Your 1st in Philippine defense

Exclusive! First photos of Hermes 900 UAVs in PAF livery!

The first batch of Hermes 900 UAVs for the PAF are finally

BrahMos missiles for the Philippine Army?!

We discuss the Philippine Army's plan to acquire the BrahMos supersonic missile

The Philippine Army finally has self-propelled mortars!

The Philippine Army's M113A2 81mm Amrored Mortar Carriers are now in service!

The return of the self propelled howitzer is coming soon!

The Philippine Army is close to acquiring 155mm self-propelled howitzers

Let us welcome BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)!

The Philippine Navy finally welcomes its latest asset, the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)

Hermes 450 MALE UAVs arriving soon!

MaxDefense presents the first photo of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 MALE UAV of the Philippine Air Force!

Friday, January 17, 2020

PH Army to Acquire ATMOS SPH, Eyes MBDA Mistral & LIGNex1 Chiron SHORAD as it Activates 2 New Units


The Philippine Army has recently activated two additional small units assigned under the Army Artillery Regiment (AAR) as it continues to expand its capabilities as modernization of the Philippine Army continues.

The units are the 2nd Air Defense Artillery Battery and the 2nd Field Artillery (155mm Self Propelled) Battery, which were activated on 15 January 2020 during ceremonies held at Army Artillery Regiment's headquarters at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

With the new units means that new assets are expected to arrive as part of the AFP Modernization Program.

An example of a SHORAD system being looked at by the Philippine Army for their initial air defense artillery units. Photo from MBDA website.

2nd Field Artillery (155mm Self Propelled) Battery:

The activation of the 2nd Field Artillery (155mm Self Propelled) Battery is a continuation of the Army Artillery Regiment's goal to raise 2 batteries (equivalent to an Army Company) to train and operate the upcoming 155mm Self Propelled Howitzers being acquires by the Philippine Army.

The PA displayed this during the activation ceremony of the 2nd Field Artillery (155mm Self Propelled) Battery. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a community member.

According to the Philippine Army:

“…The Field Artillery Battery will help in troop maneuver to destroy, neutralize, and suppress the enemies through its fire support to maneuver units…”

This unit, together with the 1st Field Artillery (155mm Self Propelled Battery) activated in 2019 will be returning the lost capabilities of the Philippine Army in operating self propelled howitzer systems, which they previously had in their inventory since the 1940s with the M7 Priest 105mm Self Propelled Howitzer that were operated until the 1960s.


The PA operated the M7 Priest 105mm SPH since the 1940s. It is seen on top photo with PA troops in the 1950s, and above photo shows one of the examples displayed in the Philippine Military Academy grounds in Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City. Credits to original sources of the photos.

MaxDefense previously reported that the Philippine Army's 155mm Howitzer, Self Propelled System Acquisition Project has  been ongoing for quite sometime now. This project aims to acquire 2 batteries worth of 155mm Wheeled Self Propelled Howitzer (SPH) systems under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with Israel's Ministry of Defense (MOD).

A battery consists of around 6 mobile firing units and associated equipment.

The Israeli MOD offered Elbit's ATMOS 155mm/52 caliber Self Propelled Howitzer including associated support systems and vehicles.

The Elbit ATMOS 155mm SPH System. It remains to be seen what vehicle platform Elbit will be delivering to the PA. Photo taken from Elbit's website.

The Department of National Defense (DND) is in the final stages of negotiations and a Notice of Award (NOA) is expected to be released in favor of Elbit Systems Land & C4I. In addition, the funding through SARO system was released by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) late last year.

More information can be found on this specific modernization project in our resource page through our extension Philippine Defense Resource:

"155mm Howitzer, Self Propelled System Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army" - first posted on  22 June 2019

2nd Air Defense Artillery Battery:

The activation of the 2nd Air Defense Artillery Battery is in line with the Philippine Army's plan to build-up cadres and operational units to operate incoming air defense assets.

According to the Philippine Army:

“(An) Air Defense Battery is designed to provide air defense for Army units, areas, and installations against unmanned aerial vehicles or remotely-piloted vehicles as well as fixed and rotary aircraft…”

Another one infotarp displayed by the Philippine Army during the event. The system on the photo is the MBDA Mistral using the ATLAS mounting. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a community member.

