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Transfer of AH-1F Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan Project of the Philippine Air Force


The Philippine government has been lucky enough to have been offered by the Jordanian government to transfer two (2) of their Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters to assist in the fight against terrorism in the Philippines.

The offer was accepted by the Philippine government, and preparations were made for the transfer of these helicopters to the Philippines. Thus, the Transfer and Acceptance of AH-1S Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan project was made by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) which will be the recipient of the helicopters.


A Royal Jordanian Air Force AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter. The ones donated to the Philippines by Jordan are similar to this helicopter. Credits to original source of photo.

Project Summary:


Transfer and Acceptance of AH-1S Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan Project


Note: Edited as of 26 November 2019:

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

Quantity: 2 helicopters plus spare parts

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 phase Special Projects of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php158,204,428.00


Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with Jordanian Government


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


* SARO Release: 

      - SARO-BMB-D-19-004225 dated 03 June 2019 worth Php158,204,428.00 (100% amount), released 04 June 2019

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: 2 units refurbished Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters


* Contract Price: Php158,204,428.00 distributed to several subcontracts

First post by MaxDefense: 22 August 2017


* Status: Delivered to PAF on 26 November 2019, formal acceptance date not yet finalized.


Overview:
During the final years of the Arroyo administration, the Department of National Defense (DND) made it known that they are after the acquisition of Attack Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to complement the dwindling fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-520MG Defender light armed helicopters.

Among those proposed were the acquisition of refurbished Bell AH-1S/F Tzefa attack helicopters from Israel, which was offered by an Israeli defense company. For the allocated budget, Israel was offering a full squadron of 18 refurbished AH-1S/F Tzefa compared to the offers by other companies like MD Helicopters of less than 12 new helicopters, which are not even purpose-built attack helicopter models.

For some reason, the proposal from Israel was rejected by the DND and PAF, although among the reasons raised back then was that the PAF was after brand new units.

In the end, the DND and PAF never bought any attack helicopter, and the project was shelved until it was revived again in 2013. The result of the project was the acquisition of AgustaWestland AW-109E Power armed helicopters, 8 of which were bought under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Ultimately Israel retired its fleet of 33 units of Bell AH-1S/F Tzefa as its streamline its attack helicopter force in favor of the newer Boeing AH-64 Apache fleet in 2013. Some of these helicopters, around 14 based on publications, were transferred to the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) to assist in the fight against ISIS and terrorism. These were added to the fleet of Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters that the RJAF was already using.

But due to the RJAF's streamlining of forces, several Cobras and Tzefas were decided to be released for sale, donation, or disposal. And among those that received the good tidings of the Jordanian leadership was the Philippine, which was then fighting a war against ISIS-inspired terrorists in Marawi.

According to our sources, the Jordanian government offered to provide up to four (4) surplus AH-1S Cobra/Tzefa attack helicopters to the Philippine government to help in fighting terrorists. But for some reason, the offer was reduced to two (2) units, which the Philippine government accepted.

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U P D A T E S:
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22 August 2017:
MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing the potential transfer of Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters from the Kingdom of Jordan.

The blog can be accessed below:

"
Is the Philippine Air Force Getting Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan?" - first posted on 21 August 2017


An RJAF AH-1S/F Cobra attack helicopter similar to what the PAF is getting.
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19 March 2018:
MaxDefense finally got an update from sources with regards to the Jordanian offer for 2 Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force.

The results of the inspection done before Christmas by PAF officers confirmed that the airframes and in good working order and are acceptable, and will only need refurbishing works arranged by Jordan (to be paid for by PAF) before delivery. The report was submitted to PAF, and is said to have already been submitted to higher level authorities for their decision.

Since this deal is part of a larger offer from Jordan, it still remains to be seen if this deal will push through.

Also, considering the UN Human Rights Commissioner that Pres. Duterte lambasted earlier is a Jordanian prince, the PAF could only hope that they won't reconsider their offer.



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24 May 2018:
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon is said to be in Jordan to personally faciliatate the transfer of the 2 Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippine government, according to Pres. Duterte.

More on the report from Inquirer.



National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon is viewing the cockpit of the RJAF AH-1S/F Cobra attack helicopter with two PAF pilots (blackened face to protect identity) in Jordan. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by source.
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02 August 2018:

With Pres. Duterte badmouthing the Jordanians again for the delay on the transfer of 2 unit Bell AH-1F Cobra, it is best to clarify the issues surrounding the delay.

The helicopters are said to be in good condition and are considered for "hot transfer" as these helicopters are said to be operational. There is no need for substantial repairs except for the usual maintenance requirements, and Jordan will include some spare parts with the transfer to give the PAF some peace of mind for at a year. The only thing the PAF has to do is to send the air and ground crew for training with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, pay for their billeting and training-related costs, and logistics to bring out the helicopters from their base in Jordan and deliver them to the Philippines. 

The cost won't be too high, but it appears that the budget release from the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) was delayed, and is still being processed by the AFP Finance Center. Information provided to us by a relevant source mentioned that the tentative target is to send the air and ground crew to Jordan by 1st week of September 2018. Being tentative, this might still be moved depending on how fast the funds can be made available for use.

