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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Philippine Air Force set to receive delivery of several new air and ground assets within 2020

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is expecting several new assets to arrive in the next few weeks, which will certainly boost the overall capability of the service considering its limited number of assets.

Delays on delivery were encountered on all of them due to a variety of reasons, with COVID-19 the most obvious and unintentional.

Here are the air assets that we can expect to arrive soon:

1. Refurbished upgraded C-130 Hercules Heavy Tactical Airlifters from US EDAs:
The acquisition of refurbished and upgraded Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, together with Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, is among those included in the Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects that was given in-principle approval by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

Originally, the plan calls for the acquisition of a single C-130H/T Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft from US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) at an overall cost of Php2,080,000,000.00. The huge budget is due mostly to the upgraded avionics, the spares and logistics support, and other ancillary costs rather than the airframe itself.

Air transport has long been a problem of the PAF, and the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) Philippines has recommended to the US Department of Defense to assist the PAF in building this capability.

For this project, the US stepped in to assist by providing assistance through US Foreign Military Financing (FMF program, which now allowed the PAF to acquire two (2) refurbished and upgrade C-130 Hercules aircraft instead of just one. The overall cost of the project went up to Php2.5 billion, but the PAF is now just shouldering around Php1.6 billion, while the US Department of Defense paid for Php900 million worth of the project. This allowed the PAF a savings of around Php400 million which is was able to use in other modernization projects that encountered shortfall in funding.

The original delivery date for the C-130s was supposed to have happened earlier, with the first aircraft expected in early 2019, and the second aircraft before the end of 2019. This was confirmed in a speech made by former Commanding General Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar (ret) in September 2018, and again reiterated in another speech during the service's Christmas Party in December 2018.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that the reason for delays was because of the delayed release of funding from the Philippine government, which has always been a problem in most modernization projects.

The Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed in a press release last week that based on their status reports, the first C-130 Hercules will be arriving within July 2020, and the second will arrive before the end of 2020.

Since the statement was based on a status report rather than an updated field information, there is still possibility that the arrival of the first aircraft will be delayed as COVID-19 has made things difficult globally. Although at best, we can still possibly expect its arrival within this 3rd quarter of 2020.

The arrival of these C-130s will certainly boost the PAF's existing fleet of three (3) operational C-130s operated by the Mactan-based 220th Airlift Wing, although only 2 aircraft are available at any given time since the third unit, a C-130T, is undergoing Inspection and Repair As Necessary (IRAN) procedures in Europe. The PAF also has a non-operational 1960s model C-130B which is expected to be retired from service soon, and a written off C-130H, which was cannibalized for parts after suffering damage from a fire in 2019.

One of the PAF's C-130T Hercules, which is a former US Marine Corps KC-130T, refurbished, upgraded and acquired by the PAF but without the refuelling capability. Photo credits to Jon Melo through

2. Brand new Embraer A-29B Super Tucano close air support aircraft:
The PAF is expecting the arrival and delivery of six (6) Embraer A-29B Super Tucano close air support aircraft from Brazil.

These aircraft were acquired under the PAF's Close Air Support Aircraft (CASA) Acquisition Project, which is part of the Horizon 1 Phase Priority Projects, and are meant to complement the PAF's existing fleet of Rockwell OV-10A/C Bronco attack aircraft and Aermacchi SF-260TP armed trainers with the 15th Strike Wing.

The aircraft were originally meant to start delivery by late 2019 for the first batch of three (3) aircraft, and the second batch by early 2020. But Embraer encountered issues and requested for time extension that will allow them to start delivery by February 2020, which the DND allowed.

A-29B Super Tucanos of the Afghan Air Force. Photo credits to the US Air Force.

It was later on delayed further due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, which further pushed the delivery date. Several dates were proposed but it was pushed back as well. 

The DND has announced in a press release last week that the aircraft are expected to be delivered to the PAF by 29 July 2020 based on the same status report as mentioned on the C-130 thread above. But MaxDefense has doubts on this since we received information from PAF and foreign sources that 2 countries that were supposed to provide transit to the 6 aircraft have declined on the transit plans.

The aircraft were supposed to have their 2nd technical stop in Marrakech, Morocco, but the Moroccan authorities have only allowed a fuel stop and not an overnight stay for the pilots. Meanwhile MaxDefense also received info the India, which was supposed to be the flight's 6th stop, also declined although it is still unclear if they declined a stop or an overnight stay for the pilots.

