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!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Philippine Air Force Technical Group Picks TAI's T129 ATAK as its Future Attack Helicopter

After keeping the information for sometime now, MaxDefense can finally discuss this publicly after it made public by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) itself during a major event this week.

During the founding anniversary of the PAF's 15th Strike Wing last 26 November 2018, no other than the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force, Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar, confirmed in his speech that the Technical Working Group (TWG) handling the PAF's Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project has selected their choice in the form of the Turkish-made T129 ATAK attack helicopter, manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Although there was no further mention of the status of the acquisition, MaxDefense believes that the choice by the TWG was already approved by the Senior Leaders of the Philippine Air Force, including the CGPAF himself, and was already submitted to the Department of National Defense (DND) to prepare for the negotiations and actual acquisition process with TAI and the Turkish Ministry of Defensce. It is expected that the project will be a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the Philippines and Turkey.

While the PAF TWG and the Senior Leaders selected TAI's T129 ATAK, may we remind our readers that selection of the helicopter only means that this would be pushed to the DND for implementation and preparation for negotiation and acquisition. THE PROJECT IS NOT YET AWARDED, NOR CONTRACT SIGNED WITH TURKISH AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES AS OF YET. Like all other acquisition projects, this would undergo several processes that would determine not only the product's compliance to specs, but also the capability of the manufacturer to deliver the project smoothly and within schedule.

The Technical Working Group for the PAF's Attack Helicopter acquisition project selected the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, and was submitted to DND for implementation.
Credits to original source of the photo.

The PAF's Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project:

Originally the PAF's Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project calls for the acquisition of 24 armed light helicopters that will ultimately replace the existing fleet of ageing McDonnell Douglas (now MD Helicopters) MD-520MG Defender single-engine light armed helicopters that have been in service with the 15th Strike Wing since 1990. The allocated budget for the project was originally at Php11.8 billion in 2016, before it was adjusted at least 2 times, and approved for implementation with a budget of Php13.8 billion in 2017.

The plan was to select a dual-engine armed light helicopter model, similar to the Leonardo AW109E Power armed helicopters that are already in service since 2015. Dual engine was preferred due to its safety features in case one of the engine fails while in flight, an important feature when flying especially over bodies of water. Among those considered were the following dual engine light helicopters:

1. An up-engined variant of the Leonardo AW109 helicopter from Italy, 
2. France's Airbus Helicopters H145M with the HForce weapon system,
3. An armed variant of MD Helicopters MD902 Explorer;
4. Hindustan Aerospace Limited (HAL) Rudra from India,
5. Armed variant of the Bell 429 GlobalRanger

Initially the PAF was looking at acquiring armed light helicopters, with the strongest contenders being a more powerful and armed variant of the Leonardo AW109 helicopter (top) and the Airbus Helicopters H145M (above).
Credits to original sources of the photos used.

Based on information gathered by MaxDefense from sources, in addition to its own research, the leading contenders based on the light helicopter platform were the Leonardo AW109, which benefits from being already in service with the PAF, and the Airbus Helicopters H145M, which is actually the leading choice of the PAF due to its superior performance over the AW109. 

But sometime in 2018, the PAF started to also consider purpose-built attack helicopter models, which are more capable in terms of performance and combat capability, but are also more expensive to acquire than armed light helicopters. 

It is believed that the proposal to acquire real attack helicopters started when the Kingdom of Jordan confirmed its donation of at least 2 used Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippines, which MaxDefense was first to report back in August 2017. The mere idea of having attack helicopters, despite old, opened up the PAF's mindset of considering purpose-built attack helicopters aside from just limiting itself to armed light helicopters.

Among those purpose-built attack helicopter models considered by the PAF, based on the press releases, information from MaxDefense source, and interviews during ADAS 2018 and other defense exhibitions include the following:

1. Bell's AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, apparently the PAF's favourite choice;
2. Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter;
3. Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter, as marketed by Rosoboronexport;
4. Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-35 Hind, as marketed by Rosobornexport;
5. TAI T-129 ATAK attack helicopter;
6. Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack helicopter

The Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter (top) and the Bell AH-1Z Viper (above) were among those considered by the PAF when they decided to also look at purpose-built attack helicopters as options for the project. The AH-1Z was even said to be the favourite of PAF pilots.
Credits to original sources of photos.

In a previous poll started by MaxDefense in its Facebook page, majority of voters believed that the PAF would be better off acquiring purpose-built attack helicopters rather than armed light helicopters. Various reasons were made to support their choices, but MaxDefense believes that the main reason for the PAF to forego acquisition of light helicopters was for them to introduce new and additional capabilities that are not possible with armed light helicopters like the AW109 or H145M.

It was reported that the US offered attack helicopters and F-16 fighter aircraft to the Philippines, as admitted by Pres. Duterte himself. Upon checking with MaxDefense sources from Malacanang and the defense department, it turns out that the US offered the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, and was packaged with US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programs. But despite this, the DND and PAF was said to be concerned by the steep price, and the long delivery lead time common with US FMS-implemented projects. 

