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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Israeli Firm Bags P368-M Deal to Supply Artillery to Army

Elbit Systems Athos 155mm howitzer (photo : behance)

MANILA, Philippines -- Elbit Systems Land and C41, a defense material manufacturer based in Israel, won the bid to supply the Army more than P368 million worth of artillery, a source privy to the bidding said.

“Elbit offers P368,837,332 for 12 pieces of 155 Howitzer canons with accessories and ammunition,” beating Bosnian firm BNT, the source said.

The second conference that concluded with the choosing of the winning bid was held in Camp Aguinaldo.

The defense department’s Bids and Awards Committee for the project is led by Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez.

Elbit offered its Athos howitzer system.

Bids for the contract were opened on December 5 last year, following a pre-bid conference on November 22.


Korea Exports 12 FA-50s to Philippines

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Emmanuel Bautista looks at a miniature model of an FA-50 fighter jet after the signing of an agreement between the Department of National Defense and Korea Aerospace Industries on Friday. The deal involves around US$528 million worth of military aircraft and support services. (photo : ABS-CBN News)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed a $420 million (450 billion won) contract Friday to export a dozen FA-50 light attack aircraft to the Philippines.

In a signing ceremony, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) CEO Oh Young-ho inked the deal that will deliver the first batch of jets late next year. The delivery is expected to be completed by 2017.

As the transaction is signed under a government-to-government deal, KOTRA participated in the signing on behalf of KAI because the agency is in charge of the Korean government’s commercial transactions.

“The deal with the Philippines, following one with Iraq last year, is boosting confidence that Korea is competitive in the fighter market,” KAI CEO Ha Sung-yong said.

With the deal, KAI has put the second Southeast Asian country on its customer list.

It has sold 16 T-50 supersonic trainers to Indonesia, 40 KT-1 basic trainers to Turkey and 20 KT-1s to Peru. It also signed with Iraq to sell 24 FA-50s in December.

KAI believes a series of sales will contribute to the Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province-based firm, establishing itself as a competitive presence in the market for lower-priced fighters.

“Traveling around the world to market our products, we have found the status of Korean aircraft going up,” the company head said. “We are now focusing on manufacturing high-performance planes (to continue the upturn).”

In the competition, the KAI product beat Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Israel Aircraft Industries’ Kfir and F-16 as well as BAE Systems’ Hawk-128, Russian Yakovlev’s Yak-130 and Czech aircraft producer Aero Vodochody’s L-159, according to the Korean firm.

The two sides were closing in on the deal last year after the Manila government signed a memorandum of understanding, but the decision was delayed after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Southeast Asian country in November.

However, President Park Geun-hye asked for cooperation from Philippine President Benigo Aquino III in October, when they agreed to expand cooperation in defense and economy in Seoul.

KAI is set to try to continue the winning vibe in its sales pitch for other countries including Botswana, the United Arab Emirates and eventually the United States.

In the U.S. Air Force’s trainer program, codenamed “T-X,” aimed at replacing its fleet of T-38s, the U.S. side plans to purchase 350 new aircraft worth billions of dollars.

In the U.S. competition, KAI, teaming up with U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, is expected to compete with a BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman consortium and one combining Boeing and Saab Group.

KAI and Lockheed jointly developed the T-50 supersonic trainer and the FA-50 is a light combat version of the T-50.

The FA-50 can carry a weapons load of up to 4.5 tons and can be armed with a wide range of weapon systems including AIM-9 sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 air-to-ground tactical missiles and GBU-38/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), which allows the aircraft to counter multiple threats. Its maximum speed is Mach 1.5.

The FA-50, first unveiled in January 2006, was developed in Korea as a possible replacement for the Air Force’s F-5E/F when the aging fighters are retired.


PH Eyeing 3rd Hamilton Cutter from US?

PF-15 BRP Gregorio del Pilar (photo : raider 1011)

MANILA, Philippines - A defense source said the government was reportedly negotiating for a third Hamilton-class from the US Coast Guard under the US Foreign Military Sale (FMS), similar to the terms that covered its earlier acquisition of the first two Hamilton cutters that were renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

The US Coast Guard decommissioned the high-endurance ship a long time ago but placed it on its excess defense materials for interested countries.