It would be remembered that as early as 2016, MaxDefense has posted reports on the Philippine Army training on Air Defense Artillery with the US Army in Fort Sill in Oklahoma, in preparation for these new capabilities.

The Philippine Army used to have air defense units using anti-aircraft guns received from the US government after World War II, including M45 Quadmounts using 12.7mm machine guns. 

Previously the PA had air defense assets like the M45 Quadmount as seen here used in the Korean War by PEFTOK contingent.

This time, the Philippine Army will be initially using missile systems starting with Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) missile systems  before progressing to longer-ranged air defense systems.

Unknown to many, while the Philippine Army unofficially do not have air defense units or assets prior to the 1st and 2nd Air Defense Artillery Batteries, the Philippine Army is safekeeping the air defense assets of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) which has MANPADS in its inventory including the MBDA Mistral and FIM-92 Stinger in limited numbers.

The Philippine Army has an ongoing project to acquire such systems under the Philippine Army Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) Acquisition Project, which is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP. The project involves the acquisition of 2 batteries worth of MANPADS with a budget of around Php2,275,200,000.00 (around US$44.6 million).

MaxDefense sources confirmed that the Philippine Army is looking at two models, the French MBDA Mistral,  and South Korean LIGNex1 Chiron short range air defense missile systems. Both missile systems are similar in capabilities as the Chiron was said to have been developed from the Mistral but using South Korean technology and content, and both having an effective range of around 6 to 7 kilometers. MaxDefense will discuss about both systems in a future blog or resource page entry.


The MBDA Mistral in ATLAS mounting (top) and LIGNex1 Chiron (above). Photo taken from MBDA website for Mistral, and Indian Defence Review for Chiron.

It still remains to be seen which one will be selected as the Philippine Army’s Technical Working Group (TWG) for the project is still conducting their evaluation as of this writing, although MaxDefense was told that competition is tight between MBDA and LIGNex1.

Standing-up both batteries for the Air Defense Artillery is already an indication that the project is coming up soon, with MaxDefense expecting a decision and contract signed by 2020. 

Based on the Philippine Army's programming, they expect the delivery of the weapon systems by 2024, while also activating the 1st Army Air Defense Artillery Battalion also by 2024.

It still remains to be seen if longer ranged air defense systems will be acquired as part of the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP, which also means activating additional air defense units.

Activation of the 2nd Air Defense Artillery Battery during ceremonies last 15 January 2020. Photo ftom Philippine Army.


Project Summary:

155mm Howitzer, Self Propelled System Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 20 December 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (Army Artillery Regiment)

* Quantity: 2 batteries

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php2,388,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement between the DND and Israel Ministry of Defense-SIBAT

* Source of Funding: From other sources, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).


* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-19-0025732 dated 18 December 2019.

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land & C4I

* Product for Delivery:
    - 12 units of Elbit Systems ATMOS 2000 155mm/52cal Self Propelled Howitzer
    - Truck Platforms, most likely using Mercedes Benz or MAN 6x6 All Terrain Trucks

* Contract Price: Php2,265,785,767.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 25 June 2013

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PA155mmSPHAcquisition

* Status: Procurement phase ongoing. Post Qualification Inspection with Elbit Systems done on December 2018, reinsepction done as of November 2019. Awaiting release of Notice of Award (NOA), SARO for 15% initial deposit released by DBM on December 2019.



Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 15 January 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army (Army Artillery Regiment)

* Quantity: 2 batteries

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php2,275,200,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: TBA


* Source of Funding: From other sources, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).


* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery:
    - 2 batteries worth of MANPADS system

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAMANPADSAcquisition

* Status: Procurement phase ongoing. 


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First edit and release: 17 January 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Philippine Marines to acquire RPGs from Bulgaria, 81mm Mortars from Spain


Just before the year 2019 ended, the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) through the Philippine Navy (PN) has reached major milestones on two of its Horizon 2 phase modernization projects.

Both projects were intended to increase the firepower of marine units, while also replacing older assets with new, better models.

