Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Delayed Purchase of 21 used UH-1 Hueys - A Glimpse of Slow AFP Modernization?

The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has, for the second time, failed in its bid to deliver 21 used Bell UH-1 Iroquois (more popularly known as the "Huey") for the Philippine Air Force (PAF). After DND found Rice Aviation Services, Inc. as eligible to submit an offer on the second bidding, the deal fell through as Rice Aviation reportedly failed to satisfy some financial requirements. This now gives the DND a free hand to do a negotiated procurement with suppliers.


UH-1 Hueys at Rice Aviation's facility in the US. 2 units on the left side already have PAF nose markings.
Photo taken from Rice Aviation website.
This UH-1 purchase project is actually considered as a "piecemeal" compared to the other projects of the DND like the Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-in Fighter Trainer (SAA/LIFT), (Light) Frigate, Multi-Role Vessel (MRV), Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), Medium Lift Aircraft, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), etc. But with the earliest possible delivery date now pushed to the the 3rd quarter of 2013 instead of the original plan to have them before the 2013 Mid-Term Elections, there are now questions raised on the capability of the Philippine government and the DND to push through with this program and with the AFP Short-Term Modernization Program (2013-2016) as a whole.

So why is the project taking too long to complete? We are not yet talking about delivery here. The program is still in the stage of choosing who will supply the aircraft. Getting the supplier alone already took two years.


PROGRAM OVERVIEW:

A separate project from the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) wherein the AgustaWestland-PZL W-3A Sokol won, the PAF has requested for 21 units of Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters specifically 13 UH-1 standard models, and 8 UH-1 upgraded models including an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package. The DND initiated a public bidding in late 2012 with a budget of Php 1,264,977,615.52. A delivery of 45 days after opening the letter of credit.


PAF's W-3A Sokol. A separate project but was intended to fulfill the same requirement.

There has been a continuous requirement for more UH-1 for several years now, but this specific requirement was raised by the PAF on 2011. The PAF tried to acquire the used helicopters from US and foreign stocks, with DND and PAF officials inspected several UH-1H air frames and spare parts for possible use as flying or non-flying air assets and parts hulk. Such inspection was raised in a Philippine defense forum in 2012, showing DND personnel inspecting UH-1H air frames and parts from a Bell-approved facility in Washington, USA. So far no further news came out until the decision of DND to initiate a public bidding for the requirement.


UH-1H airframes taken during an inspection sortie by DND and PAF officials  on a Bell-approved facility in the US on January 2012.
Photo taken from Timawa.net c/o Adroth.

So, is it indeed a glimpse of how slow the AFP modernization is and will become? Actually yes. 

To be fair to the DND, MaxDefense believe that they are trying their best to thread the rightful path of stamping out corruption in their procurement system, which in my point of view and even from MaxDefense sources, has indeed improved compared to the previous administrations. The DND decided to go for public bidding instead of a government-to-government (G2G) transaction as a step to comply with the government's drive against graft and corruption.

But how about the pressing needs of the armed forces for their needed materiel? 

According to MaxDefense sources, financing is not a problem for this specific project. But the process of procurement itself is too slow because of too much politicizing in the formulation of plans and choosing of suppliers, indecisiveness in the decision making within the DND and even the AFP, red tape, and reportedly "fear of failing to comply on graft-free procurement processes". But with the PAF needing the helicopters too badly, the DND must make extra efforts to speed-up the process of choosing a supplier and finalizing the contract. The ball is currently with the DND on this project. 


PAF Hueys preparing for a send-off at Villamor Air Base.

A "small" project like this taking too much delay is a proof that modernizing the AFP is really difficult and will take too much time. Although not all projects are the same, it would not stop the public from doubting the DND and the Aquino administration as a whole especially in this period when threats from China and other neighboring countries is becoming more pressing.


