Thursday, July 11, 2013

The PAF OV-10 Replacement - Possible Candidates (2nd of 2 parts)

Last time we discussed a short history of the Rockwell OV-10 Bronco in service with the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing. As the premier ground support / strike aircraft of the PAF, the OV-10 has shown great versatility and importance in conducting PAF's mandate in support of the entire armed forces. But like all other good assets that come and go, the OV-10 is already at the edge of its "extended" service life.


The Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is expected to be replaced soon in the Philippine Air Force after more than 20 years in service. 

Plans to replace the type due to old age and difficulty in maintenance and underway for some years now, but implementation has not been done due to funding concerns. But with the Aquino administration's drive to modernize the armed forces including the PAF, the OV-10's replacement is back on the sights as well. 

MaxDefense will discuss possible replacement models that are expected to be in the PAF's shortlist. Take note that THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL LISTING, but is MaxDefense' expected candidates:


1. Korea Aerospace Industries KA-1 Woongbi (South Korea)

The KAI KA-1 Woongbi is an armed variant of the original KT-1 trainer aircraft. It can be used for light attack missions, forward air control, as well as basic and advanced flight training missions. The KA-1 is currently used by the air forces of South Korea and Peru although the KT-1 trainer variant is also used by Turkey and Indonesia.


A pair of KAI KA-1 Woongbi of the RoKAF.
Photo taken from Nemopan.com

Due to the PAF's choice of its stablemate FA-50 Golden Eagle for its LIFT/LCA requirement, the KA-1 has an added advantage with regards to corporate positioning. Korea and KAI has previously given very good pricing to the Philippine military with its products. But the armed variant has not been proven in combat by its 2 users.


2. Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II (USA)

The AT-6 Texan II is an armed variant of the T-6 trainer aircraft made by Beechcraft. It has similar concept as the KA-1 Woongbi, and almost similar capability. The T-6 is used by several armed forces including the US Air Force and Navy, Israel, Greece, Germany, and many others. 


The Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II.
Photo taken from DefenseTech.org

Despite the trainer variant being widely used and proven with several hundreds delivered, the AT-6 variant is not in use by any armed forces, making it an unproven variant. Also, it may not be qualified if standard bidding procedures are to be used to purchase aircraft under this program due to Philippine legal requirements on number of users.

The AT-6 joined the US Air Force's bid for the Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) project and was projected to be the strongest competitor, but it lost out to the A-29 Super Tucano. Hawker Beechcraft also sent one AT-6 together with other aircraft to Clark Air Base in April 2012, as part of its product roadshow.


3. Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano (Brazil)

Of all the possible competitors for the OV-10 replacement, the EMB-314 Super Tucano holds the distinction of being the most proven, chosen by the most number of air forces, and the most developed for light armed missions. It was developed from the older EMB-312 Tucano, which was also a successful aircraft. The Super Tucano is used extensively by Brazil, and is also chosen by Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and recently by Indonesia. Also being picked by the US Air Force for its LAAR program (as the A-29) is a big boost for the aircraft.


A pair of Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucanos of the Brazilian Air Force.

Extensive usage for attack missions by both the Brazilian and Colombian air forces have shown its capabilities, and Brazil even uses it for low intensity air policing duties and border patrols.

Also, the EMB-314 has been initially announced by the DND and PAF as their top pick, although there is no finality yet on the OV-10 replacement program. But that gives the aircraft an extra advantage in the project awarding.


4. Aero L-159 ALCA (Czech Republic)

The L-159 ALCA  (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft) is the latest iteration of the L-39 Albatross advance jet trainer that was previously pitched to the PAF in the early 1990s. It comes in 2 versions, the single-seat L-159A which is currently available, and the two-seat L-159B, which is still in the prototype stage. The two-seat version was reportedly pitched by the Czech government to the PAF before for the LIFT/SAA project.


A flight of Aero L-159A ALCA of the Czech Air Force.

As a jet-powered aircraft, its advantages is speed and its ability to conduct combat duties similar to the future LIFT/SAA aircraft of the PAF, the KAI F/A-50 Golden Eagle (actually the ALCA's combat performance may be nearer to the capabilities of the T/A-50). But for missions like those conducted by the OV-10 that require endurance and slower speeds, the ALCA's high speed would be a disadvantage. Also, being a single-seater means the pilot will be overworked for observation and surveillance duties. 

The ALCA is only used by the Czech Republic, and has not been successful in its bids to other air forces. The nearest chance it got for an export was with Iraq but it was cancelled due to budgetary issues.