These projects are the Squad Rocket Launcher Light (SRLL) Acquisition Project, and the Mortar 81mm Acquisition Project.

Expal's M-98 81mm mortar system. Credits to original source of photo.

Bulgarian Rocket Propelled Grenades:

Before proceeding, readers are advised to read the resource page discussing the Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project, which can be found on the link below courtesy of MaxDefense Philippines' extension, Philippine Defense Resource. This is for readers to understand the background and updates on the project prior to what is reported in this blog entry.

"Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy (Marines)"

The PMC is acquiring 40mm RPGs under the Squad Rocket Launcher Light acquisition project. Photo credits to original source.

The Squad Rocket Launcher Light acquisition intends for the Philippine Marines to acquire new Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) Launchers that will equip each active Marine rifle squad to increase their firepower to defeat light armor, structures, and even enemy troops.

While it was thought that the RPGs were supposed to replace the old and heavy M67 90mm recoilless rifle still in use as the corps' standard company heavy weapons, the intention of the RPG acquisition was to boost squad firepower beyond the standard rifle-mounted grenade launchers without relying too much on company heavy weapon units.

The M67 recoilless rifles will be replaced by a different weapon system under the Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon Acquisition Project which MaxDefense already discussed in a separate blog posted last November 2019.

After being declared as the Sole Calculated and Responsive Bidder, Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo. was declared as the winner of the Squad Rocket Launcher Light acquisition project and was given a Notice of Award (NOA) of the project on 22 December 2019.

Arsenal JSCo. is the same company the supplied and delivered the Philippine Army's RPGs, the Anti-Tank Grenade Launcher - Light (ATGL-L) under its Rocket Launcher Light (Phase 1) Acquisition Project. These are the same RPGs used by the Philippine Army during the Marawi Crisis in 2017, and are considered proven weapons.

It is expected that being Arsenal JSCo's only 40mm RPG product, the ATGL-L family would be again used by Arsenal for supply and delivery to the Philippine Marine Corps.


Spanish 81mm Mortar:
Another project that reached an important milestone before 2019 ended was the Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortar of the Philippine Navy (Marines). Before proceeding, readers are advised to read the resource page discussing the project, which can be found on the link below courtesy of  Philippine Defense Resource. This is for readers to understand the background and updates on the project prior to what is reported in this blog entry.

"Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortar of the Philippine Navy (Marines)"



The Mortar Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy (Marines) intends to provide additional firepower to the Philippine Marine Corps by deploying additional mortar systems to each of the Marine Battalion Landing Teams. This includes 60mm (Lot 1), 81mm (Lot 2) and 120mm (Lot 3). So far only Lot 2 has been tendered out of the three lots.

While the PMC already operates older 81mm mortars, it appears that the plan was to increase the number of 81mm mortars to improve firepower delivery, while also replacing some older 81mm mortars that are deemed non-serviceable. It still remains to be seen if these older mortars could be repaired and brought back to service.

Originally three companies were interested in supplying the 81mm Mortar, which includes Israel's Elbit Systems, Spain's Expal Systems S.A, represented by Firepower Defense Extractors, and Austria's Hirtenberger Defense Systems represented by Hafid N' Erasmus Corp.

Based on our sources, Elbit offered the B499 81mm mortar, Expal Systems offered the M-98 81mm mortar, and Hirtenberger Defense Systems offered the Werfer M8 81mm mortar. All suppliers are required to also supply a compatible Ballistic Computer system, and Forward Observer systems.

After being declared as the Sole Calculated and Responsive Bidder, Spain's Expal Systems S.A. was declared as the winner of the Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortars, and was given a Notice of Award (NOA) of the project on 16 December 2019.


Reports of Anomaly on the 81mm Mortar Project:

It appears that there was an issue surrounding the project, since MaxDefense got news from sources that this is one of the project's requirements was said to have been fixed in favor of a certain product.

Apparently the issue stemmed out on the ballistic computer requirements, wherein the technical specifications was very specific and favoring Expal Systems' Ballistic Computer, while making sure that other bidders like Hirtenberger and Elbit Systems would be disqualified.