MaxDefense Opinion:

Since the DND has already opted to go for a negotiated deal, MaxDefense' opinion is to continue with the plan,but the DND and the AFP must make quick but firm decisions to avoid hold-ups. The DND and AFP already knows that indecisive action only delays their programs, and affects the Aquino administration's plans and promises to provide the necessary arms to the AFP immediately. Thus, DND should adjust and improve on these deficiencies. If the Aquino administration is serious in its thrust to immediately modernize its armed forces, President Aquino himself must look into the political interference in the whole purchasing and bidding process.

In addition, since the DND and PAF already know that they require more assets, they should already be preparing another program to fulfill the transport capability of the PAF. MaxDefense believes that the DND should secure more cheap and available UH-1H from the US and its other security allies, both flying and non flying air frames as well as spare parts. It is still the fastest and cheapest alternative to have more flying assets. Simultaneously, the DND and PAF should already formulate and start a program to purchase new assets to replace the UH-1H and other ageing air assets for a medium to longer goal. The CUH program should be re-started and extended, and the program re-started as early as possible.

Are the news true that the PAF only have 16 mission-capable Hueys? Actually no. There are more, very far from 16 birds, but that will be discussed later on.

31 comments:

  1. Why are you Philippines having problems getting Military gear to defend your country. If your that desperate, go to Russia for Military hardware. They have an Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate, Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate and the Talwar Class frigate that ya can have. As for Submarines, ya can go with the Kilo or Amur class SSK. Corvettes, ya can go with a Steregushchy-class corvette and for Patrol, go with Island class patrol boats from the USCG they are planing to get rid of to replace them with the Sentinal class Patrol boats. For Amphibious capability, go with the Endurance class LPD.

    As for Helicopters, forget Europe or America, Go Russia and with MI-17/ MI-35 helicopters. They are cheaper to get and simpler to operate and maintain. It would give you guys a creditable military.

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    1. Nicky, the problem is more on the Philippine side. We have so many rules to follow that makes everything too complicated and too slow. Besides, money is another problem. The Philippines simply cannot go Russian because our systems are Western-oriented. Countries are offering their wares so supply is not really an issue.

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    2. The problem is that ya are not acting fast enough to reequip your Military. The problem will get much worse when China starts sailing their newest Aircraft carrier the Liaoning off the Philippine EEZ. That should scare the Philippines into a Massive military buying spree. It's why, if your stuck trying to buy western Military hardware, why not go Russian and buy military hardware that is easy and simple to operate. As I have said it before, if you want Helicopters in a hurry, go with MI-17 for transport and MI-35's for attack helicopters. For Maritime ASW/ASUW go with Agusta-Bell AB-212ASW. Go with something that you can get right now

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    3. That problem has been around for more than a decade already. If you read the blog re. Amphibious vessels, that was the same reason why the DND missed out the chance to buy an Endurance class while it was still within the budget. Although its cheaper to buy Russian, it will cost the Philippines more in the long run except if they will go Russian from now on.

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    4. At the same time, you realize that you have a national defense that can easily be overrun by china. Which is why if you want a creditable National defense, just look at South American countries and see what kind of National defense they have.

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    5. i agree 101%, the Phil government officials or politicians including the miitary are so brainwashed with west. I believed and seen Russian military hardwares are more durable and effective than western hardwares and yet cheaper. the decades of colonial mentality is one factor. Just look at the recent purchase of the Polish choppers which are a clone of Russian Mi, are performing well, whoever was able to breakthrough in these acquisition should be encourage to continue to buy more Polish choppers. government officials are just plain dumbed for not looking and thinking outside the box. thats why the country is going nowhere inspite of its they claim a 7% economic growth. all these wealth are just going to the elites.

