Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Austal leads Philippine Navy's OPV Acquisition Project!

SecDef Lorenzana confirms Austal is still the preferred OPV supplier for the PN

The Philippine Navy commissions its 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate!

The Philippine Navy welcomes BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), its newest frigate!

The Philippine Navy selects Shaldag Mk. V for Fast Attack Interdiction Craft!

The DND has awarded the FAIC-M Acquisition Project to Israel Shipyards

The Philippine Air Force wants more Black Hawk helicopters!

The Philippine Air Force asks for more Black Hawks to allow the retirement of their Bell UH-1 Huey fleet

The Philippine Army orders the Sabrah Light Tank System from Israel!

Israel's Elbit Systems was declared the winner to supply light tanks to the PA

The Philippine Air Force receives full order of Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 UAVs!

All 9 Hermes 900 and 4 Hermes 450 MALE UAVs have been received by the PAF!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Philippine Coast Guard's first 97-meter Multi-Role Response Vessel to launch soon


The Philippine Coast Guard is expecting good news in the next dew days.

Its largest ship acquisition to date, the 94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) it ordered from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, will reach an important milestone this week.

But before that, our previous report that the new MRRVs are in fact 97 meters long, not 94 meters as suggested during the conceptual and contract signing phases of the project.

The first ship of the class, with hull number 9701 (97 meters, hull 01) which is still unnamed yet, is scheduled for launching on Monday, 26 July 2021 at MHI's shipyard in Japan.

Hull number 9701 is the first ship of the class of this new 97-meter MRRV for the PCG. Majority of its external components including radar and other subsystems are already installed on the mast. Photo shared to MaxDefense Philippines by sources.

While there is still no name decided as of this writing, MaxDefense Philippines was told that a female hero's name would be used.

Among those in the shortlist of names are Melchora Aquino, also known as the revolutionary Tandang Sora, and Teresa Magbanua, a Filipino revolutionary who also participated in resistance against the United States during the Philippine-American War, and Japan during World War II.

Photos of the ship during its final few days before launching are shown below. Note the hull number 9701, and the aft of the ship still without a name painted on it.

The aft of the ship, showing the helicopter deck and hangar opening., twin screws and dual rudder. Take note, no name has been painted on the ship yet. Photo shared to MaxDefense Philippines by sources.

The launching of the first ship of the class marks a major milestone for the project, and is remarkable considering the quick turn-around time from contract signing to construction.

The ship will have its final fit-out works to proceed afterwards and will be done with the ship already floating at pier. 

This will be followed by at-pier tests of its subsystems, before conducting its sea trials which will later on involved personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard.

No doubt, its a ship for the Philippine Coast Guard. Photo shared to MaxDefense Philippines by sources.

The new 97-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels were based on a revised Kunigami-class offshore patrol vessel used by the Japan Coast Guard, as shown below. 

Some photos of Kunigami-class large patrol vessels of the JCG. Credits to original sources of the photos.

While the ship's length was increased to 97 meters, it is expected that the basic requirements originally set for the project may remain, or will be very close to the final product.

Basic technical requirements of the MRRV, as indicated in the tender documents. Photo taken from DOTr/PCG bid documents.

The ship has an overall length of 96.6 meters, a maximum width of 11.5 meters, a draft of 4.3 meters.

Delivery is still expected to be made by early May 2022, if no issues will be encountered considering COVID-19 pandemic is still a worldwide issue that may affect the movement of parts and technical personnel involved in completing the ship.

Construction of second unit with hull number 9702 is currently ongoing, and is expected to be launched by November 2021. This means the second ship is currently ahead of schedule, which is good news for the PCG as well. 

Project Summary:

94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessel Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 22 July 2021:

* End User: Philippine Coast Guard

* Quantity: 2 nos.

* Project ABC: Php7,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: Official Development Assistance (ODA) by Japan JICA, ODA Loan No. PH-P263.

* Winning Proponent: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: 2 nos. modified Kunigami-class 97-meter patrol vessel

* Contract Price:
 JPY14,550,000,000.00, approx. Php6,790,000,000.00

* Searching Hashtag: #PCG94mMRRV #PCG97mMRRV

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released 17 January 2020 in favor of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. Contract Signing and release of Notice to Proceed (NTP) held on 07 February 2020. First steel cutting held on December 2020. Launching for first ship of the class scheduled by 26 July 2021. Second ship construction ongoing, scheduled to launch on November 2021.

First release: 22 July 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Friday, July 2, 2021

Philippine Air Force selects its future advance trainer aircraft to replace SIAI Marchetti S.211 jet trainers

Back in October 2014, MaxDefense Philippines wrote a blog entry asking if it was already time for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to replace its dear SIAI Marchetti AS.211 Warrior advanced jet trainers.

"Is it Time to Replace the Philippine Air Force's S-211 Aircraft?" - first posted on 07 October 2014.

