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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Italian Firm Bags P3-B PAF Helicopter Deal

A-109 with gun and rocket launcher (photo : Helis)

MANILA, Philippines - An Anglo-Italian company has won the bidding to supply eight attack helicopters worth P3.44 billion for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The STAR learned that a notice of award was issued to aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland late last month.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo confirmed the report, saying the helicopters may be delivered next year if the budget is released soon.

“If the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) releases the cash allocation, the letter of credit could be opened immediately and the helicopters could be delivered before the end of December next year,” Manalo said.

A letter of credit is a document that assures the winning bidder or supplier that the government will honor its financial obligations.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the Air Force would be getting eight 109 Power (109 P) attack helicopters with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers.

“We will be offered a combination of rocket launchers and two .50 caliber (machine guns). We were able to negotiate that the rocket launchers to be installed could fire rockets,” Velez said.

In its website, AgustaWestland described 109 Power helicopters as “versatile aircraft that offers the highest level of benefits for commercial, government and military markets.”

“The Power’s flexibility allows it to perform executive transport with stylish elegance, offshore and emergency medical services or conduct surveillance and patrol missions for police forces,” the description read.

AgustaWestland, the lone bidder for the project, offered to supply the eight helicopters for P3,441,415,000.

The bid is just P45,000 lower than the P3,441,460,000 approved budget for the helicopters.

A financial bid, however, could be accepted as long as it falls within the budget.

Defense officials previously said that the bid price is lower compared to the helicopters purchased by other countries.

The bid translates to 7.532 million euros per unit (about P430.15 million), lower than the package price per unit of the helicopters acquired by the Bulgarian police (7.547 million euros) and the Bangladesh Navy (8.6 million euros).

In its bid bulletin, the defense department said the helicopters to be purchased should have full night operation capability with complete weapons system and integrated logistics support package.

They should also be capable of navigating in bad weather and performing close air support.

The helicopters should be delivered within 540 calendar days from the opening of the letter of credit.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Navy to Commission BRP Alcaraz in November

PF-16 BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the hull seems to be done painted with the PN grey.(photo : Felix Apolinario)

MANILA, Philippines - The Navy will commission its newest warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz in the third week of November.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic said the frigate is undergoing the final phase of dry docking and repainting procedure.
"The commissioning and blessing (of the ship) may be held within the third week of November,” Fabic said in a text message.
He said President Aquino was invited to attend the ceremony but his attendance in the event is still being confirmed from the Presidential Management Staff.
“We are also looking at SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) as the venue. But nothing is definite yet. We are still in the planning process,” Fabic said.
The government acquired the BRP Alcaraz from the United States (US) Coast Guard to enhance the Navy’s maritime security capabilities.
Manned by 14 officers and 74 enlisted personnel, BRP Alcaraz reached Philippine waters last August 2 via Casiguran, Aurora.

The ship left its homeport in Charleston, South Carolina last June 10 and made port visits to San Diego and Honolulu, Hawaii before sailing for its last stopover in Guam. The BRP Alcaraz started sailing for Manila on July 27.

The ship was formally welcomed last Aug. 6 in a ceremony led by Aquino, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.

The ship was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Navy officer who commanded a patrol boat that shot three Japanese aircraft during World War II.

The US Coast Guard used the vessel for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness.

BRP Alcaraz is the second frigate acquired by the Philippines from the US. The first one is BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was commissioned by the Navy in 2011.

The government spent about P450 million to acquire BRP del Pilar and more than P600 million to acquire BRP Alcaraz. The two decades-old ships were acquired under the US defense excess article program.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Philippine Eyes Frigates from India

Philippines eyes the procurement of two frigates from India (photo : Naval Technology)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, which is beefing up its defense capability, is considering the procurement of naval frigates from India.

Philippine officials discussed this the other day with a visiting delegation from India led by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

India has intensified its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of its “Look East” policy in the past decade.

Khurshid, who met yesterday with Vice President Jejomar Binay, said the relationship between the two countries is “extremely important.”

“Now is the time to begin a new chapter,” Khurshid said yesterday over lunch with Filipino officials as he emphasized the two countries’ “shared aspirations and shared attitudes.”

The Philippines is eyeing the procurement of two frigates from India, a nuclear power country with its own military shipbuilding capability.

