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Monday, February 24, 2014

PAF Going Back to Supersonic Age with South Korean Jets

The first two of the 12 F/A-50 aircraft will be delivered to the Philippines 18 months after the contract is signed (photo : egloos)

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of National Defense on Friday completed negotiations with a Korean aerospace company for a squadron of FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets, bringing the Philippine military a step closer to returning to the supersonic age after nearly a decade of relying on helicopters and fixed-wing, propeller-type aircraft.

“I will say that, yes, we can now boast a little about our capability. I will not be ashamed to accept… that we are back to the supersonic age,” Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, a retired Philippine Air Force (PAF) general, told reporters after the negotiations.

Manalo said the FA-50s were “not ordinary lead-in fighter jets because it can deliver short-range missiles.”
“There is a potential for these to be classified as beyond the short-range fighter aircraft,” Manalo said.

He said the defense department and the state-owned Korea Aerospace Industries Inc. (KAI) would sign the $415.7-million contract later this month or early March.

The first two of the 12 aircraft will be delivered to the Philippines 18 months after the contract is signed, Manalo said. The next two will be delivered 12 months after the initial delivery.

Gov’t-to-gov’t deal

The Philippines’ acquisition of the FA-50s was a highlight of the state visit of President Benigno Aquino III to South Korea last October.

Mr. Aquino said then that the procurement was to be a government-to-government agreement.

The acquisition of the FA-50s is one of the 24 projects under the P85-billion Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program aimed at giving the military a “minimum credible defense capability.”

The AFP was the first military in the region to attain the supersonic capability.

But that capability declined through the years, with the PAF returning to the subsonic age after it retired its Northrop F-5s in 2005.

When the Aquino administration took over in 2010, one of its key priority programs was to modernize the AFP amid China’s aggressively asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Limited capabilities

Col. Ernesto Miguel Okol, PAF spokesperson, told the Inquirer by phone that the FA-50s can “essentially perform limited fighter capabilities.”

“It has the qualities (of a fighter jet), has defense weapons. It’s (in the) supersonic regime. It can carry precision guided munitions and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles,” said Okol, an F-5 pilot.

The FA-50, Okol said, is a step lower than a multirole aircraft, which is designed as a fighter plane.

He said the FA-50 could “train us to get to that regime because its cockpit is already state of the art. It has a radar that can track other targets.”

Final meeting

Friday’s final meeting between the KAI officials and the defense and military officials ran for nearly three hours.

The talks centered on whether the Korean company should assume any amount in excess of the estimated $5.938 million buyer furnished equipment (BFE) and KAI’s proposal to reduce by $500,000 or P22 million the cost of spare parts.

The buyer furnished equipment are the components of the aircraft that the Philippine government would have to buy from the United States.

A weaker peso could raise the acquisition cost of the BFE, and ultimately affect the P18.976 billion earmarked for the project.

At the start, the KAI officials bucked the proposal, prompting the defense department’s special bids and awards committee headed by Manalo, the technical working group, and the observers to hold an executive session.

The Filipinos maintained their position, making the KAI officials hold an executive session of their own.

The Koreans later agreed to assume any amount in excess of the $5.938 million BEF. They also maintained the spare parts cost reduction.

The Filipinos held another executive session and emerged agreeing to KAI’s final offer, which signaled the end of the seven-month negotiation.

Applause erupted around the table, with both the Filipinos and the Koreans thanking each other.

A KAI official told the Filipino officials: “We promise you that we will implement the FA-50 program very successfully.”


KAI Eyes Final FA-50 Deal with Philippines in H1

KAI F/A-50 aircraft (photo : koreaaero)

SINGAPORE (Yonhap) -- Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), South Korea's sole aircraft maker, expects to sign a US$450 million deal to export FA-50 light attackers to the Philippines in the first half of this year, the company head said Friday.

KAI has teamed up with the state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration to sell 12 FA-50 aircraft to the Philippines through a government-to-government program.

While a final contract had been expected within last year after the Manila government signed a memorandum of understanding, the decision was delayed as Typhoon Haiyan swept the Southeast Asian nation in November.

"Although the schedule has been delayed due to situations (in the Philippines), we will be able to sign a contract within the first half of this year," said KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong, who is attending the Singapore Air show to promote Korean-made aircraft.