That time, the AS.211 Warrior was not just the most capable trainer in the PAF, but was also the most capable combat aircraft in the entire PAF fleet, due to the absence of proper multi-role fighters or light combat aircraft, or even a modern close air support aircraft. The PAF's current fleet of FA-50PH Fighting Eagle supersonic light combat aircraft and the A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft were not yet available to the PAF in 2014.

Normally when we write something, we are actually providing clues on what's already being prepared. In 2014, we already received information that the PAF may include the need for new intermediate-advanced trainer aircraft to replace the AS.211 Warrior by the mid 2020s, with the new aircraft to be acquired either as part of the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase, or with the Horizon 2 phase.

Even before 2014, studies were already started by the PAF on what its future training curriculum and phases would be, and what kind of training equipment are needed, including aircraft, flight simulators, and others. 

And with the AS.211 Warrior fleet reaching 30 years of service by the early 2020s, it was found that it would probably best to start replacing the AS.211 Warrior trainer jets with a newer, more modern, more efficient, more dependable, more forgiving, and more advanced trainer aircraft.

Now, that time has come, as the Philippine Air Force starts the acquisition of a new trainer aircraft, and selecting its choice for procurement.

A KT-1 Woongbi operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

The Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Project of the PAF:

The Philippine Air Force is in the market for new trainer aircraft which would be used for intermediate-advance pilot training.

Th new aircraft would be replacing the SIAI Marchetti AS.211 jet trainer, which has been in use with the PAF since the early 1990s. The type is already entering 30 years of service with the PAF in the next couple of years, although it is believed that the PAF would keep the AS.211 flying together with the new trainer for jet proficiency training and for low-intensity combat and surveillance roles.

One of the PAF's AS.211 Warrior jet trainer aircraft.

The aircraft would be slotted between the SF-260F basic trainer, and the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft which also doubles as  lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) for future fighter pilots.

12 units are planned for procurement with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php4.2 billion. It is planned to be procured through Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA), and could be a Government-to-Government (G2G) transaction with the winning manufacturer's country of origin.

MaxDefense PH is still confirming if these new aircraft would be assigned with the 5th Fighter Wing's 105th Fighter Training Squadron at Basa Air Base in Pampanga, or with the Air Education and Training Command in Fernando Air Base in Batangas. Since it is expected to replace the AS.211, it is possible that it would be with the 5th Fighter Wing.

The AS.211 is employed as a light attack aircraft and patrol aircraft, and is capable of using assorted munitions including AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and Paveway II laser guided bombs (both not shown), free fall bombs, and rocket pods. Photo credits to Peter Ho.

Aircraft Models for Consideration:

According to MaxDefense Philippines air force and defense industry sources, the PAF Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Trainer Acquisition Project were looking at several options, which include the following aircraft models:

1. Embraer A-29B Super Tucano - the PAF already operates the A-29B in the light attack and close air support role with the PAF's 15th Strike Wing, and is a practical choice for commonality. But it was said to be too capable for the trainer role, and all the added capability also increases the overall price of the aircraft.

A-29B Super Tucano of the Philippine Air Force. Photo credits to AFP Public Information Office.

2. Beechcraft Textron T-6C Texan II - currently one of the most widely used basic-advance trainer aircraft in the world, with the US military itself using it for their training requirements. The AT-6 Wolverine lost to the A-29B Super Tucano for the PAF's Close Air Support Aircraft program, although it is still pushing the T-6C for trainer requirements due to issues on the A-29B as trainer aircraft as mentioned above. Thailand ordered the trainer and light attack variants of the T-6.

The AT-6 Wolverine light attack and T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft. Photo credits to original source.

2, KAI KT-1 Woongbi - South Korea has been very active in marketing their defense products to the Philippines, and the KT-1 has been one of the first products they started marketing as early as the early 2000s. And with the sale of the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle years ago, KAI has established a foothold in the Philippine Air Force and DND. Within the ASEAN region, Indonesia is currently using the KT-1B.

The KT-1T, operated by the Turkish Air Force. Photo credits to original source.

4. Aero Vodochody L-39NG - one of the jet trainer aircraft offered to the PAF, the L-39NG is the latest version of the successful L-39 Albatross family of advanced jet trainer aircraft. The L-39NG makes use of the latest avionics systems and uses the American-made Williams International FJ44 turbofan engine. Vietnam ordered 12 units, which will start delivery by 2023.

The L-39NG jet trainer aircraft. Photo credits to Armada International.

5. Pilatus PC-21 - this is the latest trainer aircraft from Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft, known for the  successful PC-7 and PC-9 advanced trainers. The PC-21 is said to be the most advanced in the selections despite using a turboprop engine. But it is also one of the more expensive options, which could be am issue for the a stingy market like the Philippines. Currently, Singapore uses the PC-21 for advanced flight training.

Two PC-21 trainer aircraft of the Swiss Air Force. Photo credits to Swiss Air Force.

