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!

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Information Released for PAF's Close Air Support Aircraft Requirements

The Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) released the copy of the new Supplemental Bid Bulletin Nr. DND-AFP/PAF-CASA-14-07-003 (link provided pages 1-22 HERE, and pages 23-47 HERE) which shows the queries submitted by the interested bidders and the replies provided by the DND and Philippine Air Force (PAF). This holds an important information on who are we expecting to join the bid, what products they intend to submit, and who might have the chance of bagging the deal.

The SBB strengthens our earlier analysis on the CAS Aircraft acquisition project as shown on our previous blog entry (link here). It shows that Beechcraft Defense, IOMAX, Airbus Military, KAI, Embraer, and surprisingly, Elbit Systems, has shown interests on the project by acquiring the bid bulletins and making their questions heard by the DND. It was expected that Beechcraft will offer the AT-6 Texan II, IOMAX the Archangel Block 2, Embraer with the A-29 Super Tucano, and KAI with the KA-1 Woongbi.

Embraer  with its Super Tucano continues to lead this CAS Aircraft acquisition project.

Based on the queries made by these companies, it appears that Embraer has an edge over all other entities, with most queries only pertaining to legalities, integrated logistics support, and training clarifications and not much on technical concerns except for a simple (and rather obvious) question on the number of EO/IR system. It also shows that their partner for the US LAS aircraft project, Sierra Nevada, is not part of the tender for PAF's requirement.

Airbus CASA's query was requesting to change the technical requirements to allow their PZL-130 Orlik ACS to join the bidding, which includes request to lower down the required payload, the number of hardpoints, and the weight capacity of each hardpoint. They also requested changes on the protection system to reduce the aircraft weight, and the requirement for OBOGS system. All of these requests were turned down by the DND, thus it is expected that Airbus Military won't submit a bid due to this.

Airbus Military may offer the PZL-130 Orlik ACS, a new armed variant of the company's Orlik trainer.
Photo taken from Airbus Military website.

Elbit Systems requested for an extension of bid, which was actually provided (the new bid submission and opening schedule was moved to August 11, 2014 as of this writing). MaxDefense has no idea yet what they intend to offer, but it appears that they may use an existing aircraft type with integration of systems done by Elbit. So far they have done this for Embraer's Super Tucano, and it may be possible that they could be offering a base aircraft with Elbit using most of its systems and integration capability. Previously Elbit Systems  has demonstrated their capability to This is a curious offering and might be worth waiting.

Could Elbit Systems be offering a heavily-"Elbitified" L-159 ALCA? MaxDefense lets its viewers take a stab on what Elbit may offer.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) only requested for an extension of the bid submission schedule, although it was already confirmed before that they would be offering the KA-1 Woongbi, an armed version of the KT-1 which was discussed in MaxDefense's previous blog entry.

The KA-1 Woongbi being offered by the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

Beechcraft Defense and IOMAX both submitted several queries to the DND and has made up the largest percentage of queries, and it appears that the answers provided by the DND has disappointed both aircraft manufacturers due to the non-acceptance of the DND to change several technical specification details to suit their respective offerings.

IOMAX requested several considerations that their Archangel cannot provide, like the provisions on being a fully aerobatic aircraft, retractable landing gears, minimum cruise speed, full Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), capability to use heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and zero-zero ejection seats. All these features are not found on the Archangel Block 1 and 2 aircraft, as discussed previously in a separate MaxDefense blog entry. It is expected that because of these multiple non-compliance to the specifications, IOMAX is not expected to submit a bid for this acquisition project.

IOMAX's Archangel Block 2 is probably out of the running for the PAF's CAS Aircraft Acquisition Project.

Beechcraft Defense's technical questions were regarding the requirement for self-sealing fuel tanks, the type of EO/IR sensors and video output, need for a missile alert warning system (MAWS), radar warning receiver (RWR), and automated chaff and flares dispenser, and the minimum weight requirement for each weapons hardpoint. Beechcraft's queries on the EO/IR sensors are mostly clarificatory in nature, as they are offering the L-3 Communications Wescam MX-15Di EO/IR system. MaxDefense believes this type is compliant to the technical specifications. The strict requirement for a MAWS and RWR suggests that the PAF intends to use the CAS aircraft for territorial defense duties in support of ground and possibly naval units, and it is expected that the aircraft will face missile threats as well. Take note that there are currently no missile threats encountered by the 15th Strike Wing in its internal security operations. The AT-6 appears to meet the minimum number of hardpoints requirements, but may not meet the minimum 600 lbs. capacity for all hardpoints, which means a possible non-compliance issue, although the DND and PAF may give considerations depending on the projected accepted normal load-out that the PAF intends to do with these aircraft.

The Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II testing the Talon laser-guided rocket system.

So far, it still appears that the Embraer Super Tucano is still in the lead for this project, while Beechcraft Defense AT-6 and KAI KA-1 may have some difficulties in meeting certain technical requirements that may mean their disqualification from the race. IOMAX and Airbus Military are not expected to meet most of the requirements and may bow down without even submitting a bid. While Elbit is a dark horse that will need a very good offer to shoot the Super Tucano down. With the bid submission and opening moved again to August 11, 2014, MaxDefense expects the remaining bidders to make use of the additional time to refine their offers, as it was expected by many industry, aviation and defense analysts and suppliers that that the PAF may ultimately order up to a total of 24 units in the near future based on whatever aircraft will win this tender for 6 initial units.That is a large order that is worth giving a serious interest at.

MaxDefense continues to monitor the developments for this acquisition project, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

July 31, 2014:
The DND has moved again the bid submission and opening date for the CAS aircraft, as indicated in their new Supplmental Bid Bulletin. From August 11, 2014, it was moved to October 3, 2014. MaxDefense believes this might have something to do with possible problems with some of the expected bidder's capacity to provide the best offer on time. MaxDefense expects Elbit Systems to possibly steal the show from Embraer, Beechcraft Defense and KAI.

October 29, 2014:
After several adjustments that delayed the bid submission and opening date for this project, the DND has again released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin dated October 28, 2014, moving the bid submission and opening date from November 5, 2014 to December 15, 2014. This further delays this crucial project, which is one of the foremost acquisition projects of the Philippine Air Force in this current phase. 

The PAF recently announced their intention to do refurbishing works on a single OV-10 Bronco to keep them airworthy until a new replacement comes in. MaxDefense now believes that there are factors that are keeping this project from being implemented: either the DND/PAF are waiting for a preferential supplier to meet their requirements and is giving time for it catch-up, or there are several requests from bidders to extend the deadline as they are having difficulty meeting the project. Another possibility is that the budget allocated for this project is still unclear. Nonetheless, the PAF is in need of new Close Air Support aircraft very soon, and while the project still hangs in limbo, they have no other choice but to continue to soldier on with the venerable OV-10.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Its a Cat Fight for the Philippine Navy's ASW Helicopter Acquisition Program

The Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) has updated the bid information on the Philippine Navy (PN) requirement for new Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters. Its latest Supplemental Bid Bulletin shows the DND's replies to queries sent by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Indoensian Aerospace) - Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) joint venture, and AgustaWestland.

The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter, one of the expected entries for the PN's ASW Helicopter acquisition project.
Photo taken from Helihub website.

Although no information was provided in the media, it is expected that the PTDI-Airbus Helicopters venture will offer the Airbus AS565SB Panther naval helicopter, and AgustaWestland with the AW159 Wildcat. PTDI-Airbus recently won some tender projects with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) with the supply of 2 NC-212 Aviocar for the Lift Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft program, Airbus with the supply of 3 C-295 transport aircraft for the Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft program, and AgustaWestland for the supply of 8 AW109E Power helicopters for the Attack Helicopter program, aside from the 5 AW109E Power naval helicopters for the Philippine Navy.

It was earlier announced in media reports that Bell Helicopters was also interested in this project, and it was expected by many that Sikorsky Aircraft, and even NHIndustries, may also show some interest in the project. Should these 3 other companies try to join, it was expected that Sikorsky may offer the S-70B Seahawk, NHIndustries with the NH90NFH, and Bell Helicopters may use a modified B412EP similar to its previous 412EP Sentinel from the late 1990s. But according to MaxDefense sources, all 3 helicopter manufacturers are not expected to join the tender, with Sikorsky and NHIndustries due to "budget vs product costs concerns", and Bell due to difficulty in making an offer based on their product line up to meet the DND/PN requirements.

The Airbus Helicopters' AS-565 Panther naval helicopter in service with the French Marine Nationale. PTDI of Indonesia  is Airbus' partner for the PN project, and has a license to produce the said helicopters in their Indonesian facility.
Photo taken from Helihub website.

With only PTDI-Airbus and AgustaWestland submitting queries, this further cements the idea that only these 2 manufacturers will be expected to submit a bid for the project, making this project a Panther vs Wildcat "cat fight".

MaxDefense was able to get the Technical Specifications released by the DND for this project, so called "Supply and Delivery of Two (2) Anti Submarine Helicopters to the Philippine Navy with Munitions, Mission Essential Equipment, and ILS". A summary of the said specs 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),

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

- 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.
- 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.


From the specifications above, there is a strong indication that the PN and DND used the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat as their base platform. MaxDefense sources says that the PN already made previous discussions with several naval helicopter suppliers, including those joining the tender and those MaxDefense believed to be joining, before the tender was started. There are several items worth discussing on the specifications that will broaden up information on this acquisition project.

On General Requirements:
Both the naval Wildcat and Panther have an MTOW of less than 12,000 kgs, with the Wildcat a little heavier of the 2 helicopters at 6,000 kgs., and the Panther even less than half of the requirement at 4,500 kgs. But for payload, the Panther may have problems meeing the required 1,800 kgs. minimum weight, as the aircraft's specified weight only allows around 1,600 kgs. Being a smaller aircraft, the Panther is at a disadvantage on this regard against the larger Wildcat, including a possible technical issue on the required range and endurance in full load configuration. 

Dimensional drawing of the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat.
Photo taken from Globalsecurity website.

Both helicopters are equipped with a 4-axis autopilot and SPIFR systems, and RAST system. Both can also fit the required hangar dimensions in folded configuration. The navalized Panther is in service with the French Navy and several other navies like Israel, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and Mexico. The Wildcat is a newcomer being a different aircraft from the older Super Lynx, and is now in service with the British Royal Navy, and was ordered by the South Korean Navy for its Incheon-class frigates.

The Israeli Navy operates the Panther from their Sa'ar V corvettes, and are actively used for surveillance and maritime patrol duties in extension of the corvette's capabilities.

On Airframe and Powerplant:
The competing helicopters are both compliant with the engine and landing gear requirements, being both powered by twin turbine engines with FADEC. Point of interest would be the paint scheme, which appears to follow the one used by the PN's AW109E Power naval helicopters.

The external paint scheme for the new ASW helicopters will probably follow the scheme used for the PN's AW109E Power naval helicopters, shown above.

On Weapons and Sensors Systems:
Both helicopters are capable of doing ASW, ASuW, and SAR missions, with only differences on the specifications of the systems they are using. It is expected that the Wildcat will be using the Thales Compact Flash dipping sonar similar to what the South Korean AW159s will be getting. Aside from a tethered dipping sonar system, the specs also require a surface scanning radar system that can be used for surveillance and targeting, and as an extension of its host ship's sensors system. The data link standard was previously on hold for further announcement, but the SBB has indicated that the PN would use the Data Link 16 standard. The Portable Downlink Receiver is an interesting requirement, which was required to be compatible to the data link system and is ready to install to the PN's naval ships and ground stations. MaxDefense believes that the PN was specifically looking at the Security Enhanced Data Transfer Unit, which has this ability and is compatible with Tactical Data Link 16 network.

An illustration of what the Wildcat can carry.

These helicopters are also capable of carrying chaffs and flares, and both can carry heavy machine guns as required, although the AS565 Panther appears to have difficulty of having them on door pintle mounts and may require gun pods, which reduces the number of external stores like additional ordinances that the helicopter can carry.

The Panther and Wildcat can both carry the required torpedoes, but will be dependent on the actual torpedo type and made that the PN chooses for its new frigates. The Panther can carry the US Mark 46 and French/Italian Whitehead A.244/s torpedoes, while the Wildcat is designed initially to carry the British Sting Ray torpedo, although AgustaWestland is currently making the aircraft capable of carrying the MU90 and other similar Western torpedoes. The torpedo's propulsion requirement for a seawater battery operated type may point to the MU90, as the rest of possible torpedo contenders use other means.

The BAE Sting Ray torpedo.
Photo taken from

The missile is where an edge of the Wildcat over the Panther shines out. The Wildcat currently carries the British Sea Skua ASM while the Panther carries the French AS 15TT. Both missiles meet and exceed the required missile and warhead weight minimum requirements. But for the PN's specified requirement that the range must be at least 20 kms. will keep the AS 15TT at bay due to its operational range of only 15 kms., 25% short of the minimum range requirement. The Sea Skua even exceeds the requirement with an operational range of 25 kms. 

The Sea Skua, above shown being loaded on a RN naval helicopter, meets the requirements set by the DND and PN for the helicopter-launched ASM acquisition together with the ASW helicopters.

A naval Panther from the UAE military equipped with 4 AS 15TT missiles, 2 on each side.

The Wildcat also benefits from an ongoing future missile requirement specified by the British Armed Forces, which includes the already available Thales Light Multirole Missle, although both the Panther and Wildcat shares the advantage of having the MBDA Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) to replace both the British Sea Skua and the French AS 15TT. But while the PN requires a missile that is already being sold, which makes the Wildcat sit atop the Panther in the missile requirement. 

The only problem now is if the Sea Skua is still being produced by BAE Systems. If not, the British government may allow to provide pre-owned missiles from RN stocks, while the PN may opt to shift to the FASGW upon availability.

Additional Information related to the PN's New Frigates:
The additional information provided by the Supplemental Bid Bulletin also included tidbits of information that pertains to the incoming new frigates of the PN. Some previously missing information were answered and may shed important information on the ships.

The frigate specifications did not provide the exact data link system to be used, which is now known as the Tactical Data Link 16 network. This was probably decided upon by the PN between the release of the frigate and ASW specifications. It is interesting to note the the US, Australian, and Japanese military, NATO and most partner nations use this network, allowing inter-operability and joint use of tactical information. The SBB also shows that there is a possibility that most major, if not all, Philippine Navy ships will be installed with the Data Link 16 network.

It also confirms that the PN has not yet decided on the torpedo type until the ASW Helicopter SBB was released. 

Sure Winner?
With these information, it looks quite clear that the PN is going for the AW159 Wildcat, although PTDI-Airbus and any other manufacturers will be given a chance to match or exceed AgustaWestland's newest baby either by the specs or by the price. So far MaxDefense sources confirmed that the navalized Panther's unit price is several million dollars cheaper than the Wildcat, although in terms of capability, the Wildcat exceeds the Panther in several attributes. Add to that the earlier win of AgustaWestland to supply smaller naval helicopters to the PN in the form of 5 AW109E Power helicopters, which gave them an advantage in terms of supply chain, training, maintenance, and cooperation agreements.

So is the DND and PN handing the silver platter to AgustaWestland? Although it looks like it, until the bidding proceeds and all bid submissions are opened, validated, and passed the post bid qualifications, we cannot really say. There are instances that manufacturers fail the post-bid qualifications, although the chances are slim. 

MaxDefense will be following this major acquisition program with updates on the bottom part of the blog to be added later on, and more information on the comments and replies that will mount up later on.

October 15, 2014:
With the Anti-Submarine Helicopter acquisition going through a second attempt for the first stage bid, the schedule for bid submission and opening was again moved, from October 21, 2014 to October 28, 2014. This was done due to a request from AgustaWestland and PT Dirgantara Indonesia seeking clarifications on the bidding documents provisions.

The official document from the DND can be found here:

In this reset of the bidding, there are no definite bidders yet, although it was reported before that those who showed interest or acquired the bid documents include AgustaWestland, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), and a joint venture between Bell Helicopter Asia and Serpenair Group. It is interesting to note the absence of Airbus Helicopters, which showed interest on the project and submitted a bid for the bidding's first attempt. It is possible that they are teaming up with PT DI, which was recently granted a license to locally build the AS565 Panther helicopter including its ASW variant. 

It would be safe to assume that AgustaWestland will still offer the AW159 Wildcat, while it is expected that Bell Helicopters will field a navalized variant of the Bell 412. It is still unclear if IAI will submit an entire bid, or will be joining a specific aircraft manufacturer as a system supplier or integrator.

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