said.

“If are they going to scrap the purchase and delivery of the 12 cannons, what will they do with the prime movers that are already with the AFP?” he asked.

A second source confirmed said that six of the prime movers are with the Army while the other six are with the Marines.

When aslked to confirm the planned artillery purchase, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. declined to confirm or deny the proposal.

“I am not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the AFP Modernization program much more the details and types of armaments to be acquired,” he said.

But a third source said Department of National Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez left for Istael last week along with representatives from the different armed services to shop and possibly initiate purchase agreement with suppliers.

Among the items in the agenda is the possible acquisition of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) or multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) from Israel Military Industries Ltd. or Rafael Advance Defense Systems, the source said.

(Manila Standard Today)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

All PAF W-3A 'Sokols' Operational

PAF W-3A Sokol helicopter (photo : helihub)

MANILA — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Friday said that all of the country's eight W-3A "Sokol" combat utility helicopters are operational and mission capable.

"They are all operational," said PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol.

Okol said that six of the helicopters are now being used for various missions from search-and-rescue, to administration lift duties.

"While two are for transition training. All are with the 505th Search and Rescue Group," the PAF spokesperson said.

The last batch of four W-3A "Sokol" arrived in pairs last Nov. 26, 2012 and Feb. 17 this year.

This is the last batch of four out of the eight ordered from Augusta PZL Swidnik of Poland sometime in 2010.

The four earlier delivered was commissioned and put in service on March 9, 2012.

The PAF's W3-A "Sokols" or "Falcon" combat utility helicopters are equipped with the latest navigation and avionics systems including a night vision goggle compatible cockpit, allowing it to operate day and night in all weather conditions.

This six-ton class helicopter can transport up to 11 troops in the cabin or can lift up to 2,100 kilograms using its external cargo hook.

This helicopter can also be fitted with a M-60D machine gun on each side of the cabin.

PZL-Swidnik is Poland’s the biggest aerospace manufacturer with the capability to design, develop and manufacture its own helicopters. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

Philippines Plans to Tap Israel for Missile Launchers

DND plans to  acquire anti-aircraft guided missiles, which will be positioned in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as part of the country’s first-ever missile defense system. (photo : Rafael)

Amid rising tensions over territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea, the government is planning to buy anti-aircraft guided missiles from Israel, reliable sources told the Manila Standard Friday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the surface-to-air missiles or multiple launch rocket systems were being offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Military Industries Ltd., both based in Israel.

“SAMs and MLRS are mobile anti-aircraft weapons designed against jet fighters,” the source said, adding that these had been suggested some time ago but had not been taken seriously because the defense establishment had no interest in investing at the time.

“Now, here comes the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, and at last they’ve opened their eyes,” the source added.

Another source said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was planning to go to Israel next week to forge an agreement with the prospective suppliers.

“If you have an agreement this would hasten the procurement process, say in three to six months you would already have the weapons. The agreement gives you the leeway to access all the information you want know about a particular weapon you want to procure,” the source said.

Manila Standard tried to reach Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo and spokesman Peter Paul Galvez for confirmation, but both did not return calls or answer text messages.

In his first year in office, President Benigno Aquino III had released P75 billion to fund the upgrading of the military’s capability through the procurement of ships and aircraft.

Gazmin then said they had some 138 big-ticket defense items that were being considered on a government-to-government procurement basis.

Part of this buildup was the recent procurement of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a rehabilitated US Coast Guard cutter introduced in the 1960s.

The refurbished cutter, procured for will be the country’s most modern warship and is expected to arrive in July or August.

But Senator Gregorio Honasan seemed unimpressed with the extent of help offered by the United States, and called for a review of the US Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty, which he described as useless.

“We are not getting anything out of it. We have many international economic, military and security arrangements with other nations but why did they not say anything while the Scarborough Shoal standoff was heating up?” said the former Army colonel.

Because of this, Honasan said the country should abrogate all treaties that do nothing to help the country.

At the same time, however, he said a joint fishing agreement with Taiwan would be beneficial because it would afford protection to fishermen from both countries.