India has built its own stealth-capable warship, which visited Manila several months ago. The Indians are developing their first aircraft carrier and will acquire one soon from Russia.

Like the Philippines, India has a territorial dispute with its neighbor China. Khurshid told The STAR yesterday that his government was pursuing engagement with the Chinese.

The other day, Khurshid and his delegation met separately with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine security officials.

Khurshid, who proceeded to Manila from meetings in Brazil, leaves for Singapore today.

The Philippines is currently finalizing the procurement of fighter jets from South Korea.

Not connected with territorial row

The defense department maintained yesterday that the acquisition of fighter jets from South Korea has nothing to do with the territorial row in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has been planned even before the developments in the West Philippine Sea,” defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said in a phone interview.

Galvez was asked for a reaction after a Japanese paper reported on Monday that China had asked South Korea not to sell FA-50 jets to the country.

Galvez declined to comment on the report itself but said the military’s upgrade efforts are not related to the territorial row with China.

The defense department previously said that the lead-in fighter jets acquisition project would boost the territorial defense capabilities of the country.

Officials, however, stressed that the modernization program is not directed toward any country.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

China Asked Korea Not to Sell Jets to Philippines

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

China asked Korea not to sell FA-50 fighter jets to the Philippines, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Saturday. The daily said Beijing made the request ahead of a summit in Seoul between President Park Geun-hye and Philippines President Benigno Aquino on Oct. 17. 

Korea declined, saying it cannot accept "interference" in arms exports, an issue of its national interest, according to the daily. 

In their meeting, Park thanked Aquino for Manila’s decision to buy the FA-50 jets and urged a speedy signing of the contract. 

A government official here said, "The Philippines is engaged in a territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands, and that appears to be why Beijing protested several times through the Chinese Embassy and other channels." 

The government has officially denied the Yomiuri report, but officials privately admit it.

"Every time the Korean or Filipino media reported on the FA-50 sale, China reacted sensitively trying to confirm the reports through diplomatic channels," a government source said. 

But the official added the sale will go ahead. 

The Spratly Islands consist of around 30,000 tiny islands and reefs occupied by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

China has dispatched Navy ships to the South China Sea to bolster its presence there. The Philippines increased troop presence on the islands late last year and established a separate military command to handle their defense. Manila also recently decided to move some of its naval and air force bases near the South China Sea. 

There is speculation that the Philippines is acquiring the FA-50 jets to defend the Spratly Islands.

The FA-50 is a light attack fighter jet based on the T-50 trainer jet. It can handle air-to-air and air-to-ground operations as well as taking on gunboats. 

The Philippines is also in talks with Korea to spend US$650 million to purchase Korean-made frigates. 

China is also engaged in territorial disputes in the South China Sea with Indonesia and Vietnam, which have either bought or are about to buy Korean weapons. 

Indonesia signed deals in 2011 to buy 16 T-50 trainers for $400 million as well as three 1,200-ton submarines. 

Vietnam held its first military talks with Korea last year to expand cooperation in the field. 

12 South Korea Fighter Jets Ready for Delivery to Philippine

KAI F/A-50 light combat aircraft (photo : daum) 

SEOUL – The Philippine and South Korean governments have agreed to fast-track Manila’s procurement of 12 lead-in fighter jets aimed at upgrading the defense capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

President Aquino yesterday said the acquisition of the FA-50s for P18.9 billion had the approval of President Park Geun-hye.

“Both sides have agreed to expedite the purchase and the delivery of these planes,” Aquino told Manila-based reporters at the Grand Hyatt Hotel here.

“This is a government-to-government procurement, which came about after South Korea offered several models of fighter jets,” he added.

The PAF had been the butt of jokes after it acquired old F-5 fighter planes in 2005.

Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, who was present during the signing of the memorandum of understanding, said the acquisition of the Korean fighter jets is part of the Armed Forces modernization program.

“President Aquino said the agreement creates opportunities for expanding and strengthening the long-standing partnership between the two countries,” Coloma said.

He said the Philippines would procure more aircraft as well as armored vehicles and command-and-control equipment to boost the defense capabilities of the military and protect the country’s maritime territory.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Philippine and Korean Defense Departments inked-in MOU to fast-tract FA-50 Acquisition

President Benigno Aquino III and President Park Geun-hye witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation between Defense Secretary Voltair Gazmin and his Korean counterpart.


