MaxDefense celebrates the end of 2013 with a brief summary of the AFP Modernization Program's major accomplishments for the entire year. Being a program that has been hampered by so many delays, scandals, political maneuvering and financial difficulties, MaxDefense is confident to say that 2013 might have been the best year for the Modernization Program since 1995. Numerous programs have started to roll this year, and some of them have been awarded or even delivered within the year.
Here's a recap of what was accomplished this year. Click on the title of each item for a link to either a previous MaxDefense blog or a MaxDefense @ Facebook discussion:
PHILIPPINE NAVY & PHILIPPINE MARINE CORPS
1. Commissioning of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) frigate with the Philippine Fleet - the 2nd Gregorio del Pilar-class frigate will be a further addition to the limited capability of the Philippine Navy's surface fleet. Upon commissioning it was immediately sent to Leyte to assist in the HADR operations for Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda vicitims. Although it is only similar in capability to an offshore patrol vessel due to lack of sufficient sensors and missile weaponry, the PN is planning to install these when the ships go for a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) soon, which may include 3D surveillance radar systems, anti-ship missiles, and other defense and offensive systems that will transform this patrol frigate into something that can fight and defend itself while giving the navy the eyes and ears in the vast Philippine EEZ.
|The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) leaving port right after the commissioning rites.|
2. Commissioning of 3 AW109 Power naval multirole helicopters for the Naval Air Group - these helicopters will be based on navy ships and will be used in a variety of missions including surveillance, search and rescue (SAR), utility, and MEDEVAC. Future capability may include surface search, over the horizon target (OTHT) acquisition for naval ships, and probably even limited anti-submarine warfare (ASW) duties. We are expecting the delivery of 2 more helicopters, which according to the PN will be more capable than the 1st 3 units, being armed and with electronic warfare (EW) capability.
|The PN's AW109 Power naval helicopters during the commissioning ceremonies as part of the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.|
Photo taken from the Manila Times' Facebook page.
3. Awarding of the National Coast Watch Center system to Raytheon - this year also saw the awarding of a contract to Raytheon to construct and integrate the National Coast Watch Center. This include construction of the center, acquisition of related systems, andintegration of the entire Coast Watch system to different government agencies, including the AFP and the PN. The PN intends to complete several Coast Watch projects, including the Coast Watch South, Coast Watch North, and the main Coast Watch Project along the West Philippine Sea area.
|Raytheon was awarded a contract to construct and integrate the National Coast Watch Center.|
Photo taken fro Raytheon website.
4. Arrival of 6 Riverine Patrol Boats for the Philippine Marines - these Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC) from Silver Boats USA will replace the some river armored crafts that the PMC previously used until they were turned-over to the Philippine Navy. They are armed with machine guns and best employed on river and coastal areas. The USMC operates a similar version of the boat for their riverine operations.
|The PMC's SURC during the presentation to public and commissioning rights.|
Photo taken from Reuters.
5. Arrival of New 5-ton Kia KM-500 Artillery Prime Movers from South Korea, and other EDA Trucks from the US - the PMC displayed their new KM-500 trucks during the AFP 78th Anniversary, which will be used as prime movers for the impending 155mm Towed Howitzer purchase which is still ongoing. Aside from this new asset, the PMC also received some of the Excess Defense Article trucks provided by the US this year which can be used to increase the mobility capability of the corps.
|One of the PMC's KM-500 5-ton trucks on display during the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.|
Photo taken from Sandy @ Timawa Defense Forum.
PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE:
1. Arrival of the last 2 W-3A Sokol helicopters from Poland - the final batch of the W-3A Sokol helicopters from PZL Swidnik of Poland arrived early in 2013 to complete the contract for 8 units. Although criticized by the Aquino government, the helicopters found a new mission as search and rescue (SAR) helicopters for the 505th Search and Rescue Group. Near the end of its warranty period, it is expected that the PAF will upgrade these helicopters for them to perform their SAR duties better, like installation of hoists, search lights and transponders. A new paint scheme may also follow soon, probably in white and yellow.
|One of the W-3A Sokols now sporting a new paint scheme as rescue helicopters for the 505th Search and Rescue Group.|
Photo taken from Sandy @ Timawa Defense Forum.
2. Refurbishing of S-76A helicopters to air ambulances for the 505th Search and Rescue Group - the former gunships of the PAF are also getting another lease of life being air ambulances for the 505th Search and Rescue Group. Being air ambulances, they are equipped with mobile life support systems and will be used in transporting critically injured soldiers or victims to hospitals. Although not all S-76A in PAF inventory underwent this transformation, this is a good sign that these helicopters can still continue service with the PAF for several more years. Reportedly there are around 6 helicopters in operational service with the PAF, and we hope to see more of those stored airframes to be revived within the year.
|One of the PAF's S-76A Air Ambulances from the 505th Search and Rescue Group.|
Photo taken from Sandy @ Timawa Defense Forum.
3. Awarding of Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project to AgustaWestland for AW109 Power helicopters - The major acquisition project for 2013 is this, which will complement the smaller and older MD-520MG gunships of the PAF. This might also be the platform that will eventually replace these "Defenders" in the future. Armed with rocket and gun pods, these helicopters can also be configured as anti-tank platforms following further upgrades to make them compatible to fire guided missiles. In the meantime, the MD-520MG could also begin its SLEP program to extend their life for several more years.
|AgustaWestland was awarded to supply 8 AW109 armed helicopters to the PAF.|
Photo taken from malaysiaflyingherald blog site.
|Rice Aircraft Services and Eagle Copter finally gets a notice of award from the DND and PAF for the supply of UH-1H combat utility helicopters.|
Photo taken from Rice Aircraft Services website.