Apparently it is not Pres. Duterte's rejection of American hardware that made the PAF decide against these helicopters, as the DND and PAF didn't take the president's words seriously, according to a cabinet member that MaxDefense talked to a few months ago.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana views the Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopter during the Russian Army 2018 defense expo in Russia last August 2018 (top), and visited the booth of TAI during IndoDefence 2018 in November 2018 (above).
Top photo credited to Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos King Sorreta's FB page, and above photo to TAI's Twitter account.

The DND and PAF did look at Russia's Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mil Mi-35 Hind attack and assault helicopters, but did not take them seriously due to issues on inter-operability, compatibility, pricing, and requirements. Apparently the Mil Mi-35 Hind is too big and too expensive to operate, while the Mil Mi-28N is also expensive, although cheaper than its American counterparts.Several trips were made by the DND, including Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana himself, and the PAF to Russia to check on the Russian offers.

While the PAF also considered the Airbus Helicopters Tiger, it did not give too much attention due to its reputation of not meeting expectations of users. Apparently the Australian Army did provide feedbacks on the Tiger attack helicopter several years back, and the PAF seems to have remembered them well.

The T129 ATAK is currently Turkey's main attack helicopter operated by the Turkish Army, and is also being actively offered for export by TAI, with Pakistan signing up as its first export market.
Credits to original surce of the photo.

The T129 ATAK Attack Helicopter:

The TAI T-129 ATAK attack helicopter is apparently the second cheapest purpose-built attack helicopter in the PAF's list (the Mil Mi-35 Hind said to be the cheapest to acquire), and appears to be the smallest as well. Even compared to the AH-1Z Viper, it is smaller and lighter by a huge percentage. It was said to be first offered by AgustaWestland to the PAF in 2012, as reported by IHS Jane's, although serious consideration for the type only happened in 2018. While its small size may have reduced its operational range and carrying capacity compared to other attack helicopters, it is also an advantage for the T129 as it allows for a smaller radar cross section, as well as being more difficult to see and target especially by unguided weapons.

It is based on AgustaWestland's A129 Mangusta attack helicopter, which was first in service with the Italian Army in 1990. AgustaWestland provided the technology transfer to Turkish Aerospace Industries using the A129 Mangusta International variant as part of the deal for the Turkish Army to acquire the T129 version as its future attack helicopter. TAI then used locally-made or developed parts, increasing the Turkish content of the T129 compared to the Italian A129 Mangusta.

The Agusta (later on AgustaWestland) A129 Mangusta was the basis for the TAI T129 ATAK, as part of a deal between AgustaWestland and the Turkish government for the selection of the helicopter for acquisition as the future attack helicopter of the Turkish Army.
Credits to original source of the photo.

TAI also improved the design by using upgraded engines, and improved transmission system and rotor. It was also redesigned to allow operations in hot, humid weather as well as cool weather, which is the general Turkish environment in both the European and Middle Eastern side of the country. This would be beneficial for the Philippine Air Force as the local weather is mostly warm and humid. It is yet to be confirmed if the PAF will require its attack helicopters to have saline treatment to protect from the local naval environment of the country.

It can carry a wide variety of weapons, including an M197 triple-barrel 20mm gatling cannon and 2.75" rocket pods and BGM-71 TOW missile, similar to those installed on the AH-1F Cobra helicopters that the PAF is slated to receive. In addition, it can also carry and fire several other types of anti-tank missiles including the American AGM-114 Hellfire, Israeli Spike-ER missile (which the Philippine Navy already uses),  and the Turkish UMTAS missile. It can also fire the Rocketsan Cirit laser-guided rockets, as well as AIM-92 Stinger, MBDA Mistral, and even the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for protection against enemy aircraft or helicopters.

The T129 attack helicopter is fully aerobatic, as demonstrated during several air shows where the T129 was being marketed for export.
Credits to original source of the photo.

This is already an advantage compared to the weapons that armed light helicopters carry, considering the budget won't be sufficient enough for the units to arrive with upgrades to fire air-to-surface missiles and other weapons.

Currently only the Turkish Army uses the T129A and T129B variants of the ATAK, although Pakistan was already confirmed as an export market and would be receiving 30 units as part of the deal between the two countries. The T129 has also been used in combat over Syria against Kurdish forces, although at least 1 of Turkey's T129 has confirmed to have been shot down only last February 2018 after being hit by an RPG round.

Project Expectations:

MaxDefense was informed by sources that previous statements made by the DND and PAF, as well as by the president himself that the Attack Helicopter (as well as the Combat Utility Helicopter) acquisition projects are the highest priority projects of the Philippine Air Force under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). This is in line with the national government's campaign to be prepared for any future terrorist attack, as well as to increase its combat capability against the terrorist New People's Army (NPA) and various Islamic terrorist groups.

If all goes well, MaxDefense believes that an award can be made, as well as  a contract can be signed between the DND and TAI (or the Turkish government) by 2019, after passing all requirements. Based on similar projects, it is expected that TAI may be able to deliver the first aircraft only after 2 years from contract signing. MaxDefense also believes that a maximum of only 6 units can be acquired based on the budget allocated by the government for this project, although more units can be lined up for acquisition as part of the Horizon 3 phase between 2023-2028.