6. Leonardo Aermacchi M-345 High Efficiency Trainer (HET) - part of Leonardo's family of trainer aircraft, the M-345HET is a latest variant of the original SIAI Marchetti S.211 jet trainer already in service with the PAF. It uses a similar but improved airframe but with everything else updated to the latest technology include glass cockpit, more powerful but efficient turbofan engines, among others. No regional air force uses the type although the Italian Air Force is a major user.

The Aermacchi M-345 HET from Leonardo. Photo credits to Leonardo.

PAF Selects its Next Trainer Aircraft:

In 2020, MaxDefense Philippines started liaising with PAF sources on what they are looking for as their next trainer aircraft. 

Apparently, groups within the service are divided if they would prefer a jet-powered aircraft, or will they return to turboprop-powered aircraft models, considering the AS.211 Warrior is already powered by turbofan jet propulsion. 

So far, only the Aero Vodochody L-39NG and the Leonardo Aermacchi M-345HET were the jet-powered offers, so if the PAF selects a jet-powered trainer, we can definitely find it easier to see what they could have chosen.

But by late 2020, we received confirmation that the PAF TWG prefers a turboprop-powered trainer aircraft, taking out both the L-39NG and M-345HET from the shortlist.

By 2021, we started receiving word from several sources that the PAF TWG has identified its top choice for the project, and has began negotiations with the top selection. And it was identified as KAI's KT-1 Woongbi, with another aircraft model believed to be Beechcraft Textron's T-6C Texan II coming in second.

This has become more apparent when we received confirmation last June 2021 that the TWG's recommendation was already approved and signed by PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, and has already been submitted to the DND, with Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana approving the recommendation for submission to Malacanang and the Department of Budget and Management.

As usual, this would be dependent on DBM if funds are available, and with Malacanang for final approval.

The KAI KT-1 Woongbi as seen in KAI's official brochure, which was also posted as part of the PAF Symposium 2021 Virtual Showroom. Photo credits to KAI.

The KT-1 Woongbi trainer aircraft:

The KT-1 Woongbi is a single-engine basic-intermediate trainer aircraft designed jointly the South Korean Agency of Defense Development (ADD) and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). It is currently built by KAI, and was the first indigenous aircraft developed to meet the requirements of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

The aircraft was said to be loosely based to the Pilatus PC-9 trainer aircraft.

Newer versions of the aircraft can be equipped with glass cockpit configuration, and avionics can be changed and improved depending on requirements, including use of Night Vision Goggles (NVG), heads-up display, multi-function display, hands-on throttle and stick configuration, among others.

It also has an armed version called the KA-1, which can be used for weapon training or light attack requirements. It can be armed with gun and rocket pods, bombs, and missiles, with an option to install Forward Looking Infra-red (FLIR) turrets and laser range finder.

KAI has marketed the KT-1 as part of an integrated training package when paired with the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle advanced/lead-in fighter trainer jet.

The KT-1 was developed from the KTX Program for the ROKAF in 1988, with prototypes built by 1991. It made its maiden flight on November 1991, and was named "Woongbi" in 1995.

The KT-1 started serial production in 2000, with the ROKAF being its first customer with orders made in 1999 for 85 units. The ROKAF received their first aircraft in 2000, with deliveries completed in 2002.

A follow-on order was made by the ROKAF in 2003 for 20 KA-1 armed trainers, which can be armed with gun and rocket pods for use as weapons trainer aircraft.

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) became the first export customer of the KT-1 Woongbi, with an initial order for 12 KT-1B aircraft in April 2003 to be paid by barter with 8 Indonesian-made CN-235 transport aircraft. The TNI-AU eventually ordered 17 KT-1B which was used by the service for basic training and for aerobatic display with the Jupiter Aerobatic Team.

Indonesian Air Force KT-1B Woongbi aircraft with the Jupiter Aerobatic Team. Credits to original source of photo.

In 2007, KAI and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a US$553 million deal to supply 55 KT-1T trainers for the Turkish Air Force. The first 5 aircraft would be built at KAI's plant in South Korea, while the remaining 50 aircraft would be locally produced by TAI in their plant near Ankara. Deliveries started in 2010 and completed in 2014.

KT-1 Woongbi of the Turkish Air Force. Photo credits to Savunma ve Havacilik.

In 2012, the Peruvian Air Force ordered 10 KT-1P trainers and 10 KA-1P light attack aircraft as part of a US$208 million. KAI built the first 4 aircraft which were delivered in 2014, while SEMAN locally assembled the rest of the order. SEMAN delivered the first locally assembled KT-1 and KA-1 aircraft to the Peruvian Air Force on April 2015.

A KA-1 Woongbi armed trainer of the Peruvian Air Force. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

Senegal ordered 4 KT-1S in 2016, with all aircraft delivered to the Senegalese Air Force by 2020. They are KAI's first export customer in Africa, where the South Korean government is hopeful to gain success in exporting their defense products

What's Next:

With the selection already made, it is now up to the DND and PAF to complete negotiations with KAI on final pricing, package inclusions, delivery schedule and payment terms.

