Category Archives: Air Force

AFP was a user of Chinese equipment long before Duterte

The 48th anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, on the 13th of September, 2016, gave President Duterte’s critics yet another treasure-trove of “Duterteisms” that have since become fodder for punditry on defense social media and even generated international interest in Philippine foreign policy. In this latest episode, Duterte stated, among other controversial assertions, his openness towards equipment AFP equipment from China and Russia.

While its worth noting that in a separate speech in Cebu, President Duterte also mentioned interest in sourcing equipment from Israel, indicating a policy of broadened equipment sourcing beyond traditional sources, critics — and numerous media articles — focused on the “China” aspect of the discussion.

The prospect of Chinese weapons complicating the AFP’s logistics picture with equipment that are incompatible with the existing Western-oriented support infrastructure is cause for legitimate concern. Should Sino-PH tension escalate, Chinese equipment could very well be subjected to a spare-parts embargo. Other than being part of an “unconventional warfare” operation, use of a potential opponent’s weapons also introduces operational security (OPSEC) risks because the opposing force knows as much about weapon’s capabilities as the user — if not more so.

These risks however, arguably, are not lost upon AFP planners, and the chain of command. Sourcing equipment from China is not, in fact, new and have hitherto been restricted to non-kinetic equipment. It is actually very likely that all we will see will simply be more of the same.

The following Philippine Star article from May 27, 2007 relates one instance where the PRC offered assistance to the AFP:

DND seeks more military aid from China
Updated May 29, 2007 – 12:00am

The Department of National Defense (DND) has called for sustained defense and training exchanges with China, including military aid, following a security cooperation dialogue between the two countries last week.

Defense Undersecretary Antonio Santos relayed this message to Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, who led the Chinese delegation to the 3rd Annual RP-China security cooperation conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Friday.
. . .
On top of allowing Filipino troops to undergo military schooling in Beijing, the Chinese government donated heavy military engineering and medical equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines last year. – Jaime Laude

An Inquirer.net article on the same story presented the following photograph of the donation of PY165H graders and unidentified bulldozers.

pic-09100206220684

Since then, these Chinese donated engineering equipment have been seen in the colors of all AFP services. Photographs are care of various Timawans.

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Philippine Navy Philippine Air Force Philippine Army

Exactly what Chinese equipment Duterte is prepared to acquire for the AFP is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the potential equipment that can be had from China is as broad as its manufacturing base. Such equipment need not even be military in nature.

 

FA-50s on the way from South Korea

The Philippine Air Force posted the following on their FB page

press_release

Korean Aerospace posted pictures of the take off sequence here.

For updates on the progress of the aircraft, see the following thread on Timawa.net. Note that this Timawa thread will eventually be merged with the original SAA/LIFT thread, so the first link will eventually be deactivated.

Aerotech awarded P69.5M contract for MSI of PAF S211

Aerotech Industries Philippines was awarded a P69,482,840.81 contract to perform a Major Structural Inspection (MSI) of S211 #021 of the Philippine Air Force. Teresa Parian, CEO of the company was given notice on the 6th of November 2012.

MSI, alternatively referred to as Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) or Inspection Replace As Necessary (IRAN), is a process by which the subject aircraft is taken apart and all its components — with the exception of the engine, ejection seat, and similarly self-contained systems — are evaluated and then replaced when required.

As per the DND’s 1st semester Procurement Monitoring Report, it issued the following resolutions in connection with this project.

March 1, 2012 Pre-procurement conference

DND BAC Resolution No. AFPMP-PAF-MSI-12-001 and 002 – Resolution recommending to the SND the use of alternative mode of procurement (Direct Contracting) in lieu of Public Bidding for the procurement of services for MSI of S211 Project of the PAF

June 8, 2012 Change in the mode of procurement from Public Bidding to Direct Contracting and the creation of the negotiating committee for the project. Approved and signed by the SND
June 21, 2012 BAC resolved to approve the Terms of Reference, Timelines and the Post Qualification Plan

A copy of the Notice of Award appears below

For additional information about efforts to keep the S211 in the air, see the following Timawa.net thread.

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 Timawa.net 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?