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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Issues on the Air Surveillance Radar Project (Horizon 2) of the Philippine Air Force

MaxDefense has been requested by one of its reliable source to post this article regarding the ongoing proposed acquisition by the Philippine Air Force of what is Phase 2 of its Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Project under Horizon 2 (H2) of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

As there has been very limited information about the status of this project after the successful delivery and deployment of the three (3) ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Radar Systems supplied by IAI/Elta Systems of Israel under the Horizon 1 phase of RAFPMP last March 2019, MaxDefense decided to allow the article to be posted on the basis of the contributor’s credibility and track record of access to first-hand information provided to MaxDefense for the past few years.

The IAI/Elta Systems ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range is currently the centerpiece of the Philippines' network of Air Defense and Surveillance radar systems. Photo taken from PAF's 580th ACWW.



Recent information has come to light about the ongoing acquisition for Phase 2 of the Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) by the Philippine Air Force (PAF), which like the choice of the AFP-GHQ to go for the non-military standard Motorola P25 handheld radios to replace the current Harris handheld radios of the AFP, appears to be equally disturbing, if not questionable.

The original objective for Phase 2 of the Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Acquisition project as conceptualized and presented, is primarily, “To expand Air Surveillance and Aircraft Control capabilities in support of Air Defense Operations over Benham Rise / Philippine Rise, the southern areas of the country and other areas of the West Philippine Sea.”

The ASR project has an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) of Php5.5 billion, or USD$100 million (at an exchange rate of Php55 to USD$1), as listed in the “Priority Project List of Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), also recently identified to be sourced from BCDA Remittances Funds.

Given the complexity and sensitivity of the project, the mode of procurement, similar to that on Horizon 1, is to be undertaken through a Government-to-Government negotiated deal.

Under the original Horizon 2 project plan, the ASR Package consists of the following:

* Horizon 2 stipulates the acquisition of three (3) fixed ASRs and two (2) mobile ASRs.

* Horizon 1 ADSR platform performance (which is the IAI Elta Systems ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range) will be utilized as the minimum standard for the projected fixed ASRs of the Horizon 2 Project.

* An “Add-On Package,” in addition to the radar tower and radome, are the remaining radar operating facilities and equipment (Command and Control building; communication equipment and infrastructures; ELINT; etc.).

The PAF requires the acquisition of mobile radar systems aside from fixed radars. Above photo is an example from Thales. 

These Fixed and Mobile ASRs are intended to augment and expand the air surveillance capability of the recently delivered ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Radar Systems supplied by IAI/Elta of Israel under the Horizon 1 phase and are planned to be deployed at Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Panganiban, Camarines Norte; Balut Island, Saranggani; Hill900B, Zamboanga; and Balabac, Palawan, which will effectively cover at least most of the critical areas of our country.


For the fixed ASRs, the project aimed to have the detection performance of the Horizon 1 Radars as the minimum standard for the Horizon 2 requirement:

* At least 300nmi Instrumented or Maximum Detection Range;

* At least 200nmi Effective Detection Range;

* At least 100,000 feet altitude;

For the mobile ASRs, due to the expected lower performance of the mobile platforms, the detection range requirement was hence reduced by 30nmi.

The project also places emphasis on the compatibility of the platform’s systems with those of Horizon 1.

The Thales Ground Master 400 was offered for the fixed radar requirements.

Original Proponents:

For the Fixed Radar requirements, only Elta Systems and Thales managed to meet the specifications and criteria set for the project. Among those that were considered and evaluated are:

* Elta Systems (Israel), which re-offered its ELM 2288ER;

* Lockheed Martin (USA) with the TPS-77;

* SAAB (Sweden) with the Giraffe 4A;

* Thales (France) with the Ground Master GM400;

* SPETS (Ukraine) with the 80K6T; and

* LIGNex1 (South Korea) with the LRS 180.

As with the Fixed Radar requirements, only IAI/Elta Systems and Thales made the grade for the Mobile Radar, with five (5) prospect proponents evaluated:

* Elta Systems (Israel), ELM 2288MR;

* Lockheed Martin (USA), TPS-77MRR;

* SAAB (Sweden), Giraffe 4A;

* Thales (France), GM 400;

* SPETS (Ukraine), 80K6T.

IAI Elta is again offering the ELM-2288ER AD-STAR for the fixed and mobile radar requirements.

Then came the Japanese Offer:

Sometime last December 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana announced that Japan is offering for the PAF’s Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Acquisition Project, an “upgraded” model of its 1990s Mitsubishi Electric J/FPS-3 Air Defense Radar System, seven (7) of which are in used by the Japan Air Defense Ground Environment (JADGE), since the early 1990’s. This upgraded model offered by Japan was later identified as Mitsubishi's J/FPS-3ME.