Another side of the T129 ATAK attack helicopter during an airshow in France.
Credits to original source of the photo.

While 6 units won't be enough to form a decently sized squadron, it is expected that the 2 AH-1F Cobra helicopters will be used as a training platform for PAF pilots to transition from armed light helicopters to purpose-built attack helicopters, and will join the T129 squadron as well, in case no more used AH-1Fs are acquired from Jordan or any other sources. Apparently the PAF desires to raise at least 2 squadrons of 12 aircraft each, while the ageing MD-520MG Defender would be de-armed and used as a training helicopter.

MaxDefense also expects that the PAF may not initially acquire anti-tank missiles for the helicopters, and may rely more on standard 2.75" rocket pods and gun pods, although the PAF may consider acquiring laser-guided rockets, since they are already determining its viability for use on the AW109E armed light helicopter already in service.

Why MaxDefense Released This Information?

To be honest, MaxDefense believes that releasing this information is quite premature considering the status of the project being in the pre-procurement phase despite the TWG's selection of the T129 attack helicopter. But I believe it is the best time to put this out considering the CGPAF himself made the confirmation in public (although within the PAF and visitors) in addition to the information MaxDefense received from other sources.

Our reason is based on information we got that there is someone with influence and close relations to Pres. Duterte that is undermining the project, by pushing the PAF's TWG as well as the Senior Leaders themselves to cancel the recommendation on the acquisition of TAI's T129 ATAK. And instead, recommend the acquisition of another armed light armed helicopter  being offered by the foreign company represented by this influential official's close friend and associate. MaxDefense would refrain from naming people and the company represented for now. Apparently the local representative if an election contributor to this influential official, who is running for public office next year.

Publishing this blog this early allows the general public to know that there is already a decision made by the PAF's TWG and Senior Leadership, and that any changes in it, or even in the PAF's table of organization, could be because of the illicit practices of these corrupt officials close to the president of using their power and influence to make changes, despite being unqualified or inexperienced to make the decision.

What we saw in the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project has become a prime example of what could happen if those in power intervene in the AFP's decision making - even military leaders can fall and projects affected for the sake of personal interests by a few. And it is not impossible for it to happen again, this time with the Philippine Air Force.

We hope that the PAF's TWG and Senior Leadership would be strong enough to resist any interference from government officials, or stand for what they believe is the right product to go for.

So What's Next:

At the moment, all we can do is wait until the PAF and DND iron out things, and start the negotiations and acquisition process with their Turkish counterparts and with TAI. Until a contract is signed, there are still many things that could happen that may result to changes in the acquisition plan, or even to the cancellation of the project. Until then, all information in this blog entry are still subject to changes although are all based on the latest information from our sources, as well as from the Philippine Air Force itself as explained earlier in the blog entry.

MaxDefense would monitor developments in this project, whatever happens to the TWG's decision.


1. Attack Helicopter acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)
Modernization Phase: RAFPMP Horizon 2
ABC: Php13,800,000,000.00
SARO Release: to be updated
Status as of this writing: proposed to DND for negotiation and procurement
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in pre-procurement phase
Contract Price: not yet awarded.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Quick Update on the AFP's Acquisitions Under it's Modernization Program as of November 2018

Last weekend, local media outlet Business Mirror released an article covering updates on several ongoing and incoming acquisition projects under the AFP Modernization Program. All of those projects mentioned were already discussed by MaxDefense in previous blogs or Facebook posts and comments over the year or two, and we decided to discuss those mentioned projects further to allow for greater understanding for readers. This is also a quick way of updating our readers with the status of these projects considering many are still pending or have not yet even been started.

The acquisition of the Hermes 900 MALE UAS from Elbit Systems of Israel are among the first projects finalized within the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP. The first Hermes 900 system is scheduled for delivery to the PAF by late 2019.
Credits to owner of the original photo.

The article can be accessed here:

"Military rolls out ‘dramatic’ capability upgrade" - dated 11 November 2018

MaxDefense's Take on the Projects Mentioned:

Here are our take on the projects mentioned by Business Mirror, as mentioned according to the order of the article. MaxDefense also provided links to previous MaxDefense discussions on the topics for reference.

1. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are being acquired by both the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Philippine Army (PA). The PAF project under the Horizon 2 phase involves the acquisition of Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial systems, which is scheduled for delivery between late 2018 and early 2020. The PA UAS project is still in the pre-procurement stage and will be a G2G project, most likely with Israel as well.

"Philippine Air Force to Procure Elbit's Hermes 900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV under Horizon 2 Phase" - dated 08 August 2017, and:

"First Hermes 450 UAV for the Philippine Air Force Scheduled to Arrive Soon" - dated 22 August 2018

Above is the first actual Hermes 450 bound for the PAF, and will be used to train PAF operators for the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 system.
Photo provided by MaxDefense source.

