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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Philippine Air Force Receives First Shipment of AGM-65G2 Maverick Missiles, Gains New Capability

Note: MaxDefense realized that this blog entry was not released last June 2017 despite being ready for release! Made some minor updates as well to cover some modernization updates this past month.

For this past 2 weeks alone, there were verification of new capabilities acquired by both the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Philippine Army (PA), which are being sought after for quite some time after delays hampered both projects. Both capabilities were not presented by either service branches nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Department of National Defense (DND) to the media, and were just quietly put into service.

But fortunately, keen eyes by our community members, plus the continued support of our sources and contributors to MaxDefense Philippines, we are able to verify and confirm these capabilities.

For the Philippine Air Force, it now has a new air-to-ground missile capability in the form of Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick missiles, while the Philippine Army with their RPG-7 assault weapon.

One of the PAF's FA-50PH Fighting Eagle armed with an inert AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile, as seen during the PAF's Anniversary last July 4, 2017.
Photo taken by MaxDefense Philippines community member Efrain Noel Morota. Photo owned and credited to Mr. Morota.

Acquisition of the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick:

The Philippine Air Force, through Pinoy Aviators' Facebook page, was proud of their recent accomplishment of Trans-Pacific flight of one their Lockheed C-130T Hercules, and posted the recent fete made by its pilots and aircrew for flying from the Philippines to Tucson, Arizona and back, something not done normally considering the PAF is a small regional air force known for antiquated aircraft in its fleet.

Photo of what appears to be munition containers being unloaded from a Philippine Air Force C-130T Hercules after flying in from Tucson, Arizona, home of Raytheon Missile Systems Co.
Photo taken from Pinoy Aviators' Facebook page.

While this is a good accomplishment for the PAF and the team involved, enthusiasts were actually more keen on knowing what the PAF did in Tucson, Arizona, considering that it was not a normal flight. Photos also emerged of what appears to be crates and containers being unloaded from the aircraft once it arrived in the Philippines. Crates that appear to be munition containers, something that normal people won't notice but defense followers and enthusiasts will.

As early as late June 2017, MaxDefense received a confirmation from one of its community members in the US that the PAF C-130 was in Tucson, Arizona to pick-up missiles, mentioning the exact type and variant as indicated in the crates. Unfortunately, the information got stuck deep in our Private Message inbox under hundreds of messages. But it's not too late, considering the information allowed us to confirm the delivery and the process.

On July 4, 2017, the Philippine Air Force showed off two of its FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft with AGM-65G Maverick inert rounds on its wing pylons, a sign that it now has such missiles in its inventory.

The Raytheon AGM-65G Maverick missile as installed on PAF's FA-50PH 17-007. The missile shown is an inert round. Also on the photo is a M117 750lb free-fall bomb and an AIM-9B Sidewinder missile on the wingtip.
Photo owned and credited to Efrain Noel Morota, a MaxDefense community member.

The Maverick missiles were acquired by the Philippine Air Force under the F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 2 acquisition project, which was a direct contracting project with Raytheon Missile Systems Co. based in Tucson, Arizona. The contract is worth Php 3.316 billion to deliver the AGM-65G2 variant of the Maverick missile, including LAU-117 launch rails and inert rounds, plus a support package.

Based on the PAFs own presentations posted in their website years ago, as well as information made available to MaxDefense, the original budget for F/SAA/LIFT Munitions (Lots 1 and 2) is Php 4.333 billion. Lot 1 will be for air-to-air missiles (which will be discussed in future blog entries as this project is moving fast as well), while Lot 2 will be for air-to-ground missiles. Originally the budget for Lot 2 is only around Php 1.7 billion for 125* missiles as of 2013, but it was increased to Php 3.316 billion as per contract.

*Note: These quantity was released by the PAF in a Modernization Program update in their website in 2013, so we consider this as unclassified information.

Reasons for the Changes in Quantity and Budget Allocation:

MaxDefense believes that the increase in quantity is due to the perceived need for more precision guided munitions against ground targets in light of terrorist threats as well as naval threats in the West Philippine Sea. Aside from that, price increase is another issue, considering that the PAF incorrectly assumed the price each AGM-65G2. This is because, as confirmed by many MaxDefense sources, the PAF or even the AFP as a whole has this facepalm-worthy illness that even people within the AFP call "internet window shopping" wherein AFP planners tend to check contract prices of materiel without considering inflation, exchange rate, and price fluctuations. This is a very common cause of most planning and budgeting errors and in the AFP Modernization Program.