Despite highlighting this issue, the Department of National Defense Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC) proceeded with the tender as it is, forcing Hirtenberger Defense Systems and Elbit Systems to withdraw from joining.

The DND-BAC Chairman is the same person MaxDefense highlighted in a post in our Facebook page for disregarding the DND Senior Leadership's directive on the mode of acquisition of the Light Tank Acquisition Project as Government-to-Government (G2G) deal and instead pushing to have the project acquired through Public Bidding.




Awaiting for Contract and Notice to Proceed:

Take note that in both cases, the project Notice of Award were only provided, and not yet Signing of Contract. MaxDefense expects that Contract Signing and maybe even the Opening of Letter of Credit for both projects may occur within January 2020. And with both projects given only 360 calendar days for Opening of Letter of Credit to complete delivery of goods and services, MaxDefense expects that both the RPGs from Bulgaria and 81mm Mortars from Spain will be in the hands of the Philippine Marine Corps on or before February 2021.

Keep tabs on MaxDefense posts, or updates in our resource pages @ Philippine Defense Resource as we'll provide updates once the Contracts for both projects are signed.

Project Summary:

Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 07 January 2020.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Philippine Marine Corps)

* Quantity: 702 units 40mm Rocket Launcher + associated accessories and ammunition

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php514,800,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery:
  - 702 nos. Arsenal ATGL 40mm Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers
  - 702 sets of Bipod Assembly, Iron Sights, and Optical Sights
  - 14,040 rounds of 40mm HE Fragmentation Anti-Personnel Grenade
  - 8,424 rounds of 40mm HE Anti-Tank Grenade
  - 351 rounds of 40mm Thermobaric Grenade
  - 40 nos. of Cal. 7.62x39mm Training Launcher
  - 21,061 rounds of 7.62x39mm Tracer Practice Ammo
  - Assorted accessories, tools, and others.
  - Integrated Logistics Support package

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: June 2019 (see MD's AFP Modernization Program List)

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNSRLLAcquisition #PMCSRLLAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award released in favor of Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo. Contract Signing and Notice to Proceed expected by made and released by February 2020.


Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortar

Note: Edited as of 03 August 2019.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Philippine Marine Corps)

* Quantity: 30 nos. 81mm Mortar + associated accessories

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php185,891,600.00

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery:  
  - 30 nos. Expal M-98 81mm Mortar
  - 40 sets Ballistic Computer
  - 8 sets Forward Observer System

* Contract Price: Php175,705,638.49

* First post by MaxDefense: June 2019 (see MD's AFP Modernization Program List)

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PN81MortarAcquisition #PMC81MortarAcquisition


* Status: Notice of Award in favor of Expal Systems S.A.as of 16 December 2019. Contract Signing and Notice to Proceed expected to be made and released by February 2020.

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First post and edit: 08 January 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Friday, January 3, 2020

Why the Transfer of additional OV-10 Broncos and Spare Parts for PAF Should Proceed

MaxDefense will try to make some minor changes in the way we use the blog entries in reporting news on the AFP. We'll have more shorter blog posts, only a few paragraphs long but will have more entries per month than usual.

Our first entry for 2020 should have been good news, but MaxDefense has not really found too much good news this early of the year. Instead, we are carrying over a potential bad news that came from late last year which we were not able to report due to our need to get more information from sources.

The fist one for the year will come from the Philippine Air Force (PAF), which has been active in the last year on their modernization projects due to a strong push by their leadership.

But at the very end of the year, MaxDefense found out that there appears to be issues surrounding one of its projects that was started by the previous PAF leadership. We are talking about the PAF's OV-10 Bronco Aircraft and Spare Parts Transfer Project, which is a PAF Special Project undertaken within the period covered by the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Project.


All four OV-10s shown in the photo consisting of 2 OV-10A and 2 OV-10G+ are seen here in NASA's Langley Research Center in Viriginia. The FLIR turret on the OV-10G+ were already removed by the USAF prior to handing over the planes to NASA. All four are being transferred to the PAF, if this deal continues to push through. Photo taken from The Drive The Warzone website.