5. United Aircraft (Yakolev) Yak-130 Mitten (Russia)

The Yakolev Yak-130 Mitten is another jet powered possible candidate for the OV-10 replacement. It previously competed in the LIFT/SAA program of the PAF, but is also capable of doing what the OV-10 does plus more. It was a spin-off from the joint Aermacchi-Yakolev partnership in the 1990s, and has similar physical attributes with its Italian twin, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master (another losing PAF LIFT/SAA program candidate). It is a two-seat aircraft, capable of being used as a lead-in fighter trainer, light combat aircraft and reconnaissance/surveillance aircraft. 


The Yakolev Yak-13 Mitten of the Russian Air Force.
Photo taken from Airliners.com.

Based on released specifications it appears that its advantage is its range and speed, but due to its high speed compared to its propeller-driven aircraft, it does lack on endurance. It has more hard points for different Russian-made ammunition, enabling it to do similar combat duties as the LIFT/SAA aircraft. 

Although it is a LIFT aircraft, its dissimilarity with the incoming KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle might be detrimental to the training program when used together. But being dissimilar means it can be used in air combat training representing an OPFOR aircraft. Being a Russian product is another disadvantage due to compatibility and dissimilarity with existing PAF and allied systems and ammunition, and lack of experience by the PAF on Russian systems. This appears to be a major reason why it was not chosen for the LIFT/SAA program. Pricing and operating costs are also quite high compare to its propeller-driven competitors, being the most expensive since it actually is closer in in capability to the FA-50.

The Mitten is used by Russia and several countries that rely on Russia for their arms requirement like Algeria. An issue brought out previously is the capability of United Aircraft to deliver according to contract schedule, wherein there are several orders from other countries like Vietnam, Syria, Bangladesh and even Russia that has not yet been fulfilled.

6. Special mention can be given to the following possible offers, but in MaxDefense' opinion may not make it to a short list should a bid happen:
     
     - Air Tractor AT-802U
     - US Aircraft A-67 Dragon
     - Boeing OV-10X Bronco


The US Aircrafts A-67 Dragon is still in prototype stage.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

MaxDefense believes that these American aircraft models does not meet some basic requirements of the PAF / DND's bidding requirements, as all are not used by the armed forces of the manufacturer's home country, and most are either prototypes (A-67) or concepts yet (OV-10X). Currently the AT-802U is only used by the United Arab Emirates Air Force.

Press reports last year pointed to Embraer's Super Tucano as the choice for the OV-10 replacement, although this was immediately denied by the DND and PAF, saying that there is no definite choice yet. Previous revelations also appear that the source of the press report was not dependable at all. It was also expected that the bidding for this project will commence this year, but as of writing there is no schedule released by the DND yet to confirm this.

DND USec. Patrick Velez previously confirmed that the Super Tucano, Texan II, Woongbi and L-159 ALCA were in the shortlist for the "close air support aircraft" requirement.

As it is too early to say, MaxDefense will not give its preference on a specific aircraft model. Instead MaxDefense is open to comments, opinions and personal preferences on both the blog page and in our Facebook page.


====================
UPDATES:
====================
June 24, 2014:
The DND released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin, moving the bid submission and opening schedule from July 2, 2014 to July 11, 2014. No reason was provided, although it is expected that bidders are given enough time to provide reasonable and competitive bid.

MaxDefense is trying to release an update on this project in a separate blog entry, hopefully within the month. 

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57 comments:

  1. Cool thanks, that kind of cleared up the super tucano mystery for me...it's gonna be between the KAI KT-1 and Super Tucanos. For sure the koreans are gonna offer a low LOW price on this one.
    PS don't mind the hater(s) hahahaa.

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    1. Super Tucano mystery? Which one? There are many mysterious deals involving the Super Tucano, if you know what I mean..

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    2. nah for some reason i thought the DND scrapped this deal with Brazil. apparently they didnt even do a bid yet. learned something new thanks

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    3. Actually its still unclear if a bid will happen, or the DND will opt for a government-to-government deal like the LIFT/SAA program. Last year's statements from DND actually points to a G-to-G deal since they are naming the Super Tucano already as their first choice. But you know the DND...

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    4. Max, in this government to government deal, is there any way that the PAF can evaluate the contending aircraft in order to choose from the pack before proceeding to any gov't to gov't deal?

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    5. The DND and PAF did evaluate all contending aircraft, and they did receive package offers from the manufacturers. This includes the aircraft, technical and maintenance support and logistics package, training, offsets, etc. Previously the PAF and DND favors the Super Tucano and no changes on that decision was reported until now. But until a contract is not signed, don't expect anything permanent.