It may be recalled that prior to the offer made by Japan to the Philippines of its J/FPS-3 radar system last December, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has lost to Indra Systemas S.A., in a public tender held several months earlier by the Royal Thai Air Force for a similar project offering the same “updated” version of its J/FPS-3 radar system. This could have been the very first export of domestically produced defense equipment by Japan after its government lifted the ban on the export of arms and related technologies in 2014.

The array panel of Mitsubishi Electric's J/FPS-3 radar.

The Original PAF/DND Decision and the Israeli Offer:

To reiterate, prior to the entry into the evaluation and selection process for the ASR project of Mitsubishi Electric’s J/FPS-3 radar system, the Philippine Air Force has already completed the evaluation of at least six (6) prospect proponents for the project.

The recommendations thereafter submitted were as follows:

* Approval of the ASR Horizon 2 package for three (3) fixed and two (2) transportable/mobile systems to include the required “add-ons”

* Approval of the initial selection of proponents (IAI/Elta Systems and Thales) that qualified based on the project’s Radar Coverage / Detection Range Requirements

* Approval to validate the Japanese proponents’ ASR platforms for qualification to the Project’s Radar Coverage/Detection Range requirements once coordination has been made between our country’s respective Defense Department

* Approval for a Government-to-Government mode of procurement for the Project

* Approval of the conduct next Analysis pass for the selection of platforms for the three (3) fixed and two (2) transportable/mobile ASR Systems package

At that time, Israel's IAI Elta’s offer for the project stood at Php6.997B, which is way beyond the ABC, while France's Thales did not submit any price quotation.

Possibly realizing its imminent disqualification for going above the ABC, IAI Elta submitted a revised price proposal of US$97.1 million to the Department of National Defense on March 2019, significantly reducing its price offer compared to its original offer, and even improving their proposal by offering to accept only a fifteen percent (15%) Advance Payment, with the balance of eighty-five percent of the contract price spread over the years 2019 to 2022, but still maintaining the same delivery schedule as before.

This revised price proposal and Terms of Payment submitted by IAI/Elta Systems included the following:

* Three (3) Fixed Radar Systems – ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range,

* Two (2) Mobile Radar Systems – ELM-2288MR AD-STAR

* “Add-On” Package consisting of:
o Radar Tower and Radome
o Command and Control Building
o Communications Infrastructure
o Mobile/Transportable ADSR storage facilities
o Electrical Power Generators including Infrastructure
o Data Link and ELINT/SIGINT requirements
o Communications equipment: Microwave radios, VHF/UHF radios, multi-band and HF radios
o Transport vehicles for Radar platforms, Command and Control and Support (for Transportable/Mobile ASRs only)

The ELM-2288ER and MR variants both meet the requirements of the PAF for fixed and mobile radar systems.

Changes in PAF's Requirements:

Shortly thereafter, in a surprising and unexpected turn of events, and prior to the visit of DND Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana to Japan last April 2019, the Procuring Entity - Philippine Air Force again made and submitted another presentation of the project, this time highlighting the offer made by Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, of its modified version of the J/FPS-3, dubbed as the “J/FPS-3ME,” including what appears to be its own “Add-Ons” which are not originally included in the package proposal criteria asked of from the other proponents.

This latest presentation made by the Philippine Air Force listed the ASR project requirements to be as follows:

* At least 300nmi Instrumented or Maximum Detection Range;
* At least 200nmi Effective Detection Range;
* At least 100,000 feet altitude;

a.) Three (3) Fixed and One (1) Mobile Radar Platforms
b.) Radar Tower and Radome
c.) Command and Control Building
Command and Control Operations equipment
Communications equipment
Data Link System interoperable with Link 16 Protocol
ELINT/SIGINT Systems equipment
Perimeter Fence
d.) Communications Infrastructure
e.) Electric generators and housing
f.) Mobile Radar requirements
Transport vehicle
Command and control vehicle
Support vehicles (Security vehicles, Refueling truck, etc.)
g. Mobile Radar Training and Storage facilities

The Offer Changes:

We particularly took note that the above project requirements now lists only Three (3) Fixed and One (1) Mobile Radar Platforms, a reduction of one (1) Mobile Radar Platform from the original requirement of two (2).

Even more surprising in this latest presentation made by the PAF, is the re-inclusion of Lockheed Martin’s TPS-77, which was already declared as disqualified in its first evaluation for not having met the range requirements, and the exclusion of Thales, which made it during the “first pass.”

