Sunday, June 4, 2017

Russian Precision Guided Munitions and the Philippine Military Airstrikes in Marawi City

Throughout the conflict that still taking place in Marawi City, so does the news that precision guided munitions are being used in battle which is, per se, used in surgical strikes where it was aimed on a specific target without collateral damage. Henceforth, such topic needs to be discussed thoroughly.

2017 Pitz Defense Analysis
AW-109 strike on enemy positions. From ABS-CBN
As part of the operations to reclaim Marawi from ISIS-affiliated bandits, the AFP is on the offensive where in this Urban format of warfare, the ground troops are gaining street by street, house by house, room by room. And with this matter, miscalculations can cause grave consequences such as this strike that have caused 11 soldiers dead.

That have caused the Defense Department to temporarily suspend the airstrikes that have taken place where ground troops for the meantime will do the job of flushing these bandits out. As per news reports given, the aircraft involved is an SF-260 Marchetti plane where apparently, it was armed with conventional or unguided ones that are also called as "dumb" bombs. Meanwhile, the same department also opted to acquire Precision-guided bombs from Russia wherein in it, as the report says, will be used by FA-50PH jets for airstrikes just like the ones presently taking place in Marawi. Henceforth, the present situation goes the necessity of having these munitions in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines wherein such assets will be used and its accuracy on specific targets are an efficient way of flushing out targets without incurring any more further damage or collateral loss in the battlefield just like the recent mishap regarding the so-called "friendly fire"

In this matter, the discussions will be varied from the one confirmed use by the Philippine Air Force to the possible options as per Department of National Defense plans to procure such precision guided munitions especially the ones from Russia. These in which, given the situation, is something that may find helpful to enhance capabilities that can be used against any threats like these bandits.

An OV-10 dropped a Paveway precision-guided munition in a
live-fire test. Via
Known but not common, the Philippine Air Force have a handful of precision-guided munition such as these Paveway laser-guided bombs. These guided munitions from Raytheon in the United States is ever since helping the air force conduct precised surgical airstrikes where a weapon effectively reaches its target without wasting much resources on pounding the enemy as well as minimizing if not eliminating collateral damages.

It was apparently used first in 2012 in Parang, Sulu where it have a destructive yet impressive result where the blast site is deemed great but a wrong information was given which render no enemy casualties. But for that, its capabilities help improve the abilities of the pilots where nighttime operations, its GPS or homing device will lead itself to the target. But such use was disputed at that time, where in itself isn't suffice the fact that pilots are being trained to use these new Precision-guided munitions that was introduced in 2010.

The Raytheon Paveway comes with different shapes and sizes with the Paveway II also having its own variants of sorts. The Philippine Air Force in this case, have the GBU-12 Paveway II bombs which is indeed a guided munitions version of the Mk. 82 bomb which in itself the Air Force also obtained in its inventory. And in these, it sought action against insurgents especially in the hot war zones in Mindanao like the present Marawi crisis. Given below is its specifications retrieved from .

These precision-guided ordinates are helpful for the AFP to conduct its surgical strikes but is now slowly running out of stock which causes casualties due to friendly fire. Not to mention the recent reports on the use of FA-50PH for bombings in Marawi due to its avionics whereas what airforce-technology says, consists of embedded Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS), integrated mission computer, identification, friend or foe (IFF), radar altimeter, multimode radar, store management system, UHF/VHF radio, tactical data link, data transfer and recording system, Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS). It's sophistication may somewhat suffice a bit for a meantime where a dumb bomb can be dropped with precision due to its system.

Somewhat to this matter, the slowly-diminishing number of precision-guided munitions in the Philippine Air Force inventory may prompt for the Defense Department to procure more in replacement. And with these also comes the Russian option where the President recently visited Russia for various agreements which includes defense and security-related matters. Such agreements so to speak, gives the chance for the military to procure Russian weapons where in that includes precision-guided munitions. But prior to that, let us take note the things that may possibly happen if such agreement will get materialized.

And the points given in the post in our Facebook page are the potential outcomes that have come in this matter. Despite all of these, one might as well point out the potential Russian Precision-Guided Munitions that potentially may have come out if such a deal, given its plans therein by the Defense Department, will be materialized where conditions are gone favorably in such a plan.

The Russian KAB series.
The Department of National Defense are considering these Russian munitions given also the President's verbal statements regarding unto the said subject matter wherein the said statements also emphasizes the Russian use of such precision-guided ordinates against the ISIS in Syria that in a good sense, its relevance against the Marawi crisis that also involves ISIS-affiliated bandits gives a good relevance that have come up with such proposal.

