Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Department of National Defense through its Secretary discloses through reports the desire of the Philippine Navy to obtain ships that comes where, the process about the program isn't getting traction given that the group assigned is still doing its job. This calls to re-composition of the fleet to obtain newer hulls which it will further enhance the patrol capabilities than the ones available at present of the fleet as part of its Sail Plan.

IN THE HEADLINES
Cape-class patrol vessel of the Australian Border Force. From Austal Website.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and its Modernization Drive is now on the Second Horizon in which a number of projects are either being planned or on the process of materialization. One of those things belongs to the Philippine Navy in which it desires to obtain a platform capable enough to be a deterrent such as submarines and vessels that will replace a portion of old, World War 2-era vessels such as the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in which its program calls for atleast six (6) units.

Now, such plans for Offshore Patrol Vessels recently became more known in mainstream media as Secretary of National Defense Mr. Delfin Lorenzana surprisingly discloses that the Philippine Navy will acquire such number of OPVs, as he said, from an Australian-based shipbuilding company Austal in which it obtains a shipbuilding facility in Balamban, Cebu City. From that point of view alone, this announcement a first comes with both enthusiasm and doubt in the sense that while this may mean more pride for the Filipino workers of the shipyard where they will built OPVs for the country and its national interest, it may also mean that the thoughts of the Technical Working Group of the Navy at that moment was seen to get set aside in which it may get problematic unless resolved. Nevertheless, the desire of the Defense Department to have this project on the roll is still a good thing considering that this is one of the plans that the naval force is ought to prioritise so as this will define the future patrol capabilities of the Naval fleet. And with the announcement with regards to the deal, things remain to be seen given that the works made by the Technical Working Group about it is still on-going, all in which they still assess supplier proposals as well as determining the specifications in which they sees fit for the Navy to have in its Offshore Patrol Vessel Program.

With the hype such announcement brought in the defense community, it is of no doubt that the interest with regards to the company itself, its products and other details will be increased in the sense that these things may complement the needs of the Naval fleet if it proceeds, as it will get composed of newer hulls as the time passes by.

THE COMPANY
From the producers of U.S. Independence-class LCS
(In partnership with General Dynamics).
Photo Source.
See website: https://www.austal.com/

On its website, Austal describes itself as an Australian-based shipbuilder, defense contactor and a partner of choice with regards to maritime technology. Given its Global Footprint, it's serve its product to a wide range of customers which are both military and civilian in nature. It's main base is in Henderson, Western Australia with shipyards situated in Mobile, Alabama USA and Balamban, Cebu City Philippines. Both the Australian and U.S. shipyards are specialized on defense-related vessels while civilian-ones are presently produced in the Philippine Queen City of the South (ref).

The shipbuilding company is notable with regards of the vessels it produced where several of it comes as revolutionary with regards to the design. Such ships definitely includes the U.S. Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships where it was produced with the partnership of the U.S. shipbuilding company General Dynamics. It also produced a number of products in which it used aluminium as its primary material in which they consider as "high performance" where it is considered their expertise in terms of shipbuilding and construction. With regards to the Philippine Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Program, the shipbuilding company submits its tender along with its competitors which a bit provides some significance to the statements made by the National Defense Secretary. This shows that the Australian shipbuilding company, alongside its competitors is keen to bag the award for this project wherein they can penetrate the Philippine military market in a way that these vessels serves as a foundation with potentials rising up to be a prospective supplier given if these things go in this way.

With this shipbuilding company submitting its design to the Navy, it is worth discussing about the tender itself, given that specifications in-detail aren't available as for the moment, with the technical working group perhaps still taking its time to form the criteria that they are looking for especially in an Offshore Patrol Vessel in which the Naval fleet being the end user.

THE TENDER

In this project, Austal submits its design in which it is derived from the Cape-class Patrol Boats of Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force where it complemented with the Armidale-class patrol boats on patrol roles in which several of such vessels participated in joint maritime patrols in areas like the waters of Zamboanga City.

Although it is derived from the Cape-class Patrol Boats, these vessels offered by Austal will be larger with 80 meter in length, steel used in building the hull of the vessel and obtains a helicopter deck as well as Austal’s MarineLink ship control system and ride control technology. To take note, the Cape-class Patrol Boats in service with the Royal Australian Navy is at 57.8m in length and produced in aluminium that Austal usually uses in its ships.

With little details regarding the specifications in which the Technical Working Group may still working on, perhaps a little idea may be provided with inputs coming from the members of this defense forum. To surmise the notes there, the considerations will definitely include the features that the Cape-class vessels presently obtains plus features added in their submitted design such as having RHIB davits and funnel on the midsection portion of the vessel, giving space for the helicopter landing pad on the stern of the ship. Add also that the Navy with its technical group considers that such OPV shall be armed with a 76mm cannon, two 30mm secondary guns with spaces provided for short air defenses and anti-ship missiles. These weapons will definitely make these vessels more armed than a usual OPV provided that, if these systems push through along the program with the hull. Other than the design features that Austal disclosed, the aspirations of the technical team might as well be hopeful that such weapons will be fitted given if the ships are found to be within their criteria. Otherwise, their assessments may consider other vessels in which, results may not much as clear until things are getting clear and settled. 

On the tender given by Austal as well as a number of others in this project, it comes with hopes and aspirations that a right choice shall be made in part of the technical team where, if all pushes through, will definitely end the problems to the fleet especially with regards to its operations to the old hulls that badly needs rest. From there, the naval fleet may become more efficient in its operations given that newer hulls have lesser maintenance demands to keep it operational compared to the ones that it will replaced. 

Not only that, these replacements comes with a better fleet where, will these things get armed more to the teeth, will help the organization deliver its mandate better that territorial seas are as better secured as what it is today.

WHAT ACTUALLY IT IS

Now, here is the gist so as to the words given by the Defense Secretary as well as the works of the technical working group on the moment. As discussed once again with the folks in the main Philippine Defense Forces Forum thread regarding to the OPV project, it seems to be that the whole Offshore Patrol Vessel Program is still on its inception phase which explains the reason so as to the unavailability of the specifications on the project as of the moment.

While the Defense Secretary may have himself mistakenly provided those details the media and the people especially the defense community at the moment, the thoughts in this manner is that this is not really seen as "bad news at all." In fact, the statements made by a Government Official may be considered as a good Public Relations (PR) stunt favoring a shipbuilding company like Austal in the sense that the news outlets cover the story, with them on the picture in a way that their image gets better as well as their exposure amongst the people. Still, with the fact that this company submits its bid proposal to the technical group provides that chances are there for them to bag a deal in the same way that other shipbuilders participated also having such chances to bag the program and eventually penetrating the local Philippine military market. While the Technical Working Group is taking its time evaluating proposals in line to the prospective project provided and determine the ideal specifications for the OPV project, things may definitely wait until the first stage of bidding takes place where participating suppliers may have a chance whether to proceed or not, depending on the capacity they obtain to keep up to the specifications on a given budget or not. 