"As it is a government-to-government deal, we expect a good result, waiting for the Philippine government's final decision."

The FA-50 is a light attack variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer that was co-developed by KAI and U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin, which was designed to replace F-5 class aircraft operated by the South Korean Air Force.

In December, KAI signed a contract to a US$1.1 billion deal to export 24 FA-50s to Iraq.

The South Korean aircraft maker is also seeking to export T-50 family jets to the Philippines, Peru and Botswana, while eyeing the U.S. Air Force's T-38 replacement program this year.


Philippine Navy Signs Contract for Two Additional AW109 Power Helicopters

AW-109 Power maritime helicopter (photo : AgustaWestland)

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce the signing of a contract with the Philippine Navy for two additional AW109 Power maritime helicopters. The helicopters will be used for a wide range of naval missions including economic zone protection, surface surveillance, SAR and maritime security. This latest contract brings to five the total number of AW109 Powers ordered by the Philippine Navy which is already operating the first batch of three aircraft. The order further expands the success achieved by this model in the Philippines for military applications following the contract for eight units signed by the Philippine Air Force in 2013. The two additional helicopters will be delivered in the second half of this year and will operate from both shore and ship bases. The contract includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.

Vincenzo Alaimo, AgustaWestland’s Head of Regional Sales for SE Asia, said “It gives us great pleasure to announce this new order for the AW109 Power by the Philippines’ military following the initial success achieved in 2013 with contracts signed by both the Navy and the Air Force. This very capable and cost effective helicopter can provide tremendous support to the nation’s security and safety thanks to its outstanding performance and mission capabilities.” The AW109 Power is a three-tonne class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines with FADEC. The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles. The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW109 Power has established itself as the world’s best-selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions. The AW109 Power’s superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class. For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures. The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW109 Power to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar. Approximately 580 AW109 Power and AW109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in nearly 50 countries.


DND Releases Shopping List with P3.68B Boost

P97 million will be allocated for small amphibian vehicles (photo : autoruote4x4)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) received P3.69 billion as part of its 2013 year-end releases by Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a statement on Tuesday, the DBM presented DND's 18 "priority projects" that will be covered by the funding supplement mostly under the modernization program for the armed forces. These include:

P2.135 billion for:

P1.670 billion for strategic sealift vessels
P189 million for C41/GIS equipment
P109 million for radio test equipment
P58 million for the production capability and facility upgrade/prime loading and assembly equipment
P52 million for portable radio receivers
P20 million for a master development plan
P19 million for technical forensic upgrades
P10 million for laser packing machines
P6 million for the Camp Bautista Station Hospital

P1.542 billion for:

P97 million for small amphibian vehicles
P229 million for shoulder-launch multi-purpose assault weapons
P500 million for AV config radios
P364 million for HH radios
P107 million for 60mm mortars
P50 million for 7.62mm sniper rifles
P12 million for audio video equipment
P178 million for AFP JSOG requirements
P6 million fot Jacinto Class Patrol Vessel Ph 2
DBM explained that the recent P3.68-billion release would benefit DND general headquarters, the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy and the Government Arsenal.

"We remain committed to this pursuit of peace and the rule of law, and one of the ways we’re reinforcing that is by supporting our Armed Forces’ modernization activities. These initiatives are of course necessary in improving our territorial defense capabilities and ensuring better national security," Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad said.

The Aquino administration also approved a P6.62 billion release in December 2013 for the acquisition of strategic sealift vessels, small amphibian vehicles, utility helicopters, communication equipment such as manpack radios and personal role radios, and other projects.

"The Department of National Defense gave us their assurance that they would be able to obligate the funding released to them before the year ended. These projects and equipment acquisitions supported by the funds were already just short of award in terms of their progress in the procurement process when we approved the release," Abad said.


Beechcraft Sees Thailand and Philippines as the Next Potential Customer AT-6B Texan II

The AT-6B Texan II is a light attack variant of the T-6 trainer aircraft already in use with a number of international operators. (photo : Jane's)

Beechcraft looks to secure AT-6B launch customer

The Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II light attack turboprop is being displayed at this year's Singapore Airshow, as the company looks to secure its first customer following the disappointment of losing out in the US Air Force's (USAF's) Light Air Support (LAS) programme.