2. PAF’s acquisition of Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) involves 2 units, not 1 as reported. It is actually a project under the Horizon 1 phase and is still in the pre-procurement phase after several failed biddings in the last 4 years. The PAF’s 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing is expected to be the operator of these aircraft. and

PTDI's CN-235-220ASW is one of several offers competing for the LRPA acquisition project.
Photo taken from

3. PN’s acquisition of 2 new Corvettes and 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels under the Horizon 2 phase have been discussed thoroughly in MaxDefense FB posts and blogs. Both are still in the pre-procurement stage, although it appears that the DND is already leaning on Austal Philippines to supply the OPVs. MaxDefense was also told by sources that Hyundai Heavy Industries is leading the pact with regards to supplying the Corvettes, despite both projects not yet finalized by the Navy’s Technical Working Group (TWG). Both ship types are to be operated by the Navy’s Offshore Combat Force. and

Austal Philippines is competing for the OPV acquisition project with a new design based on their Cape-class large patrol boats.
Photo taken from Austal's website.

4. The delivery of 6 Close Air Support Aircraft are indeed coming in by December 2019 as per the contract between the DND and Embraer SA of Brazil, with the A-29B Super Tucano being supplied. This project contract was only signed late last year, and has been in several MaxDefense blogs and discussions since 2013. The PAF’s 15th Strike Wing is expected to operate these aircraft and replace old SF-260TP aircraft, not the OV-10 Bronco as everyone expected.

5. The acquisition of Sidewinder short range IR air-to-air missiles, specifically the AIM-9L/I-1 variant from Diehl Defense-Raytheon of Germany is part of the F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Acquisition project under the Horizon 1 phase, and is indeed coming in by July 2019. These will arm the FA-50 light combat aircraft as well as future multi-role fighters of the 5th Fighter Wing.

6. The aborted Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project awarded to Bell Helicopter Textron Canada was originally part of the 2nd List of Horizon 1, but was pushed to Horizon 2 due to the delays on the project after the hullabaloo between the Philippines and Canadian governments. It would be noted that CGPAF Lt.Gen. Galileo Kintanar previously confirmed that they shortlisted the Bell 412EPI from Bell USA, Sikorsky Black Hawk, Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171, and Leonardo Helicopters AW139M. MaxDefense also got confirmation that the KAI KUH-1 Surion is still in the running as well. MaxDefense expects the decision to be made before yearend as there is an urgent need for the immediate delivery of these helicopters.

7. It appears that the Philippine Navy’s leadership is still hell bent on getting the Submarine Acquisition Program to be implemented within Horizon 2 phase, but its still a big question mark on where they will be getting the funds for it. The current silence on the project appears to be temporary as the Navy focuses on the acquisition of Offshore Patrol Vessels.

The Modified Scorpene-class submarine is among those being offered to the Philippine Navy for its Submarine Acquisition Project.
Photo credited to original source.

8. For Attack Helicopters for the PAF, the current default is for the acquisition of 24 units of Armed Light Helicopters, although the PAF opened the option to acquire more expensive purpose-built Attack Helicopters in the same category as the TAI T-129 ATAK and the Bell AH-1Z Viper but with limited quantity as the budget remains the same. It remains to be seen though if the PAF and DND will continue with pursuing armed light helicopters considering the need for quantity than quality to meet current operational requirements. The PAF’s 15th Strike Wing will operate these helicopters.

9. The FA-50 Alternate Mission Equipment is a Horizon 2 project, although MaxDefense prefers to not discussing this project for now due to request by our sources in the PAF. In a nutshell, it involves acquiring equipment for the FA-50 fleet to allow additional mission capabilities. This will be for the PAF’s 5th Fighter Wing.

10. The Command and Control Fixed Wing Aircraft project actually involves the acquisition of two aircraft, not 1 as reported by Business Mirror. One would be based on a turboprop aircraft, which was awarded last month to CASA-Airbus for their C-295 medium lift aircraft, and the other using a jet-powered aircraft, which is yet to be awarded. These aircraft acquisitions are under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP, and are intended to replace the old Fokker fleet flown by the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing. And by the way, the C-295 is not a helicopter.

Another CASA-Airbus C-295 medium airlifters was ordered by the PAF to fulfill a requiment for a new turboprop powered VVIP/ Command and Control aircraft.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

11. The Philippine Army has several projects pertaining to armored vehicles, so the description made by Business Mirror is confusing. But it appears that what the report was describing is not an Army project but is actually a joint project of the Philippine Navy (Marines) and the Philippine Air Force to upgrade their fleet of V-150 Commando armored vehicles. Project involves mobility upgrade for 11 V-150s, as well as upgrades on the turrets on more than 20 V-150s from both services. The PAF’s 710th Special Operations Wing operate a few V-150 Commando armored vehicles for base defense, while the V-150 is among the standard armored vehicles of the Marines.