Being a special project, it is not funded by the AFP Modernization Trust Fund, and is actually funded by the annual funding allocation of the PAF.

Before proceeding with the rest of the article, MaxDefense hopes its readers to read our first entry regarding the project, which explains the deal and gives a background on how the deal even started. It can be found on the link below:

"OV-10G+ Combat Dragon II Broncos & Spare Parts for Transfer to the Philippine Air Force" - first posed on 24 July 2018.

The OV-10G+ Combat Dragon II Broncos as used by the US Air Force. Credits to original source of photo.

The article above describes the capabilities of the aircraft being transferred, as well as its potential contributions to the PAF once it enters service.

Based on information gathered by MaxDefense this past weeks leading to the New Year, it appears that the Philippine Air Force is still having issues in closing the deal for the delivery of used OV-10 aircraft and spare parts from the US, which includes two (2) used Rockwell OV-10A Bronco and two (2) OV-10G+ Combat Dragon II close air support aircraft that are being kept by the US government, as well as millions of dollars worth of OV-10 Bronco spare parts that were acquired at very discounted prices by the PAF.

The four working aircraft were added by the US to the package, which the PAF found to be very useful due to the declining condition of its existing fleet of OV-10A/C Broncos with the 15th Strike Wing.

It would be remembered that MaxDefense's previous discussion about the proposed transfer was that the four OV-10A/G+ Bronco aircraft were previously used by the US military but transferred to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and were originally for disposal. And since the PAF will acquire the stored spare parts, the US government decided to include the 4 aircraft as part of the package after the Philippine side negotiated for them.


While the PAF's overall budget for the transfer was only a little over US$2 million, the spare part's worth is said to be worth several millions of dollars worth, with the aircraft added as freebies.

OV-10G+ capabilities with the US Air Force. While some of its US-only equipment has been removed, the original plan was for the PAF to install some of them back at PAF's own cost using PAF-standard equipment like MX-15 EO/IR turret and L3Harris communications equipment. Photo credits to original source.

Possible Cancellation of the OV-10 Aircraft and Parts Transfer to the Philippine Air Force:


Based on information gathered by MaxDefense, the deal to transfer the OV-10 aircraft and spare parts to the PAF appears to be not yet 100% confirmed due to multiple reasons. And MaxDefense believes it is bad news if the deal does not push through.


The cancellation of the deal to transfer additional OV-10 Bronco aircraft and spare parts will have negative implications on the Philippine Air Force, which includes the following:

1. Failure of additional aircraft to arrive means no increase in PAF's air combat capability - this means that instead of boosting the air combat capability of the PAF by adding four additional aircraft, the PAF would not have additional improvements and instead will expect reduced capabilities.

2. Lack of spares to support active OV-10 Bronco aircraft - if the large pool of spare parts that the PAF is expected to not arrive, the PAF could potentially have difficulty sourcing spare parts for the fleet. The original plan of the PAF was for the spare parts to allow continuous operation of the OV-10 Bronco fleet until 2024. This would become impossible if the deal falls through.

3. Lack of spares to revive mothballed OV-10 Bronco aircraft - the lack of available spare parts would also not allow the PAF to revive mothballed aircraft to increase quantity of air assets. Many of the mothballed OV-10s are in need of spare parts that the US-sourced pool was suppose to provide, with the PAF estimating at least 4 mothballed aircraft possible for rehabilitation. This would also be threatened if the deal does not happen.


Many of the PAF's OV-10A/C Broncos are non-operational due to lack of spares, or reaching maximum service lifespan of its airframes. Apparently its down to its lowest ever in the PAF's history as you can count those operational with the fingers of your hand. Photo credits to original source.

4. Early retirement of OV-10 Bronco than originally planned - with no additional spare parts for both active and mothballed aircraft, the PAF might be forced to retire the OV-10 Bronco fleet earlier than planned. MaxDefense estimates that the Broncos may be out of service by 2021 instead of 2024 or later as originally planned.