Another problem encountered was the strong exchange rate fluctuations in favour of the US dollar, in which the dollar-pesos conversion changed from US$1 = Php45 in 2013 to US$1 = Php50.5 to contract signing date in 2017. That was more 10% decrease in value for the Philippine pesos!

While MaxDefense is unable to disclose the exact number of missiles acquired due to obvious reasons, we can only say that there will be more than 125 rounds (reported quantity as of 2013). 

LAU-117 containers being loaded into a PAF C-130T Hercules aircraft.
Credits to owner of photo.

Based on information received by MaxDefense Philippines, the missiles picked-up by the PAF C-130T is actually the 1st tranche of AGM-65s delivered for the PAF, which will allow the PAF to train its pilot to fly the FA-50PH with the missiles on-board, which will significantly affect the flight characteristics of the aircraft. It also allows the PAF, both ground and air crews, to familiarize itself with the missiles.

It is worth noting that this delivery is also among the fastest ever made between contract signing and initial delivery. Based on documents obtained by MaxDefense, the contract signing between Raytheon and the Philippines happened only on middle of June 2017, but an initial delivery was made just within a week after! MaxDefense has not noted any similar case in any project before, the AFP is lucky already if it gets its products in a a few months, like the Emergency Procurement of.45 Caliber Hammer Fired Pistol for the AFP which took at least 3 months to deliver.

Normally it takes a lot of time for missiles to be manufactured, and the PAF is lucky for Raytheon to deliver the 1st tranche ahead of time. The next deliveries will be standard in terms of duration, and MaxDefense expects them to arrive in 2019 at worst, depending on Raytheon's ability to deliver ahead of schedule.

An AGM-65 Maverick missile attached to a LAU-177 single missile launch rail.
Credits to owner of photo.

The AGM-65G2 Maverick in brief:

The Raytheon AGM-65G2 Maverick is among the latest variants of the Maverick family of air-to-ground tactical missile used mainly by the US military and friendly nations. It was first introduced in the early 1970s with the US armed forces, and is very much combat proven and boasts an average kill accuracy of 93%.

It has an imaging infrared seeker, carrying a 300lb WDU-24/B penetrating blast fragmentation warhead, and is configured not just for anti-bunker/structure use, but can also be used for anti-tank operations. It can also be used by the Philippine Air Force against ships and naval targets, and other ground targets of interest. Raytheon also confirmed that it is accuracy of up to 1 meter.

While the effective range is classified, publicly available information refers that it can be effective up to 20 kilometers, although MaxDefense believes it could be more since this is usual protocol for manufacturers to not fully disclosed the actual capability of their missile products. MaxDefense noted this in a previous blog discussing the acquisition of Spike-ER missiles for the Philippine Navy.

While the only PAF aircraft capable of carrying the Maverick is the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle, any of the candidates of the PAF's future Multi-Role Fighter acquisition project from the Western world, including the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16V Viper and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, are also capable of firing the Maverick missile.

Looking Forward:

MaxDefense expects that once the Maverick missile shows its capabilities and become a successful munition for the Philippine Air Force, it is highly possible that more of the missiles will be acquired in the next Horizon phases of the PAF's Modernization Program. It is also highly possible that experience with the Maverick will allow the PAF to further into acquiring more capable air-to-ground missiles with higher range, larger warhead payload, and perform better despite costing more than the Maverick.

With this, the future's looking bright for the Philippine Air Force.

The PAF's multirole fighter of choice, the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, is seen here armed with two AGM-65 Maverick missiles, two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles (which the PAF would be getting soon), and two RBS-15 anti-ship missiles.
Credits to owner of photo.


  1. Congratulations to PAF! Hopefully we can also get the RBS-15 anti ship missile.

  2. I think the fast delivery by Raytheon is due to the fact that they have stocks of the AGM-65 missiles in their inventory. This is because the US Air Force rarely uses the Maverick missiles since most air strikes use Laser JDAMs while drone strikes use the smaller AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. I hope the AFP also acquires the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile to give our fighters beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities.

  3. Wow! That's a great start for the air force.

    Uhmm sir Max? Like what you have said in the blog. Is the JAS-39 Gripen is the final MRF choice of the PAF? And when they will acquire it and how many of them?


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