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The Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project (Horizon 1) of the Philippine Navy

As part of the Philippine Navy's plan to improve its capabilities in anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and naval combat operations, the service embarked on acquiring a new batch of light frigates, including a complementing naval helicopter to further extend its surveillance and detection range and reach, and also extending its firepower delivery.

While the PN started the Frigate Acquisition Project to acquire the actual frigate and its weapon systems, it also started the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition (ASHA) project. It was approved for implementation as part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program and got the approval of the leaderships from the Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and PN to be included in the priority acquisitions starting 2014.


The AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter from Leonardo was ultimately the winning product for the ASHA project.
Photo taken from and credited to Kevin Wills.



Overview:

The Department of National Defense's Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC) evaluated at least two bids made by proponents, the one made by AgustaWestland using their new AW159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopter, and PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopter joint venture with Airbus' AS565MBe Panther naval helicopter. This is after both companies submitted a bid under the 1st Stage Bidding phase.

In the bids, it was found by the DND-BAC that PTDI-Airbus has non-conformity on several items required by the Technical Specifications, which means the bid is non-conforming and is automatically disqualified.

Meanwhile, the bid submitted by AgustaWestland was found to be conforming to the requirements, which means that AgustaWestland now has a slot to participate further on the project, including submitting a final bid on the Second Stage Bidding phase.


Apparently PTDI-Airbus submitted a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) with the DND-BAC, which was denied.


The Second Stage Bidding phase pushed through more than a year later, with AgustaWestland being able to meet the cost prohibitions, and meeting the specifications set by the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (PN TWG). 

A Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) proceeded in AgustaWestland's facility in the UK, with members of the DND-BAC and PN TWG checking the conformity of AgustaWestland's submissions, as well as checking samples of the products being offered.

AgustaWestland received the Notice of Award (NOA) by February/March 2016, and got to sign the contract with the DND by 29 March 2019.




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U P D A T E S:
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31 March 2014:

With the Anti-Submarine Helicopter acquisition program taking the front seat in the Revised AFP Modernization Program's implementation, it has become known to many circles including the significant budget required to acquire just two units.

As there are supporters of the project, there are also detractors.

MaxDefense released a blog entry on the importance of this project, as some lawmakers led by Isabela congressman Rodolfo Albano voiced out that the AFP should rather spend the money for air assets that can be used for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) 



"Importance of ASW Helicopters for the Philippine Navy...Why Block their Acquisition?" - first posted on 31 March 2014


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11 July 2014:

MaxDefense released a new blog entry regarding the Anti-Submarine Helicopter acquisition project, as the Department of National Defense (DND) released information on the Technical Specification of the helicopters through a Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) issued to bidders.

Also, the SBB indicated that AgustaWestland, and the joint venture of PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and Airbus Helicopters were interested in submitting a bid. AgustaWestland was expected to offer their new AW159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopter, while PTDI-Airbus Helicopters with the Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther.


The technical details (in summary) are as follows:


Technical Specifications Summary:

General Requirement:

- 2 brand new units (aircraft, systems, and components);
- Certified for both Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) capability;
- Crew of 2 pilots, passenger crew as Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) and Sensor Operator (SENSO) in ASW configuration, or 6 passengers in utility;
- Dual Pilot Control System and Automatic Flight Control System, 4-axis Autopilot System;
- Certified for Single-Pilot Instrument Flight Rules (SPIFR), and for night VFR operations using Generation III Night Vision Goggles (NVG);
- Cruising Speed of at least 120 knots in full ASW configuration with munitions;
- Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of not more than 12,000 kgs.
- Payload of at least 1,800 kgs.;
- Endurance of at least 2 hours (revised from original requirement of 2 hours and 30 minutes) in full ASW configuration with munitions;
- Range of at least 240 nmi (revised from original requirement of 300 nmi.), in full ASW configuration with munitions;
- Retractable dimensions to fit ship hangar with dimensions at 14.3m (lenght) x 9.8m (width)  x 5.6m (height);
- To include manual or automatic main rotor blade and/or tail folding kits necessary for retraction;
- Equipped with Recovery, Assist, Securing and Traversing (RAST) system;
- Utilized for naval/maritime operations by country of origin or by at least 2 other countries;
- 730 days delivery schedule from issuance of Notice to Proceed (previously from issuance of Letter of Credit),

Airframe:
- External painting in matte grey with PN markings;
- Wheel type landing gears;

Powerplant:
- Twin turbine Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) engines, capable of hot and humid operation
- Engine performance allows one-engine inoperative capability in full ASW configuration