This would become the basis for the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the project, before a contract can be signed between the DND and KAI.

MaxDefense Philippines believes that a contract could be signed before the end of the year, but that will depend on how fast (or slow) the DND is in processing the procurement of this project.

If a contract is signed and Notice to Proceed (NTP) is released in favor of KAI within the year, the first batch of aircraft could be delivered to the PAF as early as 2023.

Take note that all these estimates are based on the DND proceeding with KAI, and not changing their decisions during the next few months. Should an agreement between the DND and KAI fails to take off, moving to the next possible model and restarting all procurement processes will definitely delay the project by at least a year.

Anyway, MaxDefense Philippines hopes that everything goes well with this project.


Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 02 July 2021.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (5th Fighter Wing or Air Education Training Command)

Quantity: 12 aircraft minimum

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
 Php4,200,000,000.00 (approx. US$86 million)

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

* SARO Release:

* Winning Proponent:
 TBA, expected to be Korea Aerospace Industries

Product for Delivery: TBA, expected to be KAI KT-1 or KA-1 Woongbi

* Contract Price:

Status: PAF TWG selected KAI's KT-1/KA-1 Woongbi, recommendation approved by CGPAF and submitted to DND. MaxDefense PH received confirmation that SND already approved procurement of Trainer Aircraft based on KAI's offer.

First release: 02 July 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Philippine Air Force makes final push for Multi-Role Fighters with Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has started to make its final chance to push for the acquisition of new Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) aircraft, as securing funding for modernization projects has reached the final few months.

And based on information MaxDefense PH has gathered from sources from the Philippine Air Force and from the defense industry, the Technical Working Group (TWG0 for the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project has revised its recommendation and go with the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen fighter aircraft from Sweden.

This was approved by Philippine Air Force leadership led by PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) led by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

If information provided to MaxDefense PH are correct, this has been already passed to the Department of National Defense (DND), which now has the ball in securing final approval from Malacanang to secure funding requirements.

The Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen. Photo credits to CZDefence.

From F-16 Viper to JAS-39 Gripen:

2019 - 2020: Selecting the F-16 Block 70 Viper:

MaxDefense PH reported previously that the Philippine Air Force Technical Working Group has selected the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper in 2019, and was already submitted to the Department of National Defense for approval by the National Government.

The PAF was said to stick to the original plan, as negotiations continued with the US Government and Lockheed Martin with the F-16 Viper deal. In the process, the offer made by Lockheed Martin was for 12 new F-16C/D Block 70 Viper fighters, as well as 2 to 4 used F-16D Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcon fighters hot-transferred from the US Air National Guard.

A CGI of the F-16C Block 70 Viper. Credits to original source of photo.

If the contract was signed and Notice to Proceed (NTP) were released by early 2020, deliveries were said to be made starting 2024 for the F-16 Block 70 Vipers, although hot-transfer of used F-16 Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcons will be made within 1 to 2 years from release of  NTP, which is somewhere around 2021 or 2022.

Training would be conducted in the mainland United States with US Air Force or US Air National Guard units, while succeeding training would also be conducted in the Philippines as part of regular deployment of US military personnel under the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

The US will also provide an option to the Philippine Air Force for grants of additional F-16C/D Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcons, although upgrades to Block 70 Viper standards would be paid for by the Philippine government.

Based on information we received back in 2019, the offer made by the US government was to be transacted through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program, and would cost higher than the Php61.2 billion budget proposed by the PAF. Figures MaxDefense PH received back in 2019 was close to US$1.4 billion (Php70 billion), which is almost Php9 billion off the PAF's budget. This excludes munitions.

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper (above) was among those showcased re-opening of Basa Air Base and the Balik Basa 2018 reunion. Photos shared by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

While the PAF selected the US offer for F-16 Vipers, funding has become a problem. The DND was asked to find ways to add more funding to the MRF Acquisition Project on top of the Php61.2 billion approval in-principle back in 2018.

But also by 2nd quarter of, 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic has affected the Philippine government spending and economic output, and the government was pressed to divert funds to pandemic-related expenses. This has not just affected the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project, but several other projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program that were even in more advanced stages than the Multi-Role Fighter project.

This also made it impossible for the national government to allocate more funding to the MRF Acquisition Project based on the F-16 proposal, and it has become apparent that the project will stall.

One of the flyers from Lockheed Martin marketing the F-16 Block 70 to the Philippines. Photo shared by one of our contributor who was present during one of LM's marketing sessions with the Philippine defense and military officials.

Also, by 3rd quarter of 2020, Lockheed Martin came back with a revised proposal. Since the issuance of contract has been pushed back by a year, their previous pricing and delivery commitments cannot be honored and have to be adjusted. The new proposal from Lockheed Martin for 12 new F-16C/D Block 70 Vipers has went up, and is now closer to US$1.6 billion (Php78 billion) excluding munitions.