5. PAF not having enough Close Air Support assets - with the potential early retirement of the OV-10 Bronco if no parts or additional aircraft arriving, the PAF would not have enough air assets to provide close air support, considering the PAF is only expecting 6 new Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft that were originally meant to add numbers to the already depleted fleet of OV-10s equipping 15th Strike Wing. Should the Broncos retire earlier than planned, the six (6) new A-29B Super Tucano fleet would be left on their own. And since the PAF has not ordered additional Super Tucanos, there won't be enough aircraft for the PAF to use for close air support or air strikes.

6. 15th Strike Wing might need to hang on to the armed SF-260TP Warrior fleet - originally, the PAF was to remove the SF-260TP Warrior armed trainer fleet from combat duty and will be shifted to  training duties for the 15th Strike Wing once the six new Super Tucanos arrive, which means the Broncos and Super Tucanos will become the fixed wing combat assets of the wing. But should the Broncos retire early, the wing might be forced to use the SF-260TP Warriors for combat operations longer than planned.


The 15th Strike Wing's other fixed-wing attack aircraft, the SF-260TP Warrior is not really capable enough in providing air support compared to the OV-10 or A-29B. Photo credits to original source Samuel R Forston.

Signs of the Deal Not Pushing Smoothly as Planned:
The US government through the US Air Force previously held a public tender for a contractor to do the crating and shipping of the four OV-10A/G+ Bronco aircraft to an overseas location, and reassemble the planes once delivered to the said overseas country. But this has not moved and has been inactive until now with the FBO services of the US government.


Another sign is that the deal has not moved positively since 2018, despite the original plan for the aircraft and parts to be moved out of NASA's storage yard by end of 2018 to give way to more space. By end of 2019, there is still no positive news on the deal. Any positive movement should have been picked up by large international defense news outlets by now.


This previous solicitation made by the US government has not moved forward, which is not a good sign for the PAF. Photo taken from FBO website of the US government.

MaxDefense has also been monitoring if the PAF was able to receive any shipment of spare parts of created aircraft from the US, but MaxDefense received confirmation from PAF sources that no deliveries were made between 2018 and 2019. The PAF remains to still be relying on whatever parts they have, including mothballing other Broncos. There are now less flying Broncos with the PAF compared during the Marawi City crisis in 2017.

While there were news of PAF officers flying to the US that is related to the OV-10 aircraft and spare parts deal, there were only meetings that did not really made a huge dent on making the deal happen.

There were also plans for the PAF to install new MX-15 FLIR turrets and communication equipment from Harris Corporation (now L3Harris) to replace those removed by the US Air Force. So far there are no confirmed contracts or signs that the deal was closed for the acquisition of such equipment.

MaxDefense Philippines did not report these events as we continued to hope that the deal would push through, considering we are still picking up news that the deal is still a go despite these negative signs.


Another Potential Reason Which May Lead to a Potential Cancellation:
Although MaxDefense did not receive a solid confirmation if the deal crumbled or not, it appears that there were changes in the PAF leadership's policy with regards to the fate of the OV-10 Bronco fleet.

It would be remembered that the plan to acquire the spare parts and aircraft from the US was based on a plan that the PAF would continue operating the Rockwell OV-10 Bronco until at least 2024, while the PAF is still in the process of acquiring additional Embraer A-29B Super Tucanos on top of the six units ordered during the Horizon 1 phase.

It is highly possible that the current PAF leadership is considering or may have even already considered making changes on that plan, including the consideration of shortening the OV-10 Bronco's service to until 2021 only. This may include cancelling any plans to acquire more aircraft or reviving mothballed aircraft, and just focusing on keeping the current active fleet flyable until then.

Another possible issue is funding since the PAF did not use AFP Modernization funding for this deal, instead using their own annual operating funds in the hope of reducing red tape and hastening the deal rather than going through lengthy process as prescribed by RA 10349 (Revised AFP Modernization Program Act).

But MaxDefense sources and contributors highly doubt the issue of funding since, apparently, the PAF is actually well funded in terms of modernization projects for 2018 compared to the Philippine Navy and Philippine Army. Not to mention, the more than US$2 million cost is nothing compared to the budget of the PAF on acquiring spare parts for its air assets every year.