His remarks follow the May 9 fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in the Balintang Channel that soured relations between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Also on Friday, the Foreign Affairs Department said it welcomed the filing of a resolution in the US Senate in support of a peaceful resolution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“We understand that the resolution has yet to undergo the necessary congressional process before it is passed by the US Senate, nonetheless, we extend our appreciation on the mere fact that some US senators have deigned it necessary to express their views on a fundamental issue that affects the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region,” the department said in a statement.

“The Philippines especially appreciates the reaffirmation of the peaceful resolution of disputes, including through arbitration; its condemnation of the use of threat or use of force; its recognition of the significance of the role of ASEAN and of the code of conduct; and its support for the ongoing and deepening efforts of the US in the region relating to ensuring freedom of navigation, maintenance of peace and stability, and respect for universally recognized principles of international law.” 

(Manila Standard Today)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz Run up to 25 Knots Without Any Trouble

PF-16 BRP Ramob Alcaraz (photo : philippineembassyusa)

MANILA, (PNA) – Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic on Wednesday said that BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the second Hamilton-class cutter in the country's service, was able to run up to 25 knots without experiencing any trouble in main propulsion system.

This took place Tuesday (American time).

The top speed of the Filipino warship is estimated at between 29 to 31 knots.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz uses a combined diesel and gas propulsion system.

This consist of two Fairbanks-Morse 38TD8-1/8-12 12-cylinder diesel engines generating 7,000 horsepower (5,200 kW) and two Pratt & Whitney FT4A-6 gas turbines producing 36,000 horsepower.

"The Hamilton cutter was able to run at 25 knots without any trouble. Everything was very satisfactory," Fabic added.

He stated that the ship is now headed for San Diego, California passing through the Panama Canal.

The Filipino warship left Charleston, South Carolina Monday (American time) for her voyage home to the Philippines. 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz Test Fire Cannon at Florida

PF-16 BRP Ramon Alcaraz (photo : philippineembassyusa)

BRP Ramon Alcaraz test-fire successful

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the country’s second Hamilton-class cutter acquired from the US, has successfully test-fired its main weapons system “with a high degree of accuracy,” authorities said.

“We have successfully test-fired our Oto Melara gun with a high degree of accuracy,” Capt. Ernesto Baldovino said, as quoted by the Philippine Embassy to the United States.

On its website, the Embassy said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz had conducted the test-fire on Tuesday in Atlantic Ocean, three and a half hours after leaving Mayport, Florida, where it arrived early Tuesday to load ammunition.

“This weapons system is very reliable,” Capt. Baldovino said, referring to BRP Alcaraz's rapid-fire cannon which can shoot as many as 80 rounds per minute.

Capt. Elson Aguilar, Defense and Naval Attache at the Embassy, said the BRP Alcaraz is now proceeding to the Panama Canal, its next stop. The ship’s two-month voyage started on Monday on its way to its new home, the Philippines.

“Captain Baldovino was more than satisfied with how the Oto Melara performed,” Captain Aguilar said, adding that the canon did not misfire during the test-firing that was conducted from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The 378-foot decommissioned US Coast Guard ship underwent $15.5 million (P620 million) retrofitting and refurbishment before being transferred to the Philippines.

It is expected to arrive in the first week of August.

(Manila Bulletin)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz Sets Sail to Philippines

BRP Ramon Alcaraz PF-16 (photo : Benjamin Apostol)

BRP Ramon Alcaraz sets sail for PHL Monday

MANILA  (PNA) -- The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the Navy's second Hamilton-class cutter, started its voyage home to the country on Monday (Philippine time) morning.

This was revealed by the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz (is) all set for its voyage home to the Philippines on Monday morning," it said.

The ship's 14 officers and 74 crewmen is headed by Navy Capt. Ernesto Baldovino.

Last May, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz started sea trials as part of preparations for its trip to the Philippines.

The vessel had been refurbished and refitted at a cost of USD15.15 million in the US since it was acquired by the Philippines in May 2012.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said that ship will head for Florida shortly after leaving Charleston, South Carolina.

"She will be test firing her guns ( a 76-mm Oto Melara auto-cannon and two Mark 38 25-mm automatic cannons) while sailing to Florida," he added.

He declined to state what other armaments the BRP Ramon Alcaraz is carrying but stressed that she is more heavily-armed that her sister ship, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), another Hamilton class cutter acquired in 2011.

