Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fulfilling the Immediate Needs for Additional C-130s for the Philippine Air Force

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft has shown its versatility to the general public recently after being the main aircraft in use to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)'s wrath in the Visayas. As discussed in an earlier blog, C-130 aircraft from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and other military air units from other countries joined together to support the massive HADR operations. 


A PAF C-130H Hercules arriving in Tacloban City in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
Photo taken from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. c/o UN News Center.

Questions arose on why the PAF only had 3 C-130 transport aircraft, and with calls from the general public and government officials to acquire more of these aircraft, MaxDefense decided to look back and update the blog with the plans of the government and the military to acquire more of these useful behemoths.


Commissioned PAF C-130s:
Currently there are 3 C-130s in PAF service: 2 C-130H models and a single C-130B model under the care of the 220th Airlift Wing based in Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu. The "B" model with tail no. 3633, was recently recommissioned with the PAF after refurbishing by the 410th Maintenance Wing under the assistance of Lockheed Martin technicians, while one of the "H" model with tail number 4704 was recently recommissioned after undergoing a Periodic Depot Maintenance by BAE Systems in the US. The other "H" model with tail number 


A PAF C-130H Hercules being prepared for to return to the Philippines after a Periodic Depot Maintenance was done by BAE Systems in Nevada, USA.
Photo taken from The Philippine Embassy in the USA.

There are also 3 more C-130s in Benito Ebuen Air Base that are parked on the apron for still unknown reasons: 2 C-130B models and a single L-100-30 civilian variant of the stretched Hercules.

Each of the C-130s can deliver almost 20 tons of goods and equipment that can fit its cargo hold of around 12.3 meters (length) x 3.1 meters (width) x 2.74 meters (height). Its versatility was shown as C-130s took in vehicles, relief goods, equipment, and evacuees to and from disaster areas. Not only are they good for HARD operations, but are also primarily design to transport high volume of military supplies, light vehicles, troops and paratroopers to and from the front lines. The PAF once had dozens of these assets but dwindled due to lack of financial support from the government and poor maintenance by the PAF in keeping them in good shape, or at least in proper storage when mothballed.


Mothballed C-130s in Cebu:
MaxDefense indicated in an early blog that these 3 mothballed C-130s in Cebu are said to be candidates for refurbishing and re-commissioning to the PAF's transport fleet. Although it is still unclear if all can indeed by refurbished and put back to service, MaxDefense's sources already indicated that at least 1 unit is being prepared for refurbishing by the 410th Maintenance Wing, and is already funded by the government. There are also some conflicts in information regarding the status of the 2 other C-130s, with some open sources and defense forums with PAF sources saying that they are not suitable for revival, while some information gathered by MaxDefense from other PAF sources say that all can be refurbished and revived but will require a varying degree of refurbishing that will also require varying budget allocations. The only thing certain is that they are all in poor condition as the PAF was unable to put the airframes in proper storage.


The 3 C-130 Hercules transport planes in Cebu, currently mothballed and awaiting for its fate.
Photo taken from Mr. Jake Nelson @ Pinoy Daily Journal. 

Recently Sen. Ralph Recto supported the plan to provide funding to refurbish the mothballed C-130s, although he did not give specifics if he was referring to the 3 units in Cebu. According to him, a PAF source provided an estimate that the cost to refurbish a C-130 run at around Php 500 million, thus refurbishing 3 mothballed C-130 could cost at around Php 1.5 billion which he supports to be added in the 2014 National Budget. MaxDefense believes that due to the poor condition of the 3 aircraft plus the varying level of refurbishment needed for the 3 aircraft, it may even run higher than the value Sen. Recto was pushing. Also, it would take more than a year toc complete refurbishing of a single C-130, and 1 unit may only be available by 2015.


The men of the 410th Maintenance Wing was able to refurbish a C-130B in house with the help of specialists from Lockheed Martin. It won't be impossible for them to do it again to further enhance their skills and to save on cost rather than sending a mothballed plane to a private aircraft company for revival.
Photo taken from Mr. Thomas Diez's Facebook page.


PAF to Buy 2 More C-130s:
With the questions raised on why the PAF only has 3 C-130s in its fleet, the Department of National Defense (DND) through Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, announced that they the PAF is in the process of procuring 2 more C-130 aircraft for Php 1.6 billion ($37 million) starting next year. This was also echoed by AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista in a separate interview


Excess C-130s of the US military stocked in the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The Philippine government could negotiate with the US for sale and/or grant used C-130s and other military aircraft to fulfill its immediate requirements.
Photo taken from the Tucson Sentinel.