MaxDefense's Opinion:
First of, MaxDefense believes it would have been better for the PAF to proceed with the OV-10 Aircraft and Spare Parts Transfer project. Our reasons are as follows:

1. The six new A-29B Super Tucanos coming in this 2020 are not expected to be fully operational until 2022. The PAF usually follows a post-delivery program wherein the unit handling the new assets are given at least 2 years to be proficient enough with the new aircraft before the unit can be called fully operational with the new asset. This means that the PAF would be forced to break this due to lack of air assets once the Broncos are retired.

This happened to the 15th Strike Wing before, when the 18th Attack "Falcons" Squadron was pushed to use the AgustaWestland AW-109E Power armed helicopters earlier than planned, especially when the Marawi City crisis happened in 2017, when the unit was still in the process of operationalizing the newly acquired assets.

2. The PAF has not made any follow-on orders for additional Super Tucanos to cover the retirement of the remaining OV-10A/C Broncos in service with the 16th Attack "Eagles" Squadron. It would be remembered that it will take around 2-3 years from ordering to delivery of the aircraft, plus another 2 years for operationalization, although the squadron that will operate the Super Tucanos are expected to be already proficient with the type when the 2nd batch are delivered. 


If the PAF puts an order for another batch of Super Tucanos this year (which is probably not going to happen), it means the PAF is only expected to receive them by 2023 and probably have them operational by 2024, which means the PAF will have insufficient air assets between 2021 to 2024 except for the 6 Super Tucanos delivered in 2020.

Aside from the 6 A-29B Super Tucanos ordered in 2017, the PAF has not made any follow-on orders for more units. This despite the obvious situation wherein the PAF may not have enough CAS assets once the OV-10s and SF-260TPs are retired from combat duties. Photo credits to original source.

3. While the Broncos are old, they have proven their worth in its almost 30 years of service with the PAF since the early 1990s. They are expected to be a better attack platform than the other platform in service with the unit, the Aermacchi SF-260TP Warrior armed trainers which are smaller and not really designed for close air support.

4. The PAF is still having problems on the acquisition of Attack Helicopters as the final decision has not been made last 2019 if it will continue to proceed with the Turkish-made TAI T129 ATAK which the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) selected in 2018, or if it will change its decision due to issues involving Turkey and its relations with the US and its other NATO allies that may affect the supply of helicopter engines and subsystems. Even if the PAF makes a confirmed order by 2020, it is expected that the first new attack helicopters will arrive only by 2023.


PAF officer in Turkey with the T129 ATAK during flight tests last December 2019. So far the PAF has not made a final decision if it will push through with the T129 ATAK that it selected last 2018, or will change to another model due to concerns of Turkish relations with the US that may affect sourcing of subsystems and engines for the helicopters. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a contributor.

The only quick fix solution MaxDefense sees is if the PAF decides to order the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, and use the option to request the US government for grants or sale of used ex-US Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters that could be delivered as early as late 2020.


MaxDefense is still hopeful that the PAF would proceed with the deal within the year, and that the PAF may see the benefit of this deal in the short term while still continuing its modernization program by procuring new assets. MaxDefense believes that the PAF has people capable of seeing the problems it might encounter if fails to make this Bronco deal happen.


MaxDefense still hopes that this could really happen in the future. Credits to original source of fanphoto.

Project Summary:

OV-10 Bronco Aircraft and Spare Parts Transfer Project


Note: Edited as of 02 January 2020.


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

* Quantity: 4 used OV-10 aircraft, millions of dollars worth of OV-10 spare parts


* Modernization Phase: Special Project within Horizon 2 phase timeline


* Project ABC:
 ~US$2 million ++

     
Acquisition Mode: US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program

* Source of Funding: PAF 2018-2019 GAA


* SARO Release: N/A


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery:
      - 2 units used OV-10G+ Combat Dragon Bronco aircraft

      - 2 units used OV-10A Bronco aircraft
      - 1 lot OV-10 spare parts worth millions of USD.


* Contract Price: 
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense: 
24 February 2018


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFOV10TransferProject


* Status: Procurement process said to be ongoing but has met some problems, potentially for cancellation.


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First post and edit: 02 January 2020
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