1. Introduction of the M69B 81mm Mortars - Up to 100 units of the Bosnian-Serbian mortars were delivered to the Philippine Army (PA) this year to increase the firepower of all its infantry brigades and complement existing but older mortars in the service. More are expected to be procured of the type by the PA.
|The M69B mortars displayed during the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.|
Photo taken from Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas' Facebook page.
2. Introduction of Raptor and Knight Falcon Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) - the Zamboanga City Crisis saw these UAS being deployed in action and successfully providing the needed information to the operators on the ground. The UAS are simple, small, cheap, yet effective enough for limited surveillance use and can be deployed in numbers for field operating units. The PA's Research and Development Center is still developing more advanced versions of the UAS and might be available by next year.
|The Raptor and Knight Falcon UAS displayed during the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.|
Photo taken from Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas Facebook page.
3. Awarding of the Assault Rifle Acquisition Project to Remington Arms for the R4 rifle - together with the Philippine Marines (PMC), the PA will be receiving new Remington R4 carbines (M4) starting next year. These rifles will be issued to front line troopers, probably starting with the Mechanized Infantry Division troops (due to the need for a shorter rifle for those riding armored personnel carriers). Remington may also provide technical assistance to the Government Arsenal (GA) in developing future M16-derived rifles for the AFP.
|The Remington R4 carbine will be delivered starting next year.|
Photo taken from Remington Defense website.
4. Introduction of M16A1 (enhanced) and M16A1 Dissipator from the Government Arsenal - several batches of refurbish and upgraded M16A1 rifles were handed over by the GA to the AFP, with majority of the rifles being delivered for the PA. The enhanced M16A1 rifles gives a new lease of life to the venerable M16A1, while the Dissipator 16" is a prelude to the proposed GA rifles to be provided to standard infantry units but still using the M16A1 as a base. More rifles are being refurbished by the GA, and we may also see M1911 refurbished pistols by next year.
|M16A1 Dissipators on display during hand-over of 1 batch to the AFP.|
Photo taken from Government Arsenal Facebook page.
5. Arrival of excess Armored Humvees M1114, and assorted trucks M939 and M35 series from the US - several utility vehicles were distributed to the Philippine Army from US Army EDA stocks, including armored Humvee M1114 series, and several 5-ton M939 and 2 1/2-ton M35 trucks in assorted variants like cargo & troop carrier, tractor heads, wreckers, dump trucks and van bodies. These armored Humvees saw action in the Zamboanga City Crisis providing armor and fire support for the troops.
|M1114 Uparmored Humvees still in desert tan colored were utilized by the PA during the Zamboanga City Crisis. Several were delivered to the PA from US Army EDAs.|
Special mention also to the modernization efforts of the Government Arsenal, which received several important items to improve their capability like the Universal Weapon Rest from SABER UK and Weighing and Gauging Machine from Waterbury Farrel of Canada delivered this year, and ongoing procurement for Electronic Pressure, Velocity, Action Time Testing Machine (EPVAT), and other items which will be procured by next year.
|The Universal Weapon Rest procured from SABER of the United Kingdom.|
Photo taken from Government Arsenal, DND Philippines Facebook page.
Aside from the programs realized and awarded this year, there are several ongoing bidding programs, G-2-G and FMS deals that are expected to be finalized and awarded or completed by next year. Major ticket items include, but not limited to the following:
- The Army's M113A2 delivery, Armored Recovery Vehicles, Shore-launched Anti-Ship Missile system;
- The Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), Frigates, procurement of additional MPAC, LCU, and SLEP for the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates;
- The Marine Corp's Amphibious Assault Vehicle and Small Amphibian Vehicle;
- The Air Force's Light and Medium Lift Aircraft, Search and Rescue Seaplane, Flight Simulators, the FA-50 SAA/LIFT aircraft and ammunition, air defense radars, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, additional C-130s, new CUH, and bases development;
- The Army and Marines' 155mm Towed Howitzers, Night Fighting Optics, Force Protection Equipment, Mortars, Grenade Launchers, Light Rocket Launchers, additional Trucks and vehicles, additional MilSpec Radios, and various ammunition.
|The awarding of the Frigate Acquisition Project is expected to be made next year, together with several other big ticket items for the entire AFP.|
MaxDefense expects that 2014 would even be a better year for the AFP Modernization as many of the projects will reach the awarding stage, and there are also several programs that will have deliveries commencing in 2014. We also expects more new project announcements, many which are big-ticket items that will definitely give the AFP its needed boost. If MaxDefense sources are correct, additional funds may also boost the program with emphasis on defending the Philippines' energy-related territories in the West Philippine Sea, and equipment for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
MaxDefense expects more big-ticket items to be announced in 2014, including the purchase of Maritime Patrol Aircraft, additional C-130s and transport planes, and more naval vessels and aircraft.
Aside from new procurements, MaxDefense expects the revival of several decommissioned or non-serviceable AFP assets due to the self-reliance and enhancement of maintenance capabilities gained these past few years. It may include additional C-130 aircraft, UH-1H and S-76A helicopters, and S-211 jets for the PAF, and armored vehicles and infantry weapons for the PA and PMC.
|MaxDefense hopes that the PAF could revive another C-130 aircraft from the boneyard this 2014.|
MaxDefense, as always, will try to keep its readers updated on the latest in Philippine and related defense matters, including updates on the AFP Modernization Program for 2014. We will also try to tackle different defense issues pertaining to the Philippines and its neighbors.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and we welcome a great 2014 for the AFP and the Filipino people!!