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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Embraer Advances in Philippine Air Force's Close Air Support Aircraft Acquisition Project (Horizon 1)

The acquisition of the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) next Close Air Support Aircraft has finally reached an important milestone after 4 years of failing to have it move beyond planning and pre-bid conferences.

On June 7, 2017, the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) finally went through with a bidder announced as the Sole Compliant Bidder, pending settlement of issues of another bidder.

The A-29 Super Tucano, Embraer's bid for the Philippine Air Force's Close Air Support Aircraft acquisition project under the Horizon 1 phase of the AFP Modernization Program.

Prior to SOBE:

MaxDefense previously mentioned in its Facebook community page post that there were at least three expected bidders who were present in the Pre-Bid Conference held last May 2017. The Pre-Bid Conference is a meeting wherein the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and prospective bidders and their suppliers are given the chance to clarify items specified in the Bid Documents, mostly paper works, permits, and financial requirements, aside from the Technical Specifications of the product being eyed for supply.

Three prospective bidders were present then: 

Aero Vodochody of Czech Republic, who was offering their L-39NG, a new product but was derived from the proven L-39 Albatross advance jet trainer. Apparently the initial offer made by Aero Vodochody is for six (6) brand new armed L-39NG, and two refurbished L-39 Albatross trainers upgraded to L-39NG standard. 

Aero Vodochody offered the L-39NG, which is a new development of the original L-39 Albatross advance jet trainer. The L-39NG are either made brand new, or are upgraded L-39s. 

Embraer of Brazil, which offered their EMB-314 / A-29 Super Tucano. Previously MaxDefense mentioned in an earlier blog entry that the Super Tucano was the PAF's favorite, and is "unofficially" the basis for the CAS aircraft project's technical specifications;

The Super Tucano is the said to be the favorite among PAF pilots, and is the most proven among the products offered.
Photo taken from the Colombian Defense Forum @, 

Textron Aviation - Beechcraft of the US, which submitted their AT-6 Wolverine, an armed variant of the successful Beechcraft T-6 Texan II aircraft family used by numerous countries including the US military.

Textron Aviation offered the AT-6 Wolverine for the PAF's CAS aircraft acquisition project. They have been lobbying for the type for years now.

There were other avaiation companies that showed interest on the project, including Turkish Aerospace Industries, which according to MaxDefense sources, discussed with the PAF regarding their armed variant of the Hürkųs, and Korea Aerospace Industries who previously made known its intention to offer the KA-1 Woongbi light attack aircraft. Both companies did not submit a bid. KAI proba ly determined early on that their product do not meet the Technical Specifications, while TAI did not have enough time to prepare their bid for the project.

Bid Submission Period:

Of the three expected bidders, only two formally submitted a bid to the Bids and Awards Committee, and these are Embraer and Textron Aviation-Beechcraft.

Like most biddings for AFP Modernization Projects, bidders are required to submit two envelopes. The first is the Eligibility and Technical Component, while the second is the Financial Component. The former includes all documentation requirements related to the company and the product as well as their capabilities as a supplier. Meanwhile the latter envelope contains the financial aspects of the bid, including the amount they are bidding for the project.

The process in opening bids by the BAC is to first open the Eligibility and Technical Component envelope, and check its compliance to requirements, before opening the envelope for the Financial Component.

Both of Embraer's bid envelopes were opened without any issue. But when Textron's Eligibility and Technical Component envelope was opened, the BAC found out that there are problems with the eligibility documents. Due to this, Textron was immediately disqualified, and opening of their Financial Component envelope did not proceed. This made it impossible for BAC and everyone else to know how much Textron's bid was.

This means Embraer is considered the Single Lowest Calculated Compliant Bidder, effectively winning the bid. But rules also allow Textron three (3) working days to file a Motion for Reconsideration that will ask the BAC to reconsider allowing their bid documents to be approved and be given the chance to have their Financial Component envelope be opened to determine if they outbid Embraer and take the position as the Lowest Calculated Compliant Bidder.

Based on MaxDefense sources, Embraer's bid is almost US$2 million lower than the ABC, surprising considering that MaxDefense believes that the ABC itself is already on the low side compared to acquisitions deals made by other countries with Embraer for the Super Tucano aircraft.

The Super Tucano made an appearance in the Philippines early 2016, and was flight tested by 15th Strike Wing pilots assisted by Embraer test pilots. The test unit was seen here (above) in Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite.
Photo taken from Pinoy Aviators Facebook page.

What are the Chances of Textron to Bounce Back?

When BAC gave Textron time to contest the bid results, many observers including PAF officers believe that Textron's chances of gaining a foothold after their debacle is too low. For one, the documents missing are not difficult to attain and could be a sign of the Textron tender team's carelessness. MaxDefense believes heads will roll in Textron because of this.

After the SOBE itself, no further documents can be submitted since it is unfair for the other bidders. Only extraordinary reasons might be given a chance, and this does not happen often as seen in dozens of big ticket item SOBEs in the past 5 years concerning the AFP Modernization Program projects.

But as respect to Textron, MaxDefense did not publish Embraer's win last June 7,  just to make sure that Embraer's win would not contested by anyone. But it appears that Textron will not contest the results of the bidding, giving a reason for MaxDefense to post this blog entry.

It is also surprising to note that the BAC agreed that Textron Defense's AT-6 Wolverine was found compliant of the technical specifications provided by the Philippine Air Force, considering that previous discussions we had mentioned that there are several parameters wherein the AT-6 might be at a disadvantage considering the PAF closely used the Super Tucano as basis for its specifications.

MaxDefense believes that if Textron did not mess up their bid submission, there is a chance that they could have been declared the Lowest Compliant Bidder, 

What's Next?