If these stops were declined, it would push back the delivery date by a few days at best, although MaxDefense is still hoping that these countries would provide solutions to allow the pilots involved in the delivery to rest.

An A-29B Super Tucano of the Colombian Air Force. Credits to original source of photo.

MaxDefense also wondered why Embraer did not allow for a delivery using large transport aircraft like those Antonovs used during delivery of other air assets to the PAF. MaxDefense sources confirmed that the contract cost did not allow for this, which is said to be more expensive than flying the 6 aircraft halfway around the world.

Another issue that remains to be seen is the availability of the wing-mounted internal machine guns, which are originally from Belgium's FN Herstal. Last year MaxDefense received confirmation from sources that this is one of Embraer's problems since the Philippines has been imposed with an arms sales restriction by the Belgian government, specifically the Walloon Region where FN Herstal is based. The Walloon Government is a major shareholder FN Herstal.

It was confirmed to MaxDefense that Embraer would source the machine guns from somewhere else, although it may not be delivered with the aircraft should deliveries proceed in late 2019 and early 2020. But since the delays pushed the delivery of all aircraft to July-August 2020, it is possible that the machine guns were already acquired and installed on the aircraft.

The aircraft will be operated by the 16th Attack Squadron, 15th Strike Wing, which is now operating the SF-260TP armed trainers. It previously operated the OV-10 Bronco, but apparently a switch was made between the 2 squadrons, literally all members of each squadron as well as their assets were switched. 

The new Super Tucanos will be assigned together with the SF-260TP Warrior armed trainers of the 16th Attack Squadron (formerly 17th Attack Squadron). Photo credits to Philippine Air Force,

As explained to MaxDefense, the 16th Attack Squadron now operates all single-engine fixed wing attack aircraft, so the A-29Bs and SF-260TPs would be combined, while the OV-10s being twin engine aircraft are re-assigned to the 17th Attack Squadron. Eventually the SF-260TP armed trainers will be relegated to combat training roles, while the OV-10 Broncos will be retired most likely between 2022 to 2024, as the PAF plans to acquire more A-29B Super Tucano aircraft in the future.

The aircraft to be delivered will have the following temporary serial numbers: PT-ZZU, PT-ZZS, PT-ZZQ, PT-ZZO, PT-ZZN, and PT-ZZM

An A-29BB Super Tucano bound for the PAF and in PAF colors, with temporary serial number PT-ZZM, was seen conducting flight tests in Brazil last year. Photo credited to Brazilian planespotter Leonardo Santana.

3. Brand new Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk combat utility helicopters:
Another new capability will be arriving soon with the Philippine Air Force, and these are the Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk combat utility helicopters for the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.

These helicopters were acquired under the Combat Utility Helicopter (Phase 3) Acquisition Project, which is also part of the Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects under RAPFMP. They are built in Poland by Sikorsky's subsidiary, PZL Mielec.

Although 16 units were ordered under a US$241.461 million deal, only the first batch of six (6) units will arrive this year. The rest of the orders will be delivered to the PAF in 2021. Take note that these are COMBAT UTLITY HELICOPTERS and are not related to the Armed Blackhawks offered by Sikorsky for the PAF's Attack Helicopter (Phase 2) Acquisition Project

While an exact delivery date is still unavailable, MaxDefense believes that they will start arriving by August 2020, based on the availability of photos of the helicopters conducting flight tests in Poland. Also as seen on the photo below, it appears that at least one of the helicopters has already been completely painted and most likely completed flight tests, and was readied for delivery.

One of the 6 S-70i Blackhawk helicopters for delivery this year, appears to be ready for delivery. Photo credits to Polish planespotting group EPRZ.

Originally Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that the PAF would get the first batch of 2 helicopters before the end of 2019, but this did not push through since the deal was not signed earlier than expected, putting the PAF orders in a queue after those of the Polish government's orders.

So far MaxDefense has not heard of any issues regarding the deliveries, which is actually good news. 

MaxDefense would like to take this opportunity to post photos of shared by Polish aviation photographer Marcin Bobro, which were exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines. The aircraft involved is one of the incoming 6 units for delivery this year.