The MOU on defense cooperation aims to fast-track the process for the acquisition of 12 lead-in fighter jets and other military equipments which is under negotiation with South Korea as part of the Armed Forces modernization plan.
Artist rendition of FA-50 in PAF Standard Color Scheme with S211 Trainers
DND has allotted P18.976 billion for the purchase of these 12 brand new FA-50 jets that would primarily be used to train pilots and serve as Light Lead-in Fighter to increase the capability of the military to patrol the country’s borders.


“We are finalizing things both in their laws and ours regarding the procurement. The details are quite broad. But the bottom line is, both sides agreed to try and expedite the arms purchase and their delivery of these plane,” President Aquino said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

11 Firms Interested in P18-B Ship Deal

The first stage bids must be submitted to the DND on or before Oct. 25 (image : TKMS)

MANILA, Philippines - Eleven companies have expressed interest to join the bidding for the acquisition of two Navy ships worth P18 billion.

The 11 firms are Piriou Naval Services, Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures), Thyssenkrupp Marine System, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Damen Shipyards, Fincantieri, STX France SA, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Inc., Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd., DCNS France and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd., according to data The STAR has obtained  from the Department of National Defense (DND).

It remains uncertain though if all these companies will join the bidding to be held this month.

The frigate acquisition project aims to boost the Navy’s territorial defense capability and disaster response efforts. The project is one of the big-ticket items in the military’s shopping list.

The winning bidder must deliver the ships within four years from the opening of a letter of credit.

The vessels will arrive after President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the vessels can be used to boost the country’s security presence in the West Philippine Sea, repatriate migrant workers and respond to calamities.

The frigates to be acquired will be equipped with ammunition, according to a DND bid bulletin issued recently.

The bidding will be held in two stages due to the technical and detailed nature of the project.

The first stage bids must be submitted to the DND on or before Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. Late bids, as well as those that are higher than the approved budget of P18 billion, will not be accepted.

In the first stage of bidding, officials will screen the offers and determine which of them are qualified to proceed to the next stage.

Eligible bidders will be notified for the second stage bidding upon the completion and validation of the documents they submitted.

The date for the second stage bidding has yet to be announced.

Originally, the government planned to buy second-hand ships, but eventually decided to buy brand-new ones.

Previously, security officials said acquiring second-hand ships would be more costly in the long run as these would require upgrades and repairs.

The two frigates to be acquired for the Navy are expected to complement the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the two warships acquired recently from the US. 


DND to Try Alternative Form of Procurement for 21 Hueys

DND will continue to acquire 21 UH-1 helicopter (photo : Rice Aviation)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) will resort to an alternative form of procurement to acquire 21 UH-1 helicopters worth P1.26 billion after the third bidding for the project failed.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the alternative procurement would be similar to public bidding but without the publication requirements.

Under public bidding, state agencies are required to publish a bid notice in nationally-circulated newspapers.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin approved the acquisition of the helicopters through alternative mode late last month.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said a minimum of three companies would be invited to submit bids. Security officials would then examine the offers to determine which of these are the most advantageous to the government. The submission of offers may be held within the month.

Section 53 of the implementing rules of the procurement law allows government agencies to use negotiated procurement when there has been a failure of public bidding for the second time.

Negotiated procurement was defined as “a method of procurement of goods, infrastructure projects and consulting services, whereby the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant.”

But Manalo said the DND would not use the word “negotiation” for the helicopter project.

“Actually, it’s also bidding but we go directly to the suppliers. Sometimes, when you say negotiation, it refers to negotiations with one supplier. In this case, it is also bidding because we won’t negotiate with just one supplier,” Manalo explained.

Time is not on the side of the DND as the budget for the project is scheduled to expire in December. If the DND fails to acquire the helicopters before the funding lapses, it will have to again request for outlay from the budget department.

The government aims to acquire 21 UH-1 or Huey helicopters to improve the capabilities of the Air Force. The helicopters are seen to provide much-needed air mobility to troops involved in security operations.

The helicopters were originally intended to perform poll duties last May but the acquisition has been delayed by failed biddings.

The first and second biddings were held last December and February, respectively, but the bidders did not meet some requirements set by the defense department.