With Embraer already considered the Sole Compliant Bidder, the Philippine Air Force will be conducting Post-Bid Qualification Inspections to confirm the submitted documents of Embraer, while also checking Embraer's aircraft manufacturing as well as the Super Tucano itself. This would probably be done in Embraer's facility in Brazil.

Once they get the conformance approval from the PQ inspection team, the PAF would make a recommendation for the DND to provide a Notice/Letter of Award to Embraer which fomally signifies the awarding of the project to Embraer, and with that a Contract will follow between the two parties.

Once a Letter of Credit and Notice to Proceed from the DND/PAF will be provided to Embraer, it is the signal that  the implementation of the contract has started, and this is where the count-off for the manufacturing and delivery milestones get its basis.

Based on the bid  requirements of the project, Embraer should be able to deliver all six aircraft by 2019. 

It means the PAF's OV-10 Broncos will have to shoulder on a few years more. These ageing assets are in need of immediate replacement, despite their spectacular performance providing close air support and surgical strike missions against Maute terrorists in Marawi City.

Despite their spectacular performance in conducting surgical strike and close air support to ground forces in Marawi City, the OV-10 Broncos are in need of immediate replacement as the platforms are ageing fast.
Photo taken from Associated Press.

Beyond Horizon 1:

While the total number of aircraft for this specific deal only covers six (6) aircraft, the plan is for to acquire more aircraft in the next Horizon phases of the Philippine Air Force's Modernization Program.

Depending on the version of the Horizon 2-3 wish list submitted by the Philippine Air Force, the common plan is to get a total of 24 Close Air Support Aircraft to replace both the OV-10 Bronco and the SF-260TP used by the 16th and 17th Attack Squadrons of the 15th Strike Wing.

This means 18 aircraft more are needed by the PAF, and based on the submitted Horizon 2 proposal by the AFP and DND to Malacanang early this year, all 18 aircraft will be for acquisition within Horizon 2.

In the end, its up to the blessings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to make sure this plan happens, considering that Close Air Support to ground troops has shown its importance during the ongoing Marawi City occupation by Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists. The president, based on his previous speeches, has given his approval to acquire more propeller-powered attack aircraft, which he believes are cheaper and easier to maintain and operate than jet aircraft.

But for now, MaxDefense looks forward for Embraer passing the Post Qualification Inspection, which is already being prepared as of this writing.


  1. First, Finally A-29 for PH Air Force. Thanks to OV-10 for well done Job in the PAF CAS Role

  2. First. To bad L-39NG don't submit as they offer 8 while the others just 6 planes.


    1. the L39 ng runs jet engines costlier in terms of and in comparison to the prop driven Tucano. Consider costs for an hour of flight

  3. Finally! Rip van winkle woke up. Nuff said

  4. 6 now for CASA under horizon 1....we are now almost on the horizon 2 which begins in 2018....would it be possible prior to signing for those 6 that we renegotiate the contract for 24 new CASA super tucano's that would also include those needed in horizon 2? ......

  5. hoping this project will push through without delays and controversies.

  6. ok na yung EMB 314 Super Tucano as a basic "ground attack" pero bakit 6 lang ang order, sana ginawa nalang at least 12. yung sa ating multirole Sir Max, wala pa bang updates? yung sa russian MIG-35, pwede na yun as a basic "interceptor" ng airforce natin.

  7. Maybe now the Philippines can even ask Brazil for the MAA-1 Piranha, MAA-1B Piranha & the A-Darter. Along with going to Israel for the Python and Derby missiles as well.

  8. Super Tucano is expensive and less capable than the OV-10 Bronco in engine number, payload, range etc.

    Better to heavy MRO and deep upgrade of the OV-10 Bronco using less money.

    Then use the balance of the money to give ALL our soldiers armored vests.

  9. One of the first JF-17 for myanmar has been flown. It is said that the 16 aircraft purchase is at a unit cost of usd16 million. That is like 1/2 the price of a FA-50. Would the JF-17 be an ideal fighter for PAF, given the current good relations with china?

    1. meron akong kaibigan dito bumili ng foton dahil cheap. tsk, tsk. after 1 year, sabi nya, sana bumili na lang sya ng non-china

  10. Hi Sir Max,

    Why don't we procure Apache helicopters? I think it's the best air support that can provide like in the situation in Marawi or in any urban warfare. Unlike the F-50 or the OV-10., it can hover in a safe distance and release rocket attacks on targeted area with precision. Di katulad ng F50 at OV-10 na passingby at tsamba ang pagbagsak ng mga bomba, lalo na at wala pa tayong precision guided munition.

    **Onelove **

    1. It would be bloody expensive to buy one and to operate it. We have AH-1F, But they (Jordan) just donated two.

    2. Would be bloody expensive to buy and operate one. We have Cobras but Jordan only donated two units, Best bet would be the Kiowa but it would be best to put it on Scouting missions than CAS

  11. no to migs and su type fighters as long as their engines break down so often its a no an experience from the Indian Air Force. Ever wondered why the IAF wanted the Rafale over the SU-30 something that they used in Red Flag in US before find out in youtube and they will tell u the engines need replacement so often

  12. Since the FA 50 is now the current jet having a fighter role in the Philippine Air Force inventory., while the AS 211 would be designated to its old role and squadron (105th fighter training squadron), are we going to expect the jet/s to have its old camo paint scheme once again? Maybe its just me, but I find the old paint scheme to be more appropriate with its existing roles (primary and secondary).

  13. Sir tanong lang sa pagkakaalam ko matatapos ang procurement phase sa 2022 under REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10349 na pinirmahan nga ng dating admin , so kasama po ba ito sa PROCUREMENT PLAN , oh ibang PROCUREMENT PLAN ito , narinig ko kasi sa SONA na REREBISAHIN ni PDU30 ang PROCUREMENT LAW ?


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