The tandem twin-seat turboprop will feature in the static display line-up at this year's event, taking place from 11 to 16 February, as Beechcraft looks to kick-start a global sales campaign that appeared to stall in 2013 with USAF's selection of the Embraer-314 Super Tucano to fulfil its LAS requirement for 20 light strike aircraft for Afghanistan.

Derived from the T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft, the armed AT-6 variant is being offered to those users who are looking to augment their current fast jet and attack helicopter fleets with a cost-effective, yet capable, alternative. As with other aircraft in this class - such as the Super Tucano, Air Tractor AT-802U, IOMAX Archangel, KAI KT-1, Utva Kobats (Sparrowhawk), and even the newly revealed jet-powered Cessna Scorpion - the AT-6 offers excellent capability, while costing a fraction of the operation cost of fast jets, and being easier than helicopters to maintain.

Speaking at the IQPC Air Power in Irregular Warfare conference in London in 2012, Tom Tyson, a former USAF F-15C Eagle pilot and now director of US Programs Business Development at Beechcraft, noted that the light strike turboprop has advantages over other forms of 'kinetic air' in terms of procurement costs (some analysts quote the price of a single F-35 Lightning II as being the same as 90 turboprops), operating costs (in terms of fuel and infrastructure), persistence, sustainability, and responsiveness.

Whereas the survivability of such aircraft has often been raised by their detractors, Tyson noted that turboprops operate in the same 'low and slow' environment as attack helicopters, and can be fitted with the same defensive aids and other countermeasures to offset such risks.

Even so, this class of aircraft does have its drawbacks when compared with fast jets. Most notable of these is the speed factor. A senior UK Royal Air Force (RAF) officer with experience of operations in Afghanistan, explained to IHS Jane's : "Time matters and there is still a need for speed. The number of turboprop squadrons that would be required to respond rapidly anywhere in Afghanistan and to provide the same assured response time [would be prohibitive]. If you start with your turboprop at one end of Afghanistan, and you start with a fast jet [at the same time], the fast jet would have reached the far border before the turboprop has even got a third of the way into the country. That's the relative difference in the speeds."

Further to this, their lack of utility in an air defence role means turboprops are not really an option for those countries struggling with shrinking budgets. "I'm sure that if we had all the money in the world then this is a capability that you would like to have as one of your golf clubs, but you have to make choices and a country like ourselves [has to balance] what has a utility in Afghanistan and what has a broader utility," the same RAF officer told IHS Jane's .

The AT-6's appearance at Singapore may be linked in no small part to the fact that the Asia-Pacific region is one of the parts of the world where defence budgets are actually rising, so allowing operators to broaden their capabilities. Unfortunately for Beechcraft, however, most of those regional nations with such a light strike requirement have already committed to another aircraft type (Super Tucano for Afghanistan and Indonesia), leaving sales opportunities somewhat limited. Even so, with Thailand and the Philippines looking to replace ageing airframes in the same light attack class of aircraft, there is still scope for Beechcraft to kick-start its AT-6 sales campaign with a regional signature.


MPACs to be Transformed Into 'Harassment Force'

Combat boat with cannon and missile (image : Militaryphotos)

MANILA  — The Philippine Navy (PN) is planning to transform its MPAC (multi-purpose attack craft) squadron into a force capable of harassing foreign ships that may intrude in the country's territorial waters.

The Navy presently operates six MPACs, three of which were obtained from Taiwan and the other three from Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation which is based in Subic Bay, Zambales.

Navy officials said the MPACs are suited for these mission as they could go in, attack or harass the offending vessel and evade quickly.

To create this capability, more heavier weapons and longer range sensors and surveillance will be installed on these 45-knot small craft.

PN MPACs are 16.5 meters long, 4.76 meters wide and has a draft of one meter and a top speed of 45 knots.

Each one costs around P90 million. It has a range 300 nautical miles. The hull is made of high-quality aluminum and is crewed by one officer and four enlisted personnel.

It is capable of carrying 16 fully-equipped troopers or two tons of cargo.

The MPAC is also capable of operating in territorial waters up to "Sea State 3" (slight waves) without any system degradation and is armed with one .50 caliber and two 7.62mm machine guns. 


Friday, February 7, 2014

AW-109 Pilots Now Undergoing NVG Training

PN AW-109 helicopter (photo : Fabrizio Capenti)

MANILA (PNA) — The Philippine Navy on Monday said that the pilots and flight crews of its three AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” helicopters are now undergoing training on how to efficiently use their NVG (night vision gear) equipment.

NVG is an optical instrument that allows images to be produced in levels of light approaching total darkness.

Training is being provided by AgustaWestland, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

This started early in January and will last until March or the first week of April, he added.

Fabic said that having NVGs installed on their AgustaWestland helicopters provided the PN with the capability to operate and fly at night.

The PN is operating three AW-109 helicopters as of this posting. Another two, the attack versions, are expected to arrive by the third quarter of this year.

The AW-109 “Power” helicopter is a three-ton class, eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost-effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations, the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many other helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 “Power” and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries. 


Radars from Israel to Boost Philippine Sea Watch

The Philippines will acquire three air search radars from Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.-Elta  to boost its monitoring activities in the West Philippine Sea (photo : Elta)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will acquire three air search radars from Israel to boost its monitoring activities in the West Philippine Sea, where increasing Chinese military presence has been causing tension.

Security officials signed last week an implementation arrangement that would pave the way for the purchase of the radars from Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.-Elta for P2.6 billion, a source told The STAR yesterday.

Israel will also lend the Philippines another radar “for immediate stop-gap solutions,” the source said.

The delivery of the three radars is expected within the next two years. The one to be lent by Israel would be ready in a year.

“The full requirement for national coverage involves nine radars but because of the capability of the three radars, we will only need seven,” the source said. It’s not clear if more deliveries are forthcoming.

Canada has also committed to assist the Philippine Navy to improve its capabilities, Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder assured Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano during a courtesy call yesterday.

Reeder expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm in working with the Philippine Navy, particularly in the field of defense cooperation, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said in a statement.

The Philippines and Canada are also looking into the possibility of forging a training collaboration to promote interoperability between their two navies.

“We can explore defense industry cooperation with Canada,” Fabic told The STAR. “Canada has a sophisticated technology base and has advanced ship-building industry, technological edge and indigenous research and development.”

Reeder was accompanied by non-resident Canadian defense attaché to the Philippines Col. Michel Latouche and Cmdr. Daniel Charlebois, commanding officer of the Canadian ship, Regina.

The ship arrived at Pier 15 in South Harbor last Saturday for a port visit that ends today.

“The visit aims to promote stronger military ties and cooperation between the Philippine Navy and Royal Canadian Navy and strengthen the diplomatic relation between the two countries,” Fabic said.

In 2001, the Philippines and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding on participation in combined naval exercises.

Canada was also among the countries that provided relief to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The Northern American country sent 237 soldiers to assist in clearing debris, rebuilding roads, providing clean water and delivering medical care.

Canada also deployed three CH-146 Griffon military helicopters to help in the relief efforts.

China is claiming almost the whole West Philippine Sea through its so-called nine-dash line, which covers more than 100 islets, atolls and reefs. China’s territorial claim also overlaps with those of Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.


PN 6 Multi Purpose Assault Craft Scheduled for Upgrade

Multi Purpose Attack Craft (photo : peter)

MANILA (PNA) -- The six MPACs (multi-purpose attack craft) in the Philippine Navy service are scheduled for an upgrade that will make them more capable in carrying out their various missions.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic confirmed this plan but said that no details are available yet on what the upgrades will consist.

"The PN has plans for upgrade for the current fleet of MPACs but we have no details yet on what it will consist," he added.

Observers, however, said that this may consist of installation of more advanced radar and sensor equipment and possibly of more longer range weaponry.

Three of the PN's MPACs were sourced from Taiwan while the three others were ordered from Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation, which is based in Subic Bay, Zambales.

These ships are 16.5 meters long, 4.76 meters wide and has a draft of one meter, a top speed of 45 knots and a range of 300 nautical miles. Each cost around P90 million.

The hull is made of high-quality aluminum.

Crewed by one officer and four enlisted personnel, it is capable of carrying 16 fully-equipped troopers or two tons of cargo.