One very striking reality in the conduct of the evaluation of the proposed system of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation’s modified version of its 1991-model J/FPS-3, is that this specific model, presented as FPS-3ME has never seen actual deployment and operations in Japan's own Japan Air Defense Ground Environment (JADGE).

For the above “re-packaged” project requirements, the Philippine Air Force reported the following Comparative Costs vis-à-vis an ABC of Php5.5 billion:

* IAI Elta Systems – Php6.237 billion for 5 radars (3 fixed, 2 mobile). Apparently PAF still used the original offer in their comparison, when IAI Elta Systems already revised the offer to just US$97.1 million, which is approx. PHP5.34 billion based on US$1=Php55 exchange rate;

* Mitsubishi Electric – Php5.292 billion for 4 radars (3 fixed, 1 mobile);

* Lockheed Martin – Php5.238 billion for 4 radars (3 fixed, 1 mobile) and Php6.048 billion (3 fixed, 2 mobile).

Noteworthy in the above disclosures of the price offers by the three evaluated proponents is what followed as the conclusion thereto:

• Mitsubishi Electric’s price for their ASRS Package Proposal is Php208 million below the budget limit for four (4) radars.

• To get five (5) radars, Mitsubishi Electric will exceed the budget limit by Php702 million.

• Lockheed Martin will also exceed the ABC if it offers five (5) radar units.

Revised Recommendation by PAF:

The “Recommendation” given by the PAF in this latest evaluation presented as stated:

“The DASAT recommends Mitsubishi Electric as the most competitive proponent that can satisfy the capability requirements of the Second Horizon ASRS Project due to superior technical performance, most competitive price package, and for having the most advantageous maintenance and support package due to proximity.”

While the standard J/FPS-3 radar is in use by the Japan Air Defense Ground Equipment (JADGE), the variant offered for export to the Philippines is not.

As it is, there seems to be some major issues in this latest evaluation report submitted by the Philippine Air Force requiring some serious explanation.

1. Foremost, why was the TPS-77 of Lockheed Martin re-included in this latest Assessment Report when it was already declared as disqualified during the first pass?

2. If the “Recommendation” made primarily arose from the Assessment criteria as listed  above, how is it that the Mitsubishi FPS-3ME was given a perfect 10 in the criteria “Ease of Integration” when this radar system has never been integrated with any other system produced by other foreign manufacturers of air defense systems? To reiterate, had Mitsubishi won the Thailand tender, it would have been its very first export of the FPS-3 Radar System outside Japan. 

3. What was the basis or criteria used in determining the “Operational Effectiveness” of each system? How did the PAF scored the J/FPS-3 to make it ranked #1 on “Operational Effectiveness” by the PAF?

Despite Japan operating the J/FPS-3 as part of its integrated air defense system, the variant for export was not optimized for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and is not the same variant used by Japan. 

4. On the matter of supportability, one can hardly declare that proximity of the supplier is a major factor to be considered for a favorable determination. The latter can always be resolved and addressed by employing an efficient spare parts inventory system, local training and or maintenance of a local service facility by the prospect supplier.

Also, the world is so small in this era and physical distance of the manufacturer is never an issue anymore.

5. In fact, it also appears that the Assessment Team in the course of its evaluation totally disregarded the long accepted concept and advantage of maintaining commonality of parts and systems. It only follows that an acquisition of multiple platforms for the radars will eventually result in increased maintenance costs for the Philippine Air Force and the government.

Moreover, acquisition of multiple types of platform for a single purpose will also require training a separate team of operators and maintenance personnel, thus maximization of human resource cannot be employed;

6. Relative to Item No. 2, the primary objective of acquiring an Air Surveillance Radar System is to provide early detection of any intrusion or incursion in our airspace in order to effect a successful intercept of any threat. It is for this reason that the Philippine Air Force has also recently selected Rafael’s Ground Base Air Defense Missiles, which will eventually be integrated into the ASRs. It is also worthy to note that the radars currently installed in the PAF’s FA-50 fleet were also supplied by IAI/Elta.

7. On the matter of price offering, the revised price proposal submitted by IAI/Elta, was deemed to be the LOWEST price offering for this project. This is even made more advantageous to the government, by its offer of multi-year payment terms, without any change in the required delivery period. These conditions are essentially translated to be an interest free “USE NOW, PAY LATER” proposal.