Up to three C-130s are also expected to be acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to boost its lift transport capability, the source added. PAF  currently only has three operational C-130s.

USS Michigan, US guided-missile sub, to dock on Tuesday in Subic

 The USS Michigan (SSGN 727), an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, will arrive in Subic Bay on Tuesday. Its arrival coincides with the resumption of the sixth round of talks between the negotiating panels of Manila and Washington for increased rotational presence of American forces in the country.

In a statement, the US embassy in Manila said the warship’s visit is “for a routine port call that highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.”  

“This visit will allow the ship to replenish supplies as well as give the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation.  While in Subic the sailors of the USS Michigan will visit a school that helps persons with disabilities, and visit the Olongapo City Museum to learn more about Filipino culture and history,” the embassy statement said.

The USS Michigan is part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and is homeported in Puget Sound, Washington.  It is commanded by Capt. Erik A. Burian and crewed by approximately 150 sailors.

The submarine was commissioned on September 11, 1982 and is the third United States Navy vessel to bear the name of the state. In 2003, the Michigan entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington for conversion from a Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine into a Guided Missile Submarine. 

In June 2007, the new USS Michigan SSGN-727 was returned to service as one of only four SSGN's in the submarine fleet.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three of Eight Helicopters from Canada will be Configured as a VIP Helicopter

RCAF CH-146 Griffon (photo : Yuku)

PH set to sign P23.7-billion worth of aircraft deal

The combat utility helicopters, were acquired through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the designated agency in behalf of the Canadian government.

“Three of these eight helicopters will be configured as a VIP helicopter and the delivery we are able to negotiate that if the contract will be signed within the month of March, first quarter of 2014, then they’ll be able to deliver at least three of the helicopters in September in time for the hosting of the Philippines of the APEC,” Manalo said.

The Philippines will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November 2015.

The jets, meanwhile, will be delivered 18 months after the contract signing. The delivery is expected to be completed in 2017.

The Philippine military is one of the weakest in Asia, and retired the last of its US-designed F-5 fighters in 2005.

“This is significant because we need it to give our armed forces the minimum capability to show that we are competent to do our responsibilities in the military,” Manalo said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines will sign P23.7-billion worth of aircraft deals next week amid the military’s efforts to attain a minimum credible defense.

The deals to be signed include the 12 lead-in trainer jets from South Korea (P18.9B) and eight combat utility helicopters (P4.9B) from Canada. The signing will be held on March 28 at the Department of National Defense Headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.

“Well, we tasked the protocol of the Office of Secretary of National Defense or the Department of National Defense to coordinate with the contracting party for those that will be invited in the signing,” Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told reporters Friday.

“Definitely mandatory will be the [Defense] Secretary because he will be the approving authority for the contract, the chief of staff, the major service commanders and probably the commanding general of the Air Force, and the president of KAI (Korean Airspace Industries), the president of Kotra (Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency) and probably the ambassador of South Korea to the Philippines,” he added.

Kotra is the agency of the Republic of South Korea in charge of the commercial transaction in behalf of the government.

The signing will also be held amid a heightened territorial conflict with China over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The acquisition of fighter jets is one of the two big-ticket items in the P85-billion AFP Modernization Program.

The other is the purchase of two brand new frigates worth P18 billion.


PAF Pilots to be Trained in South Korea

T-50 simulator (photo : EPA)

PHILIPPINE Air Force (PAF) pilots will have the chance to train for FA-50 warplanes in South Korea as soon as negotiations between the two countries are completed this month.

The training is part of the program in the contract, which the Philippine government is expected to finalize with the Korea Aerospace Industries.

“As far as the fighters are concerned, it’s part of the program and package,” PAF spokesperson Col. Ernesto Miguel Okol said.

The FA-50 is the best choice of the government for the upgrade of the poorly equipped PAF.

“Having the FA-50 will prepare us for the multi-role fighter,” Okol explained.

Okol, an F5 pilot, said the training would most probably be in South Korea.

The FA-50, which can carry two crewmembers, is a light combat aircraft, and also a light combat version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.

