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Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (Horizon 2) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

As part of the 2019-2023 Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has raised the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) Acquisition Project calling for the purchase and induction of at least 12 Multi-Role Fighters to become the premier air combat aircraft of the country.


A pair of single-seat Gripens and Fighting Falcons (older variant of Viper) together in a formation
Photo taken from F16.net



Summary:

Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project (Horizon 2)

* End User: Philippine Air Force (5th Fighter Wing)

Quantity: 12 aircraft or more


* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php61,200,000,000.00 (approx. US$1.18 billion)


Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government)

* SARO Release:
 TBA


* Winning Proponent:
 TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price:
 TBA


* First post by MaxDefense:

Status: Pre-procurement Process (as of April 2019)



The Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper remain as the only shortlisted contenders for the PAF's MRF Acquisition Project. Photo taken from Aviatia.net.




Overview:

The Philippine Air Force has been in need of a new fighter aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter light combat aircraft since the early 1990s. 


Several attempts have been made from the early 1990s up to now, which all ended in failure due to lack of funding from the Philippine government.

In the mid 1990s, the PAF shortlisted several fighter aircraft offers made as part of the AFP Modernization Program, and ultimately selected the McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet to be its next multi-role fighter. The best attribute on the selection was having twin engines, which allows for a higher safety parameter especially when one engine fails. A first batch of 12 units was planned, with a possible options of up to 24 more units within the next 10 years.

Sadly, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 hit the Philippine economy badly, forcing the PAF to abandon its dreams, and making do with whatever is left of their budget after the exchange rate of the Philippine Pesos severely dropped and the government reduced its allocations.




As part of the 1995 AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Air Force selected the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet as its next multi-role fighter to replace the ageing Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter. The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 killed not just the MRF Acquisition, but also the entire AFP Modernization Program. This photo was taken during an inspection by PAF officials @ McDonnell Douglas' facility in the US (note the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle beside it). Credits to the original source of the photo.


There were also several offers made between that and the current Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), although the PAF was not able to take a full grasp of the chances.

As part of the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP, the Philippine government approved the PAF's plan to revive the Multi-Role Fighter acquisition project, with a Phase 1 budget of up to Php61.2 billion. MaxDefense believes that part of the package includes an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, and all necessary arrangements, equipment, training, tools, documents and technical support, logistics and transportation, and possibly spare parts.


Several models were originally considered for the project, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (which is the successor of the older and smaller F/A-18C/D Hornet), the new Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper, Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen and JAS-39E/F Gripen E, United Aircraft Corporation's Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulrcum-F and Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E.

In the end, the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) for the project shortlisted the JAS-39C/D Gripen and the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper. 

As of April 2019, no decision has been made yet, although information passed on to MaxDefense shows that both actually made very good offers, and that the PAF would not lose in selecting any of the offers.



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U P D A T E S:
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12 July 2018:

Results from the Slovakian fighter competition came out, which is between the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, similar to those competing for the MRF Acquisition for the Philippine Air Force.


A summary of the results taken from the Slovakian government report are as follows:

1. Saab offered 3 options: purchasing, rental, or leasing. Should Slovakia pick the JAS-39C/D Gripen, they prefer doing a purchase as they find it the most advantageous. Saab offered payment to spread over 10 years, will include a flight simulator, and delivery can be made around 20 months from contract signing.

2. Lockheed Martin only offered purchasing since leasing and rental is not allowed by the US legislation. Payment for aircraft and training can be spread over 5 to 7 years, while the AIM-9X Sidewinders payment can be spread over 12 years. Flight simulator is also included. Delivery may go around 4 to 5 years after contract signing.

MD Note: Slovakia's deal included ammunition, which the PAF separated from the MRF project.

3. Should there be a need to acquire used F-16s for training and to fill in the gap, the US government has offered to sell 14 used F-16s (around 20-30 year old models) for 214 million Euros, and will take around 2 years to refurbish and upgrade. No mention was made if the cost includes the upgrade although it is safe to assume that refurbishing them is included in the cost.

4. The JAS-39C/D Gripen was found to be be less capable in carrying load and equipment, lower fuel capacity, lower tactical range, lower endurance, lower climbing ability, and significantly lower acceleration compared to the F-16 Blk 70/72. The Gripen was also found to be using older generation of avionics like radar (non-AESA), early warning and protection systems, etc, which doesn't meet current and future air operation requirements of the Slovakian Air Force. The Gripen was found to not have significant improvement over the older MiG-29 despite being a new aircraft.