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  2. super tucanos all the way!!!

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    1. Curiously, why did you choose Super Tucanos?

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    2. because it is a sexy looking killing machine :-)...seriously, its track record as COIN aircraft is impeccable IMO

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  3. Between kai kt-1 or super tucano, either way is the best choice. Hope that the air force would get at least 5 squadrons of these beasts. On the other side, i hope that the dnd would get 5 sqdns of MRF before 2016... We badly need it...

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    1. 5 squadrons of Woongbi/Super Tucano? Isn't that overkill for something we can't really use much on fighting off external threats?

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    2. correct why we need a squadrons of this profeller type that can't be used much, at the time before take off this might shoot down by chinese missiles.

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    3. So far the PAF's target is to just have a full squadron of these aircraft. The PAF prefers to have more fighter jets this time.

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    4. exactly. this is gross and waste of tax-payers money..why's the government buying stuff that'll be useless if shooting war erupts on the WPS...common sense dictates the country needs more than a propeller-driven aircraft to defend its shores against foreign aggressors...

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  4. I see only three viable options amongst these choices, with the Super Tucano being the clear frontrunner.

    The strong frontrunner, the Embraer Super Tucano, is combat proven, is versatile, is reliable, packs a lot of punch for an aircraft of its type, and has proven, low operating costs. The Philippines could use it for anything from sea patrols to anti-insurgency efforts to, possibly, anti-ship warfare. In fact, I would say it pretty much is the perfect aircraft for the type of anti-insurgency operations that the Philippines will need it for. Furthermore, if the Philippines orders enough of them, Brazil might agree to them being built in the Philippines

    The second-best option is the KA-1 Woongbi, due to, as you mentioned, the FA-50 order and the fact that South Korea seems to be happy to have them built in other countries. It is, however, not combat-proven like the Super Tucano.

    The Hawker Beechcraft would run a distant third. It is not a proven light attack aircraft and is less capable than the Embraer Super Tucano. The only reason that I could see it being a smart option is that Hawker Beechcraft may be so desperate right now that they would agree to very favorable terms, ie. having all aircraft built in the Philippines with low licensing fees. The drawback here is that we have no idea if the company will survive now that the sale of its commercial division to Chinese(!) companies fell apart. And if that sale hadn't fallen apart, it obviously wouldn't be an option at all.

    As for the jets listed, due to the Philippines already acquiring the FA-50 jets, adding more jets at the lower end of the capability spectrum makes no sense.

    In my opinion, an ideal mix of fighter/attack aircraft for an affordable and credible PAF by 2020 would look something like this:

    18 - 24 Embraer Super Tucano for anti-insurgency, light attack, training, surface attack, and reconnaissance.
    12 - 18 FA-50 and ta 50 for surface attack, air superiority, some fast reconnaissance, training.
    12 JAS Gripen NG for air superiority.

    This obviously wouldn't be the world's strongest air force, but due to the tactical advantage that the Philippines holds with its close proximity to disputed areas, it would provide much needed air cover for Philippine naval assets and should make the Chinese think twice about entering into a limited conflict with the Philippines. And the Super Tucano is perfect for anti-insurgency operations.

    Laurence





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    1. Too much wishlist, zero realization.

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    2. It's actually a fairly moderate wish list that should be technically and economically feasible for the Philippines.

      And, to be fair, the FA-50 component seems to be close to being realized.

      Laurence

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    3. Hi Laurence welcome back! I don't think the Brazilians or Koreans will agree for a local production of the Super Tucano or Woongbi, respectively, because of the small order the PAF will make. Previous announcements by DND place the numbers at 6, although MaxDefense sources indicate a possible increase to a full squadron of at least 12 or more units if funding is secured. Remember that Indonesia bought KT-1B (19 units) and EMB-314 (16 units) but they were not given rights to locally produce both aircraft models.

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    4. Thanks. Good to be back.

      Yes, with a small order like that, local production will be highly unlikely. Peru did manage to secure local production with a mixed order of 20 KT-1's and KA-1's, but it sounds like that is more than the PAF needs and/or wants.

      None of these are expensive aircraft, so I do hope the Philippines bases its decision more on capability, operational readiness, and operating costs rather than concentrating primarily on the purchase price.

      If the Woongbi can't be partially constructed in the Philippines, then, in my opinion, the Super Tucano seems to be the clear choice because it is designed as an attack aircraft from the ground up that can also be used as an excellent trainer while the KA-1 seems more like an upgraded trainer. For this reason, I strongly suspect that the Super Tucano is also less susceptible to airframe fatigue.

      The Super Tucano is, quite clearly, the best in its class, and this seems like one of the easiest acquisition decisions in upgrading the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

      Laurence

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    5. The Peruvians chose the KT-1P (10 units) for their training needs, and the KA-1 (10 units) for their drug interdiction requirements. With it, they got offsets and tech transfers, and 16 units will be assembled in Peru. They also got donations of A-37 Dragonflies from the Korean government.

      While for the Philippines, we chose the SF-260F (18 units) from Aermacchi, and were assembled locally by Aerotech. But MaxDefense have doubts on whether Embraer will allow a local assembly of the Super Tucano although an offset might be possible. Indonesia did not get a local assembly deal as well.

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    6. Interesting info. Thanks. I didn't realize that the SF-260F were delivered and assembled recently.

      I guess the PAF doesn't really have much of a need for additional turboprop trainers because of this.

      Laurence

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    7. Laurence, actually the SF-260F and KT-1/T-6/EMB-314 cater to a different training program. These aircraft are more of an equivalent to our S-211 basic jet trainer, while the SF-260F is generally considered as a lower-bracket trainer. It will now depend on how the PAF will have its flight training curriculum with new aircraft and technology coming in the next few years. Would they still retain the S-211?

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    8. In comparison, Singapore retired their entire SF-260 & S-211 fleet to be replaced with the Pilatus PC-21, which acts as the basic and advanced trainer. The M-346 replaces the TA-4 Skyhawk for their advanced jet/LIFT requirements.

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  5. If KAI could come up with an light attack variant at a low cost then it can be good enough, but for now the attack variant is just in development i guess. I'd go for the super tucano w/c is combat proven and readily available

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    1. Hi paul, the KAI KT-1's armed variant, the KA-1, is already in production and in service with the ROKAF and PAF (unfortunately the "P" if for Peru). It was stated in the article above. Reportedly it was offered at a lower price than the Super Tucano for the PAF (yes this time its "P" for Philippines).

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  6. The Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano is clearly the only choice for COIN/CAS/LAS and pilot training for PAF. It would suit PAF perfectly as a COIN/CAS/LAS and basic & intermediate pilot training. The Aero L-159 ALCA would be another option for PAF as a pure CAS & LAS Ground attack Aircraft. You don't need something fast as a F/A-50 but you need something to loiter on target and protect the ground troops.

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    1. Any opinion on why you chose the L-159 over the Yak-130 should you pick a jet powered replacement?

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  7. I only found out about the existence of the Tucano after watching the movie Quantum of Solace in 2008 when I googled what that kickass plane chasing their C-47 was. Ever since that, I've been obsessed about it that for a time even my wallpaper was a Super Tucano. So obviously, I'm ALL for the Super Tucano as the replacement.

    Super Tucanoes + AC-130s = Genocide the Rebels

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    1. yea loll

      super tucanos for me too <3 But if im not mistaken they are the most expensive out of the propeller bunch??

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    2. According to MaxDefense source, yes, they are more expensive than the KA-1 and AT-6 when offered to the DND.

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    3. but..with a higher lift capacity.

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  8. With KAI exploring the possibility of outsourcing production of Airbus components the Woongbi deserves a closer look. (http://www.janes.com/article/12682/kai-considers-establishing-vietnamese-link-in-supply-chain)

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    1. No word yet if a similar commitment to invest is included as part of the FA-50 deal.

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  9. A very good commentary Max.Thanks for sharing. IMO, I think the Brazilian entry has the edge in all aspects for the PAF requirement except the price. The Woongbi, the Texan II and the Super Tucano bore resemblance with the Pilatus PC9 with minimal size difference with Super Tucano being bigger and heavier and higher wing loadings due to significantly large wing area. All the contending aircrafts can be modified to suit the operator's needs and requirements like the HUD, HOTAS, FLIR, INS/GPS navigition and other avionics. While the top three contenders are quite good, IMHO, lacks the versatility of a twin prop like the OV-10 Bronco or the retired O-2 unique (push and pull) engine arrangement. Looking at the top three contenders, I can't help my self from being mesmerized by the Super Tucano, although I am an advocate of twin engines, even for fighter planes.

    However, I have to point out that the PAF should choose an aircraft not just because of it has been battle tested or widely used the the manufacturing country's air force. Some aircraft are used successfully not by the manufacturing country's air force like the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters which was not used by the US, rather, she supplied to it her allies . Although, the USAF and USN used an up-rated version, the F-5E Tiger II, these were used for aggressor squadrons of the dissimilar training program like the Top Gun or Red Flag and not on their front line formations. Secondly, all new aircraft designs are not combat proven until the operator deploys such aircraft in combat. The DND and PAF should evaluate the contenders with regards to the flying characteristics, flexibility, maintainability, ruggedness and track record.

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  10. Would be better if they will reactivate the 7 remaining S211 to attack version similar to the earlier 5 converted As211. Instead of buying 6 Tucano. These will serve as anti insurgency and light attack craft. The budget could be used to buy another 4 more FA-50, this will bring a total of 18 FA-50 in our arsenal. Tucano ~USD19M while FA-50 ~ USD29M

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  11. super tucano all the way for COIN duties, ok din sana a10 warthog kung talagang seryoso ang amerikano na tulungan tayo laban sa terorista sa mindanao bentahan dapat tayo ng a10. max ask ko lang bakit gusto ng dnd ang fa50 bakit hindi nalang 2nd hand muna tulad ng f21 kfir or f16 para may naka ready tyo to defend yung eez at the same time may parating tyo na bagong mga fa50. sabi nga ng nanay ko nung high school ako hindi kita ibibili ng bagong kotse ibabangga mo lang yan mag 2nd hand ka muna bago kita ibili ng brand new.

    capt. jack cole.

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    1. Tungkol doon sa A-10 Thunderbolt II. It is STRICTLY for U.S. use only po yata. so U.S won't allow to offer it.

      At tungkol po naman sa 2nd hand jets. in my own opinion. may risk ng failure dun.. unless iupgrade nila ang mga yun
      at para naman sa mga brand new siguro gusto din nila ng reliability kaya bumili sila ng mga yun.

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  12. I go for the Russian YAKs. cheaper and yet comparable to their western counterparts in weapons systems and aerodynamics.

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  13. Training and logistics is very important, First order 20 F-16V at about 20 million each that should be sufficient for now. then just send your pilots to the U.S for training while the jet are under construction first you'll be better off.

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    1. You cant get F-16Vs for $20M each. The FA-50 is already worth more than $30M each. Your estimate for the F-16V price is way too low.

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  14. PAF shld buy 1 squadron of lockheed f-35lightning II and 3 squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcon so we can defend our territory..

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    1. hey wake up.....

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    2. lol. . this shat made my day. .

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    3. no way. our government could not afford a multipurpose jet such as a F-35 Lightning.. it is way too expensive.

      it is okay if it is just for the F-16s

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  15. with the decreasing threat by rebel forces esp. with the soon to be signed peace deal, the dnd should just do away with these fixed-wing ground support aircraft. The money saved should just be used to add more attack choppers and/or FA-50s to be bought. This will also simplify the logistics and manpower needs for the PAF.

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  16. Philippines do not have the budget nor the capability to operate those f-35s, let's get LIFTs (advance trainer jets) first and let the PAF pilots train to operate modern fighter jets, and from there we can start dreaming of flying f-35s.

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  17. Russian Yaks will be hitting 3 birds in one stone. It can be used for ground support, ground attack, surveillance, and trainer jet. yet cheaper compared to its western counterparts.

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  18. The US Air Force is going to deactivate 5 tactical fighter squadrons maybe we should ask for 1 squadron as military aid

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    1. i've read an article about the pending deactivation of the fleet of the A-10 Thunderbolts in USAF that will be replaced with F-35s in the future

      it will be an open opportunity to do a request.

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  19. How about SM27 Machete? http://www.stavatti.com/SM27ST_OVERVIEW.html

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    1. Hmmm.. I'm not sure if US will allow us to have that.

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  20. ..para sa akin.. kahit anu nlng basta may kakayahang lumaban sa sa iba't ibang sitwasyon o klban.. go air force.. tamad na ski aq mag.isip puro proposal lng ata ang naririnig.. konting biddings wla nmang procurements o purchase.. pero sa tingin q c noynoy lng ata ang nag seryoso sa pag modernize ng ating afp..

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    1. marami na pong proposals at nairequest na orders sa ibang bansa
      kahit di pa c pinoy ang president. ang kaso lang po yung iba na failed purchase, deniny ng U.S (F-16s), o di naman kaya ay forgotten proposals na (Mig-29s and Su-27s)

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  21. i prefer atleast one or two ac-130 bomber gunships :)

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  22. Budget wise, it's the AT-6. but if we will set aside the "money issue", i'll suggest Super Tucano for CAS role. I 'am sure many of us here knows why.

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    1. Aldrin, the budget allocated fits the Super Tucano. The AT-6 is cheaper although its still unsure if it can meet the specified requirements of the PAF.

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