Now, given that the SecDef's announcement about a project that is not yet a done deal and still on its first step, this may serve as a chance for other suppliers to stand by their product proposals and prove their worth for Philippine Navy, in the same way as Austal submitted their tender only having a nicer PR on their side.

THE THINGS TO COME FOR THE OPV PROJECT
Damen OPV 1400 - A usual design for an Offshore Patrol Vessel. Photo Source
With messages that are mistakenly getting across and coming from an official, it definitely caught the people that are witnessing it, unaware of what is really going on where it arises more interest with regards to what would it be if such shipbuilder was chosen and if such product was offered.

These things simply makes the project for Offshore Patrol Vessels much interesting wherein at its primary stage it gets covered by news sources to a wider audiences in a sense that, like any Horizon 2 projects like the Corvette Project (which apparently is ahead than this one) is being materialized as the efforts of the Armed Forces are on its greatest in the sense that, in all of the works made by every personnel within the organization, the primary goal is for them to deliver their respective mandate effectively and efficiently in the same way as businesses deliver their products and services for the satisfaction of the end user which makes lives more significant as it ever be. From there, the role of a technical working group is always and definitely be that essential given that their job as well as their qualifications on various technical fields will make or break the capabilities of the Armed Forces as a whole where military systems that operates effectively and efficiently is something that influences the course of combat alongside the skills exhibited by assigned personnel.

Hence, with these Offshore Patrol Vessels, along with others comes with the hopes, dreams and aspirations where, a minimum credible force is with the nation that guarantees the security and integrity of the Philippine Republic in a sense that the fleet composition will no longer be consisted of old vessels of today but rather, it will be consisted of better, more capable vessels of tomorrow. As for Austal, it might be nice for them to keep on competing and conform with the specifications provided in the best offer they can give in the sense that the Navy aims for an ideal OPV which is worth a tax money spend for protecting territorial waters of this archipelagic nation.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

National Service especially defense-related ones usually comes with this thing that with lessons being shared where discipline and patriotism, in its own respective way will create a better citizen amongst the people in particular the students of different schools across the coyntry. From that impression alone, it may pertain to Reserve Officers Training Corps or ROTC program where, at present is under National Service Training Program or NSTP prior to any proposals for mandatory ROTC for students. However, here is one program where, it functions the way ROTC and other NSTP do, only applied in Secondary or High School Students.

OVERVIEW
Like ROTC, CAT also obtains the number of marches, minus
the assembly and disassembly of rifles. A Pitz Archival Image.
Being in high school, like in college usually deals with lessons and various activities encouraging and molding the students into better citizens of their own worth. It is like forming a citizenry with camaraderie in mind which they determine the way the nation will operate in the next generation. That also includes defense-oriented matters where generation after generation, there will be draftees that are willing to serve and sacrifice for the beloved motherland.

It was taken note before in topics discussed here in this outlet that mandatory ROTC obtains advantages and disadvantages as well as the understanding of what it really means to be a patriotic citizen serving the country. Things that are already instilled in this program where, it definitely flows with nostalgia among the people that were once under this activity (depending on what experience it may be). Such experiences ranges from a field, institutional duty to community services that the development of the surroundings, an embodiment of an improving nation if gone multiplied. Like ROTC, being in this program may come with nice and not-so-nice experiences but nevertheless, those moments are ought to go with memory and lessons that pertains in loving the country or at some sense, a motivation to serve it in the name of protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the Philippine Republic. 

This topic is regardingly a nice thing for a discussion given that this program in its own way instills more knowledge with regards on patriotism and being a better citizen in a sense that this complements the classroom discussion about it as well as the way parents teach their children.

AS PER EXPERIENCE

Pitz Defense Analysis Note: This section is based on what experience or insights that the author sees about the program per se. Each and respective experience that any individual have on the matter may conflict with this one. 

Well, for this article, let us share the experience especially from your very own author, with regards to this program where teaches the means of contributing in the society, at least on the context of what was once a high school student.

In my own alma mater, the CAT program is nicely implemented given the ever-energetic instructor of the time providing the necessities and proper sanctions at his disposal. Passed-Failed grading basis were implemented that time in the same way as how ROTC program rates college students. There was the time where, advanced officers are deployed in other school or institution serving as "honor guards" for various celebrations with mock-up swords and marches composing the formation in a sense that an entourage or visitors given the honor on those swords sticked out, much to the aesthetic effect of a celebration such as a usual Mr. and Ms (name it up) event in a place where several chosen kids were participated. 

Add also to the picture the community service in each and every way was implemented where tree planting projects, community cleanup projects and classroom improvements were done where responsibility is instilled among students, a necessity in any workplace especially in the military. They are also involved in each and every flag ceremonies and flag retreats, doing the "entrance of the colors" in the school each day where they are responsible on raising and lowering the Philippine Flag. Then, there was the drills such as the one shown in the first photograph of this article where, being part of a certain school-oriented celebration, provides the color in festivities as well as showing the effectiveness of the program where marching in the field, doing the inspections per se is the thing that showcase the basic knowledge of what the others say the so-called military training. 

Of course, this was not the ROTC one where 11 General Orders and map-reading are being taught, but this idea shares with ROTC in a sense that in marching, there instills the complement of classroom lesson of patriotism and parental lesson of discipline at any degree. One perhaps may say that those two aforementioned things may suffice the needs without implementing the CAT program, but perhaps it may also be good for such programs to take place so as for further molding of the youth to be as better individuals contributing what is best for the nation to have.

Those things, in this manner are what embodies the program as far as our viewpoint is concerned. Just to take note, each individuals that undertake the program may have various experiences where, it ranges from a memorable one to a not-so-pleasant one. Hence, the inputs aforementioned may not gone as related to several of the readers. Nevertheless, with such program existed, with militaristic attributes, is something worthy of a discussion.

THE HISTORY (PLUS THE OLD CURRICULUM)
Cadets and Cadettes in a small Army Drill, 
or otherwise a simple inspection. Photo Source
Before the K-12 program changed the setup of learning for both primary and secondary schools, the old Basic Education Curriculum or BEC provides the necessities for a Citizenship Advancement Training Program, which requires Graduating High School Students or Fourth Year as per curriculum to undertake such program regarding to the stipulations written in this Department of Education (DepEd) Department Order 52 implemented year 2004.