The third bidding was held last month but it also failed after the lone bidder, the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd., failed to satisfy documentary requirements.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Additional Weapons of BRP Ramon Alcaraz Now Being Installed

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (photo : em esber)

MANILA, (PNA) -- The Philippine Navy (PN) on Wednesday announced that the additional weaponry and electronic systems are now being installed at BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) which is now on its dry-docking period.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz is presently being installed with additional weapons, armaments and electronic systems," Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

But for reasons of "operational security", he declined to identify these weapons and electronic systems.

"For operational security reasons, I cannot divulge (the exact type) of weapons and electronic systems which are now being installed," he added.

Earlier reports said that the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will be fitted with two Mark 38 Model 2 25mm "Bushmasters" autocannon and four to six light machine guns will be fitted during the dry-docking period.

The ship went into dry-dock last Aug. 16.

It arrived in the Philippines last Aug. 6 after a two month voyage from the United States.

The Filipino frigate is presently armed with a quick-firing 76mm Oto Melara main gun which has a range of 20 nautical miles. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DND Mulls Submarine Acquisition

Philippines Navy need three submarines to boost maritime defense  (photo : Naval Technology)

MANILA, Philippines - A ranking military official presented plans on the acquisition of three submarines to boost the country's maritime defense.

Northern Luzon Command head Major Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said on Monday in a state news report that the Philippine Navy needs the stealth warships to monitor the Philippines' coastal territories.

Catapang said this amid the Chinese's presence in Philippine-claimed areas in the West Philippine Sea--a case elevated to a maritime arbitral tribunal at the Netherlands.

The official said the military plans to purchase the conventional-powered or diesel-electric submarines, which are generally cheaper than nuclear-powered units.

Also being eyed is the acquisition of six frigates for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare, 18 offshore patrol vessels and three anti-mine warfare ships.

However, the paper presented by Catapang did not specify on how long and how much it will cost the Philippines to complete this acquisitions.

A brand new diesel-powered submarine unit costs $200 million to $500 million, while nuclear-run types are a hefty $2 billion each.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Philippine and US troops Balikatan Exercises 2013

PAMPANGA, Philippines (April 15, 2013)-- Filipino troops together with their US counterpart joined the action packed opening of the Balikatan Exercises held in Clark, Pampanga on the weekend of April 15, 2013.

The scorching heat of the sun did not hinder the Filipino and US troops to conduct the bone breaking fire and rescue operations, traffic control operations and exchange of strategy and tactics in every scenario.

Annual Balikatan exercises aims to prepare our troops in any crisis and disasters that befall our country.

Major General Virgilio Domingo, the Deputy Director for Balikatan Exercises said that the aim of this year's exercise focuses on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response. It focuses on enhancing not only traditional military training but the aspect of providing aids and assistance to the local community.

US counterparts who are involved in the exercises were satisfied with the performance of the Filipino troops.

"Its my first time to this Balikatan Exercise but it’s a great experience so far working with the Filipino Air Force" said US Marine Captain Bryan Radler.
According to AFP that even though they don't have many modern assets, they assured the Filipinos that our recent defense equipments are enough to carry the role of defending the sovereignty of our land.

with Joshua Antonio (UNTV Pampanga Correspondent)
and Jerry Casulla (Cameraman)

DND invites bidders for 8 Amphibious Assault Vehicles

MANILA, Philippines--DND posted their invitation to bid for their Amphibious Assault Vehicle Acquisition Project amounting to Two Billion Five Hundred Million Pesos (Php2,500,000,000.00) for the Philippine Navy Inclusive of Integrated Logistics Support (ILS).

The delivery of goods should be 860 days or about 28 months upon the opening of the letter of credit. Interested bidders must have entered into contract similar to the project within 10 years from the date of submission and receipt of bids.

A complete set of bidding documents can be purchased today (September 27) at the Office of Bids and Awards Committee in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, for Php 75,000.00 pesos.

Bids must be delivered in BAC office not latter than October 24, 2013, 10 am.

BAC will hold pre-bid conference on October 10, 2013 and bidding will be opened on October 24, 2013 at 10:00 in the morning.

Photo for Illustration Purpose Only
The Amphibious Assault Vehicle Project is believed to be inline with the MRV Project or "Mother Ship Project" which will serve as their carrier platform for insertion of troops during beach landings and siege.

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