Delivery was also pushed back. From 2024 for the 1st batch, it has been moved to 2025 to 2026 if the contract and NTP has been signed and released by early 2021. No changes were made on the hot transfer delivery of used F-16 Fighting Falcons, which still remains at 1 to 2 years from NTP release.


With these new developments, it has become apparent that the allocated funding for the MRF Acquisition Project is not enough, and is short by almost Php17 billion following Lockheed Martin's latest offer.

The PAF was asked to return to the drawing board if it still wishes to continue with the project, as it has become apparent that getting additional funding would not be possible in the next 2 to 3 years due to poor economic activity of the country, funding issues with the government, and the Visiting Forces Agreement cancellation adding in the list of issues that affect any offer from the US Government.

A few options has been looked at by the DND and PAF. This includes:
1. Revising its selection and re-open negotiations with Saab and see if their previous offer with the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen could hold ground or could even be made better,

2. Looking at diverting funds from the MRF Acquisition Project and instead look at the possibility of acquiring additional FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) which costs less than half of the MRF Project. This is considering the acquisition of more FA-50 light combat aircraft is actually planned under the Revised AFP Modernization Program's original Horizon 2 proposal before funding was reduced to Php300 billion and PAF needed to revise its program.

As shown on the original Horizon 1-3 program submitted by the DND in 2017, PAF actually requested for 24 Multi-Role Fighters and 12 Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer Aircraft under the Horizon 2 phase. This was reduced to 24 MRFs and 0 F/SAA/LIFTA, until the final Horizon 2 plan was reduced to 12 MRFs and 0 F/SAA/LIFTA. Photo screengrabed from DND document shared to MaxDefense PH.

3. Another option was to move the project to Horizon 3 phase and wait for the next administration to continue this program.

Obviously pushing the project back to Horizon 3 was not an acceptable option, considering the PAF is expected to request to procure more Multi-Role Fighters in that phase, as shown on the table above.  Pushing the Horizon 2 MRF project to Horizon 3 would affect their ability to procure more MRFs and meet their targets by end of Horizon 3.

While acquiring more FA-50PH is among the options, it was not a popular decision among PAF leaders and Air Defense Command leaders and officers. The point of acquiring the FA-50PH back in Horizon 1 phase was to prepare the PAF for MRFs under Horizon 2. Getting more FA-50s without making a significant jump to more capable aircraft does not make sense.

A scale model of the JAS-39C Gripen was displayed in Basa Air Base during the "Balik Basa 2018" reunion. Photo shared by a MaxDefense PH community member.

Best option among the three options is to re-negotiate with Saab, and try to push down Saab's proposed cost to make it acceptable to the national government.

2020-2021: Shift to Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen:

While MaxDefense PH does not have much more details on how negotiations between the PAF/DND and Saab/Swedish government pushed through, an agreement was reached by 2nd quarter of 2021.

According to PAF and industry sources, the PAF TWG for the MRF Acquisition Project has re-submitted its recommendation selecting Saab's offer, and was approved by PAF and the GHQ AFP for submission to the DND.

JAS-39C/D Gripen of the Czech Air Force. Photo credits to Saab.

12 new Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters will be supplied by Saab, plus an addition 2 units would be provided by Saab free of charge. All fighters would be upgraded to the latest MS20 standard with improved combat systems and avionics including the use of the latest PS-05 Mk.4 fire control radar.

Although MaxDefense PH does not have an actual figure to the agreed price, sources confirmed that it is slightly less than the Php61.2 billion budget allocated for the project.

Contrary to what was believed back in 2018, Saab will not include any Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft similar to its deal with Thailand in the past.

Apparently the proposal was already submitted to the Department of National Defense (DND) as of early June 2021, and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana himself was said to be very supportive of the project.

This is currently the most expensive defense project ever to be undertaken by the Philippine Government.

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.

Potential Problems that Needs Settling Soon:

While the project is believed to be only needing Malacanang approval for the funding to be made available and the contract to be signed, there are still issues that needs to be settled soon.

1. Time Issues:

The administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has almost reached the final 1 year, as he will be ending his 6-year term by 30 June 2022. 

But in terms of approving projects and releasing funds and approving projects, the Duterte administration actually only has a few months to go for projects to become cleared from potentially being classified as "Midnight Deal" projects.

The Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project should be able to have its contract signed and NTP (including initial funding) released by 1st quarter of 2022 at latest. That means around 9 months from now.

If not, the DND would be in a better position to postpone and contract signing and funding release until a new administration and DND leadership comes in by July 2022. This is similar to what happened to the Frigate Acquisition Project.

But this means threatening the project's continuity and legacy, as shown also on the Frigate Acquisition Project. While the succeeding administration did not cancel the Frigate project, it was altered to their benefit. And despite contract signing made during the Duterte administration, it does not solidify Duterte's claim that the project is his legacy, especially when the previous administration have made press releases prior to change in leadership that they were halting the contract signing out of respect of the next administration.