Thus, the delays are the fault of the Philippine government, not the Jordanian government or military. Pres. Duterte should have consulted his Budget Secretary, Defense Secretary, and National Security Adviser.

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15 April 2019:
Pres. Duterte recently mentioned that the Kingdom of Jordan MIGHT give another used attack helicopter to the Philippines, on top of the two units that were confirmed last year.

He is referring to the Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, in which Jordan donated two (2) units to the Philippine Air Force. If Jordan indeed provide another unit, the PAF will then receive 3 units.

Originally the proposal to donate Jordanian AH-1S Cobras were for 4 units, with negotiations done by the National Security Adviser Sec. Hermogenes Esperon rather than tbe Dept of National Defense. In the end, the confirmed donation was reduced to 2 units, although efforts to add another 2 units werr made.

The possible addition of a 3rd unit might be the result of such negotiations.

More on the news report from the Manila Bulletin:

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01 June 2019:
Here is an infographic for the Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, 2 units of which the PAF expects to be delivered by September 2019 from Jordan. This was also taken from the PAF, so this is an official inforgraphic.

The delays were said to be because of some works done on the helicopters. So far no word if the DND has requested for more units, and if Jordan agrees to such proposal.


The Bell AH-1S Cobra infographic from the Philippine Air Force. Photo shared exclusively by a source.
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27 July 2019:
A team from the Philippine Air Force has started their training in Jordan recently in preparation for the upcoming 2 Bell AH-1S Tzefas Cobra attack helicopters donated by Jordan (which in turn are former Israeli units donated to Jordan in 2014).

As we explained before, despite just being a Sierra variant, the Israelis operated them with Foxtrot models and standardized their equipment to a common Tzefas variant. Thus they are virtually the same as Israeli Foxtrot Cobras.

Being Tzefas, they can fire Spike anti-tank missiles aside from the usual TOW missile and 2.75" rockets. Normal Cobra attach helicopters are not usually armed with Spikes, and this feature is only available with Tzefas.

Based on information we've been getting, the DND and National Security Adviser Sec. Esperon (this project is his baby) are pushing for Jordan to provide 2 more, although there are no confirmations if they were successful in getting Jordan to agree.

The 2 Cobras are still on schedule for delivery by September 2019, according to sources.


An Israeli Air Force AH-1S/F Tzefa, which is the same as the one the PAF is getting from Jordan.
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26 October 2019:
The PAF finally released the full video of the UP UP PIlipinas PADAYON PAF forum. Commanding General Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez himself answered questions from the media including topics that were previously discussed here @ MaxDefense.

His explanation of PADAYON is important as it gives an idea that the PAF is after continuity of what the organization and previous leaders have already started, and not having different agendas everytime leadership changes, something that is happening to other AFP services branches like the Philippine Navy (yes, I am very direct on this!)

Among those mentioned were related to the AH-1S Cobra Transfer from Jordan, which was  summarized below: 

Four (4) PAF pilots are undertaking flight training in Jordan for the donated Bell AH-1S Cobra (Tzefas) attack helicopters. Two of the pilots will be completing the training soon, while the other two will continue to take instructor pilot and test pilot courses. They will be the ones to provide training to future Cobra pilots in the Philippines ones the helicopters are delivered sometime in 1Q 2020.
Note: MaxDefense notes that these Jordanian helicopters were actually part of those donated by Israel to Jordan in 2014, which is why they can be safely called as Tzefas as what the Israelis call them and are compatible with the Spike MR/ER anti-tank missile unlike other AH-1S/F Cobras worldwide. Only former Israeli units have that compatibility with Spike missiles, and the PAF is lucky to have them instead of Jordanian-spec units.

The video can be watched below:



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26 November 2019:


MaxDefense received confirmation that the delivery of the two Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters from Jordan will be made today, with the Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy strategic airlifter carrying the helicopters arriving in Clark International Airport / Clark Air Base.

This was later on confirmed by the PAF's Commanding General Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez during his speech as part of the 15th Strike Wing's founding anniversary celebrations today.

The helicopters will arrive partially disassembled, and will be assembled immediately by PAF personnel with technical assistance from Jordanian technicians.

The helicopters are said to be painted in light grey similar to the paint scheme of the PAF's AgustaWestland AW-109E Power armed helicopters.

The delivery comes after previous press releases were made saying that the delivery of the helicopters are delayed and will only happen by early 2020. Apparently they were able to push forward with the delivery before year end.



A wooden scale-model of the PAF's upcoming AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, which is shown to be sporting a light gray paint scheme similar to what MaxDefense received. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a contributor.

Meanwhile, here is a portion from the PAF's own report on the project.

Despite claiming that the helicopters are only for delivery by 2020, the PAF's internal reports did say its November 2019.


This is consistent with today's arrival of the helicopters.


Taken from the 15th Strike Wing's anniversary magazine, shared to MaxDefense by a contributor.
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27 November 2019:
Photos were released to MaxDefense showing the entirety of the helicopter body, after it was unloaded from the transport aircraft and before bringing it in to the assembly area.

Assembly will start today with assistance from Jordanian technicians. It is expected that the aircraft will conduct ground and flying tests soon.

Photos exclusively shared to MaxDefense PH. Credits to original source of photos.

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First post and edit: 12 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Discussions


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