|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.
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.