After that, Fabic said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will proceed to San Diego, California and will then make stopovers in Hawaii and Guam before making her final run home to the Philippines.

The Filipino warship will be running at 12 knots, her effective cruising, as it is the most economical for the engines.

The vessel has a designed speed of 29 knots.

Fabic said the PN expects the BRP Ramon Alcaraz to be in the Philippines by first week of August and to be commissioned in service by September.

"She will be repainted haze gray and christened anew before being deployed," the PN spokesperson added.

Fabic stated that the BRP Ramon Alcaraz has satisfactorily completed all her sea trials which started last May and ended first week of June.

Fabic earlier said that the vessel can be used as a radar picket by the Philippine Navy (PN) in its efforts to protect the country's extensive maritime domains.

Radar pickets are ships equipped with powerful radar and deployed in the high seas to detect ships or aircraft attempting to violate the country's territories.

"As a platform, radar equipment like that of the littoral observation stations (coast watch stations) can be mounted for wider range data gathering. All of these will be linked in a shore facility for better command and control for effective decision making," he added.

Aside from this capability, Fabic said that the impending arrival of the country's second Hamilton-class cutter will boost the PN's maritime domain awareness capability.

"As an additional asset it will greatly improve our maritime domain/situational awareness (capability) because it's capable of long range deployment," the PN spokesperson added.

Also, since the ship is fitted with hangar facilities, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz can host a naval helicopter that can further extend its monitoring and detection capability.

"Also a helicopter can be launched from the vessel allowing wider and further coverage," Fabic stressed.

The ship is "fully mission capable" on her arrival.

Maritime observers said that this development speak well of the PN's efforts to modernize itself and boost its power projection capabilities.

"With the arrival of our Hamilton-class cutters, which are being converted to frigates, the PN has started its first step in developing its blue-water capability or the ability to detect or engage intruders in the high seas," they added.

At present, the PN is rated only as coastal protection naval force and nothing else.

The ex-USS Dallas was a high endurance cutter commissioned in 1967 at the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans.

She was the sixth ship or boat to bear the name of Alexander J. Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison (1814–1816).

The ship is one of twelve Hamilton class cutters built for the US Coast Guard.

It weighs 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

The ship has cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Successful Walking Exercise XXVII/13 Philindo