The budget would be Php 800 million or $18.5 million per aircraft, and will probably include and integrated logistics support (ILS) package, training and some spare parts. With that amount, the PAF could only afford to buy a refurbished legacy C-130 model, and not a brand new or even used new generation C-130J Super Hercules version. This would probably be sourced from a friendly country, and MaxDefense believes that if negotiations will be completed by 1st quarter of next year, the C-130s could only be commissioned with the PAF by either late 2014 or early 2015. This option is still faster to complete as compared to refurbishing the mothballed C-130s in Cebu.



Even More C-130s?:
There was also a report from a local news organization saying that according to their source from the AFP, there was a plan by the US government to grant 3 legacy C-130 Hercules aircraft to the Philippine government that was supposed to be announced during the scheduled visit of US President Barack Obama last October. Although the visit was cancelled, such program can be revisited by both governments, especially that US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing through with his visit to the Philippines before the end of the year. But MaxDefense believes that finalizing such deal doesn't need Sec. Kerry's presence so it would be a matter of how the Philippine government presents its request.

This runs similar to an earlier MaxDefense blog on PAF C-130s wherein MaxDefense sources from DND indicated that at least 3 units are planned to be transferred from US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) stocks. Latest information from these sources confirm that there is a standing request from the PAF for additional C-130s, and may be sourced from friendly countries.


There are reports that the US was to grant 3 C-130 aircraft to the Philippines as part of the agenda of President Obama's cancelled visit to the Philippines. Although there's no confirmation yet, this can be a welcome addition should it happen.
Photo taken from Philippines Today.

Aside from this, the PAF still has plans to get additional C-130 planes in the next phase of the AFP Modernization Program after 2017. This may include the option of getting new birds, which may include the new generation C-130J Super Hercules to complement the legacy Hercules in PAF service and probably replace them in the long term. No numbers for now though.

C-130J Super Hercules in the future? Not impossible if the government is consistent in putting emphasis to a stronger and better responding Armed Forces of the Philippines even after the term of President Aquino.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.


If all these negotiations are indeed happening and becomes a reality, the PAF will end up with a minimum of 6 to a maximum of 9 working C-130 aircraft by the time President Aquino steps down, which is close to MaxDefense's earlier estimate in an earlier blog entry. According to CSAFP, the PAF is "happy" to obtain 9 more C-130s. While all this is not entirely impossible, it is up to the government's political will, backed by the DND, AFP and PAF's effective lobbying that will ultimately bring this to reality.

48 comments:

  1. well i hope they would look into medium helis too. Impassable roads surfaced a logistical hump to normal relief operations and even troop deployment for security. Although getting more hueys is the plan, it would be nice to reconsider the stat sheet of a medium heli compared to huey.
    payload Huey: 2T - MH: 4T
    troops: Huey:14 - MH: 30 to 30+

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    1. ...due to affordability maybe the AFP could also take a look into the choppers from Russia like the old Mil Mi-17 or the new EuroMil's Mi-38 (6t of cargo inside cabin or 8t underslung, powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PW-127T/S)...

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  2. i believe before pnoy end of his administration by 2016, we have new bird in the sky. and the public sentiment right now wants a better modernization because of yolanda. important is to wait and see this coming 30 months.

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  3. C 130's will be a great help locally. But eventually the paf should also get bigger and long ranging transport assets. Maybe at least one c 17. For ofw and embassy evac. At least next time some other country needs our help as well we could use that

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    1. Hi Omar. The C-130s are good enough as long we have sufficient numbers. The PAF sent the C-130s in the Middle East before to evacuate OFWs and diplomatic staff, it can be done again if the PAF has C-130s. The government could also opt to rent PAL or Cebu Pacific commercial jets for such missions. The C-17 is one expensive bird to buy and fly.

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    2. C17 globemaster per unit 220 million us dollars. Against c130 cargo 30million us dollars

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  4. 9 C130s + 3 C295 medium lift by 2015? Not bad...

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    1. No word yet if its already the C295, but you forgot to add the F-27s still in PAF service, plus new light lift aircraft.

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  5. Its very frustrating. I don't what political will is needed when the country is in the ring of fire, and with all these typhoons attacking the country every year, its a no brainer to equip the Navy and Air Force with all the logistics they need for disaster response and defense. I mean are our lawmakers this stupid? then why did they got elected in the first place. 3 C-130 for a country like ours is just plain stupid added with no fighter jets then they keep saying in the news of the 7 percent growth and one of the new tigers in ASEAN. is this a joke? I say prosecute seriously these crooks and jail them long term and the confiscated ill gotten wealth from them can buy a squadron of fighter jets and 2 squadron of C-130s plus chinook choppers and frigrates. how is that.

