2014: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

Note: This article is also available on the Timawa.net forum on the long standing What’s happening with the AFP modernization thread that’s been documenting the progress of the up-arming effort since 2003.

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The year 2014 continues the dramatic increase in defense acquisition efforts that started in 2010. Many of those efforts, however, remain unrealized as of year-end. While the year was long on award notices, it was noticeably short on deliveries. For this reason, the acquisition list at the end of this article will have many notable omissions since it ONLY shows deliveries that have actually been completed. The following high-profile projects are noticeably absent from the list:

Philippine Air Force

Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-In Fighter Trainer (SAA/LIFT) – one of the highlights of the year was the signing of the long awaited purchase contract for the South Korean FA-50 Fighting Eagle Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-In Fighter Trainer. After an arduous 5-year process — from concept to signing — the Philippine Air Force is finally slated to return to supersonic flight after almost a decade. These will also be the first brand new high-performance aircraft that the PAF will acquire since the factory-fresh F-5A Freedom Fighters in the 60s. Subsequent fighter acquisitions had focused on excess defense articles such as thethe F-8 Crusaders which were recovered from AMARC and 2nd-hand F-5As from South Korea. Although the project won’t actually yield aircraft till 2015 (hence their exclusion from the main table below), training of the initial batch of instructor pilots in South Korea is proceeding. Payment terms for the SAA/LIFT program were finalized on February 21st with first deliveries set to begin in late 2015. Details here.

SSA/LIFT munitions – the ordnance that SAA-LIFT aircraft will carry are being acquired via a separate acquisition project. These include Air-to-Air Missiles (312 Pieces), Air-to-Surface Missiles (125 Pieces), 20mm Ammo (93,600 Pieces), and Chaffs/IR Flares. Details here.

Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project – while the decision to award the contract to supply eight Agustawestland AW109 helicopters had been made in late 2013, the first deliveries aren’t scheduled till early 2015. Training of the flight and maintenance crews are underway in Italy.

Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project – not to be confused with the CUH project that acquired the W-3 Sokol in 2009, this project sought acquire eight additional helicopters for combat and VIP duties. This project went to Bell Helicopter which will deliver Bell 412EP aircraft by 2015. Three of these helicopters will be delivered in VIP transport configuration. See here.

Medium-Lift Aircraft acquisition project – notice of award issued to Airbus for the delivery of three C-295 aircraft on February 2014. One aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2015, with the remaining two for delivery in 2016. Details here.

Light-Lift Aircraft acquisition project – this project reportedly went to PT Digantara of Indonesia which will be supplying two CN212 aircraft. See here.

Philippine Navy

Strategic Support Vessel (SSV) – notice of award issued to PT Pal of Indonesia for the construction of two brand-new SSVs based on the Makassar class. Details here.

Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) – Samsung Techwin was declared the lowest single calculated bidder for the P2.5B AAV project. Details here.

PF-16 weapons upgrade – the often reported installation of Mk.38 25mm RCWS remains pending. These were initially slated for installation prior to the ship’s departure from South Carolina but had been delayed. Timawa discussion here.

Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support Systems (MITSS) – this P684.32M project sought to acquire 6 sets of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, 9 sets of Target Acquisition Devices, and 12 kits of Tactical Sensor Integration Subsystems. Details here.

40mm automatic grenade launcher – the DND issued a Notice To Proceed (NTP) in favor of Advanced Material Engineer / ST Kinetics, represented locally be Floro International Corp, to supply and deliver eight (8) units of 40mm automatic grenade launchers for the contract price of P19,750,672.00 on March 4, 2014. Details here.

Philippine Army

Armored Personnel Carrier acquisitions – the Philippine Army acquired 142 M113A2 armored vehicles, in various configurations, from the US as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) (Timawa discussion here) and 28 ex-Belgian Army M113s with Remote Controlled Weapon Systems (RCWS) from Israel (Timawa discussion here). Neither project has been delivered.

Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project – Airtronic USA, Inc. was selected to supply 400 US-made RPG7 rocket launchers, and associated 40mm rockets, as part of a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) deal. Timawa discussion here.

In addition to the projects for which notices of award (NOA) have already been issued, there are a number of other projects that remain in various stages of completion short of a NOA:

Frigate Acquisition Program – this P18B project seeks to acquire two brand new multi-role frigates in a complicated two-stage bidding process. To date, the following shipbuilders have signified interest in the project: Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures), STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc., Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd of India, STX France SA. Details here.

Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition – as of writing, Agustawestland was the only company that qualified to take part in the bidding in November. See here

Long Range Patrol Aircraft acquisition project – the DND declared a bidding failure in August due to documentation deficiencies among bid participants. see here.

Close Air Support Aircraft acquisition project – bid submission for this project was moved to January 7, 2015 by virtue of Supplemental Bid Bulletin PAF-CASA 14-12-001. See here.

Air defense radar acquisition project – like the SAA/LIFT project, this P2.68B acquisition is part of the PAF’s systems approach to reviving the country’s ability to enforce the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ). This project has been the subject of much speculation, with very little official discussion. The TPS-77 and Elta ELM 2288 are touted as contenders for this project, however media reports have touted the Israeli contender as being favored. See details here.

155mm Towed Howitzer project – the Philippine Star reported that Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense company, won the bid to supply 12 units of 155mm howitzers. To date, however, a notice of award has not been posted on the DND Website. See here.

Land-based Anti-Ship Missile project – this high-priority project was discussed in the press briefly but has since progressed quietly, away from the limelight. See here.

In addition to acquisitions via bidding, South Korea has committed to providing the Philippines with one surplus Pohang Class corvette, a landing craft, and several rubber boats. Two C-130T Hercules are also being acquired from the United States as EDA. These and the aforementioned Korean acquisitions have yet to be delivered and have therefore been omitted from the list below.

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The acquisition list

The following list focuses on actual deliveries of equipment that were made in 2014.

PN_mod Multi-Purpose Helicopter Acquisition Project 1472035_131791830324816_1345652695_n The contract for the delivery of two additional AW109 helicopters was signed in February 2014, and the units were delivered to the PN in late December 2014, thus completing the order. Timawa.net discussion here. Photo c/o the Francis Neri albums shows the original units delivered in 2013.
Underway replenishment ship acquisition 5036473250_98682951e5_z Three retired tankers from the Philippine National Oil Corporation, c/o PNOC Shipping and Transport Corp., were donated to the Philippine Navy, on March 26, 2014, to serve as replenishment ships. Timawa discussion here.

The former MT Lapu-Lapu is now PN Tanker 1, and MT Rizal is PN Tanker 2.

Photo shows one of the tankers, PNOC Lapu-Lapu, while it was still in PNOC service in 2011. Shared on Flickr by fangedboy8 here

Refurbishment: Britten-Normal Islander  bniparked Four BN Islanders were refurbished and returned to service in January 2014. Timawa discussion here. Photo c/o Philippine Navy Website.
PAF_mod Refurbished UH-1H acquisition project uh1 After numerous aborted efforts, the PAF finally awarded a contract to supply 21 UH-1H helicopters to Rice Aircraft Services. Four units arrived in June, in time for the PAF anniversary on July the 1st. Timawa discussion here
71155_327179393712_8339928_n Assault rifle acquisition project rifle Remington Arms won the contract to sell the 50,629 pieces of M-4 assault rifles to the Philippines in 2013. The first deliveries for this contract arrived on July 5, with another delivery on July 31. Timawa discussion here. Incrementally, ground units will have their existing rifles replaced with these new units. The older rifles are slated for refurbishment and will be issued to reserve units, as per CSAFP Catapang. See here. Photo c/o Manila Bulletin
Boots, combat, lightweight  1017131_10152284970213330_1245848254_n The Philippine Army sought to replace its traditional leather boots with lightweight combat boots. Called the Hukbong Katihan Boots, or “Kubar” for short, that leveraged athletic shoe technology c/o a local company: Filboot. The boot was evaluated by the PA Research and Development Center in November 2013. However, after 5,000 pairs were delivered in early 2014, complaints arose over their quality. Philippine Army spokesman LTC Noel Detoyato hinted at a possible cancellation of the acquisition. Timawa discussion here
ga M-16A1 refurbishment program  1899896_498716810239574_1103701625_n The GA Small Arms Repair and Upgrade Division(SARUD) delivered another batch of 980 refurbished 5.56mm M-16A1 rifles to the DND. SARUD and DND are in the midst of a program to refurbish 8,000 non-functional AFP rifles were were previously in LOGCOM storage. This program, however, has been halted pending acquisition of additional barrels as those remaining in inventory were found to be unacceptable. Timawa.net discussion here.
M1911 refurbishment program 10511456_588200394624548_7202682966854307083_o SARUD turned over seventy (70) units of refurbished M1911A1 0.45 cal pistols were turned over to the Philippine Navy. Timawa discussion here
Multi-Station Machine  8 Waterbury Farrel of Canada delivered a multi-station machine for primer insertion & crimping, depth gauging and head & mouth varnishing. Timawa discussion here