The SBB strengthens our earlier analysis on the CAS Aircraft acquisition project as shown on our previous blog entry (link here). It shows that Beechcraft Defense, IOMAX, Airbus Military, KAI, Embraer, and surprisingly, Elbit Systems, has shown interests on the project by acquiring the bid bulletins and making their questions heard by the DND. It was expected that Beechcraft will offer the AT-6 Texan II, IOMAX the Archangel Block 2, Embraer with the A-29 Super Tucano, and KAI with the KA-1 Woongbi.
|Embraer with its Super Tucano continues to lead this CAS Aircraft acquisition project.|
Based on the queries made by these companies, it appears that Embraer has an edge over all other entities, with most queries only pertaining to legalities, integrated logistics support, and training clarifications and not much on technical concerns except for a simple (and rather obvious) question on the number of EO/IR system. It also shows that their partner for the US LAS aircraft project, Sierra Nevada, is not part of the tender for PAF's requirement.
Airbus CASA's query was requesting to change the technical requirements to allow their PZL-130 Orlik ACS to join the bidding, which includes request to lower down the required payload, the number of hardpoints, and the weight capacity of each hardpoint. They also requested changes on the protection system to reduce the aircraft weight, and the requirement for OBOGS system. All of these requests were turned down by the DND, thus it is expected that Airbus Military won't submit a bid due to this.
|Airbus Military may offer the PZL-130 Orlik ACS, a new armed variant of the company's Orlik trainer.|
Photo taken from Airbus Military website.
Elbit Systems requested for an extension of bid, which was actually provided (the new bid submission and opening schedule was moved to August 11, 2014 as of this writing). MaxDefense has no idea yet what they intend to offer, but it appears that they may use an existing aircraft type with integration of systems done by Elbit. So far they have done this for Embraer's Super Tucano, and it may be possible that they could be offering a base aircraft with Elbit using most of its systems and integration capability. Previously Elbit Systems has demonstrated their capability to This is a curious offering and might be worth waiting.
|Could Elbit Systems be offering a heavily-"Elbitified" L-159 ALCA? MaxDefense lets its viewers take a stab on what Elbit may offer.|
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) only requested for an extension of the bid submission schedule, although it was already confirmed before that they would be offering the KA-1 Woongbi, an armed version of the KT-1 which was discussed in MaxDefense's previous blog entry.
|The KA-1 Woongbi being offered by the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).|
Beechcraft Defense and IOMAX both submitted several queries to the DND and has made up the largest percentage of queries, and it appears that the answers provided by the DND has disappointed both aircraft manufacturers due to the non-acceptance of the DND to change several technical specification details to suit their respective offerings.
IOMAX requested several considerations that their Archangel cannot provide, like the provisions on being a fully aerobatic aircraft, retractable landing gears, minimum cruise speed, full Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), capability to use heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and zero-zero ejection seats. All these features are not found on the Archangel Block 1 and 2 aircraft, as discussed previously in a separate MaxDefense blog entry. It is expected that because of these multiple non-compliance to the specifications, IOMAX is not expected to submit a bid for this acquisition project.
|IOMAX's Archangel Block 2 is probably out of the running for the PAF's CAS Aircraft Acquisition Project.|
Beechcraft Defense's technical questions were regarding the requirement for self-sealing fuel tanks, the type of EO/IR sensors and video output, need for a missile alert warning system (MAWS), radar warning receiver (RWR), and automated chaff and flares dispenser, and the minimum weight requirement for each weapons hardpoint. Beechcraft's queries on the EO/IR sensors are mostly clarificatory in nature, as they are offering the L-3 Communications Wescam MX-15Di EO/IR system. MaxDefense believes this type is compliant to the technical specifications. The strict requirement for a MAWS and RWR suggests that the PAF intends to use the CAS aircraft for territorial defense duties in support of ground and possibly naval units, and it is expected that the aircraft will face missile threats as well. Take note that there are currently no missile threats encountered by the 15th Strike Wing in its internal security operations. The AT-6 appears to meet the minimum number of hardpoints requirements, but may not meet the minimum 600 lbs. capacity for all hardpoints, which means a possible non-compliance issue, although the DND and PAF may give considerations depending on the projected accepted normal load-out that the PAF intends to do with these aircraft.
|The Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II testing the Talon laser-guided rocket system.|
So far, it still appears that the Embraer Super Tucano is still in the lead for this project, while Beechcraft Defense AT-6 and KAI KA-1 may have some difficulties in meeting certain technical requirements that may mean their disqualification from the race. IOMAX and Airbus Military are not expected to meet most of the requirements and may bow down without even submitting a bid. While Elbit is a dark horse that will need a very good offer to shoot the Super Tucano down. With the bid submission and opening moved again to August 11, 2014, MaxDefense expects the remaining bidders to make use of the additional time to refine their offers, as it was expected by many industry, aviation and defense analysts and suppliers that that the PAF may ultimately order up to a total of 24 units in the near future based on whatever aircraft will win this tender for 6 initial units.That is a large order that is worth giving a serious interest at.
MaxDefense continues to monitor the developments for this acquisition project, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available.
July 31, 2014:
The DND has moved again the bid submission and opening date for the CAS aircraft, as indicated in their new Supplmental Bid Bulletin. From August 11, 2014, it was moved to October 3, 2014. MaxDefense believes this might have something to do with possible problems with some of the expected bidder's capacity to provide the best offer on time. MaxDefense expects Elbit Systems to possibly steal the show from Embraer, Beechcraft Defense and KAI.
October 29, 2014:
After several adjustments that delayed the bid submission and opening date for this project, the DND has again released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin dated October 28, 2014, moving the bid submission and opening date from November 5, 2014 to December 15, 2014. This further delays this crucial project, which is one of the foremost acquisition projects of the Philippine Air Force in this current phase.
The PAF recently announced their intention to do refurbishing works on a single OV-10 Bronco to keep them airworthy until a new replacement comes in. MaxDefense now believes that there are factors that are keeping this project from being implemented: either the DND/PAF are waiting for a preferential supplier to meet their requirements and is giving time for it catch-up, or there are several requests from bidders to extend the deadline as they are having difficulty meeting the project. Another possibility is that the budget allocated for this project is still unclear. Nonetheless, the PAF is in need of new Close Air Support aircraft very soon, and while the project still hangs in limbo, they have no other choice but to continue to soldier on with the venerable OV-10.