ASW and ASuW System:
Acoustic System
- capable to detect, localize, classify, and track submarines and surface targets based upon data derived from active and passive accoustic sensors;
- Tethered (A rope or chain) active multi-frequency (medium to low frequency) sonar;
- Tethered Sonar may be integrated with sonobuoy processor, with capability to process sonar and sonobuoy data simultaneously;
Weapons and Munitions:
- Equipped with interchangeable/removabale Armament Control and Dispensing (ASCD) System for munitions, armaments, sonobuoys, and stores for smoke markers and Signal Underwater Sound (SUS);
- Capacity of each station for future weapons up to 600 lbs (272 kgs) per station;
- Allowable to upload/download external weapons while aircraft has rotors turning;
- Provisions for self defense stores including chaffs and flares.
Torpedo & Torpedo Launcher:
- To include 2 removable Torpedo launchers/dispensers per helicopter;
- To include 6 Torpedoes with warshot & exercise head per helicopter;
- Torpedo will be the same as those to be acquired for the new PN frigate, to wait for finalized technical specifications of the frigate (addendum as per new SBB);
- Torpedo should be lightweight, impact detonated, with sub-surface target homing capability in active/passive/mixed acoustic modes; with target range of not less than 10 kms., seawater battery operated with electrically rechargeable power source, and to include Flight in Air Material (FIAM) gears.
Air-to-Surface Missile & Launcher:
- To include 2 air-to-surface missiles per helicopter;
- Missile should weigh not more than 150 kgs., with a warhead weight of not less than 20 kgs., a range of not less than 20 kms., and must be equipped with an internal guidance system.
Any missile system will do as long as it complies with the requirements above (addendum as per new SBB).
Heavy Machine Guns:
- To include 2 50-caliber Heavy Machine Guns, interchangeable and removal, either mounted on both sides, with 2 spare barrels per helicopter or pod mounted with pilot control firing mechanism
- To include 5,000 rounds ammunition per helicopter.
Radar:
- Optimized for surveillance, detection, classification and tracking of surface targets from minimum target range of 100 yards, to maximum of at least 120 nmi, at the service ceiling of 10,000 ASL, through 360 degrees;
- Capable of over-land surveillance, and supporting navigation and weather avoidance.
EO/IR - Forward looking Infrared (FLIR):
- Passively detect any Fast Patrol Boat / Fishing Boat sized vessel at a minimum range of 15 nmi in unobscured conditions;
- Provide imagery to classify by platform type any fishing boat sized vessel at a minimum range of 5 nmi. in unobscured conditions;
- Provide imagery to identify a platform at a slant range of 1,000 ft. in obscured conditions;
- Compact with multi-sensor system

Other Features:
- Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) / Selective Identification Feature (SIF)
- Mission Data Management System
- Tactical Data Exchange and Recording System, compatible to Tactical Data Link 16;
- Portable Down-link Receiver, compatible and ready for installation on and surface ship or ground station specified by the PN, and must be interoperable with the installed data link system of the helicopter;
- To include External Rescue Hoist with Strap, removable, with minimum capacity of 600 lbs.;
- To include Cargo Hooks with net and sling, minimum capacity of 500 kgs.



The details can be found on the link to the blog entry below:


"Its a Cat Fight for the Philippine Navy's ASW Helicopter Acquisition Program" - first posted 11 July 2014.



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22 October 2014:

A new blog entry was released by MaxDefense , after the Department of National Defense (DND) failed in its first bidding attempt for the Anti-Submarine Helicopter acquisition project.

Due to this failure, the DND and the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (PN TWG) made some adjustments on the project including tweaks on the Technical Specifications. It appears that both AgustaWestland and PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopters joint venture were not able to meet the standards, and requested the PN TWG to adjust some of the parameters.

Among the changes noted were the following:

1. Endurance in full ASW configuration with munitions was reduced from 2 hours and 30 minutes to only 2 hours;

2. Range in full ASW configuration with munitions was reduced from 300 nautical miles, to 240 nautical miles;

3. Requirement on number of the aircraft's users was reduced, from country of origin or at least 2 other countries, to country of origin or at least 1 other country;

4. Rigidity of the airframe was further defined to withstand and survive vertical crash impacts of up to 10G;


Other changes in the technical specifications include:

5. Suppliers are now given an option for alternatives on crew station requirements for tactical coordinator (TACCO) and sensor operator (SENSO);

6. Openness to an option for a manual rotor folding system for 4-bladed rotors instead of only accepting automatic folding systems;

7. Specified the included items for the Flight In Air Material (FIAM) gears;


8. The suppliers are given other options for the crew training requirements aside from what was specified.



A new Invitation to Bid (ITB) was released by the DND, and for the Pre-Bid Conference held on 07 October 2014, the attendees include AgustaWestland, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (which also works on behalf of Airbus Helicopters), Bell Helicopters-Serpenair Group joint venture, and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).

More details can be found on our blog entry below:


"The Fight for the PN's ASW Helicopter Still On, and Possible Acquisition of the FASGW(H) Sea Venom Missile for the Helicopters" - first posted 22 October 2014.




Airbus' AS565MBe Panther naval helicopter was offered by PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopter joint venture.
Photo taken from Airbus' website.




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12 April 2016:

MaxDefense released a new blog entry confirming that Anglo-Italian aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland was provided by the Department of National Defense (DND) with a Notice of Award (NOA) for the project on February 2016, being the sole compliant bidder, Apparently PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopters joint venture submitted a non-compliant bid with their AS565SB Panther naval helicopter, which did not meet several key requirements as indicated in the Technical Specifications of the project.


The Contract for two AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters, worth Php 5,362,762,748.56, was signed between the DND and AgustaWestland was signed on 29 March 2019 at the DND's office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

More details can be found on our blog entry on the link below:


"Confirmed: Philippine Navy Acquires AgustaWestland AW-159 Lynx Wildcat as its Future Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter" - first posted on 12 April 2016.





A copy of the Notice of Award to AgustaWestland.
Photo taken from PDFF Forum, as posted by Herbie.



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With the project awarded to AgustaWestland, and the helicopter model determined as the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter, MaxDefense would continue the update on this project on our resource portal dedicated to the AgustaWestland AW159 acquisition of the Philippine Navy, which can be accessed on the link provided below.


"Leonardo AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter of the Philippine Navy"


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