DND releassed their invitation to bid on May 2014, with a Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) of Php 4.968 billion (about US$ 113 million) for 6 aircraft plus integrated logistics support (ILS). The latest Supplemental Bid Bulletin released by the DND reschedules the bid submission and opening to July 11, 2014. MaxDefense believes that the bidders requested for the rescheduling for them to be able to provide an offer that is fair for both the vying manufacturer/supplier, and the receiving customer.
Originally the PAF CAS program was supposed to be a US FMS acqusition program, with it being closely related to the USAF Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft program. Delays on the implementation of the US program due to legal and political confict between Embraer/Sierra Nevada and Hawker Beechcraft may have been a major issue for the FMS deal to fall out. With the PAF in urgent need of an OV-10 replacement, it is logical for the PAF to go through with its own acquisition route.
|The favorite, Embraer EMB-314 / A-29 Super Tucano, where the technical specifications was said to have been taken from.|
Photo taken from ARC Forums website.
As expected, MaxDefense confirms that majority of those listed in the previous blog entry are interested in the PAF CAS acquisition project, these includes Embraer (Brazil) with their EMB-314/A-29 Super Tucano, Korean Aerospace Incorporated (KAI - South Korea) with the KT-1 / KA-1 Woongbi , IOMAX USA with the Archangel Block 3 BPA , Beechcraft Defense (USA) with AT-6 Texan. Also shown interest on the project are Pilatus Aicraft (Switzerland), Pacific Aerospace Ltd. (New Zealand), and EADS-CASA Airbus Military (EU). Possible contenders, although highly unlikely, are the Aero L-159 ALCA from the Czech Republic, and the Yakolev Yak-130.
MaxDefense expects EADS-CASA Airbus Military to offer a variant of the PZL-130 Orlik ACS if they proceed, but may not be able to comply with the requirements. It is also expected that Pilatus Aicraft and Pacific Aerospace Ltd. may not submit a bid as they do not have any product that can fit the requirement. Also interesting is IOMAX's decision to move away from the Air Tractor-based platform it sold to the UAE (and now with Jordan) to the Trush 710-derived Block 3 BPA.
Technical Specifications Summary:
The DND released some important information on the specification of the aircraft, which was said to be loosely based on the specifications of the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano. This include the following details:
Quantity: 6 brand new, factory new aircraft, fully aerobatic
Landing Gears: Retractable
Flight Capability: Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Condition (IIMC) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capable;
Cruising Speed: minimum of 220 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS)
Endurance: minimum of 2 hours and thirty minutes (2.5 hrs) at armed configuration at normal cruising speed without auxiliary tanks
Seating Configuration: dual tandem seating
Payload: at least 3,000 lbs, with at least 5 hard points, and at least 600 lbs capacity for each hard point.
Service Ceiling: at least 25,000 feet
Short Take-off and Landing Capability: maximum 3,000 meters take-off and landing roll @ Maximum Gross Take-off Weight (MTOW)
Power Plant: New turbine engine(s), time between overhaul of at least 3,000 flight hours, suitable for tropical (hot, humid and high altitude environment), restart ability within 15 minutes after shutdown.
Weapons Systems: all weather capability, capable of multiple munition mix loading, and capacity for 2 50-caliber machine guns either built-in or using gun pods
Avionics Systems: compatible or better with current data bus MIL-STD 1553
- Day Visual Flight Rules (DVFR), Night Visual Flight Rules (NVFR), and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR);
- Heads Up Display (HUD) with integrated flight performance, navigation, and weapons targeting and delivery in day and night environment;
- 2 Multi-function Display for front and rear cockpits, 5x7 inches showing aircraft flight performance, navigation, targeting, and tactical mission system display;
- Hands-on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) for both front and rear cockpits;
- Basic equipment for IFR flights, brand new and calibrated for sustained high G-forces;
- Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS)
- Digital Moving Map, compatible with Night Vision Goggles (NVG),
- at least 1 unit VOR/ILS;
- at least 1 unit IFF Transponder;
Fire Control System:
- compatible or better with current data bus MIL-STD 1553
-capable of Air to Air, and Air to Ground modes;
- Equipped with EO/IR capable of FLIR, Imaging, and Targeting System, with Laser Designator and Rangefinder, NVG compatible;
Airframe: rated for minimum of 12,000 flight hours
- Zero-Zero ejection seat, with life raft, survival and First Aid Kit, and Emergency Located Transmitter Device per seat
- Front and Rear Cockpit armor plating, ballistic tolerance up to 7.62mm ammunition;
- Jettison-able external stores;
- Equipped with Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Missile Alert Warning System (MAWS)
- Equipped with Chaffs and Flares
- Equipped with On-Board Oxygen Generation Systems (OBOGS),
- Cockpit Temperature Control / Equipment Cooling,
- Anti-G System
|The KAI KA-1 Woongbi light attack aircraft, which is a stablemate of the PAF's incoming FA-50 aircraft.|
Photo taken from airwar.ru website.
With the specifications allegedly resembling that of the Super Tucano, it only means one thing - the PAF is interested in the Super Tucano, and the bidding is for compliance of government acquisition laws, and as a way to see if there are other available models in the market that can match the Super Tucano in specification and pricing. The technical specifications can already show who can be knocked-out for non-compliance. Remember that the DND Bids and Awards Committee is strict in enforcing the compliance requirements, as shown in previous tenders for PAF aircraft.
MaxDefense tries to breakdown the technical specifications versus the possible aircraft candidates. For simplicity, the candidates are shortlisted with the most possible candidates: Embraer's A-29B Super Tucano, KAI's KA-1 Woongbi, Beechcraft Defense's AT-6C Texan II, IOMAX's Archangel Blk. 2 and Blk. 3. The PZL-130 Orlik ACS is taken out as it cannot meet majority of the requirements by a far margin, while the Yak-130 Mitten and L-159B ALCA was said to not have shown interest in the project and may cost higher than the ABC.
Aircraft in Service:
The DND specifies that the aircraft must be in service with the armed forces of its source country, or with 2 other foreign armed forces.
- The Super Tucano is in service with the Brazilian Air Force, and with more than 7 other air forces.
- The armed variant of the Texan II is in service with the Greek Air Force, and only has the Iraqi Air Force as its other buyer. The trainer version of the Texan II, the T-6, is in service with the US Air Force and Navy, and with 7 other air forces.
- Only Peru ordered the KA-1 so far, although the KT-1 series is in service with the South Korean Air Force and 2 other air forces.
- The Archangel Blk. 3 is still under development and has not received any orders, although the older Blk. 1 is in service with 2 Middle Eastern air forces, and the Block 2 has been ordered by the UAE Air Force.
This means that the Super Tucano is the only real compliant aircraft if based on the actual armed variant only, although if the DND will consider derivatives, then all shortlisted aircraft can be considered.
|Although in service with the US Armed Forces and other air forces in the trainer variant, the AT-6C light attack aircraft variant is only in service with Greece, and Iraq as the only other country that ordered.|
Photo taken from ainonline.com.
Landing Gears - All except the Archangel Blocks 2 and 3 BPA have retractable landing gears. Although IOMAX, in their previous press releases, will try to improve on aerodynamics of the Block 3, the aircraft is still non-compliant to this requirement.
|The IOMAX Archangel Block 3 still features a fixed landing gear, which is non-compliant to the technical specifications.|
Photo taken from IOMAX website.
Crusing Speed - The Woongbi has a cruising speed of 297 knots, the Super Tucano at 281 knots, the Texan II at 278 knots. No official details yet on the Archangel Block 3, but the original Block 2 has a cruising speed of 180 knots although IOMAX is looking at aerodynamic improvements to reach the requirement. With the bid submission scheduled 2 weeks from now, it seems impossible for IOMAX to make changes in their aircraft to suite the PAF specifications.
Endurance - The Archangel Blocks 2 & 3 lords this requirement, as it has a maximum endurance of 10+ hours in ISR (unarmed) mode, and it is expected that in full armed configuration it can meet this requirement. The Super Tucano officially indicate that it has an internal fuel endurance of 3.4 hrs, although it did not indicate if in armed configuration. Woongbi's maximum loiter time is 5 hours, probably unarmed.
|The IOMAX Archangel Block 2 has the most to offer in terms of endurance and payload capacity.|
Photo taken from Flightglobal website.
Payload and Hard Points - All aircraft, except for the Woongbi, can meet the payload requirement of 3,000 lbs. total. The Woongbi and Super Tucano has 5 hard points, the Orlik has 6 hard ponts, while the Texan II and Archangel Blk.3 has 7 hard points. It is confirmed that the Super Tucano and Archangel can meet the 600 lbs capacity for each hard point. The Texan II may not meet the required 600 lbs capacity per hard point for all the 7 that it has, and same for Wongbee for all its 5 hard points.