2. Need for Philippine - Sweden Defense Cooperation Agreement: 

A mechanism to allow Government-to-Government (G2G) deals between the Philippines and Sweden needs to be settled immediately, before a contract can be signed between the DND and Saab. This could either be a Defense Cooperation Agreement, of Defense Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Both the Philippine and Swedish governments should start working out the agreement as soon as possible, as this is needed even before a contract could be signed between the DND and Saab. 

The JAS-39C/D Gripen:

While MaxDefense PH has mentioned many times that the F-16 Block 70 Viper was the more superior aircraft than the JAS-39C/D Gripen, that does not make the Gripen a poor aircraft.

It only means that the Viper edges the Gripen in several features and capabilities due to its improvements compared to previous generation F-16 variants, which also made it more expensive than the Gripen C/D variant.

Our previous analysis of the Gripen did not touch on performance values as these information can be obtained from other websites that are more familiar with fighter aircraft. Instead we just listed features where it outshines the F-16 Block 70 Viper.

The Saab JAS-39C Gripen. Photo credits to original source.

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 PS-05 Mk. 4 pulse doppler radar, which is considered among the best non-AESA fire control radar for fighter aircraft in the world.

The Mk.4 variant has made significant improvements over older variants of the PS-05 radar, including improved range, ability to detect low Radar Cross Section targets, enhanced jammer suppression, and improved missile-lock performance.

Some info on PS-05 Mk. 4 capability compared to older variants of the radar. Photo credits to Gripen News' Twitter account.

2. The JAS-39C/D Gripen is cheaper to procure than the F-16 Block 70 Viper, at least in the Philippine competition as explained earlier in this blog. This allows savings in initial procurement cost.

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

Fast turnaround and reduced crew requirements are among the key features Saab was said to win against the F-16 Viper. Photo credits to Saab and Flight Global.

This means savings in sustainment compared to the F-16 Block 70 Viper in every flight hour, reduced and simplified crew requirements, and most likely cheaper maintenance.

Saab claims that a team led by 1 technician and 5 semi-skilled personnel can re-arm, refuel, and turnaround a single Gripen fighter configured for air-to-air mission in 10 minutes, which is not expected to be possible with the F-16 Viper.

4. The Gripen uses the same engine design as the PAF's FA-50PH fleet, the Volvo RM12 turbofan engine which is essentially a version of the GE F404 engine that is already familiar with the PAF's maintenance and logistics team.

The JAS-39C/D Gripen uses the Volvo RM12 afterburning turbofan engines, essentially a GE F404 engine in the same family as those used by PAF FA-50PH light combat aircraft. Photo credits to Saab.

5. The JAS-39C/D Gripen uses the Meteor BVRAAM, which is said to be the best in its class. This is on top of the compatibility with several other munitions including the AIM-120 AMRAAM, MBDA MICA, and the IRIS-T missiles.

The MBDA Meteor medium-range air-to-air missile, said to be the best in the world, is compatible with the JAS-39 Gripen. Photo credits to AIN Online.

6. 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 by 2021, it means the PAF could get their Gripens starting 2023, far earlier than the F-16 Viper standard delivery time which is around 4 years or 2025.

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

7. Despite the variant already superceded by a new one in the form of the JAS-39E/F Gripen NG, Saab has made a commitment to fully support the continued development and improvement of the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen through the next 30 years.

Roadmap for JAS-39C?D Gripen as committed by Saab to its international customers. Photo credits to Richard Smith's Twitter page.


With the DND and PAF determined to get this project ahead before it becomes too late, MaxDefense PH hopes that their request to make the Multi-Role Fighter Project funded by the National Government would be given priority, considering the limited time available.

Saab, which has an office in Manila, should also work hard to make sure it uses all its available resources including getting support from the Swedish government to push the Duterte administration to make the project happen within the year.


Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project (Horizon 2)

Note: Edited as of 06 June 2021.

* 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$1.25 billion)

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

* SARO Release:

* Winning Proponent:
 TBA, expected to be SAAB AB.

Product for Delivery: TBA, expected to be Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen

* Contract Price:

Status: PAF TWG selected F-16C/D Block 70 Viper on August 2019. PAF approved selected on September 2019, and DND approved selection on 30 October 2019. Despite approval, pricing issues and lack of funding has stalled negotiation with Lockheed Martin and re-opened the line of communications with Saab as of 3rd quarter 2020. MaxDefense PH received multiple information confirming PAF TWG releasing new recommendation to proceed with Saab's offer, which was selected due to affordability/pricing issues, and delivery schedule. Recommendation was approved by CGPAF Lt. Gen. Paredes. As of June 2021, DND is said to prepare submitting proposal to Malacanang based on Saab's offer.

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, with the Viper selected in 2019, but was retracted due to several issues. By 2021, Gripen was selected for procurement. Photo taken from

First release: 06 June 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Discussing the Philippine Coast Guard's Coastal Radar Stations (Phase 1) Projects

The Philippine Coast Guard is a growing organization in terms of manpower, assets and capabilities. And with its growing responsibility and challenges to support in maritime safety and law enforcement, it needs new capabilities.