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  6. Don't get me wrong, PAF needs more transport aircraft such as C-130's and C-295. I think PAF will never get a new C-130J, but they should look at getting used C-130E/H models and C-295 to supplement the C-130. At the same time they should look at getting the A-400m as an alternative for C-130J & C-17.

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    1. The A-400M is not yet on the PAF's wishlist as they are looking more into the cheaper but a little smaller C-130 for now, both used and new. There are already movements on getting used C-130s that can be delivered by at earliest end of 2014.

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  7. And buy additional Landing craft utilities made by local shipbuilders. Increase the number of SSV's from 2 to 4.

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    1. ...i think it is time that we also get hold of an LHD, even an old one from the surplus of the US Navy

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    2. Hi Louie, getting an old LHD would suck the PN dry, both logistically, manpower, and financially. It would be better to get a cheaper alternative, like a converted tanker perhaps?

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  8. Max, are u holding your breath until the next president? Just curious.

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    1. I hope not. From what I got, the proposal for additional budget for the AFP to get HADR related equipment might be a go before Pnoy steps down as Senate and Congress supports the purchase plan.

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  9. Sir any update about the medium lift aircraft and also to other AFP acquistion? As of now only few are implemented.They must prioritize the Frigate because it's need 2 years to be completed.Last year they have told that they are prioritizing the refurbished so that they can use it during rainy season but up until now their we're no additional hueys flying at the sky.Very frustating.Its very very very slow.No hard feelings,I just saying my opinion.Thaks

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    1. Why mention no bad feelings when I harbor none unlike some other page owners? :)

      I haven't check yet on the medium lifters, but the frigate I'll try to get info soon. As for the Hueys, that was actually a disastrous project of the PAF. They are now going for a negotiated bid, no word yet on updates though.

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  10. 5 C-130 to our PAF is enough already to compliment the needs of our Armed Forces to fulfill their duty in times of calamity and conflict in Mindanao. Adding with 3 CJ-27 Spartan, 5 heavy lift helicopter either chinook or black hawk can already be an enough asset to do such mission. We have already their our Sokols helicopter and number of huey to provide support for the heavy lift helicopter which can compromise all of this... Sir Max, any news for this FA50? Lem1

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    1. Lem1, why do you think 5 is enough, considering the PAF is even wishing to have 9 more C-130 to add to its fleet of 3?

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    2. well, on my opinion sir max just because transporting of goods and military equipments in time of crisis such as war conflict in Mindanao and calamity such as typhoon is not just as always as it happens.... making it 9 is not possible for the PAF to use it always and it possible that this will be keep and not to used due to financial capability of oru Armed forces particular those fuel and maintenance. their is cj-27 that will compliment the additional needs for this 5 c-130 i mentioned plus those chinook helicopter or black hawk in addition. Hope this enlighten this to you sir max my simple opinion why i rather choose to have 5 c-130 instead of 9...Lem1

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  11. Learning from our previous horrible experience and upcoming typhoon trials, this should be a wake up call. I see a very bright future for our AFP. Well said Max.

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    1. Pray that the bright light is indeed coming, as there is already a faint light according to MaxDefense sources.

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  12. Now is the right time for our government to ask US to transfer the 3 C-130 planes thru Excess Defense Articles(EDA) stocks caused we have a good reasoned that we need these urgently for humanitarian aids and disaster reliefs used.

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  13. Now it's the right to ask US government to transfer the 3 C-130 planes thru Excess Defense Articles(EAD) to the Philippine Air Force caused we need these urgently for used in humanitarian aids and disaster reliefs.

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  14. Acquiring additional C 130 is a must for the PAF to beef up their heavy lift capability . Starting with its 3 mothballed C130 maybe a frugal way of doing it but might not be the best. Since it was stated that the condition and it's cost to refurbish these aircrafts may vary . Of the 3 aircraft in question the PAF could at least refurbish 1 aircraft with the least cost and reconsider if it is cost effective to recondition the 2 remaining aircraft. To augment additional aircrafts we should concentrate in requesting additional C 130 from the US in a form of grant as mentioned and purchase additional aircrafts from their stockpile . A fleet of 12 airborne ready of C 130 would be ideal for the Philippines considering the topographical lay out of the country .
    Since we have already have a pending bid for 3 medium lift aircraft it would be best to reposition these aircrafts as a maritime and ASW patrol planes . I'm hoping that they would purchase the C295 for this platform and leave the airlift function to the C 130 and light lift fixed wing aircrafts. The PAF should look into the possibility of a heavy lift helicopter in the form of a Chinook helicopter in the future and they can outsource this via USMC since they are in a process of acquiring more Osprey. In light of China's plight to its territorial quest the Philippines may have a better chance of military aid and future acquisition from the US if this continue to worsen.