The MPAC is capable of operating in territorial waters up to "Sea State 3" (slight waves) without any system degradation.

It is armed with one .50 caliber and two 7.62mm machine guns. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Army to Boost Firepower, Communications, Night-Fighting Capabilities

Acquisition of heavy weapons, communications equipment and night-fighting devices has an estimated funding of P8 billion (photo : Armed Forces of the Philippines)

The Philippine Army's (PA) major acquisitions under its so-called "medium term" phase of modernization program will focus on improving its firepower, communications and night fighting capabilities.

Capt. Anthony Bacus, Army spokesperson, said that this phase started this year and will end on 2016.

He said the acquisition of heavy weapons, communications equipment and night-fighting devices has an estimated funding of P8 billion. These equipment will make the PA a more credible territorial defense force once acquisition is completed.

However, Bacus did not give specific details on what particular weapons and platforms are in the pipeline, as the group that will plan the acquisition is still yet to convene.

"The concerned offices cannot yet give the details because talks are still to convene for these projects," Bacus stressed.

The Department of National Defense (DND) earlier said that it is planning to acquire a shore-based missile system for the PA.

This project has contract amounting to P6.5 billion.

Patrick Velez, DND vice chair for the bids and awards committee, said, once acquired, the weapon will be placed under the control and supervision of the Army.

The shore-based missiles will be carried out through “limited source bidding".

No other details were given for security reasons. 


PAF Expects Delivery of 10 Hueys by June

PAF Huey helicopter (photo : Ray_93)

THE Philippine Air Force (PAF) will have more aircraft this year, as it upgrades its capability to respond to disasters.

Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz, PAF commanding general, said 21 Huey helicopters will be delivered this year, with seven to 10 expected to arrive in the first half of the year.

Dela Cruz, who graced the 35th anniversary celebration of the PAF Second Air Division yesterday, said they are converting four helicopter gunships into air ambulances.

He also revealed that President Benigno Aquino III approved their request to buy two more C-130 aircraft.

The PAF has three C-130 planes.

“As part of our capability upgrading program, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will also buy three medium-lift aircraft. These are lower versions of the C-130s. If this will materialize, we will have eight cargo aircraft,” Dela Cruz said in an interview.


But the process of procuring aircrafts, he said, takes at least two years.

During a program at the Brigadier Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, Dela Cruz commended the Second Air Base Division, headed by Maj. Gen. Romeo Poquiz, for their accomplishments last year.

Poquiz, in a speech, said the PAF was the first agency to deliver relief goods to survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, particularly in Tacloban, as many roads were impassable because of debris.

“It was the air force that responded first and delivered the support,” he said.

The Second Air Division, in an audio-visual presentation, reported its accomplishments last year, the highlights of which include its participation in the rescue and retrieval effort following the sea collision off Talisay City, as well as in the oil spill cleanup; transporting relief goods to earthquake victims in Bohol and to the typhoon victims in Leyte, northern Cebu, Samar and other badly hit areas.

During the program, awards were given to PAF officers for their outstanding performance last year, and to civilians who gave extraordinary support to the air force.


Dela Cruz said the air force continues to help in the rehabilitation effort of typhoon-ravaged areas, particularly in the transport of relief goods.

In his speech, Dela Cruz stressed the need for the air force and all sectors to be prepared for stronger typhoons.

“This year might not be different. It’s much better to be prepared. We have to develop our strengths, as well as our weaknesses,” he said.

He underscored the need to intensify trainings of air force personnel. “We normally maximize the summer period for training,” he said.

Dela Cruz also revealed that the air force will form an “air mobile engineering group”, which will bring bulldozers, payloaders and other heavy equipment via C-130 to isolated, disaster-stricken areas.


PAF to Receive 2 Attack AW-109s This Year

AW-109 attack version (photo : Militaryphotos)

MANILA — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said on Tuesday that two units of the attack version of the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters will be delivered this year.

"Two units will be delivered by 2014 and (by) 2015 (the remaining) six units will be delivered. As per signed contract, two units will be delivered 365 days upon LC (letter of credit) opening," PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said.