MD Note: JAS-39C/D uses Volvo RM12 afterburning turbofan, which is a Swedish version of the GE F404 engine used by the PAF's FA-50.

5. F-16 Blk 70/72 uses subsystems that are used by 5th Generation fighters, has higher payload, more choices of munitions to be carried, higher fuel capacity, tactical range, endurance, acceleration, uses advanced avionics (AESA radar, etc) and targetting, weapons, and imaging systems. F-16 also includes Auto GCAS which is an advanced safety feature not found on Gripen. F-16 acquisition is significant step compared to Gripen.

MD Note: The F-16 Blk 70/72 uses either the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 (Blk 70) or the GE F110-GE-129 (Blk 72), both of which are more powerful than the Volvo RM12 or the GE F404.

6. Training for Gripen will be in Sweden and will take 6-8 months. But tactical usage training on use of Link 16 and AN/AAQ-28 Litening III targeting pods is not included. Air to air refuelling training is not included. Limited training on air to air warfare, and no training on air to ground warfare. NATO STANAG 6001 Level 3 English language is required.

7. Training for F-16 will be in US and will take 3-4 years. Training will be for ALL air operations including aerial refuelling. English language training will be included should pilot candidate fail to meet English language requirements ECL 85.

8. Logistics support for Gripen is calculated based on 12 JAS-39C and 2 JAS-39D, operated from 1 base, with total operating hours of 2,100 flight hours/year. Delivery of spare parts is guaranteed by Swedish side for 10 years. Spare parts of aircraft is also ensured. Spare parts for other equipment for ground operations, avionics and ammunition is not included and require separate contracts with suppliers.

9. Logistics support for Viper is calculated based on 12 F-16C and 2 F-16D, operated from 1 base, with total operating hours of 2,520 flight hours/year. Spare parts and supplies included for 2 years of operation of aircraft. After 2 years, new contracts for spare parts supply is necessary. Spare parts included in contract will be delviered no later than 6 months before the first aircraft. Spare parts for other equipment for ground operations, aviationics and ammunition does not require 3rd party. 2 years logistic support starts from receipt of every individual aircraft. New contract for supply of spare parts is necessary after 2 years.

10. Analysis of necessary infrastructre is based on recommendation of American and Swedish side and are necessary to implement to ensure effective operation of new technology and the required level. It was found that Slovakian infrastructure to support new aircraft does not meet requirement and found to be of low level. This may result in lower lifespan of aircraft and avionics. Failure to implement the recommended changes by the operator will most likely cause innumerable restrictions and will not secure compliance warranty.

Conclusion: The Slovakian side found the F-16 Blk 70/72 offer to be better compared to the JAS-39C/D offer from Saab, taking into account aircraft performance, training provisions, future proofing, availability of options, and package inclusions.

But take note: Slovakia is a NATO member. The Philippines is not a NATO member, although it is considered a US Major Non-NATO ally. But restrictions may apply to the Philippines in terms of equipment that can be included or sold depending on its relations with the US government, and in meeting US policies. The same can be said on Swedish government requirements, although the alliance with the US is a major advantage over Sweden which the Philippines has no major defense partnership or agreement with.


The full report can be found on the link below for easy reference.

"Proposal for acquisition of new tactical fighter aircraft I.part - unclassified" - posted at the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic dated 7/10/2018.



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27 September 2018:

As part of ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila, a MaxDefense contributor was able to speak to Saab's representative in the show, and asked why Saab offered the older JAS-39C/D Gripen C rather than the newer JAS-39E/F Gripen E.

According to the Saab representative, the Gripen C suites the requirements released by the PAF TWG better than the Gripen E, specifically on delivery period and cost.

The current JAS-39C/D Gripen C is said to meet and even exceed most if not all of the minimum standards required by the Technical Specifications, although they are open to offer the JAS-39E/F Gripen E should there be changes in the budget, specifications, and delivery requirements.




Saab brought in a full-size mock-up of the JAS-39C Gripen during ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila last September 2018. Interesting note on the 2nd photo showing its features. Photos shared by MaxDefense community members who attended the expo.


Meanwhile, our contributor was also lucky to be able to talk to Lockheed Martin's representative in the exhibition, who also mentioned that their new F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper is the current production model and is targeted for the export market as an alternative to their more expensive and more stringent-to-acquire F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The Viper features technology derived from the F-35 development, and is a far improvement over the last variant of the F-16.