Among those identified to improve its ability to "see" and monitor our country's maritime borders are the need for Coastal Radar Stations, which can detect, observe and monitor the movement of ships several miles away from our coastlines.

With this, the Philippine Coast Guard has prioritized the construction of new Radar Stations especially in the southern part of the country, which has a more porous border due to the geography and being close to the borders with Malaysia and Indonesia.

In this blog entry, which was authored by one of our active contributors "Herbie", we discuss the projects related to the construction of a first batch of 21 Coast Guard Radar Stations, which we collectively called the Coastal Radar Stations Phase 1 Project of the Philippine Coast Guard.

We would like to Herbie for his research, considering this is not the first time he is a guest writer for MaxDefense Philippines blogs.


According to the Philippine Coast Guard, there is an urgent need to enhance the Philippines’ Maritime Domain Awareness to monitor its territorial and contiguous waters. The PCG's Coast Guard Weapons, Communications, Electronics, and Information System Command (CGWCEISC) have identified the need for 140 radar stations in order to come up with the whole picture of the country’s maritime domain. 

With a currently limited budget, the Southern Philippines, with some of the more popular tourist spot destinations and busy sea lanes, is the priority area for the establishment of the Radar Systems.

Most of the prioritized radar locations are in the ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Basilan) area.

21 radars were prioritized under PCG's assessment as part of a 1st batch to be constructed nationally. To do this, several projects were made by the Philippine Coast Guard. 

Equipment used in CG Radar Stations Rio Hondo and Sibutu. Credits to DOTr.

For easier reference, the author and MaxDefense Philippines called the combined projects as the PCG's Coastal Radar Stations Phase 1 Project, which can be subdivided into the construction of the 21 Coast Guard Radar Station buildings, the 10 Radar Station Systems publicly tendered, and the 11 Radar Systems donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as Grant Aid.

The partitioning are as follows:

1. Coast Guard Radar Station Buildings

    1a. Construction of 14 Radar Station Buildings: 1 project with an approved budget of Php140 million. This was publicly tendered, and Notice of Award was given to Fabmik Construction & Equipment, with a Contract worth Php139,528,339.02 signed and Notice to Proceed released on 01 February 2019.

PhilGEPS screenshot showing details on Construction of 14 Radar Station Buildings.

    1b. Construction of 5 Radar Station Buildings: 1 project with an approved budget of Php50 million. This was also publicly tendered, with the Notice of Award given to Protech Construction and Development Corporation, with a Contract worth Php49,820,360.67 signed and Notice to Proceed released on 11 February 2019.

PhilGEPS screenshot showing details on Construction of 5 Radar Station Buildings.

    1c. Construction of CG Radar Station Kalamansig Building: 1 project for a specific building location, with an approved budget of Php9.7 million. Also publicly tendered, the project was awarded to A.G Araja Construction & Development Corporation with a Contract amount of Php9,664,884.08 signed and Notice to Proceed on 13 January 2020.

PhilGEPS screenshot showing details on Construction of Radar Station Kalamansig Building.

    1d. Construction of CG Radar Station Basilan Building: another project specifically for 1 building, with an approved budget of Php21 million. A Notice of Award was given to an unidentified company, with contract signed and Notice to Proceed released on 21 June 2021.

2. PCG Radar Station Systems: 1 project specifically for the Supply, Delivery and Installation of Radar Systems, with 10 units involved. The project was also publicly tendered and was awarded to Scan Marine Inc. on 11 October 2019, with a contract worth Php196,770,896.00 signed and Notice to Proceed released on 21 October 2019.

PhilGEPS record showing details on the Supply, Deliver and Installation of Radar Systems. Photo from Herbie, taken from PhilGEPS.

3. Japan Grant Aid Radar Systems: this involves a JICA grant to the Philippines' Department of Transportation for the Philippine Coast Guard, involving the grant of 11 radar systems. 

21 Radar Station Locations:

The Philippine Coast Guard Radar Project locations have been identified in previous publications. The following lists down the location of the radar stations under the Phase 1 projects:

PCG Radar Project Locations:

  1. Mapun, Tawi-Tawi

  2. Bayawan City, Negros Oriental

  3. Bredco Port, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

  4. Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan

  5. Balicasag Island, Panglao, Bohol

  6. Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte

  7. Taganak, Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi

  8. Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi

  9. Pearl Bank, Tawi-Tawi

  10. Sarangani, Davao Occidental

Japan Grant Aid Radar Project Locations:

  1. Brgy Talisayan, Zamboanga City

  2. Brgy Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City

  3. Brgy Siraway, Zamboanga City

  4. Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay

  5. Brgy Baganian, Tabina, Zamboanga del Sur

  6. Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat

  7. Pangutaran, Sulu

  8. Kawayan, Lugus Sulu

  9. Bongao, Tawi-tawi

  10. Basilan

  11. Port Area, Sulu

A map showing the location of radar stations to be installed under this phase, separating PH funded and Japan funded radars. Photo credits to DOTr.