He added that the pilots and flight crew who will man the brand-new aircraft have already been identified.
"Pilot(s) and (flight) crew (are now) identified. However, the date for training is TBDL (to be determined later)," Okol said.

The Philippines and AgustaWestland signed the P3.44- billion contract for the attack version of the AW-109s last Nov. 6.

The PAF’s AW-109 "Power" configuration will feature a dedicated mission package and equipment, including a combination of weapon systems.

“It gives us great pleasure to sign this contract with the Philippine Air Force, further reinforcing the already strong partnership with the Department of National Defense. This latest achievement provides clear evidence of the customer’s confidence in the product while we’ve demonstrated that we are a reliable partner, able to offer a cost-effective solution. We are committed to deliver the improved mission capabilities and high quality services the customer deserves,” AgustaWestland chief executive officer Daniele Romiti earlier said.
The AW-109 "Power" is a three-ton class eight-seat twin engine helicopter.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety and survivability features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109s' superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective helicopter in its class for a range of government tasks.

Over 580 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for parapublic, military and commercial applications by customers in around 50 countries. 


Indonesian Firm Wins PAF Aircraft Supply Deal

C-212 light lift aircraft (photo : Airbus group)

MANILA, Philippines - The Air Force is acquiring two new light lift aircraft from Indonesia to boost the delivery of supplies and personnel to remote areas.

Indonesian firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia has won the bidding for the light lift fixed-wing aircraft acquisition project, worth P814 million.

The STAR learned that the defense department issued the notice of award for the project early this month.

Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said the aircraft could land even in areas that do not have airstrips.

Larger planes like the C-130 and medium lift fixed-wing planes require long runways.

“The light lift fixed aircraft can bring more goods than helicopters.

It can operate in areas with small runways,” Okol told The STAR yesterday.

He said the plane is more flexible, particularly during disaster response operations. 

The air assets, Okol said, would ensure on time distribution of relief goods to far-flung areas.

There are three light lift aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory.

Defense assistant secretary Patrick Velez said PT Dirgantara would supply CN 212i planes to the Air Force, which is seeking to beef up its inventory following a series of crashes.

The company is required to deliver the planes within 548 calendar days from the opening of letter of credit, which assures the winning bidder that the government will honor its financial obligations.

The aircraft acquisition project aims to enhance the military’s humanitarian and security efforts.

The plan was to buy an aircraft that can operate in any environment and will provide organic general support for territorial defense, internal peace and security plan, internal security operations, disaster response and national development.

The Aquino administration has vowed to upgrade the capabilities of the military, said to be one of the most poorly equipped in the region.

Other air assets to be acquired include lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, close air support aircraft, medium lift aircraft, C-130 cargo planes, attack helicopters and combat utility helicopters. 


NAG Gets Much Needed Boost with Reactivation of 4 Islander Aircraft

Britten Norman Islander (all photos : Timawa)

MANILA — The Naval Air Group (NAG), the Navy unit tasked to provide air support to the fleet, got a much needed boost following the activation on Tuesday of four Norman-Britten N2 Islander aircraft.

This effectively raises the number of Islander planes operated by the Philippine Navy to six.

Aside from the six PNIs, the NAG can now boast of operating three AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopter, four Cessna light utility planes, one R-22 "Raven" helicopter and one MBB-105 helicopter.

Having these planes in the inventory greatly improves the Navy's capability to patrol and protect the country's vast territorial waters.

Lt. (junior grade) Rommel Rodriquez, Philippine Fleet spokesman, said the four planes had just finished their mandatory "scheduled maintenance inspections" (SMIs).

The procedure entails the repair and refurbishment of all aircraft systems and retraining of its flight crew.

“SMIs are required for all Navy aircraft whenever they reach a total of 50, 100, 300 and 500 hours of flying time. This is necessary to ensure the safety and capability of our aircraft when they are deployed in the operational areas,” NAG chief Col. Caculitan said.

After reactivation ceremonies Tuesday, the Philippine Navy Islanders (PNI) in naval parlance were immediately deployed to San Fernando City, La Union; Cebu; Zamboanga City and Palawan.

PNIs are capable of conducting maritime air surveillance, air drop, air lift and aerial reconnaissance missions at sea.

Each aircraft has two pilots and four maintenance crew. 

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