Sadly, the representative was not keen on answering if they meet the delivery schedule of the PAF, which MaxDefense believes is quite tight for Lockheed Martin to follow based on previous deals with other countries and due to the US government's lengthy process of getting approval from the US Congress and State Department for export.

While not having a strong display as Saab, Lockheed Martin was also present in ADAS 2018, pushing for the F-16 Viper for the PAF. Photo shared by MaxDefense community member who attended the expo.

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16 October 2018:

In a post MaxDefense made in our Facebook community page, we made several comments on the pros and cons of going for the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, considering Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that the Philippine Air Force might go for this offer. Among those we mentioned are as follows:


The Saab JAS-39C Gripen.


Positive Notes:

1. The current JAS-39C/D Gripen being offered to the PAF is said to be in the latest MS20 standard, and includes the PA-05 Mk. IV non-AESA radar, which is considered among the best non-AESA fire control radar for fighter aircraft in the world.

2. There's the still debatable but widely accepted concept of Gripen's low purchase cost, quick turn-around time, less requirements for infrastructure and manpower, low operating cost, and simplicity of overall operation.

3. The JAS-39C/D Gripen uses the Meteor BVRAAM, which is said to be the best in its class.

4. MaxDefense sources from the PAF confirmed that Saab guaranteed the delivery of the first 4 to 6 aircraft within 18 months (1.5 years) after Contract Signing and and release of Notice to Proceed. If PAF signs up for an MRF in 2019, it means the PAF could get their Gripens starting 2020, far earlier than the US' standard delivery time which is around 4 years.


On the Negative Side of Things:

1. The primary concern MaxDefense had been mentioning since before is the combat range and endurance of the JAS-39C/D Gripen compared to the F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper and even the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle, considering the most likely location of any combat where air superiority, anti-ship, and strike missions would happen over the West Philippine Sea. Unless flying from Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, how long can the Gripen stay in the area and fight without relying too much on external fuel tanks and air tankers? Refer to the photos below for reference, based on Slovakia's official assessment of the Gripen vs the Viper.

2. Did the DND consider well the reliability of the Swedish government, which is stricter in terms of human rights issues than the US, which actually made special considerations to the Philippines due to Pres. Trump's cordial ties with Pres. Duterte? This is considering that just last year, the Swedish government imposed stricter arms export rules to countries with questionable human rights records? WHETHER WE AGREE OR NOT, it is a fact that globally, the human rights track record of Pres. Duterte's government has been in question especially by liberal European countries.


3. How strong is the support provided by the Swedish government, Saab, and the Swedish Air Force in terms of preparing the Philippines for fighter ops, as well as in sustaining the potential PAF Gripen fleet for the next 30 years? Compared to how the US does it, considering by default, no matter who is the country's president, the US and Philippine military partnership is strong and the default standard, no questions asked.

Unless the Philippines make a very drastic shift in alliances, the US will still be the one to train Filipino pilots and the PAF in general, even if it chooses Gripen. Will that be easier for both sides compared to if the PAF selects the Viper or even the Super Hornet?



These details came from the official assessment made by the Slovakian Defense Ministry and Slovakian Air Force, wherein they found that the F-16 Viper trumps over the JAS-39 Gripen C in terms of performance, range and endurance. Which are important for the PAF as the most likely place where a conflict may arise is far out in the outer edges of the Philippine EEZ. Photo taken from Slovakian government open sources.


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24 October 2018:

As part of the re-opening of Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, as well as the celebration of the "Balik Basa" 2018, both Lockheed Martin and Saab were present in the display section of the event, showcasing the F-16C/D  Block 70/72 Viper and JAS-39C/D Gripen C, respectively.

The event was a good chance to sway pilots and decision makers within the PAF and the fighter pilot community.

Both LM and Saab also displayed a scale model of their aircraft offerings, which can be seen below.

The Saab JAS-39C Gripen (top) and Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper (above) were showcased by both aircraft manufacturers during the re-opening of Basa Air Base and the Balik Basa 2018 reunion.
Photos shared by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

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21 January 2019:

Lockheed Martin brought in their F-16 Block 70/72 Viper Cockpit Demonstrator to Manila to demonstrate the aircraft's flight characteristics to the Philippine Air Force. Lockheed Martin also brought in a USAF F-16 fighter pilot and LM test pilot, Maj. Monessa Cantuncan-Balzhiser (who is an American of Filipino decent).

The demonstrator was in Manila for a few days, and several PAF pilots especially those from the 5th Fighter Wing were able to try it out, while Maj. Catuncan-Bazhiser also gave talks on the aircraft and its capabilities.