PS-19 BRP Miguel Malvar and PS-20 BRP Magat Salamat (photo: EMC)
Closing Patkor Philindo XXVII/13 in Mako Lantamal VIII
Manado. (29/5). Coordinated Patrol (Patkor) between the Philippines and Indonesia (Philindo) to XXVII of 2013 was officially closed by the Commander of the Eastern Fleet Security Force (Guskamlatim) Laksma TNI Wuspo Lukito in ballroom Mako Lantamal VIII. Wednesday (29/5).
Attending the ceremony proficiency level Navy officials including military Laksma Danlantamal VIII Manado Guguk Handy, Wadan Lantamal Marine Colonel F. VIII Saud P. Old Tamba, Asintel Danguskamlatim Col (P) The Assistant Danlantamal VIII, Head / Project Implementing Unit Heads Lantamal VIII, grouper KRI-812 Commander Marine Maj. (P) Kusumo Atmojo. While officials of the Government of the Republic of Philippines, Philippine Consulate General Mr. Jose Burgos, Capt. Antonio Antonio Habulan Commander Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), Capt. Severino David Vicente Easmincom PN Deputy Commander, along with the commander of the warship BRP Miguel Malvar PS 19 and PS 20 BRP Magat Salamat.
The ceremony was the culmination of a series of activities to Patkor Philindo XXVII of 2013 which has been held for ten days from June 20 - May 29, 2013 in the border area between Indonesia and the Philippines. Previous Patkor Philindo opening ceremony held in the multipurpose room XXVII/13 Mako NFEM by Capt. Severino Vicente T. David, Deputy Commander Eastmincom.
In his written speech, Danguskamlatim say that the sea has a very important role in human life, not just as a line of communication but as a trade route, but it also has a marine natural resources potential. In a changing world and regional strategic environment, maritime security is a global and regional issues, so it takes cooperation and other efforts of neighboring countries and the countries around it to ensure the safety of maritime activities.
Further, he said, that if the maritime security and stability in the domestic country can be maintained properly it will increase the stability of neighboring countries. Therefore, cooperation between the Indonesian Navy with Philippine navy should be strengthened and Patkor Philindo is one way to make it happen.
Coordinated patrols in accordance with the Regional Operations Patkor 1975 agreement between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Republic of Philippines, with the aim is to maintain maritime security in the border of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Grouper KRI 812 (photo: EMC)
In the implementation Patkor Philindo XXVII of 2013, the Navy deployed warships grouper-812 which is a Patrol Boat Unit (Satrol) Koarmatim and some health personnel from the Navy VIII. While of the Philippines deployed warships NFEM BRP Miguel Malvar PS 19 and PS 20 BRP Magat Salamat.
Some of the activities that have been implemented during the last Philindo Patkor include exercises to test the interoperability elements include exercise Patkor combat formations and communication between elements of a warship, social work (Military Civic Action Project) with the goal of both societies in Balut Island (Philippines) and Marore Island ( Indonesia), the repatriation of the three Philippine nationals (WNP) of Indonesia, a courtesy call to state officials of both countries and sports events friendship between the two countries.
Patkor training activities conducted by the warship element includes exercise treatment / discharge disandra enemy ships, sailing passed, determining the point of anchorage, Replenishment At Sea (RAS), bhakti pembersama social activities include mass circumcision performed by 86 children, examination and treatment 53 teeth, examination and treatment of 137 common diseases, tumor surgery 2 people, free haircuts 129, division 200 cups pureed green beans and distribution of rice donations consulate 1250 kg to 125 households.
Additional activities and social bahkti Military Civic Action Program (MCAP) which is implemented in Balut Island and Island Marore an activity for the first time. This represents an increase of activity in the field of cooperation between the two countries, especially its armed forces. In the Session Level 31 Chairman of the Republic of Indonesia - Republic of the Philippines Border Committee held in Napier on December 20 - 21Pebruari, 2013, both parties have agreed to also do social work during Patkor Philindo implementation and coordination of meetings Patkor Mako Philindo in Eastern Mindanao Command on May 16, 2013.
Social Service activities carried out in the district gymnasium P. Dressing, followed by a community coming Balut Island and Sarangani Island which is part of the Philippine territory. Where in the two islands inhabited by Citizen Philippina and Indonesian citizen who had been living there for a long time. Implementation of social service / MCAP has the support of local government officials in Balut Island since the two countries has helped people who were in the island of Balut and Sarangani especially in terms of health. Similarly, the P. Marore which is the outermost islands of the Indonesian territory which borders the country Philippines. The third island community that become the object of charity is seen very enthusiastic MCAP as he expressed his hope that this event can always be implemented going forward. The drugs used in this activity comes from Easmincom, Lantamal VIII and the Consulate General in Manado Davao City, while the contribution of the Consulate General of rice have been distributed in Balut Island and Island Marore.
Before ending his speech, hope that implementation Patkor Danguskamlatim Philindo XVII of 2013 was able to achieve the expected goals, among others, as a forum to promote greater understanding between the Indonesian Navy and Philippine Navy, to enhance maritime security in the territorial waters between Indonesia and the Philippines as well as a liaison from the second to the Navy, in consultation and to discuss issues of mutual interest.

DND Finalizing TOR for Acquisition of 12 Fighter Jets

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

QUEZON CITY (PIA) – To beef up the security capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of National Defense (DND) is finalizing the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the acquisition of 12 fighter jets from South Korea. 

DND Undersecretary Fernando said that the acquisition of fighter jets remains a priority. He also said that the TOR for the acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter jets may be completed in a month. 

The TOR provides the details of acquisition to include the fighter jets technical features, price, payment scheme, and the time frame for the delivery of said equipment. 

Security officials are currently going through the details of acquisition, and likewise the government is hoping that negotiations with South Korea will begin soon. 

The government has allocated P18 billion for the acquisition of said fighter jets to beef up the capability of the Philippine Air Force. 

Meanwhile, DND chief Voltaire Gazmin also ordered to fast track the acquisition of 21 UH-I Huey helicopters which costs P1.26 billion. 

Gazmin hoped that the procurement of the 21 helicopters will be completed in July. 

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