Service Ceiling - All aircraft meets this minimum requirement, with the Woongbi, Super Tucano, and Texan II exceeding 30,000 feet, while the Archangel Block 2 barely meeting at 25,000 feet. IOMAX claims that the Archangel Block 3 may have a higher service ceiling than the Block 2.
STOL Capability - Not much is provided by manufacturers on this regard, but information taken from other sources claim that the Woongbi and Texan II may have problems meeting the required take-off and landing rolling distance provided in the technical specifications.
Turbine Powerplant - this is a tricky part, since turbofan-powered aircraft like the Aero L-159 ALCA and Yakolev Yak-130 can also be considered turbine engine-powered aircraft. The specs shows openness to multi engined platforms. All comply this requirement.
Weapons and Fire Control Systems - It is expected that the requirement must at least exceed what the PAF's upgraded OV-10s can currently do. All shortlisted aircraft models can be armed with 2 50-caliber machine guns, although only the Super Tucano has them internally without the need for gun pods. MaxDefense believes that being built-in would be an added advantage as it can provide more hard points for other munitions, sensors, and fuel instead of being carried as a gun pod. The requirement includes an Air to Air modes for the Fire Control System, which might not be available for almost all the shortlisted aircraft models except for the Super Tucano and the Texan II. Adding this feature means that it must also be able to carry weapons to shoot down aircraft. So far, the Super Tucano is cleared to carry the AIM-9L Sidewinder, the Israel Python 3 & 4, and the Brazilian MAA-1A Piranha missiles. The AT-6 is said to compatible with the AIM-9L Sidewinder but acceptance tests are not yet made until now.
Avionics, Flight Instruments, and Navigation System - All shortlisted aircraft are compliant to the avionics requirements of the specifications, and can be configured according to the PAF requirement. Although there are specifics details indicated in the specifications that may require several manufacturers to modify their standard systems, or will require them to confirm with the DND/PAF if their offer / counter-offer is acceptable for merit. We'll leave this to experts on the field with this matter.
Survivability - So far, the Archangel Block 2 are not equipped with ejection seats, while the Archangel Block 3 is planned to be installed with such system. Instead, IOMAX offers a crash-resistant seating and roll-cage for the Archangel Block 2.
As some say, the devil is inbthe details. And as expected, the Super Tucano still appears to be the aircraft to beat for this competition, in the same way it won its way to the top for the USAF LAS Program. Although the AT-6C Texan has the backing of extensive program to fit the USAF requirement and is capable of matching some of the features of the Super Tucano, it loses out in a lot of essential capabilities like payload, endurance, and STOL capability. This might be due to its smaller size, and being an aircraft that was closely taken from an existing training aircraft. This is the same problems encountered by the even smaller KA-1 Woongbi.
The Archangel Blk. 3 is a promising aircraft, with its strong endurance and payload capabilities, and proven rough airfield operating capability. But being an aircraft still in development, it may not be able to catch-up to the tender submission this coming July 2014. Thus it is expected that IOMAX will submit the Archangel Blk. 2 for the PAF CAS bidding, which falls short on several requirements like cruising speed, ejection seat and landing gear requirements. The best counter-offer they can provide is the pricing, wherein several sources indicate that it costs far less to acquire the Archangel compared to the Super Tucano. This will enable the PAF to acquire more than 6 aircraft for the same budget, if it allows such offer to pass through the stringent requirements.
The Super Tucano trumps as a more balanced aircraft, with a proven track record and reputation with the aviation industry and military forces, a design that has CAS as its strong point, and a good political tool for the Philippine government to have closer relations with far away Brazil.
The point that it was chosen by the PAF as the basis for its CAS specifications means that the PAF acknowledges the Super Tucano's strengths. And without a close competitor to meet all its capabilities, it means that the Super Tucano still has the strongest chance of being able to pass through all the technical requirements. MaxDefense believes so as well.
The only question now is the costs - did the PAF provide an ABC that will fit the Super Tucano's acquisition costs, together with all the goodies and support the PAF required? Let us see in the next few weeks from now. Till then, MaxDefense will update this blog entry as more details come into place.
July 5, 2014:
The DND has again reset the bid submission and opening for the CAS acquisition program, from July 11 to July 23, 2014. MaxDefense is still checking the reasons but media reports says that the DND did not give any specific reason.