12. The Navy’s acquisition of a 4th batch of Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) involves  for 3 missile-equipped attack boats based on the MPAC Mk. III for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Force. The projects are actually divided into multiple lots and are combinations of 2nd List of Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 funded projects, with the boats itself funded by 2nd List of Horizon 1, while the Weapon Systems and the Mission Essential Equipment with ILS are to be funded under the Horizon 2 phase. The MPAC boats and Mission Essential Equipment were awarded to the Joint Venture of Propmech Corp. and Lung Teh Shipbuilding of Taiwan, while the Weapon Systems are to be acquired separately, and is expected to be a G2G with Israel with Rafael Advance Systems supplying the Spike-ER missile and Mini Typhoon RCWS. and

13. The AFP General Headquarters’ acquisition of Directional UAV Jammers / Anti-Drone Systems for the Presidential Security Group is intended for protection against surveillance drones, or even suicide drones that may target VVIPs especially during public events where the president or other VVIPs are attending. 9 sets (18 units) were to be acquired with a budget of Php33.75 million, and is expected to be made by a Chinese manufacturer. The PSG already operates similar but shorter-ranged equipment, and these new acquisitions are intended to further improve the PSG’s capabilities.

14. The Indian-made Force Protection Equipment as described in the report are actually made by  MKU Ltd. This project is actually an RA 7898 AFPMP project involving the acquisition of 44,080 units of FPE Body Armor that was originally awarded to Colorado Shipyards. MKU took over the contract last year after Colorado Shipyards failed to deliver, and is still in the process of delivering them.

15. The US-made 60mm Mortars are actually acquired under the old RA7898 AFPMP program, for originally for 60 units, but was reduced to 44 or 22 units, depending on the agreement after price escalations over the years, These are to be acquired from the US government via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. This is actually an example on how slow the US FMS process is in acquiring weapons, as this project has been undelivered since the contract was signed a few years ago.

16. The ongoing project involving armored vehicles within the Philippine Army’s Mechanized Infantry Division is the M113 Firepower Upgrade project, a 2nd List of Horizon 1 project awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I of Israel, which involves installing RCWS to 44 of the MID’s M113A2, and the conversion of 5 of the MID’s M113A2 to armored mortar carriers and installed with the Soltam Cardom 81mm mortar system.  MaxDefense sources confirmed that the full delivery will be completed next year.

44 more M113A2 of the Philippine Army will soon be equipped with the Dragon 12.7mm RCWS from Elbit Systems as part of the M113 Firepower Upgrade project.
Photo credited to the late John Chua.

17. The acquisition of 3 Air Defense and Surveillance Radars for the PAF were made in the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP, with at least 1 unit already delivered by Elta Systems of Israel, and the other 1 coming in before yearend. Elta delivered the EL/M-2288 AD-STAR ER extended range radars and will be equipping the PAF’s 580th Aircraft Control & Warning Wing to replace old radars and improve the ability to see air activities within the country’s airspace. and

18. The Full Motion Flight Simulators were ordered from Environmental Tectonics of the US, which will train pilots on C-130, Bell 412 and AW109E aircraft. This is part of the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP and was signed in 2016. Originally it was supposed to arrive last May 2018, but it appears that delivery encountered delays. The PAF’s Air Education and Training Command will operate these flight simulators and improve the training curriculum of pilots for the abovementioned types of aircraft.

19. The basing for Search & Rescue air assets in Palawan and Tawi Tawi are part of the old RA7898 AFPMP program, and MaxDefense believes that these are already completed. Meanwhile, the basing for the Long Range Patrol Aircraft in Batangas  Palawan and Zamboanga; the Radar Basing facilities in Ilocos Norte, Palawan, and Lubang Island; and the Fighter basing in Pampanga and Palawan are all under the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP. The recent re-opening of Basa Air Base is part of this project, although the Fighter basing in Palawan is still ongoing. Apparently, all the radar basing facilities are still ongoing despite one of the radar stations already operational. and

20. The Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System (MITSS) were already delivered to the Philippine Marines in November 2017, and were supplied by Triton Communications using a system based on the British Super Swiper II UAV. This project is part of the Horizon 1 phase of RAFPMP, and allows the Marines to use UAVs to provide targeting information for their artillery and infantry units. and

The MITSS as shown to Pres. Duterte during AFP Day last December 2017.
Photo credited to Presidential Communications Office.

21. The acquisition of 2 Anti-Submarine Helicopters are also part of the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP and was awarded to Leonardo Helicopters in 2016. Leonardo will deliver the AW-159 Wildcat ASW helicopter, which they scheduled to deliver by March 2019 after a 6 month delay. These helicopters are the first ASW air assets of the Philippine Navy, and will be operated by the Naval Air Group from the new frigates being constructed for the Philippine Navy by HHI. They will be armed with torpedoes, short range anti-ship missiles, and is equipped with a acoustic dipping sonar.

The first AW-159 Wildcat helicopter bound for the Philippines Navy, as seen here undergoing it's first flight test in the UK last 01 November 2018.
Photo credited to Kevin Wills.

22. The Philippine Navy’s C4ISTAR equipment, which is essentially the acquisition of 5W VHF handheld radios from Harris Corporation USA, is a Php300 million project that allows the Philippine Navy, specifically its special operations units and the Philippine Marines ground units to communicate effectively using newer tactical radios to replace old ones, or increase the use to more troops. This project is part of the Horizon 1 phase and delivery is still being processed.

