Category Archives: AFP modernization

Defense related items in the SONA 2013 technical report

The following is a defense-centric excerpt from the SONA technical report. Interestingly, most of the projects listed below were actually either initiated or awarded during the previous administration.

Parallel to the peaceful pursuit of it territorial disputes, the government prioritized the building of a minimum credible defense posture for the country through the AFP Modernization and Capability Upgrade Program (AFPM/CUP).

On 06 December 2012, the President signed RA 10349 (An Act Amending RA 7898, Establishing the Revised AFP Modernization Program and for Other Purposes), which extends the implementation of the AFPM/CUP for another 15 years and provides a five-year initial funding of at least P75 billion for the Program.

The government completed a total of 33 projects in 3 years, compared with the 43 projects completed during the whole 9 years of its predecessor.

72 These include the acquisition of the following:

-> BRP Gregorio del Pilar (first of two Weather High Endurance Cutters [WHEC]73);
-> BRP Tagbanua (the first locally-built landing craft utility);
-> Eight Sokol Combat Utility Helicopters;
-> 60 field ambulances; and
-> Mobility equipment (1¼ and 1½ ton troop carrier trucks).
-> The Philippines is currently negotiating the procurement of 12 units of F/A-50 aircraft from the Republic of Korea with a total cost of P18.98 billion (P1.58 billion/unit)
-> The AFP will also procure 50,629 units of M4 Caliber 5.56mm Assault Rifles for P1.94 billion (P38,402.13/unit), which is significantly lower than the P3.19 billion (P63,000/unit) ABC. This is a result of the AFP’s strict adherence to transparent and accountable bidding process.

The countertrade option

Something I put together for a thread on PinoyExchange

The AFP’s priority is to acquire whatever capabilities it can in the soonest possible time. Given a choice between using imported technology that is available now, or waiting for indigenous solutions to mature . . . naturally they will go with what is already available.

HOWEVER, purchasing items from foreign suppliers does not automatically mean that it is a disadvantage for local industry. The key mitigating factor is in the mode of payment. This is where COUNTERTRADE comes into play. With countertrade, vendors are paid in kind, not money. Government money is used to buy local products which are then used to pay the vendor.

The lead agency for countertrade transactions is the Philippine Investment & Trading Corp. (PITC). Based on PITC statistics, the AFP is the largest user of countertrade transactions. The following modernization items were paid for using countertrade:

-> SIAI-Marchetti S211 trainer jets (Italy): 40% of the amount was paid for with the following items: Crude Coconut Oil, Garments/Fabric, various Copra products, various Porcelain, Black Tiger Prawns, Activated Coco Carbon, various Handicraft

-> Squad Automatic Weapons (Belgium): 85% of the acquisition was paid for with semi-processed rubber

-> Harris communication equipment (USA): 100% paid for with semi-processed rubber products, dessicated coconut, various handicraft

-> 105mm howizter upgrade (France): 100% paid for with copra products, desiccated Coconut, canned Tuna, assorted handicrafts

2012: What’s happening in the AFP capability upgrade program?

If 2011 was the modernization year of the Philippine Navy, the year 2012 was a more balanced period with significant acquisitions for all services. The following table shows some of the projects completed for each service. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all acquisitions that occurred in the past year, and omits projects for which details are still missing as of writing. It also does not include the significant number of modernization projects that are still in various stages of completion.

PAF_mod Combat Utility Helicopter Project w3b1 The first batch of three W-3 Sokol helicopters, out of a total of 8 aircraft, were delivered on March 9, 2012.Timawa discussion here
w3b2 The second batch of W-3 Sokols were delivered on November 28, discussion here
C-130 refurbishment program  4704 C-130H #4704 returned from a Programmed Depot Maintenance cycle in the United States on October discussion here
3633 C-130B #3633 underwent its Programmed Depot Maintenance at the 410th Maintenance Wing in Clark AFB. It re-entered service on December 28, discussion here
PN_mod BRP Ramon A Alcaraz (PF-16)  pf16 The former WHEC-716, USCGC Dallas, was turned over to the Philippine Navy on May 22, 2012 and re-christened the BRP Ramon A Alcaraz (PF-16) discussion here
Multi-Purpose Assault Craft Mk.2  mpac2 The Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC) Mk.2, which were entirely manufactured in the Philippines, were commissioned in August 2012. Three units were discussion here
71155_327179393712_8339928_n KM-451 ambulances  km451 The latest variant of the Kia KM45x series of trucks were revealed to the public on AFP Day 2012. 60 units were discussion here
M-16A1 rehabilitation program  m16refurb The Government Arsenal’s newly formed Small Arms Repair and Upgrade Division turned over the first 200 refurbished rifles to the AFP. Eventually 8,000 rifles will be discussion here