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    6. Which is why the longer you drag out trying to buy western military equipment, the longer it's going to take to build a creditable military. As I have said, if you Filipino's want Military equipment in a Hurry, I suggest looking to Russia, because Russia makes Military hardware that is rugged and simple to operate, easy to Maintain and easy to use. That's why I have advocated that the Philippines look to Russia for frigates such as the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate, Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate and the Talwar Class frigates. For Corvettes, look for Russians Steregushchy-class corvette. For SSK Submarines, look for a Kilo class SSK or Amur class SSK. Even for the Amphibious fleet, look at getting the Endurance class LPD. As for Aircraft, I would simply look at getting the MIG-29/35 for Multi Role Fighter. For AEW, I would look at the Saab 340 AEW&C. For Helicopters, I would look at getting the MI-35 for attack Helicopters, MI-17 for Transport and for shipboard, I would look at the Agusta-Bell AB-212ASW. What I suggested is what you can build a creditable military in a hurry that can stand up to China. Just look at what Venezuela did when it went to Russia for Military Hardware. They were able to get the newest and latest fighters that rival the West and will soon be getting newer ships, Tanks, and even Aircraft and Submarines from Russia.

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    7. Hi Nicky, thanks for the suggestions. But there is one thing for sure, we cant use equipment that the enemy also have

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    8. Alot of US Allies use Russian hardware. The polish is one of them. Peru is another. Which is why if ya want defense hardware, go with Russia. They can give ya a Loan for Military gear.

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    9. The Philippines is not embarking for an all-American ware. If you noticed, most of the bidders are not American, but mostly Asian or European sources. South Korea even offered a soft loan for military equipment purchase but the Philippines did not bite.

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    10. With respect to Mr. Nicky’s comment above, Americans are also buying Russian hardware as in this news excerpt a few days ago: “WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said on Monday it will spend $572 million to buy 30 Russian-built military helicopters that will be used by Afghan security forces.”… (Sad to say, sir, that is not for the Philippines).

      Yes we can say that we are not embarking on a pure American hardware but those acquisitions are also in one form or another still carries an American or Western technology for interoperability reasons.

      IMO, at the current state of our AFP where most of our military hardwares are of western standard, it is indeed a logistical nightmare in the long run to buy non-western hardware. We also have to consider the interoperability with our allies or even to our old and current military assets which is also equally important.

      American/Western hardware or not doesn’t matter when it comes to the time-table in acquiring those assets if the bottleneck is in on our system of procurement. Yes we are already in a time-constraint situation that fast-track is the only operable term. Because those hardwares that we are planning to buy tomorrow should have already been bought yesterday.

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  2. DND frustrates me! Announcing those things that they are going to get this and then later on all we know it was cancel already. WTF! What I'm afraid most is that when Pnoy is gone and the next president who is going succeed him will not give much attention to our AFP.

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  3. I do agree they're slow, but there's a lot of assets coming in within a couple of months and next year. The FA-50 negotiations are moving right along also.

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    Replies
    1. The TOR from Korea's DAPA is also taking too long to release. MaxDefense wonders why....

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    2. Show me the money

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  4. the too long process or slow moving process is because they are looking for some sort of way on how to get their share . that is the only way i see why. IF DND really want to arm the AFP with sophisticated equipment then get rid off those complicated issue before those bullying country step foot on PH soil and invade us.

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  5. I am also wondering why korea is taking too long with the TOR the govt should have a back up plan in case the deal doesn't push through

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  6. Im gonna drop Phil. anthem and start practicing Chinese anthem if the Chinese capture Scarborough.

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    Replies
    1. If the news are correct about the Chinese buildings structures at Scarborough/Panatag, better start practicing your Mandarin. Ni hao ma?

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  7. The govt should fast track acquisition of air and naval assets the Chinese won't respect us if we have a weak armed forces

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  8. the Philippines govt are scared of buying Russian equipment because our uncle Sam were neglect us..that's the Buttom line of all,(truth)defense treaty daw....hehehe


    No buy to uncle Sam?...No help from from uncle SAM....
    No capable defense at all.....

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    Replies
    1. Not entirely true. The navy's frigate, SSV & MRV program's front-runners are not American.