23. The Philippine Navy also ordered 8 Amphibious Assault Vehicles from South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin, which won the tender for the AAV Acquisition Project in 2015. Hanwha will supply their KAAV, which is a license copy of BAE Systems AAV7A1. MaxDefense believes that the first batch would be delivered to the PN before yearend, as the Philippine Marines has started training on the type as early as a few weeks ago. and

 Philippine Marines personnel undergoing training on operating the KAAV in South Korea last October 2018.
Photo taken from ROKMC FB page.

MaxDefense intentionally did not include updates on projects not mentioned in the article, as it would be make this blog entry too long and ineffective.

We continuously update everyone through our Facebook posts while further explanation will be made on blogs as necessary.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Indonesia's Increasing Participation in the Philippine Military's Modernization Program

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to modernize its forces under the banner of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP) mandated by Republic Act 10349 (RA 10349), the Department of National Defense (DND) continues to search for reliable source of military equipment and munitions that would not only be of high quality, but also reasonably priced.

While Western-made equipment, particularly those sourced from European, American and Australian manufacturers and suppliers are generally accepted to be of high quality, they are also normally higher priced, and sometimes beyond the reach of the budget allocated by the National Government for the RAFPMP. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese sourced equipment tend to be cheaper, but quality, compatibility, commonality and interoperability are all affected due to their different mindset in manufacturing (priority on quantity and reduced cost rather than quality), as well as their being on the different side of the geopolitical spectrum means it would be difficult for the AFP to integrate most of their equipment especially those using higher technology like fighter aircraft, naval systems, sensors, and missile systems.

A compromise would be going for other sources that are using NATO or Western standards, but are not necessarily Western countries. These countries include South Korea, India, Eastern European countries like Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Serbia, and others. Among those "others" is Indonesia, which is experiencing a boom of defense industry development in the past 10 years due to their government prioritizing improvement of their defense capabilities, support of local manufacturing capability to support defense, and the hunger for technology transfer agreements from suppliers.

Aside from fulfilling their local market, these Indonesian defense companies are now looking outward at exporting their wares to countries who usually either buy Western or Russian/Chinese, but prefer to take a look at alternatives in the global market. The Philippines is among those who showed early interest in Indonesian-made defense products, as shown by the active participation of several Indonesian companies in public bidding or negotiated procurement projects of the AFP and DND.

In this blog, MaxDefense will be discussing the RAFPMP projects where the Indonesians have been participating actively, and what are the status of their offers in respect to the modernization project's status. The information on Indonesian companies and products was connected with the recent high activity in the Indonesian defense sector due to the ongoing IndoDefence 2018 defense exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia earlier this week. This could be noticed by the steady stream of defense news related to Indonesia lately as major defense publications like IHS Jane's, Shephard Media, and other big names were covering the event.

Indonesia is still on the game with regards to the Philippine Air Force's long delayed Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) acquisition project (top), and in the new requirement for Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) (above).
Photo taken from PTDI's website, and

DND & AFP @ IndoDefence 2018:

The Philippines has a strong delegation that attended the IndoDefence 2018 Exhibition and Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is ongoing from 7th to 10th November 2018. All branch of services of the AFP, as well as the AFP General Headquarters and DND were well represented, which allowed them to cover their respective requirements.

While part of the DND-AFP contingent was to talk to different defence manufacturers from all participating countries, there is also a strong reason to bring discussions with Indonesian companies that supply Indonesian-made products.

Indonesian Products in the AFP:

So far, Indonesia has been successful in supplying products to the Philippines, with at least two major projects won and undertaken by Indonesian companies after winning public tenders made by the DND.

Among them are the Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) acquisition project, which was awarded to state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL in 2014 resulting to the delivery of the Tarlac-class landing platform docks, and the Philippine Air Force's Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition project, which was awarded to PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI, aka Indonesian Aerospace) and supplying the CASA-PTDI NC212i Aviocar light tactical transport aircraft. 

Both projects were undertaken by previous administrations, with the PAF LLFWA acquisition actually part of the 3rd phase of the old AFP Modernization Program under RA 7898, and the PN SSV acquisition project under the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP.

There were several attempts made by Indonesian companies in winning projects under the old AFPMP and the RAFPMP Horizon 1 phases. Among them were the PTDI's participation in the PAF's Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition project which was ultimately won by Airbus Military, and PTDI's participation in the Anti Submarine Helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Navy, which was ultimately won by Leonardo Helicopters.

Best examples of Indonesian products already in service with the Armed Forces of the Philippines include the Tarlac-class landing platform docks made by PT PAL (top), and the NC-212i light tactical airlifters made by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (above). So far both are non-kinetic assets and are mostly support assets.
Photo credits ot the Philippine Navy and

Upcoming Modernization Projects of the AFP:

There are still several acquisition projects in the RAFPMP, mostly under the current Horizon 2 phase, as well as future projects in the Horizon 3 phase which will be implemented starting 2023.

Currently there are several projects in which Indonesian companies are expected to participate. Some of these projects actually have a high chance of being awarded to an Indonesian company.

1. Philippine Army:

a. Light Tank:

The Philippine Army is in the market to acquire 2 types of Light Tank platforms with a total quantity of 44 units: with one based on a tracked armoured vehicle platform, and a second one based on an 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicle. Both will be armed with a 105mm tank gun.

Indonesia is currently in the running for the tracked Light Tank platform with the FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT (aka Harimau Hitam) medium tank. This is a joint development of Turkish company FNSS and Indonesia's PT Pindad, wherein FNSS is providing support to PT Pindad to meet requirements of the Indonesian Army to supply up to 300 medium tanks to replace their ageing AMX-13 and Scorpion light tanks. The tank is said to be designed as a real medium tank rather than an Infantry Fighting Vehicle armed with a tank turret. 

While PT Pindad is not participating on the Wheeled Light Tank requirement, its partner FNSS will by participating with their 8x8 Pars.

According to MaxDefense sources, the Philippine Army is scheduled to have a demonstration of the tank sometime between 19th to 22nd of November 2018 in Indonesia. MaxDefense looks forward to get details on the said demonstration.

The FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT / Harimau Hitam medium tank.
Credits to original source of photo.

b. Wheeled APC:

The Philippine Army is also looking at proposals for to supply 28 Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers armed with a manned turret with a 25mm autocannon. Among those who were reported to have submitted a proposal was PT Pindad, although it is still unclear what are the complete details of their offer, which is said to be revolving around the Anoa 2 6x6 armored vehicle, considering the vehicle was never been installed with such gun and turret before. MaxDefense believes that PT Pindad may have offered an alternative using a RCWS system with a 12.7mm machine gun.

PT Pindad's Anoa 2 6x6 armored vehicle.
Credits to original source.

c. Light Tactical Vehicle:

This is another project that PT Pindad made known its interest to the Philippine Army by proposing its Komodo 4x4 tactical vehicle line. The project is currently not among those considered as urgent, so details on this as well as PT Pindad's offer is still not solid enough for discussion.

The PT PAL Komodo was offered to the Philippine Army and Philippine Marines for their Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, although it remains to be seen if the vehicles are within the technical specifications of both service branches.
Credits to original source of the photo.

2. Philippine Navy:

a. Strategic Sealift Vessel:

The Philippine Navy is again in the market to acquire two additional Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) similar or better than the Tarlac-class landing platform docks it acquired from Indonesia's PT PAL. As expected, PT PAL is again in the frontline in this project, making use of its previous win and close coordination with the Philippine Navy. The current budget for the two SSVs is Php5 billion, which is 20% more than the budget allocated for the first batch of SSV in 2013.

Based on media reports as well as information passed on to MaxDefense, PT PAL is offering a longer variant at 143 meters long (compared to the 123 meters on the Tarlac-class). Based on interviews made on PT PAL's public affairs officer present in IndoDefense 2018, they are confident to bag the contract, which they expect to cost around US$43 million per ship (Php2.3 billion on current exchange rate), or within the allocated budget of Php2.5 billion per ship by the Philippine Navy.

The new variant is not only larger, but also faster with a top sustained speed of 20 knots (compared to 16 knots on the Tarlac-class), which means the extra length could be to accommodate larger, more powerful diesel engines, or additional diesel engines in a CODAD configuration.

PT PAL is competing with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) and South Korea's Daesun Shipbuilding.

PT PAL's proposed SSV for Horizon 2 is 20 meters longer, faster, and may have more storage or carrying capacity than the Tarlac-class that is based on a 123 meter design from PT PAL (above).
Photos credited to Benedict Exconde, shared during ADAS 2018.

b. Offshore Patrol Vessel:

Another major project, and is actually the most expensive project of Philippine Navy's Horizon 2 project, the acquisition of 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels is among the most contested project, and PT PAL is present to provide its own solution.

Last month, MaxDefense mentioned in an earlier blog that PT PAL was said to have offered their 85 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel design to meet the PN's requirements. Although there already appears to be some favoured shipbuilders by the DND, PT PAL's offer remains on the table should the DND and Philippine Navy consider competition aside from those favoured by both offices.

PT PAL submitted their 85-meter long Offshore Patrol Vessel design to the Philippine Navy to meet the OPV Acquisition Project requirements. It remains to be seen if PT PAL will be shortlisted, considering this project is given higher priority by the DND and PN for immediate implementation.
Photo credited to Benedict Exconde, taken during ADAS 2018.

3. Philippine Air Force:

a. Long Range Patrol Aircraft:

The Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) is among the most delayed project in the RAFPMP, first implemented by the PAF in 2014 and is among the first projects forwarded for implementation. Several bid failures later, its still in the acquisition list.

Previously MaxDefense wrote in its last blog entry that Spain's CASA might be at an advantage on the LRPA project based on the recent plans to allow Government-to-Government acquisitions between the Philippines and Spain.

But it appears now that the Technical Working Group is still finalizing the revised specifications of the project. Apparently, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) is pushing forward its CN-235-220MPA offer. Originally the CN-235-220MPA did not met the original technical specifications of the LRPA project which calls for a larger aircraft with more space and consoles, and capability to do both Maritime Patrol Aircraft with Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). 

PTDI is said to be capable of producing a ASW-capable MPA similar to the Turkish Navy's MELTEM II CN-235ASW but using the CN-235-220 platform manufactured by PTDI.
Photo from

But with technological improvements, PTDI is said to be capable of combining both requirements in a single system, with their new variant called the CN-235-220ASW. PTDI's advantage is on pricing, which they are confident to be far cheaper than any of their competitors, while also adding their willingness to provide technology transfer as part of the deal.

It remains to be seen though if the PAF's LRPA TWG would indeed change the specifications especially on aircraft dimensions and weights, or will stick to the old one, which would not be beneficial to PTDI due to it being more favorable to the CASA-Airbus' C-295ASW.

PTDI confirmed that they are now capable of combining MPA and ASW capabilities due to technological advancements in the past few years. It all remains to the PAF's TWG if they insist on using a larger aircraft like the C-295M.
Photo taken from PTDI's website.

b. Medium Lift Aircraft:

The PAF plans to acquire three more Medium Lift Aircraft to supplement the three Airbus Military-CASA C-295M medium tactical airlifters acquired a few years ago, and to replace the remaining Fokker F-27 Friendship aircraft in service.

Despite PTDI's offer using the CN-235-220 aircraft which is cheaper but smaller and shorter than the CASA-Airbus C-295M/W, it appears that PTDI is willing to provide extra including technology transfer, and willingness to assist the DND to revive the capacity of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC, which is now under DND control) to allow local servicing of the existing NC-212i fleet, as well as the future CN-235-220 and even the CASA-Airbus C-295M fleet.

Should the DND and PAF decide to go on a G2G or negotiated bid for this project, such offer by PTDI can be considered unlike if the project goes under a public bidding like before.

MaxDefense was also told that PTDI was actually offering more if the PAF and DND consider acquiring the CN-235-220 airlifter and maritime patrol aircraft all together, which MaxDefense believes may have to do with the PAF's interest to acquire additional NC-212i light tactical airlifters. 

The CASA-PTDI CN-235-220 medium tactical airlifter, this specific aircraft said to be for Senegal.
Photo taken from

c. Combat Utility Helicopter:

PTDI actually has a license to build the Bell 412EP, although it appears that they still do not have the capacity to build the newer Bell 412EPI that the Philippine Air Force is originally after for their Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project.

According to MaxDefense sources, PTDI did made a pitch to supply license copies of the Bell 412EP, similar to those already in service with the PAF, although they are giving way to current moves by Bell's parent company in the US to sell the Bell 412EPI through their own line.

Nonetheless, PTDI is said to be always ready to produce the Bell 412EP if the PAF decides to go for it instead of the current offers it got from the US government and Bell USA.

PTDI is a licensed manufacturer of the Bell 412EP, and is willing to produce them for the PAF if Bell USA cannot secure a deal that is being ironed out between them and the DND with the assistance of the US government.
Credits to owner of the photo.

The Possibilities are Wide Open:

These projects are just some of several possible projects that the Indonesian defense companies are interested in joining in, there are several projects wherein MaxDefense has not been able to gather enough information, but we are certain that the Indonesians are hoping to participate in.

Among them are minor products like ammunition, small arms, infantry equipment, machinery, and spare parts for military equipment.

Then there's the offers to provide technology transfer to the Philippines, as well as in assisting the Philippnes own aircraft and naval shipyard capabilities which are actually interesting proposals that go beyond acquisitions but are still within the bounds of the AFP's Modernization Program.

Many of the projects we listed above are for immediate implementation, including the Offshore Patrol Vessel, Combat Utility Helicopter, and Long Range Patrol Aircraft, so hopefully we'll see the outcome of Indonesia's and everyone's participation in these projects.

Whatever the outcome, MaxDefense hopes that cooperation in defense manufacturing and trade continues between the Philippines and Indonesia, and strengthen further considering both countries are among the closest neighbours in terms of people, government, culture and defense. Indonesia as the de facto leader of ASEAN and the largest economy and country in Southeast Asia can be a good role model on how the Philippines can move forward to defense self sufficiency, technological advancement, and other achievements that could help the Philippines and the Filipino people in the long run.


1. Light Tank acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00 (combined 2 lots)
Quantity: 44 units (lots 1 & 2 combined)
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

2. Wheeled APC acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php2,265,200,000.00
Quanitity: 28 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

3. Light Tactical Vehicle acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php4,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 200 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

4. Strategic Sealift Vessel acquisition project

End User: Philippine Navy (Sealift & Amphibious Force)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php5,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 2 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

5. Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project

End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php30,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 6 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

6. Long Range Patrol Aircraft acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence & Security Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 phase
ABC: Php5,976,000,000.00 (subject to possible changes)
Quanitity: 2 units
SARO Release: returned, to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

7. Medium Lift Aircraft acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (220th Airlift Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php5,288,609,984.00
Quanitity: 3 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

8. Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (205th Tactical Helicopter Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php12,100,000,000.00
Quanitity: 16 units (subject to change depending on model procured)
SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0025076 released on 21 December 2017
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects