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Friday, September 20, 2013

PAF's Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft - Is there a Sure Winner?

The Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) recently released the Technical Specifications for the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft project, which is found here:

It specifically indicated their requirements, from aircraft configuration to paint scheme and logistics support. The aircraft will be assigned with the 220th Airlift Wing based in Benito Ebuen Air Base, Mactan, Cebu, and will work hand-in-hand with other airlift assets, specifically the elder N-22B Nomad, and will probably replace the Nomad in the coming years.

The seal of the Philippine Air Force 220th Airlift Wing.
Seal taken from DND.

The following is the summary of the aircraft's technical specifications:

- The project is for 2 brand new units, and will be used for Airborne Operations, Aero Medical Evacuation, Limited Maritime Patrol and Search & Rescue Operations, and for Passenger and Cargo Transport;
-  To be able to do these missions, the aircraft must be equipped with static line cables and paratroop seats, cargo drop/delivery system, pallets, cargo net, tie down straps, dual rails and rollers, capable of accommodating at least 4 litters, must have bubble windows on both sides of the fuselage, and have minimum of 12 forward seats;
- A range of 700 nautical miles and have a minimum payload of 2,200 lbs. with maximum fuel load, and an endurance of 5.5 hours at maximum take-off weight;
- Capable of loading and offloading at least 7x4x4 feet (Length x Width x Height) cargo;
- Rear cargo loading with assisted cargo loading devices is mandatory;
- Minimum cruising speed of 150 knots and service ceiling of at least 20,000 feet;
- Maximum take-off and landing distance of 2,500 feet at Maximum weight;
- Communications to include VHF-FM and AM, UHF and Marine Radios;
- Auto-pilot capable, with GPS, multi-function control display unit, Flight Management System,
- Twin Engine Turbo-prop with minimum rating of 840shp per engine;

Although not published in MaxDefense blogs or MaxDefense@Facebook site, initially MaxDefense believes that the possible contenders for this project include the following aircraft models:

- Hawker Beechcraft's King Air 350 (USA), which is currently also offered for the Maritime Patrol Aircraft requirement of the AFP. The company has been active in the Philippines lately as it also pushes the AT-6 Texan II to replace the ageing OV-10 Bronco in PAF inventory;

A Colombian Army Beechcraft King Air.
Photo taken from c/o Carlos Andres Lopez.

- PZL-Mielec/Sikorsky Aircraft M28 Skytruck (Poland), known in Poland as the Bryza. PZL-Mielec is now a company owned by Sikorsky Aircraft of the US, but we still don't know if who of the 2 entities will be assigned to enter the bid. MaxDefense believes this is the dark horse should PZL Mielec or Sikorsky Aircraft joins the bid;

A Polish M28 Skytruck, locally known as the Bryza. Seen here with its rear cargo door open.
Photo taken from

- EADS-CASA/IAe C-212-400 Aviocar (EU/Indonesia), the strongest contender so far, and its stablemates are being offered for the Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft projects as well;

The cockpit of the C-212-400 Aviocar, note the multi-fuction glass display, a requirement indicated by the PAF.Photo taken from

- RUAG Aviation Dornier Do 228NG (Switzerland/Germany), a new generation version of Dornier's original Do 228 which went out of production several years ago. RUAG Aviation is now the new licensed manufacturer and supplier of the aircraft design;

RUAG Aviation's Do 228NG.

- Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter (Canada), another contender for the Maritime Patrol Aircraft project. Previously made by de Havilland Canada (DHC), now the rights for all DHC aircraft was taken over by Viking Air. They have just recently authorized Philippine-based company Associated Defense Industries Corp. (ADIC) as their local representative to liaise with the Philippine armed forces;

The latest variant of the DHC-6 Twin Otter, the Series 400 Guardian, is also being offered to the AFP for different purposes.
Photo taken from Canadian American Strategic Review website.

- Both the Cessna Aircraft Company's 208 Caravan (USA) and Pilatus Aircraft's PC-12NG (Switzerland) were previously on MaxDefense's list, but with the requirement being a twin-engine, both aircraft are definitely out of the project.

Both the Cessna 208 Caravan (above) and Pilatus PC-12 (below) are not possible for offer due to the PAF's requirement for the light lift aircraft to be a twin engine model.
Photos taken from Wikimedia.