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  9. thats some what true since the country is also receiving aid and grants from the US but, it can buy non US assets on a limited scale like the Polish choppers is a good example. so buying 2 frigates and some missiles from Russia will not hurt Uncle Sugar.

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    Replies
    1. Russia has also been delayed in their deliveries for naval vessels to other countries like India and even to their own navy. The best place to buy Hueys is from the Americans since they have the most stock and expertise on this helicopter model, although getting from another source is not bad either.

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  10. Reading all comments is making me frustrated, disapponted, dismayed. I agree to the suggestions of Nicky. Whatever the reasons why we cant buy russians hardware these are outwieghed by the reasons due to the current pressing situation why we must buy armaments and hardware from other countries like Russia

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  11. That's the Cancer that has forever been the problem with Philippine politicians. And I all this shit; "The Lingering Cancer Syndrome."

    Imagine a country whose enemies is already inside their territory and YET the Worthless politicians would rather beg for allies support that do things for themselves. I say just buy the damn things wether we do buy brand new does not assure us that it will last or ten years shit happens even though maintennce has been conducted thoroughly.

    I hope some idiot in congress or senate would just pass more bills to address this. It is sick, and this sickness will continue as long as defeatist will govern our troubled as hell of a country

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  13. ..bumili nlng ksi kau ng mga bago.. eh vietnam war era pa ang mga choppers na yan ah.. outdated na ang mga safety features ng mga yan.. sa mga senador, sna nman bigyang pansin siu nman ang isyung ito.. puro kayu proyekto sa mahihirap eh bkit mraming mahirap pa rin ngayun.. mag allocate nman kayu ng budget pra sa afp.. eh parang umaasa na lng ang mahihirap sa gobyerno eh.. patayuin niu nman cla sa knilang paa.. ndi nman sa galit ako sa mahihirap dahil mahirap dn nman kmi pero nkakain nman kmi dahil ngsisikap kmi nang wlang masyadong tulong mula sa gobyerno.. dpat bigyang proteksyon niu nman ang mga kababayan nating sa mga islang inaangkin ng china..

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  14. ang pork barrel ng mga senador na 2 hundred million per year at 70 million naman sa mga tongresmen hindi naman napakinabangan sa mga mahirap to ninakaw nila to noon pa.ngaun lang nabisto at ok lang naman sa mga pilipino kahit nakawin ang kanilang mga pera,walang reklamo ,idaan na lang natin sa dasal baka magbago pa silang mga pulitikong kawatan.kaya nga sila nagpatayan panahon sa eleksyon dahil sa pera ng bayan.kung tutuusin marami tayong pambili andyan yung 75 billion para sa modernisasyon,andyan pa yung 10 billion na ninakaw ng mga sinatong at tongresmen at napoles.andyan pa yung 200 milliom ni vice president at andyan pa ang 130 billion na malampaya fund.at yung pork barrel nila sa taon nato huwag na ibigay sa kanila ,ibili na lang ng mga gamit sa arm forces ,subrang daming gamit na.

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  15. Philippine politician doesn't care. The slower the better, that where the money come to them. Why worry if china invade our country, The Philippines. Politician have a nice house in the US/Europe. Politicians does not care about our country, all they care is money. How many politician condemning China?

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  16. Max, I think you need to update this page. The latest for this acquisition for this week would be :
    http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/06/27/1339580/4-hueys-arrive-time-paf-anniversary

    //
    “The four helicopters are being assembled so they can be displayed during the Air Force anniversary,” Gazmin said yesterday.

    The Air Force will celebrate its 67th founding anniversary at Clark Air Base in Pampanga on July 1.

    Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said the four UH-1 helicopters or Hueys arrived last Sunday. He said the air assets would be used to transport troops and equipment and to conduct relief efforts.

    “It will be used for delivery of relief goods during calamities,” he said.

    Gazmin said three more Huey helicopters might be delivered next month.
    //

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