S-70i Blackhawk bound for the Philippine Air Force with temporary serial number SP-YVC conducting flight tests in Mielec, Poland. All photos credited to Polish planespotter Marcin Bobro, who is a MaxDefense Philippines community member.

4. Elbit Systems Hermes 900 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles

Among the incoming air assets, this is the only one that already has partial delivery made earlier, and that the rest of the orders will be coming in before the end of 2020.

We’re talking about the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (MALE UAVs), wherein the first batch of 3 units forming a complete system were already delivered to the PAF starting late 2019.

Six (6) more Hermes 900 UAVs in 2 systems, including all their associated components and support equipment were confirmed by the PAF in their latest service news magazine to be arriving before yearend.

These are currently the most advanced surveillance platforms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as it invest heavily on unmanned platforms for surveillance purposes. 

The acquisition of the Hermes 900 is part of the PAF’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Acquisition Project, which is also part of the Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of the RAFPMP.  Aside from the Hermes 900, Elbit Systems also delivered a complete system using the smaller Hermes 450.

These UAVs will be operated by the PAF’s 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing, which also operates the manned Cessna 208BEX Grand Caravan ISR aircraft and three groups of Boeing Insitu ScanEagle II small UAVs.

The first two Hermes 900 UAVs of the PAF (other one in the background, tail only shown. Serial numbers 9001 and 9002. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.

5. Aviation Engineering Equipment:
Aside from air assets, there are also several land assets that will be delivered to the Philippine Air Force. Majority of which are engineering equipment acquired under the PAF's Aviation Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project, which is also a Horizon 2 Phase Priority Project that will boost the capabilities of the 355th Engineering Wing.

These assets would be used to construct and maintain PAF bases and facilities, while also allowing assistance during emergencies.

Out of the 32 lots, at least 20 of them were already awarded to winning proponents, majority of which have a delivery deadline before the end of 2020. 

6. Raytheon AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles:
Also scheduled for delivery are more Raytheon AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short range air-to-air missiles, as part of the PAF's Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer (F/SAA/LIFT) Munitions Acquisition Project Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles under the Horizon 1 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP.

The delivery for these missiles, which are manufacturer in Germany by Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH, are already delayed since they should have had completed their deliveries by February 2020. 

MaxDefense also have reasons to believe that among the reasons for the delay was due to testing failure related to of a certain lot of missiles bound for the PAF, which pushed Diehl Raytheon to manufacture and test another lot to meet quality standards.

These missiles will be used by the 5th Fighter Wing to arm their KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, although these missiles could also be used by the PAF's upcoming fleet of A-29B Super Tucanos for limited air-to-air combat capabilty.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder family was already leading on the PAF's evaluation early on even before procurement phase started. Credits to original source of photo.
Project Summaries:

C-130H Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS Acquisition Project

Note: edit as of 10 July 2020

* End User: Philippine Air Force (220th Airlift Wing)

Quantity: 2 aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php2,080,000,000.00

Acquisition Mode: US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Program

* Source of Funding: Majority through GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund,paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA), and US FMF funding.

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: US Department of Defense

Product for Delivery: C-130H Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft, refurbished and upgraded by US-designated contractor.

* Contract Price: approx. Php2,500,000,000.00, but PAF only paid Php1,600,000,000.00.

* First post by MaxDefense: August 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag/s: #PAFC130Acqisition 

Status: Originally scheduled for delivery starting early 2019, delays pushed delivery to 2020. DND confirmed delivery of 1st aircraft by July 2020, 2nd aircraft before end of 2020.

One of the PAF's C-130T acquired from US EDA. Credit to original source of photo.

Close Air Support Acquisition Project

Note: edit as of 10 July 2020

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

Quantity: 6 aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php4,968,000,000.00

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund,paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA) process

* SARO Release: 
  - SARO-BMB-D-17-0015476 dated 25 September 2017 (1st tranche payment) worth Php730,889,700.00, released 25 September 2017;
  - SARO-BMB-D-19-0003657 dated 16 May 2019 (final tranche covering 2nd and 3rd tranche) worth Php4,141,708,300.00, released 17 May 2019 

* Winning Proponent: Embraer S.A (Brazil)

Product for Delivery: Embraer EMB-412 (A-29B) Super Tucano

* Contract Price: Php4,872,598,000.00.

* First post by MaxDefense: 11 July 2013

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag/s: #PAFCASAcquisition #PAFACASAAcquisition

Status: Originally scheduled for delivery starting November 2019. Delays occurred and pushed delivery to July-August 2020 for all 6 aircraft.

One of Colombia's Super Tucano aircraft. Credits to original source of photo.

Combat Utility Helicopter (Phase 3) Acquisition Project

Note: edit as of 10 July 2020

* End User: Philippine Air Force (205th Tactical Helicopter Wing)

Quantity: 16 aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php12,100,000,000.00

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) with Polish Government, with US Government support and approval

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund,paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA) process

* SARO Release: 
  - SARO-BMB-D-17-0025076 dated 20 December 2017 (1st tranche payment) 

* Winning Proponent: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. through Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec

Product for Delivery: Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk International

* Contract Price: US$241,461,699.39 (approx. Php12,556,008,368.00)

* First post by MaxDefense: 03 July 2016

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag/s: #PAFCUHAcquisition #PAFACUHP3Acquisition

Status: Contract signed 21 March 2019, Notice to Proceed released 16 April 2019. Delivery of first batch of 6 units to proceed within 3rd-4th quarter 2020. 10 units for delivery by 2021.

PAF S-70i Blackhawk undergoing flight test. Photo credited to Marcin Bobro.

Unmanned Aerial System (Level 3) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 29 June 2020.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence & Security Wing)

* Quantity: 4 systems (12 UAVs and supporting systems)

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
 Php8,470,000,000.00 (whole project)

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) between Philippine Department of National Defense and Israel Ministry of Defense

* Source of Funding
GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) process.

* SARO Release: N/A

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Ltd.

* Contract Price: Php8,470,000,000.00

* Residual Price: Php0.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 08 August 2017

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:  #PAFUASAcquisition #PAFHermes900UAS 

* Status: First Hermes 900 UAV delivered September 2019, first complete system of 3 Hermes 900 UAVs delivered as of December 2019. Two other systems (6 UAVs) expected to be delivered before end of 2020.

A Hermes 900 UAV in Fernando Air Base, Lipa City. Shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a community member.


Aviation Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 24 January 2020.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (355th Aviation Engineering "Beavers" Wing)

* Quantity: Multiple lots with multiple quantities

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php674,764,600.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement

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

* SARO Release: TBA

* Product for Delivery: see "Project Breakdown" below.

* Lots with Awarded Contract: 22 out of 32 lots worth Php446,510,386.00 

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 March 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFAviationEngineeringEquipmentAcquisition #PAFAEEAcquisition

* Status: Pre-procurement, procurement, and post-procurement phases ongoing depending on lots. 

The PAF's 355th Aviation Engineering Wing was among the recipients of the AFP's acquisition of Civil Engineering Equipment from China, which is a separate project from the PAF's own Aviation Engineering Equipment acquisition project. Photo taken from AFP's FB page.

F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 14 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)

* Quantity: classified quantity

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Project of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the US through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0012038 dated 08 August 2017, released 09 August 2017

* Winning Proponent: Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH (Germany)

Product for Delivery:  "a few hundred" Raytheon-Diehl AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missile. Exact quantity not provided due to OPSEC reasons.

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
20 June 2015 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFFSAALIFTMunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50MunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50SRAAMAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in 2017. Delivered started late 2019, delivery is expected to be completed before end of 2020.

A ROKAF FA-50 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.Credits to original source of photo, for reference only.
First post and edit: 12 July 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. Hope to see MRF, LIGHT TANK/MAIN TANK, SUBMARINE, attack helicopter soon. hopefully

  2. Hopefully ma acquire nanatin yung MRF, Submarine, Attack helicopter at light/main tank soon :/ , it would greatly boost our defense.

  3. It's nice to see new engineering equipment and air assets for our Air Force. Waiting for news regarding Attack helicopter and MRF project.

  4. New Air Assets and Engineering Equipment for our Air Force... Hopefully AH and MRF are next.

  5. wheres the attack helicopters from turkey? Hope we get this , all terrorists wishing to do another marawi will also diminish very early. Other terrorists threats will also lessen. Hoping to hear more good news, Philippines is on the right track.
    Note: 44 year old del Pilar warship has been grounded for many months now in subic. Rumors has it that there's no more spare parts for these super old ships.


    AFP should get more of this


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects