Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Philippine Air Force 70th Anniversary and the AGM-65 Maverick Air to Ground Missiles

In the light of the 70th anniversary, the Philippine Air Force as usual do showcase its weaponry as to show its improvement as per fruits of the AFP Modernization Program. So to speak, this is a welcoming additional to the munitions inventory of PAF.


IN THE HEADLINES
FA-50PH armed with an AGM-65 Maverick, a M117 General Purpose Bomb 
and an AIM-9B Missile.
Screengrab from PTV.
In the light of the Philippine Air Force's 70th Founding Anniversary, they are showcasing the best of their assets in which it is the product of the AFP Modernization Program in which there are more to come as per second and third horizon procurements. In this sense, the eyes are focusing on the FA-50PH that the PAF recently obtained. There is something attached into these jets that grabs attention to a defense enthusiast.

The thing that grabs attention in the pictures like the one screengrab in the Government-owned People's Television is the AGM-65 Maverick Air to Surface Missile. Given the circumstances herein, it will be the first for the Philippine Air Force as well as for the Armed Forces in general to obtain such a munition capable of doing its job of targeting and eliminating key enemy positions than the ones PAF obtains at present.

In this case though, this munition may mean a welcoming addition to the air force where it will not only improve the FA-50PH's capabilities as a Lead-in Fighter trainer jet which it is armed to teeth, but also it will also enhance the armed forces' mandate where the military will become effective on missions where strafing targets become much easier with better munitions such as these are in th inventory.

KNOWING ABOUT THE AGM-65


According to the website of FAS Military Analysis Network, AGM-65s is a tactical, air-to-surface guided missile designed for close air support, interdiction and defense suppression mission. It provides stand-off capability and high probability of strike against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, transportation equipment and fuel storage facilities. Maverick was used during Operation Desert Storm and, according to the Air Force, hit 85 percent of its targets.

Given the description, it gives an insight where it is deemed useful against threats on both internal and external defenses where in the case of the Philippines, internal threats involve various rebel groups and terrorists such as Maute Group and external threats may include China due to the incursions in the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea in which Philippines is also a clamant. Speaking of external threats, diplomacy with China is seemed to be good at present. However, there may always be a possibility that a potential flashpoint in these disputed waters may take place. Hence, the munitions such as the AGM-65 may pack a punch.

The United States armed these munitions in their A-10 Warthogs, F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons. In the Philippine Air Force's case, it is armed to the South Korean-made FA-50PH which in the past few months saw action in Marawi City dropping Mk. 32 bombs in each key positions complementing SF-260s and OV-10 close air support aircraft. Just recently, the Philippine Air Force sent one of its C-130s to Luke Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. The said airbase is known for training grounds for F-16 pilots and soon the F-35s. More unto that, the said airbase also have combat arms training, and explosive ordinance training, among others. Reference

Apparently, there are many variants of AGM-65 Mavericks wherein the ones Philippine Air Force obtains is deemed uncertain of its nature. But in that case though, the air force obtains such munitions. Case you wonder, here are the variants of this Air to ground missile (obtained from fas.org)

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Maverick A has an electro-optical television guidance system. After the protective dome cover is automatically removed from the nose of the missile and its video circuitry activated, the scene viewed by the guidance system appears on a cockpit television screen. The pilot selects the target, centers crosshairs on it, locks on, then launches the missile.

The Maverick B is similar to the A model, although the television guidance system has a screen magnification capability that enables the pilot to identify and lock on smaller and more distant targets.

The Maverick D has an imaging infrared guidance system, operated much like that of the A and B models, except that infrared video overcomes the daylight-only, adverse weather limitations of the other systems. The infrared Maverick D can track heat generated by a target and provide the pilot a pictorial display of the target during darkness and hazy or inclement weather.

The Maverick E is being adopted in the AGM-65E version as the Marine corps laser Maverick weapon for use from Marine aircraft for use against fortified ground installations, armored vehicles and surface combatants. Used in conjunction with ground or airborne laser designators, the missile seeker, searches a sector 7 miles across and over 10 miles ahead. If the missile loses laser spot it goes ballistic and flies up and over target -- the warhead does not explode, but becomes a dud.

The Maverick F AGM-65F (infrared targeting) used by the Navy has a larger (300 pound; 136 kg) penetrating warhead vice the 125 pound (57 kg) shaped charge used by Marine and Air Force) and infrared guidance system optimized for ship tracking.

The Maverick G model essentially has the same guidance system as the D, with some software modifications that track larger targets. The G model's major difference is its heavyweight penetrator warhead, while Maverick A, B and D models employ the shaped-charge warhead.
The variants that the PAF procured is the G2, an improved Maverick G model.
Given the situation as well as the government stance in dealing with internal issues, a good procurement suggestion with regards to the variants is the Maverick E version in which being used by the U.S. Marine Corps, it is suited against ground installations, armored units and surface combatant which is something that takes place in Marawi City at present. In this case, given the close-up photo from a PTV screenshot above, the air force obtains the Maverick G2 AGM wherein it is the latest version of the said air to ground missile in which it is the one that the Philippine Air Force procured and showcased in the event.

Moreover, it is also good to understand the specifications of these munitions:
From fas.org. Enlarge photo if clarity issues arise.
SUMMARY: PROMISING FUTURE FOR PAF
Delivery of AGM-65 Munitions. From Pinoy Aviators FB page.
Given the technicality with regards to "missiles" it may be said that it is once again the first in the Philippine military with Israeli SPIKE missiles being in the second place. So to speak, it emphasizes the bright future not only of the Philippine Air Force but also of the whole country that the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program in line of the economic progress will showcase more military procurements that will add more on the AFP's line of new assets in which it will help its mandate of defending the nation. More unto that, time will come that the military attain its goals of a minimum credible force capable of deterrence against threats both internal and external which in turn the citizens will live up a life with no worries on security wherein in it gives growth and progress for the country as well as for the Filipino Family.

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