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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Philippine Air Force to start receiving its Rafael Spyder Ground-Based Air Defense System in 2021


It has been a while since our last blog entry on the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project. Our last blog entry on the project, which was posted on 26 December 2018, talks about the selection of the Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System (ADS) for the project.

The Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System, which was selected for the PAF's GBADS Acquisition Project. Photo credits to Rafael.


What Happened Since December 2018:

Back in December 2018, MaxDefense announced that the Philippine Air Force has selected the Rafael SPYDER ADS for its GBADS requirement, beating out other competitors including offerings from Germany, South Korea, Russia, India, and other countries.

Despite the selection in December 2018, a Notice of Award (NOA) was only provided to Rafael in June 2019, and a contract was only signed between Rafael and the DND by 3rd quarter 2019.

3 batteries of SPYDER Air Defense System are covered in the contract, with each battery having a classified number of Missile Firing Units (MFU), a Command and Control Unit (CCU), and other support vehicles and systems.

As part of the contract, an initial 15% of the contract worth Php1.027 billion was released in June 2019, which constitutes the 1st of 3 Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA) for the project. The Philippine government is expected to release the 2nd and 3rd repayments by 2020 and 2021.

Not much have happened after, since the contract was already signed and all the PAF needs to do is wait and do inspections as the units bound for the Philippines are manufactured, while the Philippine government allocates the multi-year funding for it until 2021.

A SPYDER SR/ER ADS missile firing unit. Photo credits to original source.

The Good News:

Let's start with the good news.

Based on the project's contract between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Rafael Advance Defense Systems (Rafael), the delivery of the 3 batteries of Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System for the Philippine Air Force would be in 2021.

Also, Rafael could be delivering, or may have already delivered the initial deliverable as part of the project, including equipment for training, testing and support equipment, and spare parts for the PAF's SPYDER Air Defense System within 2020.

These development means the Philippine Air Force is getting closer in having a ground based air defense missile system to defend critical air bases and other interests.

Rafael Python V and Derby missiles. Credits to original source of photo.

The Bad News:

Now for the not so happy news.

Previously MaxDefense reported that the SPYDER ADS that the Philippine Air Force could be getting could be the SPYDER-MR (Medium Range) version, since the PAF's pre-procurement evaluations, PAF and DND documents about the project, and information from sources all pointed out to a medium-range system to be procured under the GBADS Acquisition Project.

Back then there were only 2 options available for the SPYDER ADS: the SPYDER SR (Short Range) which has a maximum engagement range of 20 kilometers, and the SPYDER MR (Medium Range) with a maximum engagement range of 60 kilometers.

The infographic above shows the difference between the SPYDER SR and SPYDER MR. The PAF appears to have ordered the SPYDER ER which is essentially a SPYDER SR but using I-Derby ER extended range missiles.

This was further reinforced by the fact that a separate requirement was planned for a short-range system, which was supposed to be part of the Horizon 2 phase, but was moved to the Horizon 3 phase from 2023 to 2028 due to funding shortage. Originally the PAF was planning to acquire 3 Medium Range and 4 Short Range GBADS Batteries as part of Horizon 2.

The PAF was interested in the Thales Force Shield Short Range GBADS before it was decided to move the SHORAD section of the GBADS Project to Horizon 3 phase. Photo taken from Thales.

But based on recent documents from the government, and information provided by defense sources and contributors, the Philippine Air Force appears to be only getting the SPYDER ER (Extended Range), which is essentially a SPYDER SR including the use of the SR's shorter-ranged radar system, but will be capable of using the Rafael I-Derby ER extended range missiles that allows a maximum engagement range of 35-40 kilometers on a clear day.

SPYDER ER ADS uses the same IAI Elta EL/M-2016 ATAR radar used by the SPYDER SR ADS. The PAF already has one EL/M-2016NG radar in service.


This means that the fire control radar of the PAF's GBADS will also be the less-capable IAI Elta EL/M-2016 ATAR radar similar to the one donated by IAI Elta to the PAF as part of the Air Surveillance Radar Phase 1 project. This is instead of the longer ranged, more capable IAI Elta EL/M-2084 3D AESA radar that has better detection ranges and is the same radar used in the Iron Dome system.

Aside from using the SPYDER ER, it also turns out that the PAF will be getting the minimum configuration for a typical SPYDER ADS battery, in terms of number of launchers and support system. This means less teeth than expected to defend air bases from airborne threats.

Saving Grace:

Despite the bad news, there is still some saving grace that can still save this project in the years to come.

Since the SPYDER Air Defense System can be configured and re-configured depending on the end user's requirements, the Philippine Air Force can still improve the system once it is in service.

Additional firing units and supporting systems can be ordered later on and added to the existing SPYDER ER batteries. This can be done either as part of another phase of the AFP Modernization Program, or a gradual improvement that can be done by the PAF without relying on the AFP Modernization Program.

Also, it appears that the Philippine Air Force will be acquiring additional GBADS as part of the Horizon 3 phase covering fiscal years 2023 to 2028, as it plans to increase coverage of air defense systems to more location in the country.

And hopefully, this time the PAF may include longer-ranged systems including medium range (beyond 50 kilometer range), and long range systems.

With the South Koreans becoming more active in the AFP Modernization Program, MaxDefense won't be surprised if the KM-SAM could be selected for the PAF's GBADS requirements in the future, if not additional and more advanced versions of the SPYDER ADS. Photo credits to original source.


Until then, all we can do now is to wait for the deliveries to start coming in. MaxDefense would provide up-to-date information about this project, which will be covered by our extension page exclusively handling modernization projects, the Philippine Defense Resource.

"Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force"


Project Summary:

Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 03 October 2020


* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)


* Quantity: 3 batteries


* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP)


* Project ABC:
 Php6,846,750,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with the Israeli government

* Source of Funding
GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund


* SARO Release: 
      - 1st Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-19-004325 dated 04 June 2019 worth Php1,027,012,500.00 (15% Downpayment), released 06 June 2019
      - 2nd Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-20-0011482 dated 09 June 2019 worth Php2,396,362,500.00, released 11 June 2020.
     
* Winning Proponent: Rafael Advance Systems Ltd. (Israel)

Product for Delivery:
     - 3 batteries of Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System
     - Associated radar systems, command and control systems, support vehicles, and ammunition (Python 5 and Derby missiles)


* Contract Price: Php6,846,750,000.00

* Residual Price: Php0.00

First post by MaxDefense: 18 June 2013


* Searching Hashtag: #PAFGBADSAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Rafael Advance Systems Ltd.
 Delivery of initial batch expected to start early-mid 2021. 1st tranche payment released in June 2019, 2nd tranche payment released in June 2020. 

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First edit and release: 03 October 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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