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    1. I don't think making C-130s as MPA on the Philippine setting is not a good idea since the PAF needed them more as transports. The USMC does not have Chinooks, maybe you mean the CH-46.

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    2. Yes, I meant the the CH 46 for the USMC but it is a designated medium lift aircraft as oppose to the CH 47 as a heavy lift tandem rotor aircraft being use by the US Army . Regarding the MPA I was referring to the C295 not the C130 as mentioned in the second paragraph. Which in my opinion the C295 would better suit the maritime and ASW duties . Therefore , I strongly believe that the C130 should be the main aircraft for airlift and logistics and augment this with a few light lift aircraft as planned by the PAF.

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    3. Oplan X, your arguement re. C-130 MPAs might come true, I'm awaiting confirmation regarding the intention to use the upcoming C-130T as MPA/Transport dual mission aircraft.

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  15. Today is the big day for 2 frigate acquisition 1st stage bidding. Max any update?

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    1. Lets make the questions and any reply related to the frigates on the frigate blog.

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  16. India hal tejas jet is more lethal than skorea fa-50. Letha coz ...faster....beyond visual range missile.....antiship missile.all specs in fa-50 is all in tejas plus this three faster...bvr missile....antishipmissile.

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    1. 3x faster? Ypou mean it goes to max speed in excess of mach 4? Come on guys, the FA-50 is a younger product and will still be updated to carry a better radar system, more missile systems and other upgrades than the current model.

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  17. fa-50 vs hal tejas
    speed;mach 1.5 vs mach 1.8
    bvrmissille; none vs yes
    antishipmissiles; none vs yes
    fly by wire; triple redundant vs quadruplex redundant
    radar; equally upgradable
    helmet; not specified vs elbit DASH helmet mounted display and sight
    overall system; equally upgradable

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  18. @Max: Sir can i write to u privately if ever? Because i wanted to raise certain points not intended for public consumptions. How's that?...tnx

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    1. Sure. You can email me at maxdefenseph@gmail.com, or send a PM at the MaxDefense Facebook page.

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  19. Hey max. thanks for your blogs about the modernization of our armed forces. I really want to keep updated. I saw in wiki that the PAF is planning to get JAS 39 fighters and the PN also for Indian stealth frigates, although this one is not on wiki. I just saw news around the web about PN's plan. any news for that?


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFP_Modernization_Act

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    1. There's no exact choice on the multi-role fighter yet since the project is still in limbo. The PAF intends to finish the SAA/LIFT project first. The news on Indian frigates is also wrong, there were offers, but the DND opted to go for competitive bidding, wherein the Indians did not qualify (Garden Reach failed to comply, Mazagon Docks did not submit a bid).

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  20. I hope this FA50 will not be cancel as what i've heard a rumor since last week. I hope president Pnoy will not going to abolish this procurement and i know im sure we have plenty of funds for this project seperate from those for C-130. Lem1

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    1. If Pnoy stand on his ground, it won't be cancelled, but he needs to make it roll away from the current stand-still.

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  21. what is the difference between the c130h and the two engine south korean version do they carry same capacity!?

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    1. South Korea doesn't produce a twin engine transport plane. Do you mean the CN-235 they bought from Indonesia, or the Japanese C-2?

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  22. i doubt that 9-130's is self sustaining in the long run. i hope there looking beyond. they should change there mindset. there are 3 big threats. earthquakes,typhoons, they will not go away. and the insurgency. i would say over and over again. western visayas were extremely lucky yolanda didnt make a cross section. millions will be affected/more fatalities. samar-leyte was just a cupcake.

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    1. The PAF needs more funding if it has 9 C-130s to fly. If the government again restricts funding, you'll see the PAF go back to 3 C-130s in no time.

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  23. the luftwaffe already retiring transall C-160 medium lift aircraft lets see if the DND notice it, and i hope we can acquire more from them specially for the army like APCs or IFVs..

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    1. No go on the Transall C-160. These are old assets and will be difficult to obtain support and spares. Better stick to C-130s. As for the army, I believe the PA already checked some of their used wares, including the Leopard 2, Marders and even old M113s.

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    2. is that so, hmm, i'm expecting south korean tanks like K1A1 to philippine army :- /, you know it is a mountain climber tank and it also looks like Abrams but diesel powered and can also fire smoke grenades. hehe

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  24. Hi Max, what is the latest on this project?

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