Photos below were exclusively shared to MaxDefense by one of our contributor.



LM brought the F-16 Viper Cockpit Demonstrator to Manila, together with USAF F-16 fighter pilot and LM test pilot Maj. Monessa Catuncan-Balzhiser. Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense by one of our contributor.

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17 April 2019:

A report from Sweden came out that the Swedish government ordered 14 Gripen fighter aircraft from Saab, but only did so to make sure that the production line is busy and the technical know-how of the production team won't be lost in the wait until Saab gets the go-signal to produce the latest JAS-39E/F Gripen E variant.

Apparently 10 single-seat JAS-39C Gripens and 4 twin-seat JAS-39D Gripens were ordered, and are partially completed, while the Swedish government and Saab markets the Gripen C to other countries and finish the partially-completed airframes for delivery to the foreign buyer and recoup expenses for the investment.

On our Facebook page post on the matter, we mentioned that MaxDefense has been trying to get answers on why one of Saab's offer to the Philippines and other fighter markets lately like Slovakia and Bulgaria involves the rapid delivery of a first batch of 3-4 fighters within a year after order confirmation, when usually it takes more than 2 years for a fighter aircraft to be delivered. This is one of Saab's key selling points for countries who wanted results to be made as quickly as possible, like the Philippines.

MaxDefense believes that if the PAF decides to select the JAS-39C/D Gripen C, Saab would just complete the first batch of at least 3-4 fighters (mostly twin-seater trainers for pilot conversion training) and deliver it to the PAF within 1 year from the release of the Notice to Proceed (NTP) and Opening of the Letter of Credit (LOC, if applicable).

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin's offer only allows for the 1st batch of fighters to be delivered to the PAF after more than 2 years from NTP release, since it may take time to get the export approval from the US Congress and the State Department (apparently the Philippines' Department of National Defense was assured that the US State Department has no issue and will release their approval quickly).


One of the JAS-39 Gripen in Saab's production line, and is almost complete. Photos taken from SvD Naringsliv.


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19 April 2019:

MaxDefense posted this resource portal for the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project.


Based on MaxDefense's information in the past few days, apparently the Philippine Air Force was given the priority for fund access for Horizon 2 for this year, since the MRF acquisition project is pushed to be decided, awarded, and contracted to the winning proponent within this year.

The massive value of this project might drain the annual modernization budget, even if the DND and PAF are only required to pay 15% as down payment, which is already worth more than Php9 billion. Considering the PAF has already finalized the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) project, and is pushing for the Attack Helicopter (AH), C-130 with ILS, Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS), and Medium Lift Aircraft to be all awarded and contracted this year, funding is indeed difficult to come by.

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16 comments:

  1. And the winner for the MRF is...
    China. 😒

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the Philippine Air Force isn't stupid to select that Chinese junk cheap fighter planes. 😂

      Delete
    2. I think he means sabotage like the poor frigates we just got.

      Delete
    3. we get poor frigates because we cannot afford rich frigates...it is that simple and not about china

      Delete
    4. not completely true...budget is slow but corrupt officials also got commissions from contractor to allow for even lower specs.

      Delete
    5. The issue was CMS - Combat Management System, Hyundai HI already explained it that the HANWA systems and THALES are comparable system because HANWA systems were derived from THALES due to the former merging of their companies, HANWA-THALES systems. During the bidding & approval, HANWA & THALES was still on merging status but after, they part ways. So as the winning bidder for CMS, HANWA should step up.

      Delete
    6. and the winner is F16V...may freebies pa na F16 block30 para training!

      Delete
  2. This is the much awaited projects in the RAFPMP😉

    ReplyDelete
  3. If PAF chooses Saab Gripen over F-16V, it might be better to get the JAS-39E/F instead of the C/D...price might still be less than the F-16V's.

    Case in point:
    Bulgarian F-16V Deal = USD 208.75 Million per unit
    Brazilian JAS-39E/F Deal = USD 151.11 Million per unit

    ReplyDelete
  4. One squadron of saab jas 39 gripen would be a nice addition to the philippine air force

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good day! F-16V na ba ang pinili ng PAF? Meron kasi akong nakitang video na nag training ang mga PAF Personnel ng F-16.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good day! F-16V na po ba ang pinili ng PAF? Meron kasi akong nakita na video na nag training ang mga PAF Pilots ng F-16.

    ReplyDelete
  7. winner is F16V may freebies pa na F16 block 30 para training.stopgap.

    ReplyDelete

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