The Philippine Navy’s 15-year development plan

Lt. Commander Nerelito Martinez, Philippine Fleet acting chief of staff for plans and programs, revealed details about the Philippine Navy’s 15-year strategic development plan dubbed “Philippine Fleet Desired Force Mix”, in a recent Philippine Fleet publication. Several news organs, as the Philippine Star, have since referenced his article their articles on the subject.

The plan calls for the following mix of assets:

  • Six (6) frigates configured for anti-air warfare
  • Twelve (12) corvettes designed for anti-submarine warfare
  • 18 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OVs)
  • Three (3) submarines
  • Three (3) Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs)
  • Four (4) Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs)
  • 18 Landing Craft Utility (LCU)
  • Three (3) Logistics Support/Replenishment Ship (LSS)
  • Three (3) Ocean tugs
  • Six Yard/Fire Tugs
  • 12 Cyclone class Coast Patrol Interdiction Craft (CPIC),
  • 30 Patrol gunboats,
  • 42 Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPACs)
  • 24 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs)
  • Eight (8) Amphibious Maritime Patrol Aircraft (AMPA)
  • 18 Naval Helicopters embarked aboard frigates and corvettes
  • Eight (8) Multi-Purpose Helicopters (MPH) [embarked aboard the SSVs]

This list includes two types of vessels that have already been produced in Philippine shipyards: the BRP Tagbanua Landing Craft Utility, and the MPAC Mk.1 and Mk.2. It will be interesting to see what other classes of vessels could potentially be produced locally.

Modernization: The funding is there

Philippine military-oriented social media groups, from Facebook to are buzzing with talk about raising funds to help the AFP Modernization program. The Department of National Defense is reportedly even investigating a suspected scam involving individuals who are supposedly raising funds for the acquisition of equipment from concerned, but naive, Filipino nationals. But the sad reality is . . . there is no need for such efforts.

Turn the clock back a decade ago, then funding concerns were legitimate. The 1997 financial crisis was followed by political uncertainty that led to the ouster of a President by a text- message-revolution. This was followed by sweeping reforms in government procurement that left the AFP dazed and confused . . . so much so that it didn’t buy anything till 2003. Almost a decade after the AFP Modernization Law went into effect.

Today, in the 2nd decade of the century, the funding uncertainty and procedural confusion are things of the past. A long line of DND personnel (both in the current administration AND before), in cooperation with other government agencies (e.g. GPPB, etc.) have cut swaths of clarity through the tangled web of red tape. There is now enough knowledge to allow the application of the nation’s treasury to the cause of national defense. Consider the following:

  • Procedural impediments to effiicient use of the AFPMTF have been addressed. Modernization funds leftover for the year, and funds derived from authorized income, can now be accessed  with less difficulty than in years past
  • Proper access to Petro-pesos, both present and future, have been worked out. Malampaya funding has already been leveraged to acquire one ship for the Philippine Navy, and more acquisitions are lined up
  • Challenges with the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003 have been dealt with, particularly the cumbersome bidding process which often yield the cheapest equipment rather than the best
  • Procedures for Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) were finally worked in the closing months of the previous administration. Acquisitions are no longer limit to the Annual modernization budget. Funds can be sourced from several annual budgets
  • The DND is now in the process of professionalizing the procurement process with the creation of the Office of Defense Acquisition

EVERYTHING has been worked out . . .

. . . except for the political intestinal fortitude to stay the course. As a modernization-minded AFP officer once said “Mindsets are the hardest things to modernize”.

Update: CUP Phase 2 projects

The Philippine Star published the following figures and delivery dates for the indicated CUP Phase 2 projects. An older PIA article, however, stated that the total number of rocket launchers was “335”

Project Quantity Value Expected delivery date
Multi-purpose rocket launcher 335 P37,440,000.00 October 2012
81mm mortar with ammunition 100 units w/ 2,000 rounds P190,320,000.00 August 2012
Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC) Lot 2 3 P268,990,000.00 November 2012

JSOTF-P construction project in Camp Basilio Navarro, Zamboanga, US government equivalent to PhilGEPS, published a bid invitation to repave a road within Camp General Basilio Navarro in Zamboanga City, headquarters of Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM). The Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) – Philippines is facilitating the project. Details are available at the following link.

Excerpts from the invitation

Repave Naval Station Road – Zamboanga City – Camp Navarro, Philippines

The contractor will provide all plant, labor, and materials required to repave the Naval Station Road at Zamboanga City – Camp Navarro, Philippines, in accordance with . . . Statement of Work.


The estimated magnitude of this project is between $25,000.00 and $100,000.00.


This is a construction project which will be performed in the Republic of the Philippines, Camp Navarro – Zamboanga City. The purpose of this project is to demolish, excavate and dispose of the existing asphalt and concrete road, which covers an area of approximately 1,900 square meters, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. The contractor is then required apply sub-base material and compaction to 95% maximum density; and, install a 150 mm thick reinforced concrete cover, with a rough broom finish. The successfull offeror will be required to provide appropriate warning signs and flagmen throughout the construction process. The request for quotation will be issued 2 January 2012; and, quotations must be submitted no later than 10 January 2012 at 4:30 PM Philippine Standard Time (PST). Pre-proposal site visit is tentatively scheduled 7 January 2012 at 2:00 PM PST. Contact the Contracting Officer at to RSVP for the Pre-proposal site visit. Prospective offerors will be required to submit concept drawings and plans with their quotations. The magnitude of this project, in accordance with FAR 36.204, is between $25,000 and $100,000. Performance is outside of the United States and its outlying territories; therefore, the award is unrestricted. There is no charge for the solicitation documents; contact the Contracting Officer ( for copies of the plans for inspection without charge.


Proposal Submission:

1) Submit your proposals NO LATER THAN 10 January 2012, 4:30 pm, Philippine Standard Time.

2) All quotations delivered in response to this solicitation shall reflect the following information on the address label:

a. Solicitation Number W91NF9-12-Q-C0001

b. The legend, “To be delivered unopened to the Contracting Officer”, and

3) Submit your proposal to the following address:

MSgt Michael A. Holder
JSOTF-P/J4 – Contracting
Camp Navarro – Zamboanga City, Philippines
Email address:

Requirements for 2nd-hand equipment

To protect the AFP against accepting unsupportable surplus equipment, Administrative Order 169, series of 2007 stipulated the following acceptance criteria.

3.2.3. Used equipment or weapons system may be acquired, provided that:

a. The used equipment: or weapon system meets the desired operational requirements of the AFP;

b. It still has at least fifteen (15) years service life, or at ieast fifty percent (50%) of its service life remaining, or if subjected to a life extension program, is upgradeable to attain its original characteristics or capabilities;

c. Its acquisition cost is reasonable compared to the cost of new equipment; and

d. Tbe supplier should ensure the availability of after-sales maintenance support and services,

To download a copy of this Administrative Order, click here.


Preparing for F-16s: “Peace Carvin” in reverse

The Office of the President, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Philippine Air Force have all publicly declared the Aquino administration’s intention to acquire 12 surplus F-16C/D aircraft from the United States. These are interesting times for the Philippine Air Force, whose prevailing skill-sets are still geared towards equipment that is decades behind the Falcons.

It’s been six years since the PAF had operational fighters in its inventory. Its last F-5A Freedom Fighters, which were day-time-only interceptors, were decommissioned in 2005. Over two decades had passed since it operated true all-weather fighters — its F-8 Crusaders. The 60’s era Crusaders proved to be a handful for the PAF (see the following Timawa discussion for details), and by the late 80s were relegated to a grass field at Clark field, where ash fall from Mt. Pinatubo eventually sealed their fate. While the handful of S211s allows the service to maintain a modicum of competency in jet-aircraft operations, the PAF Air Defense Wing is a shadow what it once was when its aircraft intercepted Soviet bombers in the South China Sea.

If we are to keep the hoped-for F-16s from becoming hangar queens, or become the latest recipient of the Philippine media’s favorite moniker for PAF aircraft: “flying coffin”, its ability to operate aircraft at this level of sophistication must be elevated without delay.

The following is a summary of a discussion that seeks a way to fast-track the upgrade of PAF skills . . . should the request for these aircraft be granted.

How does this exercise seek to accomplish its mission statement and objective?

Learning by example

When Singapore replaced their Hawker Hunters with F-16A/Bs in 1987, they opted to have them delivered to Luke AFB AZ instead of direct to Singapore. Thus the first incarnation of Operation: Peace Carvin began. For two years, from 1987 to 1989, the USAF trained 100 RSAF pilots and maintenance personnel to operate and maintain their new birds. Subsequent Peace Carvins trained additional personnel in F-16C/D aircraft and more recently the F-15SG.

These Singaporean operations can be broken down into the following elements:

Aircraft – the RSAF stationed as many as 12 aircraft at the air base as training platforms
Trainees – these are the 150 Singaporean personnel, including 15 pilots, are that undergo training at the base. These personnel and their families live on-base for the duration of the training cycle

Trainors – these are USAF personnel that are seconded to the RSAF and have operational control of the unit. Personnel management, however, remains with RSAF officers

Budget – Singapore was responsible for the following items:

• Salaries of all personnel involved, to include USAF personnel
• Maintenance and operations expenses
• Ordnance

This training arrangement afforded Singapore access to the full range of training facilities that the USAF established for its own pilots (e.g., bombing ranges, etc.) and maintenance crews (e.g., AFTOs, training mockups). Although the US and Singaporean governments refuse to publicly declare the annual cost of the program, it would arguably be safe to assume that it would be prohibitive.

While some overseas training will be required for the initial batch of pilots and maintenance crews for the planned F-16s, what if alternative arrangements could be made to permit training in advance of MRF delivery?

Peace Carvin in reverse

This proposal seeks to gain the benefits of Peace Carvin, but without the attendant costs.

Key elements of this proposal:

• Task force
• Use of subject matter experts
• Training opportunities

While there is no avoiding sending PAF personnel overseas for training, why not work to build-up in-country training capabilities in preparation of the arrival of aircraft? Training, therefore, can begin well in advance of the actually transfer of equipment.

The “reverse” in this proposal is that foreign training resources are brought to the Philippines, where training can be done all year, instead of sending personnel overseas for a few months at potentially great expense. It will not, however, preclude overseas training opportunities.

Task force

PAF HQ, ADW, and AETC will establish a task force to identify skills gaps related to operating aircraft at the F-16 complexity level, and develop both fast-tracked and long-term training programs to address these gaps. This task force will function as a training directorate that will have overall responsibility for the program.
The mission statement for the effort:

“Create a maintenance, operations, and logistical culture that is conducive to effective, efficient, sustainable use of 4th Generation combat aircraft”

These training programs will be conducted in the Philippines.

Use of subject matter experts

The task force will be empowered to retain the services of subject matter experts who will be responsible for administering key aspects of training programs either as a whole or in part.
These subject matter experts can be:

• Technical advisers seconded or assigned to the Philippines by a foreign country
• Private contractors
• A combination of both

Subject matter experts will be responsible for the following in their respective areas of concern:

• Familiarize PAF personnel with relevant AFTOs or their equivalent
• Impart best-practice information and techniques
• Aid in forecasting

When selecting contractors, preference will be given to entities that are willing to lease key maintenance and/or training equipment, that are relevant for their training programs, to the PAF using a BOT scheme. Contractors can include companies such as Sikorsky Aircraft Services or be entirely new companies that are setup as Public-Private Partnerships.
Whenever practical, the BOT scheme will be used to acquire support and training equipment (e.g., APUs, simulators, training mock-ups, etc.)

Training opportunities

This is the “core” of the reversal concept.

To provide practical learning opportunities for prospective PAF F-16 crews, the task force, in cooperation with the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) board and the DFA, will work to establish high-frequency exercises with foreign armed forces that operate F-16s.

Having operational F-16 units in-country will provide PAF personnel, who complete pre-requisite training modules designed by the task force, the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge, and acquire practical best practices information from experienced air crews.

Small-scale, temporary, basing of foreign assets is preferable. Forward-basing for the receptive foreign country results in a training opportunity for the PAF.
The task force will have a hand in selecting personnel who will be sent to the US for training on F-16 maintenance and operations. These personnel will be selected not only for their qualifications, but also for their ability to serve as mentors / team leaders who will then form the leadership foundation for a new jet-qualified work-force.

Other interim training opportunities

Indonesia reportedly takes up a significant amount of Singapore’s simulator resources (see here). Could a similar arrangement be setup with our non-US allies? South Korea perhaps?