The wide range of its weapon systems allows the FA-50 to counter multiple threats.

The acquisition of the 12 lead-in trainer fighter jets from Korea will cost the country P18.9 billion.

The upgrade is under the P85-billion Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program aimed at giving the military a “minimum credible defense capability,” according to reports.

The government will also procure combat utility choppers and naval anti-submarine helicopters.

(Manila Times)

Army Confirms P2.4-B Acquisition of 63,000 Brand-New Automatic Rifles

M-4 rifle (photo : hdwallpaperpics)

The Philippine Army (PA) confirmed Tuesday the acquisition of 63,000 brand-new automatic rifles which will be delivered and issued in several batches this year.

Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Army spokesperson, said that these new rifles are the M-4 which is worth P38,402 each.

The entire order is estimated to be worth P2.4 billion.

The M-4 is a shorter and lighter variant of the M-16A2 assault rifle. It is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder-fired weapon with a telescoping stock and 14.5 inch (370 mm) barrel for easy close quarter combat.

The rifle fires the .223 caliber, or 5.56-mm NATO round.

During the March 16 graduation of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the military will soon be retiring its Vietnam-era automatic rifles with the delivery of 63,000 brand-new rifles.

(Manila Times)

Philippine Navy Looks at the Possibility of Acquiring AW-159 "Wildcat"Helicopter

AW-159 Wildcat ASW helicopter (photo : Trevor Thornton)

Defense department allocates P5.4B for 2 anti-submarine choppers

THE Department of National Defense (DND) announced on Monday that it has allocated P5.4 billion to fund the acquisition of two brand-new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Philippine Navy.

This was confirmed by DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations, and munitions Fernando Manalo in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

"The ASW helicopters is one of the projects included in the list of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Modernization Program. The project is for implementation," he added.

Manalo said the budget for acquiring the two ASW helicopters is placed at P5.4 billion and the acquisition process for the aircraft is expected to be completed by this year.

The Philippine Navy earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring the AW-159 "Wildcat" as its ASW helicopters.

The Navy is in the market for two ASW helicopters.

This is part of the country's Medium Term Defense Acquisition List for the next four years.

The ASW choppers will be assigned to the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).

The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.

The AW-159 will serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles.

The helicopter has been ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army.

It is to enter service with the British Army in 2014 and with the Royal Navy in 2015.

It has a crew of two, has a maximum speed of 291 kilometers per hour (181 mph), range of 777 km (483 miles), ferry range of 963 km (598 miles) and an endurance of one and a-half hours (fours hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel)

The AW-159 is fitted with forward firing CRV7 rockets and machine guns, pintle mounted machine gun, Sea Skua missiles and Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges.

The acquisition process for these ASW helicopters is expected to go on full gear once the Philippine Navy completes its five AW-109 order deal from AgustaWestland by the third quarter of 2014.


Philippine Plans to Procure 8 Combat Utility Helicopters and 2 ASW Helicopters

Philippine plans to procure an additional eight combat utility helicopters for search and rescue and disaster relief missions by 2016 (photo : David Robins)

Military acquiring 12 more fighter jets, other weapons

The government is finalizing the purchase of more aircraft and weapons for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to boost its capacity to guard the nation’s territory and conduct search and rescue operations.

At the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation rites in Baguio City, President Aquino announced that the government is set to purchase 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets for “territorial defense operation.”

The FA-50 trainer jets would reportedly be acquired from South Korea for P18.9 billion as part of the Armed Forces modernization program. The contract is expected to be signed this month.

At least 63,000 new rifles will likewise be distributed to the country’s soldiers in the coming months, the President said.  The new weapons, Aquino said, will replace the units dating back to the Vietnam War years.

“With these new weapons, we can finally retire the weapons used by our soldiers before the Siklab-Diwa class was born,” he said in Filipino.

Combat Choppers

The President said the government also plans to procure an additional eight combat utility helicopters “that will fly our skies for search and rescue and disaster relief missions by 2016.”

Public bidding for the purchase of two twin-engine naval anti-submarine helicopters will also start soon, according to the President.

