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Monday, September 23, 2019

Philippine Air Force to receive test-buy of Guided Advance Tactical Rockets soon.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has been aspiring to have air-launched guided rockets as part of its arsenal ever since the development maturity of such type of munitions in the past 5 years.

Several options from different countries and manufacturers were considered by the PAF, although it appears that they have already selected a specific model for their requirements.

This is the Guided Advance Tactical Rockets (GATR) developed by American company Orbital ATK (now part of Northrop Grumman), and Israel’s Elbit Systems.

Last November 2018, MaxDefense posted in its Facebook page about this impending acquisition project, which is intended for the PAF's 15th Strike Wing. This is important as the delivery of the GATR is historical for the 15th Strike Wing as it will become the unit's first air-to-ground guided munition.

The ATK-Elbit GATR guided rocket munition. The PAF intends to acquire them through Israel's Elbit Systems. Photos taken from ATK Orbital and Elbit's websites.

The Guided Advance Tactical Rocket (GATR):

The GATR was developed as a low-cost solution to conventional guided missiles, allowing the same capability at a fraction of a cost using the 2.75” air-launched rocket systems available to most global air armed services like the Philippine Air Force.

It was designed with minimal smoke signature, and benefits from existing technologies on 2.75” rocket production including the motor and body. It was also developed with several types of warheads including armor-penetrating, blast fragmentation, and high explosive.

Its small warhead size also allows low-yield precision damage, which reduces or eliminates collateral damage especially against targets in an urban setting.

More on the GATR, photo taken from Elbit's website.

It has a maximum effective range exceeding 8 kilometres, compatible to existing 2.75” rocket launchers, and can be used by both slow-moving fixed wing or rotary-win aircraft.

Due to its size and limited range as well as the minimal development cost, reduced production and purchase cost was possible and would be viable alternatives to missiles especially for cash-strapped countries.

Application of GATR, which are also good in counter insurgency or counter terrorism missions. Photo taken from Elbit's website.

Successful tests were conducted in the US as early as 2009 using US Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters, and were fired via “lock-on before launch” similar to most helicopter-launched guided missiles. It can also be supported using remote laser designation, or lock-on after launch methods.

PAF’s Seleciton of GATR:

An evaluation has been ongoing on the selection of GATR since 2017, wherein it was being evaluated vis a vis other similar munitions including the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), among others.

An initial buy involving a few launchers and munitions to equip the PAF’s AgustaWestland AW109E Power armed helicopters was planned, which will allow the PAF to conduct its own evaluations of the system prior to deciding on purchasing in larger numbers.

The PAF's AW109E Power armed helicopters can use their existing FN Herstal RMP pods, which can carry up to 3 GATR rockets for each pod. Credits to original source of photo.

Aside from the AW109E fleet, the PAF also plans to have this capability with other assets including existing assets like the MD-520MG Defender armed helicopters (with assistance to forward air controllers equipped with laser designators), and upcoming aircraft like the Bell AH-1S  Cobra attack helicopter, and Rockwell OV-10G+ Combat Dragon Broncos and Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft, all of which are equipped with EO/IR cameras.

Both the OV-10G+ Combat Dragon and Bell AH-1S Cobra can be armed with the GATR. Photos credited to original sources.

The PAF selected the GATR through a Government-to-Government Negotiated Procurement process with the Israeli government, with the PAF Bids and Awards Committee confirming this with a notice released in late 2018.

MaxDefense received confirmation that a contract was signed in early 2019 worth around Php156.785 million (around US$3 million), with deliveries expected to happen in around a year’s time or less.

The 15th Strike Wing has its own inforgraphic display which it uses during ceremonies. The GATR shown is just a mock-up, considering the PAF usually keeps mock-ups of its upcoming munitions like the Python and Derby missiles it showed before. Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source.

Other Guided Rocket Plans:

Aside from the GATR, the Philippine Air Force is also looking at the possibility of acquiring Turkey’s Cirit air-launched guided rocket madeq by Roketsan, should the PAF’s procurement of Turkish-made TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter pushes through. This is among the issues being negotiated as part of the Attack Helicopter acquisition project, although they would be acquired separately using a different funding.

The Roketsan Cirit guided rocket is also being considered should the acquisition of the T129 ATAK attack helicopter pushes through. Credits to original sources of photos.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy’s Naval Air Wing (PN NAW) has also been looking at the GATR as well as the APKWS, which is aimed to arm their own fleet of AgustaWestland AW109E Power armed helicopters, as well as their AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval combat helicopters. So far no decision has been made by the PN-NAW on which guided rocket they would procure.

MaxDefense received word that the PN NAW was more in favour of the BAE Systems APKWS although that remains to be seen in the final decision.

Project Summary:

Rocket, 2.75" with Guided Advance Tactical Rocket (GATR) Guidance System Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 23 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)

* Quantity: undisclosed due to OPSEC reasons

* Modernization Phase: outside Horizon 2 phase (standard munitions acquisition using PAF operational funds)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the Israel Ministry of Defense

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: TBC

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems (Israel)

Product for Delivery:  

   - unspecified number of ATK Orbital 2.75" rockets
   - unspecified number of ATK Orbital-Elbit Systems GATR guidance systems
   - unspecified number of rocket launchers

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 30 November 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFGATRAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in early 2019. Delivery expected soon.

First posted 23 September 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

1 comment:

  1. Since it would be cheap and be used by the 3 branches. Would it be wise to acquire license production locally and probably export. This is probably the best cost per technology we can have for a weapon and develop this further


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