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Saturday, April 4, 2020

As Philippine Air Force moves away from the OV-10 Bronco as CAS Aircraft, What's Next?

The recent news posted by American civilian defense contractor Blue Air Training early this week of their acquisition of several surplus Rockwell OV-10D+ and OV-10G Broncos to beef up their fleet was the proof MaxDefense Philippines has been waiting to come out. 

This further supported our report last January 2020 that the Philippine Air Force's plan to acquire the OV-10G Broncos from the US National Aerospace and Space Administration (NASA) appears to have been cancelled.

Two of the newly acquired OV-10D+ Bronco of Blue Air Training. Photo taken from Blue Air Training's Facebook page.

Cancellation of OV-10A/G Procurement:

It would be remembered that the US government, through NASA was looking for ways to dispose its fleet of OV-10A and OV-10G Broncos, together with several million dollars worth of spare parts. And it was proposed for the aircraft and parts to be transferred to the only US ally still operating the aircraft type - the Philippines.

The OV-10G+ Combat Dragon II Broncos when in service with the US Air Force. Credits to original source of photo.
Part of the agreement is for the aircraft and spare parts to be given for free as a donation under the US Military Assistance Program. But like any other donation, part of the deal is for the Philippines to shoulder the rehabilitation of the aircraft, sending personnel to the US for training and other purposes, and to pay for the logistics and transport of the items from NASA's storeyard to the Philippines.

The amount payable after donation was said to be less than Php200 million, which means that the Philippine Air Force can actually take care of the deal without requiring the Department of National Defense (DND) to act on it and provide funding. The PAF was to instead use its own annual funding to pay for the costs.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco being prepared for an air operation. Credits to original source of the photo.

But for some reason, MaxDefense sources mentioned that the PAF appears to have failed to meet the financial obligations on time, considering NASA was in a hurry to dispose the aircraft and parts. As usual, the slow action by the Philippine side may have costed the deal from becoming successful.

Up until December 2019, MaxDefense was told that the chances of it proceeding as planned has become very low based on the Philippine Air Force's lack of action to send people to the US for anything related to the deal, and on lack of signs that a transfer is taking place.This was why MaxDefense posted about the impending cancellation after the New Year.

Now with Blue Air Training confirming that they acquired not just the OV-10Gs (only 2 of which are available globally), it means this project of PAF acquiring them is indeed dead.

Blue Air Training also confirmed to have acquire several OV-10D+ from other sources, aside from the OV-10G from NASA. Photo of OV-10D+ Bronco taken from Blue Air Training's Facebook page.

Current situation of the PAF's OV-10 Bronco fleet:

The Philippine Air Force's OV-10 Bronco fleet is currently grounded. None are flying for several months now. although the PAF is using the time to keep the fleet in the best condition possible as it plans to make them fly again by mid 2020.

Originally when acquisition of the OV-10A/G Broncos and spare parts from NASA was pushed, the plan was for the Philippine Air Force to continue flying the Broncos until 2024, together with the new Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft that it is receiving soon. The Super Tucanos will replace the SF-260TP armed trainers of the 17th Attack Squadron, which will receive the A-29B Super Tucanos, which will be transferred to other units as combat trainers. While the PAF orders for more Super Tucanos, the Broncos will continue performing close air support and ground attack missions.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco with an Enhanced Paveway II precision guided munition. Photo taken from Military Porn @ Reddit.

But the failure of the Philippine Air Force to secure the needed spare parts to keep the fleet means that these plans won't proceed.

Instead of the above plans, the PAF will fly the OV-10A/C Broncos together with the A-29B Super Tucanos in a single squadron, while the SF-260TP armed trainers will remain in service as a combat asset.

And due to the lack of spare parts needed to fly the Bronco fleets for several more years, it is anticipated by MaxDefense that the aircraft will be flown as long as the PAF can sustain them, most likely by either late 2021 or early 2022.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco dropping a bomb during the Battle of Marawi in 2017. Photo taken from Reuters.

New Plan Ahead:

With the OV-10 Bronco expected to retire from service earlier than planned, the Philippine Air Force appears to be looking ahead with a new plan.

The Philippine Air Force has started pushing for the acquisition of additional Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft to fill the numbers gap, adding to the 6 units already in service by then.

One of the Philippine Air Force's A-29B Super Tucano undergoing flight tests in Brazil last year. Photo taken from and credited to Leonardo Santana.

The goal is to have the National government approve an acquisition program for new A-29B Super Tucanos, numbering between 6 to 12 additional units under the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, which comprises projects outside the original Horizon 2 priority phase that are lined up in case the government can spare the AFP Modernization with more funding aside from the Php300 billion worth already approved in 2018.

The additional orders will increase the fleet size to between 12 to 18 aircraft, which is the optimum range for number of aircraft in a combat squadron.

One of the A-29B Super Tucano attack aircraft of the Afghan Air Force. Photo taken from National Interest.

This could cost between Php6 to Php12 billion, which is a hefty sum considering the Philippine government may have difficulty making this possible due to the devastation on the Philippine economy as an aftereffect of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

MaxDefense believes that the crisis would affect the Philippine economy until 2022, which means that the chances of having the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase program to happen has significantly become less likely.

A-29B Super Tucano aircraft of the Lebanese Air Force. Photo taken from Lebanese Air Force.

Now What?

Whether or not the request for funding for additional Super Tucanos pushes through, it still remains to be seen if the government will approve such request.

MaxDefense now believes that the PAF leadership may have made a judgement error, considering the Covid-19 pandemic was something nobody would have probably expected. MaxDefense believes that if the pandemic was foreseen by the PAF leadership, it is highly possible that it could have pushed hard to have the OV-10A/G Bronco and spare parts acquisition happen.

But this all moot now. All we can look forward is that the PAF has a serious plan to beef up its light attack aircraft assets when the opportunity comes. And since the PAF is already a future operator of the A-29B Super Tucano, acquiring additional units in the future won't be an issue in terms of the ability of the service to accept and transition to the aircraft.

An A-29B Super Tucano demonstrator dropping a Paveway laser guided bomb during tests. Photo taken from US Air Force.

Project Summary:

OV-10 Bronco Aircraft and Spare Parts Transfer Project

Note: Edited as of 04 April 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: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
24 February 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFOV10TransferProject

* Status: Procurement CANCELLED. Aircraft instead acquired by American civilian defense contractor Blue Air Training.


Close Air Support Aircraft (Phase 2) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 04 April 2020.

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

* Quantity: unconfirmed, estimated to be between 6 to 12 units

* Modernization Phase: Proposed under the 2nd List oHorizon 2 Phase Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: unconfirmed, MaxDefense estimates to be between Php6 billion to Php12 billion.

* Contract Price: TBC

* Difference between ABC and Contract Price: TBC

* Expected Delivery: TBC

* Acquisition Mode: TBC, expected to be Government-to-Government between Philippine and Brazilian governments.

* Source of Funding: TBC

* SARO Release: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: 04 April 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFCASAPhase2Acquisition

* Status: Proposed to be included as part of 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, still for approval to start procurement process.

First posted and released on 04 April 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. Let it go, 5 old OV-10 Broncos hardly matter anyways.

  2. What kind of decision making is this? The PAF wants new aircraft so they are probably thinking why spend P200 million. Just add it to the pile of money for new aircraft.


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