As per the Russians, the guided bombs used in Syria are the KBU variants 250 and 500 (kilograms). These bombs that was used against extremists are dropped from a Sukhoi jet and was then guided by both the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and its Russian equivalent which is the GLONASS or Global Satellite Navigation System. To take note, defense agreements and other fields of interest were all signed in Russia wherein in it paves the way for such a possibility of procuring these precision-guided weapons.

To take note, the word possibility in the deals like these pertains to the chance that it may happen, or rather not depending on the circumstances given such as the AFP's take on its compatibility along with the other factors therein. Insofar as the deals are concerned, the process are still on the "planning stage" of procurement where in it also give a chance or a mere possibility as to whether the AFP or the Defense Department will proceed on the deal or not, signifying various factors that will also thoroughly discussed in this article.

The Defense Department's plans of procuring these Russian PGMs, just like any other weaponry they are planning to procure, will be undertaking evaluation where it can be determined it's usefulness in the Armed Forces. Moreover, it was being said to help further enhance the ground attack capabilities of the Philippine Air Force's brand new FA-50 jets where the last batch recently arrived which completes the delivery of 12 units. President Duterte also opted to buy 12 more of such fighter jets as per Horizon 2 plans.

In this matter, albeit the promising capabilities it may bring, but in it comes the reality that will surely hamper in this kind of consideration in having Russian PGMs fitted in a South Korean-made fighter trainer jet with subsystems outsourced from the United States. In such a point, aside from the points given above, will be discussed deeper under this paragraph.

Compatibility and Bureaucracy are the main factors so as to
determine Russian PGM procurement to the jets like these. Photo from John Chua
Aside from the hopes that Russian PGMs can help flush out extremists just like in Marawi City, the said plan are also encountered with numerous problems wherein by its nature, such plans may not be materialized where in it diminishes the possibility due to several factors played in such a plan or if such a deal may took place.

One of the given factors is the manufacturer's restriction upon weapons integration wherein approvals are deemed needed in order for it to be realized. Not also to mention the US bureaucratic restrictions that dictates as per the usage of defense articles as well as the other military weaponry with US subsystems attached such as in the case of South Korean FA-50 which are powered by US-made General Electric F-404 engines.

Also a given factor is the different ecosystem these weapons are produced. The FA-50s are produced in South Korea with systems adhering to the US as well as NATO-based standards wherein its Armed Forces are armed with such weapons adhering that standard. Henceforth, the compatibility of the jets are considered where it is gone vis-a-vis to the systems with those of its Western Allies. As for the Philippines, the same do applies where like the South Korea, it also adhere to Western-based weapons standards which also have come up with the procurement of these jets as the Philippine Air Force restores its capability after it retire its F-5A/B a decade ago. The Russian KAB precision-guided munitions meanwhile, are of different platform and ecosystem where it is adheres more with the Russian standard which is deemed different from those of the Western-based ones. At present, the Russians as far as it is concern didn't provide a platform for these KAB PGMs to fit for the FA-50s making this deal less feasible. Not also to mention their pessimism on such defense deal where the Russian doubted it wherein it emphasizes the Philippine laws when it comes to defense spending as well as constitutional provisions pertaining to that matter. Also, this article gives an insight especially on Russian-based PGMs.

In such a case, it will be all up to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its assessments and evaluations to determine whether it is up to what the military is seeking on a precision guided munitions in what it sees as useful in its mandate such as those presently took place in Marawi and in other insurgency-related issues therein. That in which, lets the AFP seek the weapons it really needs where the government may address it.

Given these circumstances, the Philippine Air Force at present will simply resume its air strikes where it will rely more on the skills of the pilots through the use of dumb bombs and as well the FA-50 avionics where bombardment on targets, despite the absence of Precision-guided munitions shall be done where it will be executed at the best of their capabilities. Not also to mention the artilleries on the ground that can also do the job.

Russian KAB-500 in use for Syrian operations
The Philippine Military as per posting will still resuming its operations where with PGMs running out of numbers, the Philippine Air Force may resort to dumb bombs and rely to its pilot skills or avionics in order to carry it out. But with that also comes with collateral damage that have cause 11 soldiers dead which prompts SF-260 planes' operations to be suspended. With reports that Russian PGMs like the KAB series are being look upon by the Defense Department for procurement, it still comes with obstacles where compatibility, bureaucracy and restrictions being the main emphasis on the matter. Hence, replenishment of Precision Guided Munitions on the diminishing number of Paveway IIs in the inventory may take time where in it being materialized depends on the assessments of the AFP and the Defense Department. As for now, sniper positions are blasted all thanks to air strikes wherein with that comes the hopes and dreams that the conflict will end, the threat eliminated, and the peace and security of Mindanao will get restore once again.


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