As such, for 2019, it allows the DND/AFP to only allocate Php825 million instead of Php5.5 billion. The remaining Php4.675 billion can therefore be treated as savings for fiscal year 2019, and utilized by the DND/AFP for other priority projects, as opposed to any other alternative proposal submitted, the payment of Php5.5 billion is to be completely allocated and paid (via a Letter of Credit) for 2019;

8. What is rather odd and not clear in this latest assessment made is the fact that the original number of five (5) radars were suddenly reduced to four (4) units only.

9. And lastly, how did the J/FPS-3 meet the requirements on Effective Range and Maximum Instrument Range when based on the product specs, its Maximum Effective Range is only 200nmi, or 50nmi less than required by the PAF?

And as stated, had the original number of radars been retained, the offer made by Mitsubishi Electric would have exceeded the budget already, whereas the revised offer of IAI/Elta at USD$97.1 million, which was actually based upon the original five (5) radar units, but only disclosed as equivalent to four (4), would have resulted as the proponent with the lowest price offer.

Which begs the question of whether there was an “accommodation” extended to Mitsubishi Electric Corporation when this assessment was done for it to qualify and be Ranked as No. 1?

To summarize the issues:

1. Originally the PAF selected the IAI Elta Systems ELM-2288ER and ELM-2288MR for fixed and mobile radar requirements, respectively. While not selected, the only other shortlisted product was Thales' Ground Master GM400 radar.

2. To support the PAF's selection, the DND also approved the acquisition mode to be a G2G deal with Israel. But due to the sudden entry of Japan's Mitsubishi Electric J/FPS-3ME, the earlier decisions to go G2G with Israel for IAI Elta's radar came to a halt.

3. The DND and PAF suddenly decided to restart the selection process, with a reduced quantity from 3 Fixed and 2 Mobile radars to just 3 Fixed and 1 Mobile radar. This is questionable since the original selected product (IAI Elta Systems)  was confirmed to meet the budget while still supplying 5 radar units.

4  The new selection process declared Mitsubishi Electric's J/FPS-3ME, despite being more expensive, possibly not meeting required range parameters, and being a product variant not used by Japan or any other country. In contrast, the previous selected product (IAI Elta Systems) improved its previous offer of still offering 5 radar units within the ABC while also improving the payment scheme.

5. Questions were also raised on J/FPS-3ME's interoperability and integration with the existing PAF Air Defense system that are mostly made up of products from IAI Elta Systems, including incoming products also made in Israel (e.g. GBADS from Rafael).

With this, the author only wants to ensure that this very important and essential project to secure our borders and air space, would not end up like most of the other inutile and failed endeavors entered into by the different government administrations.

Project Summary:

Air Surveillance Radar Phase 2 Acquisition Project

* End User: Philippine Air Force (580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing


       Original: 3 fixed and 2 mobile radar systems
       Revised: 3 fixed and 1 mobile radar systems
* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government
* SARO Release: TBA
* Winning Proponent: TBA
Product for Delivery:  TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense:

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFASRPhase2Acquisition #PAFASRAcquisition

* Status: Pre-procurement ongoing, awaiting final decision from PAF TWG and DND.


First edit and release: 28 May 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. Thanks Max! I really just hope that the deciding authorities will seriously consider their position and weighing the options for this very important acquisition involving the countries national security... Kudos!

  2. I too would rather have the IAI radar for their cost and commonality reasons. However Japan has been very good to us as far as supporting our security needs and it looks like this will just grow. Having everything from one supplier may not exactly be ideal as being demonstrated by the Huawei situation. In school we were thought that when planning your communication needs you should consider diversity so that failure from one particular segment could be offset by another.

    As long as the performance, reliability and price of the Mitsubishi radars are at par with the IAI radars and they promised to integrate their units to the current system, I think they should also be considered.

  3. i don't know why it seems parang paatras mag-isip itong mga military leaders natin...

  4. This is proof that somebody inside is deliberately undermining what us remaining decent in our country short only on becoming a sobotuer who's loyalty is no long to our country. How many good men careers will be sacrificed while this unseen traitor get away with it. This is a great test now for our AFP. Don't let evil triumph.

  5. Admin MaxDefense, After reading from your blog, it looks like the government is asking for future trouble trying to accommodate Japan's Mitsubishi Electric J/FPS-3ME, not meeting with an active service with any country, not meeting with the maximum range requirement, more expensive compared to IAI offers of 3 units Elta Systems ELM-2288ER and 2 units ELM-2288MR. Plus the compatibility with our future GBMDS from Rafael and for commonality for training and maintenance purposes. It seems some unscrupulous official are steering the project to some favored contractor.