The imminent purchase of military equipment will be on top of the new modern ships, eight Sokol helicopters, three Navy helicopters and other vessels already being used by the Armed Forces, the President said.

Aquino assured that the government will continue to equip the AFP with better weapons and vessels as well as improve their benefits.

Housing for Soldiers

Apart from the modernization program, the President said the government is also pursuing the housing program for the country’s soldiers.

To date, Aquino said around 54,449 affordable housing units have been constructed for the members of the uniformed forces.

With Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense working together, Aquino said a livelihood program for active and retired soldiers is underway.

Under this project, the lands in three military camps, namely Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon, and Camp Peralta in Capiz would be open for plantation for bamboo, coffee, cacao and palm oil.

Aquino said these programs seeking to improve the welfare of soldiers are in appreciation for their sacrifices to defend the country from threats.

Contract Signing

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines will sign this week the contract for the acquisition of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets from South Korea and combat helicopters from Canada.

He also revealed that bidding for two anti-submarine helicopters for the Navy will start soon.

“Starting Monday, within the week magkakaroon tayo ng pirmahan ng contract, yun FA-50  with the South Korean government saka yun combat utility helicopters with Canada,” said Gazmin.

The government will be spending P18.9 billion for the acquisition of the 12 fighter jets from Korea to boost the Air Force’s defense capabilities.

“We are considering it as not just an ordinary lead in fighter because it can deliver short range missile and there is a potential for these to be classified as beyond the short range fighter aircraft,” said  Defense Undersecretary for Finance Fernando Manalo in February.

Gazmin said once the contract is signed, the PAF could receive its first F/A-50s within 18 months time.

Light Combat Aircraft

The F/A-50 is a light combat aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art systems and weapons. It can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.5 or one and half times the speed of sound. It has a wide range of weapon systems aboard, allowing it to counter multiple threats.

F/A-50s are capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles, aside from light automatic cannons.

Aside from the FA-50s and the combat utility helicopters, the military will also soon have its first anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters.

The government is allotting P5.4-billion budget  for the two ASW helicopters.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Gregory Fabic said the two ASW helicopters are primarily ship-based helicopters with mission essential equipment.

“They will enhance our maritime security that could be rapidly deployed to safeguard our nation’s rich maritime resources,” said Fabic.

(Manila Bulletin)

DND to Develop Second Naval Facility in Palawan

Naval Facility in Ulugan Bay would be used as homeport of large vessels like the Hamilton-class cutters BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, and other upcoming strategic sealift vessels of the Navy (photo : Durzen)

THE Department of National Defense (DND) has alloted P.5 billion for the development of a second naval facility in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, home of the Naval Forces West (NFW), which oversees and protects the country’s interest in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic on Thursday said the development of Ulugan Bay is in line with the capability upgrade of the NFW, and once completed would be used as homeport of large vessels like the Hamilton-class cutters BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, and other upcoming strategic sealift vessels of the Navy.

Fabic explained that the Navy has no big port of its own nor does it have the facilities to accommodate its bigger ships so when said vessels are in Manila they are anchored at the North Harbor and when up north are docked at the Subic Freeport.

”So it is being developed so that the Navy will have its own [port] that will house the big vessels of the Navy,” he added.

Ulugan Bay is some 50 kilometers or an hour’s drive from Puerto Princesa City facing the disputed Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea, also known as the South China Sea.

The bay is strategically located and is usually used as a safe zone or shelter by yachts and other sea vessels during stormy weather in the disputed sea.

Fabic stressed though that the planned improvements in Ulugan has nothing to do with the territorial dispute between the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan over the mineral-rich Spratly group of islands.

“It won’t be misinterpreted [by China as a form of agitation] because in the first place, we have an existing facility there, the headquarters of the NFW, and a P500-million fund has been programmed for its development,” he added.

Fabic also disclosed that the upcoming anniversary of the Navy would be held in Ulugan Bay with President Aquino as guest of honor.

Besides Ulugan, the DND is developing Oyster Bay, also in Palawan into a major naval facility.

A P300-million budget has been allotted by the defense department for the construction of a pier, a harbor and support facilities which, the Navy leadership said, were necessary to improve the Armed Forces’ response capability.