Radar System Technical Specifications:

The systems purchased by the PCG includes a Radar, AIS Base Receiver, Coastal Camera with Day/Night capability, towers (at least 21 meters high), various Base and Marine-band radios, hardware, software, CCTV systems and power sources for each radar station.

It is surprising to see the Technical Specifications have a specific radar brand (FURUNO) and model in mind perhaps to match the radar systems donated by JICA. FURUNO and ICOM are the brands used for the various surveillance equipment.

Status of the Project:

Based on photos and information from the Philippine Coast Guard and our sources, several of the radar station buildings have already been completed, although several are still scheduled for construction as of early 2021.

Photos of some of the radar station buildings can be seen below.

Top: Coast Guard Radar Station Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi. Middle: Coast Guard Radar Station Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay. Bottom: Coast Guard Radar Stations Bayawan, Negros Oriental, and Coast Guard Radar Station Balicasag, Bohol. Photo credits to DOTr.

Meanwhile, Scan Marine Inc. has deliver the radar systems to the Philippine Coast Guard. Installation will also be part of their scope of works, including making sure that the system works.

It remains to be seen though if their scope also includes making the radars connected to the National Coast Watch System, which is also operated by the Philippine Coast Guard together with other government agencies.

Other PCG Radar-Related Proposals

With the PCG stating that they have identified 140 radar stations in order to come up with the whole picture of the country’s maritime domain, here are some PCG projects proposed last 2019 for the 2020 budget but not funded yet by the National Government:

  1. Construction of Coast Guard Radar Stations – Php1.62 billion. This would allow the PCG to construct more radar stations to eventually meet the 140 radar stations needed to cover the entire country.

  2. Procurement of Coast Guard Radar Equipment – Php2.7 billion. This is related to the construction of radar stations.

  3. Beyond the Horizon Radar – Php400 million. This system is far more capable than standard coastal radars due to its wider and longer detection range, which would allow to see beyond the country's territorial waters and into its Exclusive Economic Zone, together with other assets like aircraft, ships and satellites.

  4. Inter-agency harmonized and enhanced surveillance, enforcement, and development capabilities for the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise – Php5.614 billion. This is something that could help enhance interoperability with other agencies including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police Maritime Group (PNP-MARIG), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and other agencies involved in monitoring the West and East Philippine Sea including the Philippine Rise.


There are many more interesting and exciting new projects coming with the Philippine Coast Guard, as they are given much more support financially and politically. This is as the service becomes the foremost agency in enforcing maritime laws, conducting search and rescue, and protecting our country's maritime territories and interest without creating tension considering its civilian nature.

With the slowdown in defense projects, MaxDefense Philippines is expected to provide more reports from the Philippine Coast Guard's modernization, especially with commitments to improve it further than ever before.

More and larger patrol vessels are underway to beef up the PCG's surface fleet. Photo credits to original sources.


Project Summary:

Coastal Radar Stations (Phase 1) Projects of the PCG (collection of several projects)

Note: Edited as of 19 May 2021.

* End User: Philippine Coast Guard

* Quantity: 21 Radar Stations

* Project ABC:
  - 1a. Php140 million;
  - 1b. Php50 million;
  - 1c. Php9.7 million (Kalamansig);
  - 1d. Php21 million (Basilan); 2
  - 2. Php197.059 million;
  - 3. JPY 1 billion

* Acquisition Mode:
  - 1a. Negotiated Procurement;
  - 1b. Negotiated Procurement;
  - 1c. Negotiated Procurement;
  - 1d. Expected to be through public bidding;
  - 2. Public Bidding;
  - 3. Grant Aid (Japan radar systems)

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds, and Japan Grant Aid

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent:
   - 1a. Fabmik Construction and Equipment Co. Inc.;
   - 1b. Protech Construction and Development Corporation;
   - 1c. A.G. Araja Construction & Development Corporation;
   - 1d. TBC;
   - 2. Scan Marine Inc.;
   - 3. TBC

* Product for Delivery:
   - 1a. 15 radar station buildings.;
   - 1b. 4 radar station buildings;
   - 1c. 1 radar station building;
   - 1d. 1 radar station building;
   - 2. 10 Radar Station Systems;
   - 3. 11 Radar Station Systems.

* Contract Price/s:
   - 1a..Php139,528,339.02;
   - 1b. Php49,820,360.67;
   - 1c. Php9,664,884.08
   - 1d. Not bidded out yet;
   - 2. Php196,770,896.00
   - 3a. TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PCGCoastalRadarStationsP1Acquisition 

* Project Status:  Items 1a to 1c are under construction, with some already completed. Item 1d. is scheduled for tender. Delivery of Item 2 are ongoing, and will be dependent on the completion of the Coast Guard Station buildings. Item 3a was reported to have already been delivered to the PCG.

First edit and release: 18 May 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines & Herbie

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