Given the 2004 format, its provisions is parallel to, if not related to its collegiate counterpart where National Service Training Program or NSTP is divided into three subparts - CWTS or Community Welfare Training Service, LTS or Literacy Training Service and of course, Reserve Officers Training Corps or ROTC which is the military-related one in relation to the civilian-related activities of both CWTS and LTS. Add also that it is more likely to be a school-based prerogative so as what kind of CAT program will it be given to the students, either be a civilian-based national service one or a basic, military orientation with training and ceremonial drills omitted. This became the foundation of Voluntary ROTC that is far more appreciable that provides the youth multiple options whether to join or not than the restrictive, mandatory parts. That being said, all of these things embodies the requirement necessary for each and every students to learn which is to serve the country even in the simplest of activities like cleaning up the community or instilling the knowledge given for self-betterment, a catalyst of an ever-developing nation.

To go further back in time, the Citizenship Advancement Training Program in its own sense was originally called "Preparatory Military Training" or "Citizen's Army Training" which predates way back year 1935 where the Commonwealth Act No. 1 was passed by the National Assembly of the Philippines, which was still under the rule of the United States of America. The said act was called "The National Defense Act of 1935". The provisions in the making of Preparatory Military Training was stated in Title III, Article I Section 52 where able-bodied citizens of the Philippines are required to take this program, starting at young age, in lieu to the Section 51 that all citizens are liable to take military service. These are considered one of the necessities to have the Defense of the Philippine Republic. As per AFPR G 314-033, the Preparatory Military Training was termed as Citizen Army Training of what it is abbreviated today as C.A.T, albeit the changes of terminology as the restructuring took place at a latter date.

Later on, the Guidelines for Citizen Army Training was stipulated in the DO 17, s. 1985 of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS, forerunner of DepEd) where the Armed Forces of the Philippines is obligated to run the program alongside the authorities of the respective schools or institutions. The said Department or Ministerial Order simply provides the guidelines which can be still seen at present, such as the use of school uniform alongside military-prescribed uniform, medium of instruction such as in English or Filipino, instructions regarding on drills and inspections as well as other matters that will show up eventually in the restructured Citizenship Advancement Training. To add some notes folks, each schools or institution with their respective C.A.T at that time may be managed by any of the three branches of the Armed Forces in a way ROTC also functions. In the case of experience written above (also indicated further in the first photograph), the local school C.A.T program was managed by the Philippine Air Force with the use of "flights" or "squadrons" in grouping the cadets and cadettes up in formation.

This program was reconstructed in the year 2003 where the abbreviation C.A.T, once called "Citizen Army Training" has become what is known at present as the Citizenship Advancement Training as per the revised rules and regulations of the National Service Program issued directly from the Department of National Defense. This Department Order Is known as "Implementation of the Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT) at the Fourth Year High School Level" or the DO 35, s. 2003 [alt]. This was further enhanced by another Department Order from the DepEd which is the DO 52, s. 2004 where it, as aforementioned, calls the implementation of the CAT in both all Secondary Private and Public schools across the country. Just to take note once again folks, the restructuring itself goes in line its equivalent in college, the National Service Training Program (NSTP) where, the same purposes are met ranging from Community Service to Military Orientation, limited to discussion matters with drills and ceremonies, as stipulated together with military training in general are badly prohibited. It may be as bad as it seems to be, but military orientation definitely suffice the needs where, Voluntary ROTC may provide the basic military training later on. From here, the program, in difference in its orientation, exposes the fourth year high school students in a more realistic form of having duties and responsibilities beyond the corners of the classroom where some, especially when exposed on military orientation portion of the CAT, provides an inspiration for them to enlist and eventually, part of the service within the Armed Forces to serve the country, its citizens and its national interest. It goes with truth as per experience where, several friends that find inspiration in this program entered ROTC during collegiate times and eventually, joined either of the branches in the AFP whether it may be the navy (incl. marines), the army or the air force.

One may ask: how does the rate or grading take place given that the program only issues a pass or fail mark on its students? The answer lies to the operational rules and procedures of the program that usually goes in the way as this certain high school or institution issues it. There are three things that a CAT Commandant or a Corps Commander to issue which are the following: Bangs, Demerits and Merits. To give summary on these three things that constitute the remarks of a Cadet or a Cadette, Bangs are simply punishments on misconduct with no grade bearing that serves as a precedent to demerits should it be repeated, Demerits being deducted on the cadet's CAT grade due to a repetitive or severe misconduct and Merits providing the positive remark on the cadet, increasing his or her CAT grade in the process.

From these information provided, it might be a nice thing to say that being in High School and in college definitely includes National Service programs (not necessarily militaristic in nature) that are considered prerequisite to the next phase of student learning where Citizenship Advancement Training or Citizen Army Training for that matter are considered part of the experience that are incurred during those period in time as these students are slowly learning on what it means to be a productive citizen of thy dearly Republic such as the Philippines. Moreover, this program is still existing at the present date as part of a new curriculum which is the K-12 program.

THE PROGRAM UNDER THE PRESENT CURRICULUM

As the present curriculum gets into the system since it was implemented, the secondary school format or structure changes so much in a sense where adding two years of secondary education, especially for senior high school students, are a something that will make these students more competitive in real world situations especially if it means drafting into service, making huge sacrifices and in turn, reaping those hardships and downturns into fruitful, better lives.

As for the Citizenship Advancement Training program, there aren't that much of a change given the fact that this is still provided among Grade 10 (4th Year in old curriculum) students. The main bearing for this program in the current K-12 curriculum is the DepEd Order No. 50 s. 2005 wherein several division offices like this in Pangasinan or in Baguio City providing respective memos over the matter. The said order goes in line to the the succeeding order which pertains to Order No. 52 which, to take note once again, the program is limited more on either community service or military orientation, with ceremonies or drills prohibited. As this thing gets discussed with people with backgrounds oriented to secondary school management, this idea usually limits to mere community service in which students are to render service in their respective communities for cleanliness matters. But with the stipulations of the Order No. 52 still in the basis on the Citizenship Advancement Training program in this K-12 curriculum, a discussion for military orientation as well as law enforcement is still a thing where nominal cadets are still doing minor inspections and drills which is different from ceremonial drills that is prohibited in the order.

Hence, the sense of having a national service in its own worth is still there, which is in its way go in similarity to Voluntary ROTC programs that provides more learning in a way that is more productive in its own worth with the sense that National Service is something that is presented in a way that it encourages the youth to love the country in ways other than military training.

SUMMARY

Citizenship Advancement Training, as initiated throughout the years, is primarily a national service program with originally being a purely militaristic in orientation where it involves military marches, drills and even proper decorum with regards in aspects of following orders of the superiors, executing orders, and providing the basics in military orientation. Such aspects was tamed down eventually with community service and other "society-contributing" factors coming in as part of the restructuring of that program alongside ROTC went from being mandatory to voluntary, a branch within National Service Training Program or NSTP.