Earlier, Naval Forces West commander, Commodore Natalio Abinuman, said the facility would boost the Navy’s capability in responding to any scenario in the West Philippine Sea even as he stressed that development of Oyster Bay is not directed against China but generally intended to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“This will improve our support system for our ships that are being [deployed] in the western portion of our seas,” he said.

Oyster Bay is about 160 km or 100 miles away from the  disputed Spratlys.

(Manila Times)

DND Rebidding 155mm Howitzers

DND will acquire 12 units 155mm howitzer (photo : Rowielip)

Philippine gov't to purchase 12 howitzers

MANILA (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government said Wednesday that it would acquire 12 units of 155-millimeter howitzers in its bid to upgrade the army's capability to fight leftist rebel group New People's Army (NPA) and the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the government is spending 438.6 million pesos (9.78 million U.S. dollars) to purchase the weapons.

The DND said it will conduct a bidding, which will be open to local and foreign contractors on March 11.

The government said the additional howitzers will be used by the Philippine Army which is at the forefront in the fight against the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf.


Italians Hit Military Planes Deal Won by Spaniards

Airbus Military C295 (photo : Pablo Blanco Sanchez)

MANILA, Philippines—An Italian company has complained that the bids and awards committee of the Department of National Defense (DND) awarded a P5.3-billion contract for the procurement of military aircraft to a Spanish firm despite questions on the bidding process.

In a letter to the DND, Italian firm Alenia Aermacchi said the Spanish company Airbus Military should have been disqualified from the bidding for the procurement of three medium-lift fixed-wing aircraft because it failed to disclose its business relationship with PT Dirgantara, an Indonesian company that also joined the bidding.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo on Friday said a notice of award had already been issued to Airbus Military and the contract for the procurement of the military planes would soon follow.

Conflict of interest

But Alenia said the DND should have nullified the Spanish firm’s bid for violating the prohibition in the government procurement law regarding conflict of interest among prospective bidders in government projects.

“A simple perusal of the company websites of both PT Dirgantara Indonesia and Airbus Military shows that the two bidders … are strategic partners in the production of the (military planes) CN 235 and CN 295,” Alenia said in a Jan. 16 letter signed by Roberto Pierdominici, the firm’s regional sales director.

Under Republic Act No. 9184, also known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, a conflict of interest among bidders exists if a prospective supplier “has a relationship, directly or through third parties, that puts them in a position to have access to information about or influence on the bid of another bidder or influence the decisions of the procuring entity.”

The Inquirer tried to get a comment from DND spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez on the issue, but he did not answer calls to his mobile phone.

In an earlier interview with reporters, Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the DND would only award the contract to Airbus Military after all the issues raised against the Spanish firm had been settled.
A representative of Alenia, who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak with the media, said the defense department had yet to answer its questions regarding Airbus Military’s bid.

‘Strategic partnership’

Citing a press statement, the Italian firm said Airbus Military itself admitted that the development of the CN 295 was a product of its “strategic partnership” with the Indonesian firm.

In a press release on its website dated May 21, 2013, Airbus Military stated that it was putting up a “delivery center and a final assembly line” for CN 295 planes in Bandung, Indonesia, “as a direct result of (PT Dirgantara) and Airbus Military’s strategic partnership signed in 2011.”

“(T)here is thus no doubt that the relationship of the two bidders … is a conflict of interest … Clearly, the bidders have a direct relationship that puts them in a position to have access to information about or influence on the bid of another bidder or influence the decisions of the procuring entity regarding this bidding process,” Alenia said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

“Worse, both bidders denied the existence of the relationship upon express request of clarification by the bids and awards committee during the opening and evaluation of the bids,” it added.

Failure of bidding

The Italian firm said PT Dirgantara and Airbus Military should be disqualified from participating in the procurement at hand, “without prejudice to the imposition of appropriate (suspension/blacklisting) and civil (restitution for damage and forfeiture in favor of the government) sanctions.”

Alenia had initially participated in the bidding for the military planes held on Nov. 11, 2013, but the DND declared a failure of bidding after admitting that it failed to publish the supplemental bid bulletin a week prior to the opening of bids.

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