Philippine Air Force: Modernization Programs
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Over 15 years after the 1995 passage of the Armed Forces Philippines AFP Moderation Program Republic Act 7898, the Philippine Air Force remains in dire need of modernization. The current incarnation of the AFP modernization program is the Capability Upgrade Program CUP which defers PAF-related modernization efforts to the second and third phases of athree-phase program. Much to the consternation of PAF observers and personnel, the first phase, dubbed "Back to Basics" focuses on improving the AFP's ability to conduct Internal Security Operations ISO. What little funding the PAF receives in this phase revolve around the PAF's role in supporting ground operations.
More advanced aircraft are expected in Phases 2 and 3 of the CUP, which is when genuine modernization is expected to start. PAF-related components of these phases are grouped into what it calls "Horizon programs", with Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2010 to 2012 time frame.
There were several occasions that the PAF tried to modernize its fighter aircraft force, which was left to decline for several decades.
After the enactment of the 1995 AFP Modernization Act, the PAF made renewed calls to purchase several fighter aircraft, with the initial plan of having 36 multirole fighters in a span of 15 years. However, these modernization programs were put on hold after the Philippines' economy was impacted by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
However by 2012 the maintenance costs for the used fighters were found to be too high so attention turned to new jet trainers that could be converted into jet fighters. The requirements were listed as "supersonic ability, multifunction displays and On Board Oxygen Generation System." A DND spokesman has said that aircraft from France, the United Kingdom,Italy, and South Korea were considered.
Surface Attack Aircraft Lead-in Fighter Trainer
The AS-211 were eventually upgraded by fitting the Norsight Optical Sight and AN/ARC-34 UHF Radios from retired F-5s. It is also equipped with a .50 caliber belly Gun Pod made by Aerotech Industries Philippines, Inc. AIPI.
In May 2010, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena announced that the PAF was ordered to submit generic types of advanced jet trainers that will replace the S-211. According to Gen. Rabena, they are choosing models from Europe and Asia, and following evaluation, the Department of National Defense will open bidding for the purchase of such aircraft.
On March 2012, the AMX fighter was one of the items inspected by a DND delegation Italy possible procurement of used AMX aircraft, although no official information has been released if purchases will be made on the said aircraft.A requirement for at least six 6 new Lead-in Fighter Trainers LIFT that will also fill in the Surface Attack Aircraft SAA role was announced by the PAF and DND on 2011. But this was revised to twelve 12 units during announcements by the DND and PAF in 2012. The offers made to the PAF and DND were the following:
And in July 2012, state media reported that the selection had been narrowed down to the TA-50, M-346, Yak-130 or the BAE Hawk.
Close Air Support Aircraft
Hawker Beechcraft demonstrated their AT-6B Texan II, together with their other aircraft line, in April 2012 with a display at Clark Air Base.
The Department of National Defense, on behalf of the PAF, is currently pursuing the following acquisition projects: eight 8 Combat Utility Helicopters CUH, 7 attack helicopters AH and 10 additional UH-1H helicopters.
PZL W-3 Sokol Combat Utility Helicopter
Armed Scout Helicopter Attack Helicopter
An older acquisition project, the Night Capable Attack Helicopter NCAH, was abandoned due to procedural irregularities. The Office of the Ombudsman is currently investigating this project.
Engines of 20 MD-520 attack helicopters are currently being overhauled. The PAF elected to pursue this project via FMS.
Five 5 refurbished UH-1H helicopters from the United States government were handed-over to the PAF on 10 January 2011.
On 31 January 2013, 2 more firms joined the bidding for 21 UH-1H helicopters for the Philippine Air Force, the American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and the Israel-based Radom Aviation Systems Ltd. The AFP wants these helicopters delivered on or before March 31. The government has also allocated P1.26 billion for the purchase of the helicopters and theintegrated logistics support package.
On February 14, 2013, it was reported that Radom Aviation Systems Ltd. backed out, leaving Rice Aircraft Services Inc. the only bidder, but the company failed to meet some requirements during the post-qualification phase.
On August 5, 2013, it was reported that the DND was prompted to schedule a third bidding for the project because 14 companies have expressed interest to supply 21 Huey helicopters to the Air Force.
Refurbishing Of C-130
Two Philippine Air Force C-130 underwent a Programmed Depot Maintenance PDM, one C-130H t/n 4704 with British Aerospace in California, United States while the other, a C-130B, is with PAF's 410th Maintenance Wing at Clark Air Base. The C-130H arrived in Manila on 17 October 2012, while the C-130B with t/n 3633 returned to active status on 28 December 2012.Another C-130 is expected to go through a similar recovery and overhaul program by the 410th Maintenance Wing.
Medium Lift Aircraft
According to Air Force Public Information officer Major Gerardo M. Zamudio Jr., that aside from the new SF-260 trainer planes and night capable attack helicopters, the PAF is set to purchase under its capability upgrade program, 6 advanced primary trainer aircraft, 10 additional Huey UH-1H utility helicopters, 8 brand new combat utility helicopters, 7 newattack helicopters, 2 light lift aircraft, and 12 trainer helicopters.
It was reported that the Philippine Air Force PAF is acquiring three radars with a project cost of about P2.3 billion. Major General Raul Dimatatac told reporters, “We are looking at installing three radars for our three major sites.“
The radars, he said, are among those listed in the PAF’s wish list in the P75-billion military modernization budget in the next five years.
These acquisitions and upgrades, including aerial surveillance cameras, communication equipment, 1.2-ton trucks, and additional military hardware, are part of PAF’s Horizon 1, the internal security - centered stage of modernization focused on making insurgent groups irrelevant by the year 2010.
Horizon 2, the transition stage to territorial defense, is set to take effect by 2012.
Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog said the Air Force is presently in the process of making a study of what type of fighter jets they are going to acquire. He said the acquisition can only start after 2010 which is the projected defeat of internal security threats.
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