This program was originally created with primary national service in mind wherein from there, training goes with learning the attributes of what it really means to love the country in the close, military-and-defense aspect or ideology that not all of the students share. Hence, its restructuring provides the better idea of national service where, there are other ways on helping the nation without doing the necessary military training unless if it is done voluntarily. Moreover, the learning that are being embodied in the new program is being emphasized with orientation on basic military knowledge makes it much more interesting than providing the drills where, although helpful and aesthetic enough on its own worth, does not suffice the needs for learning especially if a student does not want to enlist in the near future.

Therefore, the present sense of national service covers various aspects which are up to the students' taking, where the definition of these abbreviations C.A.T. now loosely correlates to its past that was being a "Citizen Army". Nevertheless, the Voluntary aspects of ROTC in college is still there to cover up the void, where aspirants are still taking the chance to enter and eventually, to enlist. As for the men and women that were once students of the past and some of the present, joining up the Citizen Army Training or Citizenship Advancement Training is the gateway for understanding the basics of what it means serve the country, either it be militaristic or not. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Having citizens that ended up as captives abroad is essentially a government obligation to save them out of trouble given that as a country, it is their role to protect and save these people which, regardless of numbers, still part of the nation's population given that they obtain documents and passports coming from their home nation as well as their families looking after them for the needs of coping up with financially-related matters. And, on the recent events entailing about three Filipinos together with a Korean that became a captive in Libya, things went as rational as really is as the Philippine Government made this bold move.

IN THE NEWS
BRP Andres Bonifacio, a Del Pilar-class Frigate participating
in RIMPAC 2018. Courtesy of Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).
In the recent news with regards to the captives related to Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs, it was reported across media outlets that three Filipino citizens together with a Korean citizen became captives in which, as information provided by Inquirer.net, was held by a month as of this posting by an unknown Libyan militants, west of the country.

This prompts the South Korean warship assigned in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Eden ROKS Munmu the Great Destroyer to get deployed off the coast of Libya. The said actions of the South Korean Navy also prompted the Philippine Government, especially the President Rodrigo Duterte to deploy also a Philippine Navy Frigate in the area should things on the ground went from bad to worse or for that manner, should the captives get harmed by the militants that handled them. The order of the president was received by the Philippine Navy accordingly, with them preparing to deploy a naval task group that will overlook to the situation. Such idea became a topic across defense platforms where, reactions ranges from a nice, commending move in the part of the administration to a negative reaction that cites technicalities which is definitely, problematic as this manner get discussed on below.

Such actions made by the government exposes several of the shortcomings and the needs that needs to be addressed with regards to the way military assets used over the matter as well as the approaches made and other alternatives in order to resolve the problem. Moreover, it also provides an opportunity where, should be exploited, may help Modernize the Navy where, it is also for the protection of the nation's territorial waters from potential threats both within and outside the country aside from the capabilities that this proposal demands for the fleet.

THE IDEAS AND POINTS

Pitz Defense Analysis Note: The points that will be given are never, in each and every way, political in nature given that the standpoints are provided from logically-based point of view. In each and every way, the government presents itself in a good will that they themselves wanted its citizens abroad to be safe in a way that families back home will have lesser things to worry about. Add to this, the points are provided based on technical inputs with such knowledge thoroughly discussed across defense platforms.

Given the president's decision to deploy a warship on a country far away from the shores of the Philippines, we may say that such action comes out of goodwill coming from the government that is willing to save its citizens from the harm Libyan militants may inflict to the three Filipino captives that was held for a month. No doubt, it is the job of the government to look after its citizens both within the country and abroad to ensure that things are as good as intended. However, such action to deploy a ship abroad comes with risk where, technically speaking, were as not as appealing it is to be.

The Time, Logistics and Resources
Click to Enlarge. Courtesy of Sea Distances.org website.
One may ask: How "not appealing" this proposal may be with regards to rescuing three captives out of trouble if the warship deployment proceed as planned? The answer lies to the distance between two countries and the time it takes for a warship to get there. 

In this manner, we simply provide this sample graph from a sea-distances calculation website where measurements are made between, as provided in the example, a Del Pilar-class frigate will take from Subic Bay to Tripoli, Libya given a cruising speed of 15 knots. The results provided that it will take for the ship atleast 20 days to reach the coastlines of Libya which, which in itself may defeat the essential of time. That is without taking the account of the time required for refueling and the number of ports that a warship will visit in order to get replenished. The government for that matter requires coordination with the countries that is suited for refueling of the said frigate in order to keep it going to its primary objective. So, from that matter, if given this situation, things on the ground may happen or take place throughout the voyaging period such as, freeing up captives which ends the situation or violent end with a bloodbath while the naval task force was still somewhere in the Indian Ocean or near the Red Sea. If such scenario taken place, it will be a waste of precious time and resources on something that is already accomplished where, things is seen as disappointing as the fuel was wasted and time intended for the ship deployed on other places such as the contested West Philippine Sea is also wasted. Take note, the Philippine Navy only obtains three capable frigate to cover its entire territorial waters with the rest composed by old World War 2 vessels that needs replacement. That alone suffices the justification that the frigates are more badly needed in the country than sending it abroad, also taking into the picture the threat provided by China in the contested waters off the west coast of Luzon and Palawan.

Well for sure, the government perhaps may also have other alternatives in mind as well which are far more feasible than this said proposal. If those things are followed, it might as well be the better option to execute rather than getting proceed in this bold and risky move which in any way, both objectives are being pursued and attained.

This is not RIMPAC

If the rescue ops will proceed as usual, this will become the second overseas undertaking of the Philippine Navy after the recently-ended RIMPAC 2018 Exercises in Hawaii where, the fleet deploys the BRP Davao and Sur and BRP Andres Bonifacio in order to participate and further gather essential knowledge needed as the organization modernizes further as part of its Navy Sail Plan.

While the exercises provide the long-range deployment capabilities that the Philippine Navy possesses that made the contingents on the way to Hawaii and back, let us take note that the situation that is transpiring in Libya is not an exercise in the same way as RIMPAC will do. Imagine that the deployed task force may have little or no idea what they are dealing with, with also little or no idea about the terrain that they will encounter once they reached the area. Not to mention that a number of Libyan militants uses sophisticated weapons as a result of a weaker government succeeding the Gadaffi Regime way back 2011/2012. That may include anti-ship missiles coming from the old regime where, it poses threat for a Del Pilar-class Frigate given that it does not obtain any air-defense weaponry aside from the chaffs that is installed in the vessel. Now, once the ship reaches the Libyan coastline, some of the questions now are the following:

- Will it just anchor there while doing minor support to the main South Korean contingent? 

- Will the deployed task force get into shore through RHIBS with the permission of the Libyan Government? 

- Will there be better intel sharing between the parties involved?

- Will they get coordination with their South Korean counterparts that will undertake rescue operations together, given that both nations have no idea about the enemy they are dealing with? 

- Will they do it among themselves, conducting operations in a foreign country that can be seen in various ways as "breaching another nation's sovereignty?" 

Those are mere questions along with other ones that may get answered as time passes by, either directly or indirectly. While it is good to see that a citizen-concerned government especially the president and its cabinet doing their very part to save the captives and returning back to their families in one piece and united knowing they are alive, it is also worthy to know that this operation is crucial as lives are at stake with, as the first point, time of deployment and the cost of operating a ship matters. Not only that, while this is a nice thing to show off the flag, but the fact about the uncertainty about the status of the captives is something that demands immediate action in order not to inflict more harm or any possible problems as the time passes by. It might as well to gather intel shared either from South Koreans or from the Libyan Government itself in order to determine what the next move it will be. This is not an act of negativity, but rather as a pragmatic view of things which there are really other things that may also, in any way, may resolve this problem. Take note once again folks, if somebody says that this is just like RIMPAC, don't believe them, with reasons already stated above.

On the bright side though, this scenario shows the necessity for the navy to buy more Navy ships, especially more capable surface assets on its fleet. While they are aspiring for more submarines which in itself a good deterrent for the country to have, perhaps sticking to the original plans of a better, more capable frigates and corvettes as well may do with supplanted budget where, given the 2% GDP funding proposal for the AFP made by the Magdalo Partylist, these things will be a can-do thing alongside recruiting more personnel, building more facilities, and re-organizing doctrine and command setup.

The Alternatives

Now, here are the alternatives which in itself are better than the proposed ship deployment where not only this is time-convenient, but also cost-efficient with better chances of success with the lesser factor for risk-taking.

One idea is simply to coordinate with respective authorities such as the South Koreans that have shorter time to deploy their warship in the area as well as the Libyan Government themselves. From there, they are the ones that will deal on the situation where, in this sense, the South Koreans cannot afford to have a dead citizen in their hands and for the Libyans, they cannot afford to be condemned once again with the risk of affecting their economy as the investments and foreign workers getting out of the area, citing security concerns. This also comes with them coordinating with the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate in the area, with updates provided and reliable intelligence information exchanging between these parties. 

Another idea is to deploy aircraft such as C-130 aircraft or a chartered civilian flight (which is ideally much less suspicious) from any of the local airlines in the Philippines that may carry troops and materiel to the area with the permission of the Libyan authorities with the purpose of pursuing rescue operations the same way as the proposal of sending a naval task force in the area, which requires an airstrip welcoming them fully. One may say: "What if the said authorities say "no", citing concerns that breaches another nation's sovereignty?" Then the answer depends to which country near Libya that accepts the idea to provide an airstrip for the troops to land which the intention is simply for rescue ops and not to any occupation or invasion matters. 

Another alternative is that they may take a subtle approach with blending within the environment being the main feature so as not to raise suspicion. Despite those things, these alternatives may be seen as a better solution on a time and logistics standpoint where, upon weighing pros and cons, it is still essential to deploy an aircraft and land on an open airport while saving time while taking risk on getting a ship in long distances that takes the essential time and costs away varying on the changing situation on the ground.

These solutions are simply more ideal where it may increase the chances guarantee on the success of the operation without incurring unnecessary measures that will take the thing up. That being said, perhaps there shall be a reconsideration over the matter, so that the government will take up these options in the sense that are more feasible than the proposed warship deployment. And in the case that it pushes through as planned, and may fail depending on uncertainties and unknown circumstances, perhaps it may be nicer to provide more tools for the navy to have such as better, capable surface assets and participate on anti-piracy drills the same way South Korea will do so as to guarantee safety to the Overseas Filipino Workers in the area.

THE BOTTOMLINE
The South Korean Navy deployed this ship, the ROKS Munmu the Great
Destroyer - DDG 976. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
While the points are given above with regards to the decision in dealing with the ongoing situation taking place in the other side of the world, it is good to say that being the Commander in Chief, the President simply commanded the Navy to deploy one of its frigates in order to save the captives in an unknown terrain dealing with an unknown enemy.

The bottomline is that, such proposal, although it goes with a nice intention of rescuing captives off from a certain militant, is simply not viable especially given the long period in which, with uncertainty may make or break the primary objective. Add to that, the Philippines, being a archipelagic nation, obtains a naval fleet that is stretched in the distribution of naval assets across the country in which it is the main purpose as to why the Modernization Program is on the roll. The present demands of protecting territorial waters weighs more than the situation taking place abroad which it can resolved in other ways without getting a ship deployed there. To summarize this up, it might be better for the government to address the issue in a way that in the future, they may simply assign a warship or two on anti-piracy operations where, should these things arise, it will be easier for the ships to deploy, on a shorter time period and less cost of fuel involved.

Hence, it might as well for the government to reconsider its actions unless if it in itself is more than willing to take the risk while wasting time and cost on fuel in the process. That being said, only time will tell whether they ended up successful or not or perhaps, whether such plans proceed or not.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

In the light of the recent events in terms of arms transactions in the defense industry and also on restrictions, these things influence the way both the supplier and the end user decide on the approaches where, things may find itself beneficial for the better with the former gaining more sales to offset their expenses and profit the way businesses work and the latter focusing on enhancing its capabilities which is helpful on upholding its mandate or duties and responsibilities that is primarily more on protecting the citizenry against harm or to provide aid in times of need.

OVERVIEW
Bell 412s where the Philippine Air Force obtains eight of these units.
It is known by nature that in defense industry, the supplier is looking for interested customers who are looking for improving their military capabilities while the buyer or the user is opting for what is the best military equipment is available on the market on a price capable enough within the appropriated budget.

On the primary principles given, it was taken note on our last written entry entitled "Military Hardware Sales vs. Imposed and Planned Arms Restrictions" that a nation like Canada through its government may hamper a defense deal between the state-owned Crown Corporation and the Philippine Government with regards to the sale of Bell 412 combat utility helicopters which are primarily used as a troop carrier and essential supplies both in conflict and peaceful, humanitarian situations. These should prompt the Philippine Government to look for other options aside from the Bell 412 in which, that also took place given the consideration that such helicopters are produced by Bell in its Canadian Factory. However, in the midst of the things which may definitely cripple the deal to the halt, there is something that keeps the deal from falling apart. To support this idea, an article from Flightglobal gives an insight so as how hopeful the main company that produces the helicopters - Bell Textron is on a deal. That hopes and aspirations is a sign that the Government is still on negotiation with the company with the aims to obtain the sales from the deal as well as benefiting the customer in the process.

With these interesting moments taking place between two parties, it seems that the Government is still engaging for the same Bell 412 aircraft where there are some reasons with regards to this deal which may have been shelved or cancelled in favor to another alternative should the Philippine-Canadian form of narrative be followed. There are factors in this case where the Philippine Air Force is keen to have these helicopters in its inventory.