  6. . I loss confidence already in Lorenzanas logic in considering the Mitsubishi Radars. Here's a straight question for you Mr Defense Secretary. Are the Air Surveillance Radars offered by Mitsubishi far more technologically advance than Israel's IAI/ELTA and meet the TWG specifics of the PAF? Where is your logic, they offered 5 radars (3 fix and 2 mobile) for less than the ABC amount and the Mitsubishi could only offer 4 radars (3 fix and 1 mobile) but still exceeded the ABC? In this case, the AFP modernization is already screwed. Where is your brain Mr. Defense Secretary?

  7. Why on earth are we even considering buying Japanese radars? Israel’s IAI-ELTA, which is already supplying three of the fixed radars meant to surveil Philippine territorial skies of hostile aircraft and airborne threats like missiles and drones, is now offering to supply the originally required three (3) fixed long range radars and two (2) mobile medium range radars (5 radars in all) for Php5.34 Billion. Japan’s Mitsubishi, which manufactures the J/FPS-3, has offered only three (3) fixed long range radars and one (1) mobile medium range radar at Php5.292 Billion. The US’s Lockheed Martin, which was already disqualified in earlier evaluations, was suddenly brought back in and allowed to bid (as if to say there were other competitors) Php5.283 Billion for the similar four radars (3 fixed and 1 mobile). Even with the ELTA offer being far superior, the DND and PAF evaluators are leaning towards the Japanese offer and are now scaling down the requirement to four radars (3 fixed and 1 mobile) to apparently accommodate the comparatively expensive Mitsubishi J/FPS-3. What gives?

  8. We shouldn't buy Radar from Japan and here's why. The ELTA’s ELM 2288ER is among Israel’s most advanced radars, and boasts a detection range of 480 km. The battle-proven ELM family of radars is the backbone of Israel’s complex and very effective early warning and air defense system, networking the venerable Iron Dome, which has neutralized well over a thousand airborne threats over Israel from their rabidly hostile neighbours, with more advanced laser air defense (Iron Beam) and an impressive range of very potent anti-ballistic missile systems.

    The Japanese J/FPS-3 offer will just be an upgrade of an old technology which began development in the US on the 1960s and was harnessed by Japan in 1991. It has never been battle-proven as the radar backbone of a successful interception of a hostile airborne threat.

    1. Let's just wait and see, the japanese technology performs offering their new technology that are more expensive to others..perhaps, aside from technology the japanese conveys a friendly message that we do not knew...What the world knows about the Japanese-is the "WORD OF HONOR"...

  9. There's no assurance that the mitsubishi j/fps-3 will be the ideal radar system for the detection of developing airborne threats of the decades to come, namely hypersonic sea-borne and ballistic missile, drone swarms and stealthier aircraft.

  10. Walang wala sa IAI-ELTA ng Israel na sobrang advance. Napakaluma na ng teknolohiya ng Japanese J/FPS-3. Just an upgrade of the old technology.

  11. Lumang luma na Radar to ng Japan inupdate lang. Anong nasa isip ng PAF at DND? Bakit hindi sa advanced tulad ng ELTA’s ELM 2288ER Radar ng Israel???.

  12. We should not buy Radar from Japan and here's why. Being based on relatively older technology, there is no assurance that the Mitsubishi J/FPS-3 will be the ideal radar system for the detection of developing airborne threats of the decades to come, namely hypersonic sea-borne and ballistic missiles, drone swarms and stealthier aircraft. On the other hand, Israel’s family of ELM radars are now supporting their developing multi-tiered air defense systems for very short range (VSHORAD), short range (Iron Dome, C Dome, Iron Beam), medium range (Spyder, Barak 1) and long range (Barak 8, Arrow 2 & 3, David’s Sling). These air defense systems are meant to face up to any present and developing (future) airborne threats to that small nation. We ought to learn from the Israeli experience in air defense.

  13. Stop this madness, please dont buy Radar from Japan. The truth is, for their future air defense requirements, Japan does not appear to be relying greatly on their Mitsubishi J/FPS-3 or its upgrades. Reuters reported in December 2018 that aside from the fast-tracked procurement of F-35s, Japan had approached the US for the procurement of “two land-based Aegis Ashore air defense radars to defend against North Korean missiles” ... “and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.” ( article/us-japan-defence/japan-to-buy-more-u-s-made-stealth-jets-radar-to-counter-china-russia-idUSKBN1OH05Z). Even Japan’s second line of defense, its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) mobile systems, does not rely on the Mitsubishi J/FPS-3. So, if Japan itself does not rely on their home-grown radar for their vital strategic air defense requirements, as well as their future defense needs, why on earth are we even considering this system?

    Calling the attention of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) please ....

  14. Japan radar = TDLink16,
    Israel radar = no TDLink16


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