But with the specifications out, MaxDefense can somehow make a partial conclusion: the PAF must be eyeing the C-212-400 Aviocar. Here's why:

- Most of the specified requirements of the aircraft can be met by all potential contenders except for one thing: the mandatory requirement for a rear cargo loading requirement and the capacity to carry a 7x4x4 feet cargo. Only the C-212 Aviocar and the M28 Skytruck has that capability since it has a wide rear opening, while other contenders only have passenger hatches or double doors.

Blackwater Worldwide's C-212 making combat drops in Afghanistan.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

- Of all the aircraft possibly offered, the C-212 Aviocar was already announced by the PAF as their choice for the light lift aircraft project, which was made as early as last year 2012. Aviation Week's interview with DND's ASec Patrick Velez late last year and reports from ABS-CBN also specifically pointed on this aircraft together with other aircraft for other PAF requirements. If not for the bidding requirements as stipulated by Philippine laws, the DND could have already signed a contract with either EADS-CASA or IAe for this aircraft model.

The M28 Skytruck actually has a large rear cargo door, as required by the PAF specifications.
Photo from

- There is a strong indication from MaxDefense sources within the defense agencies that Airbus Military / Indonesian Aerospace has a strong chance to bag at least one, if not all of the PAF's requirements for the Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft, the Medium Lift Aircraft and Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft projects.

Vietnam's Maritime Police (now Coast Guard) employs the C-212-400 for a variety of missions, including those indicated by the PAF for its Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

The C-212-400 Aviocar was previously offered by Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) which has the new assembly plant of the aircraft after Airbus Military (owner of CASA) decided the move the production line recently to Indonesia. The aircraft is a proven design, and is in use with several air forces including the US Air Force. 

Although MaxDefense does not find anything wrong with the C-212 Aviocar, it seems to be the clear winner in this bid. But can we really say that the project is a done deal with Aviocar as the possible winner? No, not yet.

The Do 228NG is another strong contender but may encounter difficulty due to the aircraft's lack of large rear door opening, with only a double door present on the fuselage's one side. Also questionable is its take-off and landing runway length requirements, which is slightly more than the 2,500 feet requirement indicated by the specifications while having a less payload of that the C-212-400 or even the smaller M28 Skytruck.

The M28 Skytruck is MaxDefense' perceived "dark horse" in this project, if and only if PZL-Mielec joins the bid and offer the aircraft to the PAF. So far there has been no public announcement if PZL-Mielec indeed offered the M28 Skytruck to the DND or PAF, although the latest success of Polish aviation industry with the recent sale of 8 PZL-Swidnik W-3A Sokol helicopters to the PAF may have bolstered PZL-Mielec's marketing group to push for a deal with the DND. 

MaxDefense is still waiting for the bidding process to proceed, wherein we can all see who are the contending bidders are, and we can make a better judgement of which aircraft is possible to win the project. It is also expected that other aircraft manufacturers may peddle their ware and try to get the bid document, but MaxDefense expects this bid to be short and fast in getting a winner.



September 25, 2013:
Only two contenders submitted their bids for the PAF Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft project, named as PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Indonesian Aerospace / PT DI / IAe), and Sikorsky Aircraft (mother company of PZL-Mielec). The Indonesian company offered the NC-212-200 (Indonesian-made Airbus Military C-212-200 Aviocar) while Sikorsky offered the M28 Skytruck (rebranded PZL-Mielec M28 Bryza). But it appears that only the bid from PT DI was found to be qualified. Still wondering though why the Indonesians offered the older 200 series rather than the newer 400 series that they also have in their products list?

More of the updates here.

November 12, 2013:
The bidding for this project was considered a failure by the DND, and a new Invitation to Bid was released recently. The pre-bid conference is scheduled on November 15, 2013, and the bid submission and opening will is now scheduled on November 29, 2013. It appears that the PT DI / IAe (Indonesian Aerospace) failed to meet the documentation requirements of the bidding, which was previously highlighted in a previously reported news article

Whatever the reason is, it would be a chance for Sikorsky/PZL-Mielec to make a comeback and try to snatch the contract from IAe should they still give interest to the project. The pre-bid conference may be a peek of who's going in to battle with IAe.

November 16, 2013:
According to the PAF's report on Status of Modernization Projects, the project was declared a failure after PT DI's offer was found to be non-compliant. It was declared officially a failed bid on October 11, 2013.

Let's see what happens on November 29, which is the new bid submission and opening schedule.

December 16, 2013:
The DND released a new Supplementary Bid Bulletin Nr. AFP-PAF-LLFWA-(N)-13-01 dated December 12, 2013, which answers several queries and requests by two of the potential bidders Sikorsky Aircraft and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Persero). They are offering their M28-05 Skytruck and NC-212i Aviocar, respectively.

More details can be found on the said Supplementary Bid Bulletin (link HERE) for further reading, but it appears that Sikorsky's requests are more on the documentary and provisions of contract while PT DI is more on clarifications on the aircraft itself. But MaxDefense believes that the chances that Sikorsky may submit a bid is slim considering that many of their requests were denied.

April 17, 2015:
MaxDefense forgot to update this entry with regards to this project.

As early as 1st quarter of 2014, the DND has awarded the contract to supply 2 Light-Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft to PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Persero) / Indonesian Aerospace, with the winning aircraft being the NC-212i. The 2 aircraft are expected to be delivered to the Philippine Air Force within 2015.


    Cassa-212 inside C-130 Hercules

  2. I think for the Philippines they should look at Airbus for C-295, CN-235
    here's the Link

    1. Nicky, actually Indonesian Aerospace is the one offering the C-295 for the medium lift aircraft requirement and CN-235MPA for the maritime patrol aircraft. Not Airbus Military. But the thing is, if the trend of the government releasing specification pointing to a certain model continues as I suspect, then the PAF may already pave the way to award the medium lift to Alenia for the C-27J and Indonesian Aerospace for NC-212-400 for the light lift aircraft.

    2. That's why I think for PAF, they should look at buying the C-295 and the CN-235MPA. Their is also a C-295 AEW&C that PAF can get for low cost.

    3. another possibility to consider for mpa would be US EDA p3c orions, so the dnd are taking their time with this, again.

    4. IAe sent a C-295 demonstrator aircraft to Manila mid this year as part of efforts to sell the aircraft. I will discuss the maritime patrol aircraft and medium lift transport aircraft in a separate blog should more information comes out. So far the C-295 and C-27J are head-on, while the CN-235MPA and used P-3C are also in the fight for the MPA.

  3. It can be certain that the Aviocar is the way to go. But is there, if any plan of the government to develop a homegrown aircraft possible starting from drones? Because it would do us (our country) any good, in the long term if we will only purchase our equipment. Perhaps an article can be dedicated to our progress in R&D (research & development)

    1. This capability is being developed silently with several local groups and companies providing knowledge and technology to develop drones. A simple drone was even present and exposed during the Zamboanga City operations recently, with the photo released and posted in an earlier MaxDefense blog.

  4. I think the c-295 is half of the price c-27j

    1. Not really. But it appears the C-27J is more expensive but is more capable.

    2. And Apparently is the only aircraft left for this bid. That's what I heard from my father's friend who is an Airman. I've seen them evaluate the aircraft here on Cebu Max. I've seen the demo flight also Max. Very Agile Plane and is very much the perfect contender for this category but the sad thing is the Price Tag on the Plane..

    3. The C-27J is the original favorite of the PAF for its medium lift aircraft requirements. It was only after bidding was recommended for the project that the C-27J got into tough competition with C-295 and probably CN-235.

  5. ..i hope that they will procure this immediately so that our pilots can train with it..

  6. ..sir max ask long po kung bkit di ginamit ang sokol helicopter for reconnaisance sa gulo sa zamboanga..?? di po ba may camera yun?? tnx..

    1. The PAF Sokol does not have an onboard camera. But any PAF helicopter can be modified to be used as C3 platform and surveillance if needed.

  7. It seem that these 2 aircraft the C-27J and C-295 are the sought after medium lift aircraft . Each has its own advantages as a medium lift aircraft and other platforms it's suited basing on the mission requirements. To give us a better oversight here are the specs of each aircraft.
    Specifications (C-295M)[edit source | editbeta]

    EADS CASA C-295
    General characteristics
    Crew: Two
    Capacity: 71 troops
    Payload: 9,250 kg (20,392 lbs)
    Length: 24.50 m (80 ft 3 in)
    Wingspan: 25.81 m (84 ft 8 in)
    Height: 8.60 m (28 ft 3 in)
    Wing area: 59 m² (634.8 ft²)
    Max. takeoff weight: 23,200 kg (51,146 lbs)
    Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G Hamilton Standard 586-F (six bladed), 1,972 kW (2,645 hp) each
    Maximum speed: 576 km/h (311 knots, 358 mph)
    Cruise speed: 480 km/h (260 knots, 300 mph)
    Range: 4,600 km (with 3000Kg payload) (2,600 mi) 2,300 nmi; (with 4,550 kilograms (10,030 lb) payload)
    Range with full payload: 1,300 km (828 mi; 720 nmi)
    Ferry range: 5,400 km (3,240 mi; 2,820 nmi)
    Service ceiling: 9,100 m (25,000 ft)
    Takeoff run: 670 m (2,200 ft)
    Landing run: 320 m (1,050 ft)
    Unit cost : $ 28,000,000 ( 06/2013)

    Data from Alenia Aeronautica,[83] C-27J facts[84]
    General characteristics
    Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
    Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
    Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
    Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
    Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
    Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
    Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
    Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
    Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
    Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
    Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter
    Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
    Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
    Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
    Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
    Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
    Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
    Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)
    Unit cost : $ 53,000,000 (2012)

    As indicated each aircraft has its strong points depending on the mission requirements . However , taking into consideration the budgetary funds the C-295 has the edge basing on cost and it's ability to perform STOL as described. Then again the C-27J has the cargo space and the range / service ceiling edge over the C 295 . Also we need to take into consideration the operating cost of each aircraft which could be the deciding factor between the two. A" de facto " that may influence the decision is Our developing close tie with Indonesia , as shown with the recent SSV contract and the current direction the light lift fixed wing aircraft is heading . Personally , I believe it could be a win win situation for both the DND and the AFP if this would materialize .

    1. It's more of a battle between capability and cost. Generally the C-27J wins in terms of capability over the C-295, but is more expensive to purchase, operate and maintain. It's not up to the PAF how they intend to balance this for the requirement.

  8. C-295 gunner

  9. Maintenance cost is the key..... c295 vs c27-J, sparepart cost, etc. And importan thing too is about 'grounding time' I mean MRO time please notice here the 'plant' is between philipine-indonesia and philipine-italy....considering because PAF not going to by it for 1 skadron so it's to hard to have the 'maintenance repair and overhaull' facility on philipine

    -java indonesia-

    1. The numbers indicated as requirement of the PAF for both the medium lift (3) and light lift (2) are initial requirements, to fit in the budget allocated for the 1st 5 years. If the 2nd 5 years budget is released, the PAF will definitely get more aircraft, probably the same type as they purchased earlier.

  10. im waiting for the answer of the govt for the attack helicopters armored vehicles. and helmets, surveillance. it really discusts me that we dont give them priority. they use pajeros..look at the local patrol mobile cars. theyre a peice of death cans. and foot soldiers dont even have support where are the damn armored vehicles? there getting picked off like ducks.

  11. ..hey sir max I just want know if the air force operates a black hawk??
    whats its current status??

    1. Yes, a single S-70A model with the Presidential Airlift Wing. It's still operational. There were previously 2 units, 1 crashed.

  12. Hi Max . how about the medium lift aircraft are you making a blog about that too ??

  13. Hi Maxdefense, great blog you have going here. I know the PN will acquire 3 AW 109 naval choppers this year plus an option for 2 next year. The 2 helos are earmarked for the WHECs in their patrols. What is the PN's plan for the other 3 helos considering there are no naval vessels yet that can take them? Thanks.

    1. They are multi-purpose helicopters and were bought to complement and eventually replace and BO-105 the NAG operates. It is expected that there will be more PN ships that will be obtained that can accommodate naval helicopters.

  14. Hi Max,
    I think this is now the time for the PAF to firmly make up their decision to acquires these medium lift and light fixed wing aircraft e.i. C27J and C-212-400. These are immediately needed NOW!!! I mean needed specially to the catastrophic calamities we are sufferings...when these PAF top brass are still mulling around when we have a budget already for them...are just waiting for another devastation from natural calamities or do we need another bureaucratic nonsenses from our politicians on PDAF/DAP issues??? We need ACTIONS not just drawing board etc,..etc..blah blah from the national government and AFP people please.

    1. To close this issue, the PAF has already decided that the C-295 will be the next medium lift transport aircraft to replace the Fokker F-27, while its stablemate NC-212 will be the next light lift transport aircraft to replace the N-22B Nomad.

  15. Anyone notice the DHC-4T Turbo Caribou airdrops in Afganistan. PT6-R67 Turbine upgrade with glass cockpit 2013.

  16. Thanks for the post, it was interesting to read!


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