THE REASONS
The logo of Bell Helicopters which is a Textron Company.
As being said in the first place, the end user aims to have the best military equipment in the market as well as the affordable one based on the nature of threats, funding and other things that is suited best for the buyer or end user to operate wherein it is effectively doing its capabilities as designed. As for the Philippine Air Force or the Armed Forces as the whole, those things may influence the decision, making the Bell 412 favorable as still despite attempts of arms restrictions on the premise of upholding "human rights". So here are the things that keeps the deal from falling apart.

1. Logistics - There is a saying coming from a French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte pertaining to this factor: "The amateurs discuss tactics; the professionals discuss logistics". That holds true considering that an armed forces cannot operate well without the backbone or the supply chain where troop movements, supply movements, and other logistical-related matters are relying on it for ammunition, food, shelter, weaponry, and tools that maintains the weapons. In the case of Helicopters like Bell 412, The Philippine Air Force already have a number of such units in its inventory, all active in service. The deal in itself is beneficial in the sense that this will not burden logistics on spare parts considering that with large numbers of the same type of helicopter, the spares will be compatible across units as well as decreasing the burden of buying it where the end user will only be after a type of spare that runs similar across the units. This goes with reason also so as it is appropriate to have lesser classes of specific designed units in the inventory so as spare logistics will never be problematic, except if a nation relies on two different suppliers (usually rival nations like the U.S. and Russia) with different doctrine on asset use so as to prepare for eventualities should one of those countries that supplies weapons impose an arms embargo. One notable example is Indonesia where its air force obtains both Western and Eastern-based weapons especially on its combat fighter jets.

2. Commonality - This factor also plays along with logistics wherein while it is pertaining to the importance of supply chain and transfer of goods and spares where a single type of unit isn't complicating it, Commonality meanwhile pertains to the skills and tools which are shareable and operable between units. Like the first one, several of Bell 412 units in the Air Force inventory is helpful especially for aircraft technicians to maintain where similar components can be determined and simply understandable especially in terms of troubleshooting the aircraft for problems. Aside from these things, Bell 412s share relationship with its fellow sibling the Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopters which formed a bulk of the Philippine Air Force's helicopter fleet. This relationship especially to the fact that the Air Force operates a lot of UH-1s in its fleet gives the factor on the decision to retain the Bell 412 deal considering that both the former and the latter share the same attributes where it is produced by the same company with its design related to each other. Those things being said, both helicopters share several, if not most of the commonalities wherein the technicians that does the maintenance have a smooth transition on the knowledge about the inner workings of these respective military air assets.

3. Interoperability - Being a helicopter that is designed by a Western-based company with the number of agencies in various nations, these Bell 412s are helpful with regards to the interoperability measures with other countries that also uses the platform where armaments and spares that are worthy compatible may interchange across these platforms that in the process, may simplify cross training for operations and maintenance especially to the other Combat Utility Helicopters that forms the Huey Family depending on the familiarity on these platforms. Take note, variants tend to have different attributes in terms of capability and components ranging from the airframe to the rotors as well as the engines. Albeit those things, the different variants of the Huey Family share the attributes given that it's from the same manufacturer. The British Royal Air Force, Indonesian Air Force, and a number of U.S. Government Agency Components uses Bell 412 helicopters in their own respective functions. Add also to the mix the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and its desire to have a fleet of Bell 412 helicopters that will be in production by a Japanese company Subaru Corporation. Just to take note, if the Japanese Bell 412s are to be considered, the time period may be long given that the priority for production will be given to the JGSDF. Nevertheless, this is still a welcoming addition, enabling interoperability between the Philippines and Japan.

IN SUMMARY

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is pursuing its goals to have a capable organization where, aside from purchasing assets capable of air interdiction and protection of the implementing Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ), they are also pursuing to have more helicopters, both dedicated attack platforms and combat utility ones, for close air support and immediate transport of troops in combat and transport of goods in case of natural and man-made calamities.

The Bell 412 helicopters are something for the air force to desire more, given that its already-existing eight (8) units in its inventory are already proving its capabilities alongside its older companion the Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters which consists the mainstay of the PAF transport fleet. These Bell 412s, being newer assets, just as the other candidates of the Combat Utility Helicopter Project such as the KUH-1 Surion, are being sought to replace the fleet of Vietnam-era UH-1s in the sense that a newer, better fleet of transport helicopters serves a lot given that the Philippines is an archipelagic nation, vulnerable to natural calamities like typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as well as an effort to quell the threat of banditry which endangers the peace and safety of the innocent lives of the citizenry. 

Hence, given the record of the service of UH-1s in its inventory, it might as well be a nice consideration that Bell 412s will replace these older assets where, designed by the same company, provides the same reliability and compatibility as the ones it will replace. Nevertheless, it is still up in the minds of the higher ranks to decide as to which helicopter platform they may opted to purchase where, logistics, interoperability and commonality for an efficient and effective force is the aim for better carrying out the mandate of protecting the country and the people.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

As Horizon 2 funding now being approved and other procurement of military assets are in place, this program is one of the highlights for the horizon's list of big ticket projects intended to bolster the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force further to the point that it can protect the skies once again and implement the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ) along its way. This program, along with others, aims to have an armed forces capable of minimum force deterrence against any domestic and foreign adversaries.

WHAT'S IN THE NEWS
One of the Philippine Air Force candidate for MRF program -
The JAS-39 Gripen.
Throughout the years, the Philippine Air Force aspires to have a number of Multirole Fighter Jets in its inventory even it predates way back two decades earlier on the original provisions of the AFP Modernization Program. As of this article's writing, both news outlets the Manila Bulletin and The Philippine Star reported that the Philippine Government with the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte that this said project is about to get momentum with funding sets to approval where eventually, he approved it and paves the way for further materialization of projects slated such as these capable flying assets.

Apparently coming from these outlets, they reported that PAF is opted to have 12 units or one squadron based on our preferences of what number of jets is composed within a squadron. given that these news outlets pertaining to it composing of six (6) units which makes the number of squadrons on the reports up to two. Nevertheless, it may come as a good, heart-welcoming news to have where throughout the years, the Philippine Air Force is set to have this big ticket project materialized on the hopes that this along with FA-50 Lead-in Fighter Trainer Jets will emphasize control over Philippine Airspace. 

Hence, this discussion is set to indulge on the timeline of the program from its first inception on the original AFP Modernization Program up to the present date where, given the timeline, takes up to two decades in which a number of negotiations, offers, and assessments were made in order to come up of the compositions of these fighter jets and, the lineup of candidates which will be discussed along the way on this writeup.

THE MRF PROJECT IN THE ORIGINAL AFP MODERNIZATION PROGRAM
The original AFP Modernization Program (R.A. 7898) opts for three
squadrons of MRFs but discontinued as the result of 1997 Asian
Financial Crisis. Photo: Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) pitches F/A-18
for the Philippine Air Force. From LT. Col Francis Neri via MaxDefense
The idea of the Philippine Air Force plans of obtaining Multirole Fighter jets in its inventory is definitely not the new one. The firsts of such plans coming out in the open dates way back the 1990s as the administration of then-President Fidel Ramos passed the Original AFP Modernization Program or Republic Act 7898.

The number of units should-be obtained from the original program was composed of three (3) squadrons equated to 36 units of these MRFs. As shown in the photograph, McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) pitches to the Philippine Government to bag the F/A-18 fighter jets alongside other candidates such as Lockheed Martin F-16 C/D Block, Dassault Mirage 2000-5 and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29 where it was demonstrated by the newly-democratic Russian Government that were also pitching at that time. However, such aspirations that almost went to fruition was simply disappeared as the region plunged in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that effectively, affects the Philippine economy which renders the resources wiped out and putting the original AFP Modernization Program at a stall. For this reason, the economy takes time to recover and as the change of tenures takes place as one administration takes over the other, this program wasn't materialized up to the point that the Philippine Air Force retires its last of F-5A/Bs in 2005 and beyond. It was only in the recent times that this topic is being raised again and makes progress starting from the organization coming back to the jet age upon purchasing the Lead-in Fighter Trainer jet (LIFT) FA-50s from South Korea's KAI or Korean Aerospace Industries. From there, the aspiration for multirole fighter jets is emphasized given that these LIFT jets serve as an interim platform for primary protection of airspace at present as well as a training platform for pilots before embarking on projects as this. It is to have training of operating and maintaining such aircraft hand-in-hand to the purchase of the airframes themselves, minimizing flight hours which it lessens the fatigue for these jets on flying where in turn, lengthens its serviceable life.

Despite all of that, the program that is started in the original Modernization Program and wasn't made a reality that time somewhat provides the foundation in a sense that it shows the sense within the Air Force ranks where the dreams and aspirations of a fully-modernized fleet of aircraft simply does not fade away. With all of the negotiations and assessments made, the time is getting closer that the project will materialize once a go signal is given.

IN THE HORIZON 2 
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper is one of the candidates
of the program alongside SAAB JAS-39 Gripen. Photo Source
As being said earlier, the number of units for multirole fighters slated for this Horizon equates to 12 units which is equivalent to one squadron whereas there will be another 12 units for Horizon 3, which amounted to overall 2 squadrons or 24 units for the whole AFP Modernization Program phase. Hence, in each horizons mentioned, there will be one squadron allocated for funding and procurement.

Apparently for this program intended for the main multirole fighter jet program of the Philippine Air Force, it comes with two prevailing candidates as of present wherein its respective manufacturers are willing to sell their products as well as to bagged the contract. Add to that the number of additives and sweeteners that may entice the people of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to consider, ranging from aftersupport to the "real" transfer of technology in which may see benefit for the Air Force in maintaining the aircraft. It is given in the sense that this program looks to be competitive, considering that these main airspace manufacturers provides their respective deals that may see advantageous in its own worth as both sides aims to claim the Philippine market for these jets. Now, here are the candidates of the Multirole Fighter Jet Project where, will define the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force.

F-16 Block 70/72 Viper

The revelation with regards to this multirole fighter option traces to the post made by another defense page where, as asked by one commenter, the answer is clear that the Philippine Air Force-Technical Working Group (PAF-TWG) wanted brand-new airframes for its Multirole Fighters, and Lockheed Martin is willing to sell it. This information provided is somewhat astounding on its own worth given that the Block 70/72 Viper is the most sophisticated or advanced version of F-16 presently available in the market in which it is still produced in Lockheed Martin's Assembly Lines. This should be chosen, will further enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force given that it is equipped with further-advance avionics, active electronically-scanned array or AESA radar and also in compatible platform with the FA-50 LIFT jets the air force obtains at present given that these airframes in the inventory is derived from F-16s which eases the transition of the pilots that were trained in the Lead-in Fighter Trainer Jets. Add to these things that F-16V platforms are powered by General Electric F110 engines which is more powerful than the F404s from the same manufacturer that powers the FA-50 jets presently obtains where the former provides more thrust than the latter.

Basic Aircraft Specifications From Lockheed Martin Website.

Length: 49.3 ft / 15.027 m
Height: 16.7 ft / 5.090 m 
Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2+) 
Wingspan: 31.0 ft / 9.449 m 
Empty weight: 20,300 lb / 9,207 kg 
Engine thrust class: 29,000 lb / 13,000 kg 
Maximum TOGW: 48,000 lb / 21,772 kg 

Design load factor: 9 g 

Here is the document or PDF File pertaining to the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper.
This is the F-16V. This is considered the advanced version of such
jets recently in production with Lockheed Martin. Source
SAAB JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D

Read More: The SAAB Gripen and the Marketing Over Philippine MRF Program.

It is discussed widely from this website and across defense communities that the JAS-39 Gripen from SAAB is currently the top choice for the Philippine Air Force pilots for this project. However, unlike the Lockheed Martin that is willing to provide its latest version of F-16s, SAAB is keen to sell its still-producing JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D rather than the latest, developing Block E/F which is for delivery in nations like Brazil and Sweden which is far more expensive to purchase with. But, despite these things up, SAAB is still aggressive in its marketing strategies in order to get the local Philippine MRF market in a sense that, as discussed in the SAAB Gripen article, points to the company set-up of its office in Manila alongside naval offerings as well as getting negotiations on-going for eight to ten years as discussed in SAAB's annual Gripen Seminar dated last May 2018. Despite the fact that SAAB offers its C/D Block of its Gripen Fighter Jet, the company is reputable on providing sweeteners where in the case of Thailand, the deal includes a SAAB Erieye Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft on board a SAAB 340 aircraft, training and command and control system with data links alongside a squadron of JAS-39 Gripens. It may not be far that SAAB will offer the same thing to the Philippines or it may include other potential sweeteners such as "true transfer of technology", better after-support for logistics and spare parts chain, among others. It might be better for SAAB to offer its latest version of Gripen which is the Block E/F to counter those of LM, but its offer of the earlier and cheaper C/D block plus sweeteners and aggressive marketing in the hopes that its deal may find its way enticing to the Technical Working Group. Nevertheless, it is at best the decision of the TWG given that their assessments are for the best of the Armed Forces like the air force in this situation. Call these deals from both SAAB and Lockheed Martin a tough, competitive call to have, because a tough, healthy competition is something for a military branch like the Philippine Air Force to benefit where both suppliers are doing their part to grab and reap the sales that may have come up from the program. Although as the multirole fighter program gets the sign that it will proceed, let there be a nice discussion on the existing aircraft in the Air Force that may get treated as Multirole Fighter although it is clear from the very beginning that the organization categorizes it as Lead-in Fighter Trainer jets or LIFT.

Here is the chart with specifications pertaining to all variants of JAS-39 Gripen, including both C/D and E/F Blocks. [pdf file]

The aircraft SAAB Offered is something several, if not most PAF
pilots and defense community members admire for the MRF Program.
However, the TWG's decision is still what matters.
Additional FA-50PH fighters

Since the delivery of a squadron of FA-50PH for the Philippine Air Force from South Korea, there are several calls that an additional squadron or two of these kind of aircraft shall be purchased instead of multirole fighters given that these Lead-In Fighter Trainers are already capable of its own worth. In fact, there multiple news articles that pertain to the this proposal. One of those pertains to the recent visit of President Duterte in South Korea where such jets were produced. These jets and their roles as a fighter as well as a trainer was well discussed in our 2016 article entitled: "The Role of FA-50PH as Both Trainer and Light Fighter" where, although its is capable for air interdiction, its capabilities are still in no match to primary Multirole Fighter jets such as the JAS-39 Gripen and F-16s. Well, these jets, capability-wise may be considered as "light multirole fighter" that is capable to shoot air-to-air missiles and drop bombs as demonstrated in Marawi Conflicts. Nevertheless, its designation in the Philippine Air Force as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer or LIFT definitely states its role in the organization as a staging platform for willing-to-be-trained pilots to enhance their skills on flying such aircraft and for mechanics on maintaining such aircraft prior to proceeding on the real deal which pertains to the more-capable, purely-designed multirole fighter jets.

IN COMPARISON THE PROS AND CONS
This is to provide comparisons between the candidates given so as
to provide the bigger picture. Note: LM as per posting is offering its
Block 70/72 with specs more advanced than the F-16 Block C/D
depicted in the infograph. Obtained from PAF Air Power Journal entitled
"M
ultirole Fighters For the Philippine Air Force" by Lt Col Augusto Padua.
Link to the Source
Among the two candidates and one option, each competitor have their own edges in terms of pricing, capabilities, freebies, commonality, logistics and so on and so fourth. These things do really matter given that it will affect the ways maintenance work and operations for future Multirole Fighter jets have done where the capabilities and the mandate of the Philippine Air Force to protect national airspace lies at stake there.

As for the Lockheed Martin F-16 especially that it offers the Latest Block 70/72, they definitely have an edge for logistics considering that a number of air forces across the world uses the F-16 platform of various types, making it viable for a number of sources in terms of spare parts to keep these birds flying and operational. Moreover, their offer also have the greater capability given its more powerful engine which provides more thrust to the jet as well as this platform having its service record in combat as it is used by various air forces like the United States in a number of combat sorties it made throughout history. Although a bit more expensive as the block C/D JAS-39 Gripen of SAAB, its capabilities and potentials provided are as impressive of its own worth.

So as for the JAS-39 Gripens offered by SAAB which is the C/D Block, it is still ideal on its own worth despite being less capable than the aforementioned competitor given that its engines, the General Electric F-404s are compatible to the assets that are presently in service with the Philippine Air Force which is the FA-50PH from South Korea. From there, one may think that it actually minimise logistical and interoperability issues given that both the maintenance and spare parts for these two different jets are as similar as the type of powerplants these assets are used. However, having such similarities may also mean almost equal capability in terms of thrust with the variance attributed to other factors like payload capacity, airframe design, and in some other ways, purpose. The point is that, FA-50s are derived from the original KAI T-50 Golden Eagle which is intended to be a Trainer Aircraft. It was only that FA-50s are armed to teeth, capable of carrying both air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions that is deemed essential for the Philippine Air Force as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer aircraft. In other words, the offer of SAAB is something that is affordable and compatible should maintenance comes in the story with only difference is that the product they offer is less costly in operations while providing the capabilities that makes it a multirole fighter aircraft

For FA-50s, having either SAAB JAS-39 Gripen or LM F-16s for Philippine Air Force's MRF program is beneficial in each respective, mutualistic way. That is, having resemblance with F-16s which is ideal for pilot training to such aircraft while having the same engine with JAS-39s that benefits the supply chain and maintenance matters. In each and every way, this competition is a tough one where one in every way, should one candidate be chosen, will provide the air force its intended capabilities while lessening the burden either on those given inputs, one way over the other. To add things further, both of these aircraft offered can be equipped with Link 16 Tactical Data Link (TDL) where both the Lockheed F-16 and the JAS-39 Gripen can be integrated in a secured military communications network in interoperability with the air forces that obtain such network like those within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. 

Hence, these things from specifications to sweeteners are for the Technical Working Group (TWG) to assess and determine with the primary aim being to provide the best capabilities on an ideal Multi-role fighter jet for the Philippine Air Force on a worthy investment where this goes to the assurance that the plans of implementing a Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone goes on smoothly, in line on the organization's flight plan.

WHAT IS TO BE SEEN
This is to provide details that the candidates for MRF is
really between F-16 Fighting Falcons and JAS-39 Gripens.
As the Horizon 2 budget now approved, it is worthy to see procurement process on the roll especially in the case to this big ticket project of the Philippine Air Force where this lies the capability of the organization for more years to come especially in line with its Flight Plan 2028.

This procurement program is something that is competitive in the sense that suppliers are willing to provide the needs of the air force on the slated budget allocated for a squadron of capable air assets. For sure, the PAF-TWG is doing its part where doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) are being considered alongside assets that the air force, as well as the other branches of the armed forces. That means, alongside the fighter jet acquisitions comes the training of the personnel to operate and maintain, updating the doctrine regarding the use of air power, efficient supply chain and other relevant things in line to the DOTMLPF process. (Note: this process will be discussed in a separate entry for more elaboration). Add to that, having multirole fighter jets not only improves the capabilities of the air force to protect the skies against potential adversaries coming from the air, but also may provide the better image of the air force as an organization in which these assets, alongside others are a symbol of a stronger armed forces aimed for minimum credible defense which makes any intruder think for consequences before considering a strike or a conflict.

Hence, the dreams and aspirations for the Air Force alongside the Navy and the Army to be more capable on doing its duties and responsibilities is on its way to fruition where, the Horizon 2 signifies the importance of deterring both internal and external threats that poses danger to the national security of the country where it put innocent lives of the citizenry at risk. This project, along with others, comes with the hope that assessments, negotiations, transactions and the process in general will carry on smoothly until the delivery of these assets come by where, this finally provides the minimum credible the Armed Forces seeks before any formidable threat that endangers peace on the citizenry and the nation's very security.

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