24 Fighters from South Korea?:
The report claims that their source came from a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a renowned defense and security think tank. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the news report came from SIPRI's Trends in International Arms Transfer 2014, by Pieter D. Wezeman and Siemon T. Wezeman. The exact source is located on page 6 of the said report. The SIPRI report also did not indicated the additional fighter aircraft's source, so we can say that the Philstar's headline was incorrect or unintentionally misleading. But the content of the report is well within the PAF plans, and would be discussed further within this blog entry.
The Air Defense Strategic Plan:
The Philippine Air Force has been pushing very hard to accomplish its goal to transition its forces to territorial defense after being tied-up to internal security operations for decades. A few years ago, the PAF released its Air Defense Strategic Plan, with the medium-term vision of having a "Credible Air Defense Force by 2022". With the Revised AFP Modernization Program scheduled for implementation from 2013 to 2028, the PAF has created a program that would be done in stages, with the major breakthrough goals having set by years 2022 for the medium-term and 2028 for the long-term. This is called the PAF Flight Plan 2028.
Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone and Area Readiness:
In 1953, the Philippine government established the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ). It was meant to delineate the area in which the identification, location, and control of civilian aircraft is required in the interests of Philippine national security. This is different from the Manila Flight Information Region (FIR) due to the security and defense nature of PADIZ.
Currently the PADIZ covers the following areas:
|Photo snipped from PAF Flight Plan 2028 presentation|
PADIZ only covers entire Luzon region, parts of Visayas, and only islands north of Palawan. Major areas in the Visayas like the islands of Cebu, Negros, Leyte, Bohol, and the entire Mindanao region are not included in the current PADIZ.
With regards to regional scope, the PADIZ is bordered by Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (TADIZ), and is just below the Japan Air Defense Identification Zone (JADIZ).
|Photo snipped from PAF Flight Plan 2028 presentation.|
The PAF has also set a guideline based on Area Readiness (AR), in which there are 4 ARs representing the coverage of its air defense capability:
AR4: from 0% to 50% of Philippine territory;
AR3: from 51% to 74% of Philippine territory, which actually covers the entire PADIZ plus the West Philippine Sea;
AR2: from 75% to 84% of Philippine territory, this means including areas in the Philippines that are not covered by the PADIZ;
AR1: from 85% to 100% of Philippine territory.
Based on the current thrusts by the Air Defense Wing, its breakthrough goals for 2022 is to have the capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize intrusions in the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ) and the West Philippine Sea (WPS) from Area Readiness 4 to Area Readiness 3. The breakthrough goals for 2028 differs on the reach of its coverage, wherein the plan is to attain the same goals from Area Readiness 3 to Area Readiness 1. MaxDefense will only be discussing the current plans for the Medium Term 2022.
Organization Structure Changes:
There will be changes in the existing organizational structure handling the air defense within the PAF. Currently this is entrusted to the Air Defense Wing. It currently has the 5th Tactical Fighter Group with its single remaining flying squadron, the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron with its limited number of AS-211 Warrior armed jet trainers. The plan to improve the air defense system includes the reactivation of the Air Defense Command and the 5th Fighter Wing, an upgrade from the current Air Defense Wing and 5th Fighter Group.
The 5th Fighter Wing will also need to gradually reactivate its original fighter squadrons as more fighter assets becomes available, including the 6th Tactical Fighter "Cobras" Squadron, and the 8th Tactical Fighter "Vampires" Squadron.
The 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Group will be upgraded and reactivated as the 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing and continue to operate all ground based air defense radars and will be part of the Air Defense Command as it used to do. Air Defense Alert Centers would be gradually reestablished across the country, starting on the area covered by the existing PADIZ and WPS area,
Facilities Improvement and Expansion:
The PAF will be improving its facilities in its current bases, starting with the Air Defense Command's headquarters at Basa Air Base, wherein its runway, taxiways, its hangars and aerodrome facilities, and the Hypobaric Chamber facility. Ground based air defense (GBAD) units will also start to have their own facilities on strategic air bases. Security will also be tightened with the basing of high-value assets, and perimeter defense facilities would be improved. The same will be made once the Subic International Airport is handed-over to the Philippine Air Force is made, as well as on other airbases like in Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, and in Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga.
|The Crow Valley Gunnery Range Complex will be rehabilitated for live fire training use.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Other air force bases and facilities will also undergo upgraded and improved according to the master plan provided, aside from those that will be used for air defense units. This includes the Mactan Air Base, Lumbia Air Base, Fernando Air Base, all air stations and the Crow Valley Gunnery Range.
|Photo snipped from the PAF Flight Plan 2028 presentation.|
The Philippine Air Defense Control Center (PADCC) should also be modernized, together with the modernization of existing and establishment of new Air Defense Alert Centers (ADAC) in Basa Air Base, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Zamboanga City, and in Davao City.
Air Defense Direction Centers will be re-established as well, and Air Defense Radar systems will be upgraded in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro, and in Mt. Salakot in Palawan as part of the medium-term phase, while more Radar Sites will be established on the long-term phase, with sites eyed on Panganiban, Camarines Norte, Balut Island in Davao Occidental, in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, and in Anini-y, Antique.
|Photo snipped from PAF Flight Plan 2028 presentation.|
Acquisition of New Radar Systems:
With the improvement of the air defense system of the country includes the acquisition of new air defense and surveillance radar systems to replace existing ageing units, and also providing new radar to additional sites in the near future.
The DND and PAF has chosen the Israeli-made IAI-Elta Systems ELM-2288 AD-STAR Air Defense & Air Traffic Control Radar over the US-made Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 Long Range Surveillance Radar for the first 3 units to be installed in Ilocos Norte, Lubang Island and Palawan. The contract is worth around Php 2.68 billion, although Elta gave a sweetener to their proposal by providing a free radar system with an 80-kilometer range as a gap filler to be used for the upcoming APEC Summit this November 2015. Although there is no confirmation yet, MaxDefense believes the free gap filler radar provided by IAI-Elta is the EL/M-2106 NG 3D tactical air defense radar. Although this appears to be a deal sweetener, MaxDefense believes that this move was also a marketing strategy by Elta since the PAF is also expected to acquire gap filler radar systems that can be used for short range anti-aircraft missile systems, and if the PAF is satisfied with the performance, they would probably acquire more in the future.
|The Elta ELM-2288 AD-STAR air defense and air traffic control radar system.|
Radar systems to be acquired for the other planned radar sites are not yet finalized so it may still be possible for the PAF to either continue ordering the Elta-made system, or switch to the US-made systems. MaxDefense sources confirmed that the AN/TPS-77 was actually more expensive although the performance is a little better than the ELM-2288.
Acquisition of More Fighter Aircraft:
Ahh...the juiciest part of the plans. Everybody's waiting for this part.
With the PAF already proceeded with the acquisition of 12 KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle surface attack aircraft/lead-in fighter trainer (SAA/LIFT) as a start, this would now form the groundwork of having the capabilities to sustain fighter aircraft assets. But the DND even in its previous press releases agreed that 12 FA-50 fighter-trainers are not enough to defend the country.
According to the PAF's Flight Plan 2028, the PAF plans to acquire additional fighter aircraft aside from the 12 FA-50s it earlier acquired, and it mentions at least 24 more aircraft. This comprises 12 more SAA/LIFT aircraft, and 12 Multirole Fighters (MRF). The timeframe scheduled by the PAF is to receive the additional SAA/LIFT by 2020, and acquire its first 4 MRF by 2021 and receive the balance units by 2022.
|The Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NG is among the favorite MRF according to PAF pilots.|
This schedule is still fluid, and may be subject to changes depending on the political and economic climate of the country, PAF's capability to absorb new knowledge and skills as an organization, and the performance of the FA-50 aircraft. There are lobbying being made to advance the acquisition of the MRF by at least 3 years to 2018, and reduce the number of SAA/LIFT aircraft acquisition of 12 more to a lesser number in favor of increasing the MRF acquisition to at least 18 units.
|The PAF may need to acquire more SAA/LIFT aircraft after the first 12 units it ordered, possibly choosing again the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle.|
No specific models were named for the SAA/LIFT and MRF acquisitions, but it is expected that the PAF will definitely make a follow-on order of the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle. So far, the names coming out of PAF sources regarding MRF are the Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NG, the F-16V Viper, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, although the PAF is said to be open on offers coming from other friendly countries like South Korea, Japan, and France.
Acquisition of Support Aircraft and Equipment:
Aside from fighter aircraft and fighter trainers, the PAF has indicated its plans to acquire several other platforms, some of which were already started for tender, or has been announced by the DND as an upcoming project.
For the Air Defense Command, there are plans to acquire at least 2 Airborne Early Warning & Control Aircraft (AEW&C) by year 2020, and 4 Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) aircraft starting 2020.
|The PAF also intends to acquire at least 2 AEW&C aircraft by 2020.|
The acquisition of Air Defense & Surveillance Radar Systems (ADSRS) has already begun, with the first 2 IAI-Elta ELM-2288 AD-STAR radars expected to arrive in 2016, and another 1 by 2017. The PAF also plans to acquire 3 more undetermined type of ADSRS from 2018 to 2020 to cover the remaining areas discussed earlier.
3 Ground Based Air Defense Systems (GBADS) are also scheduled for acquisition by 2016, while another 3 GBADS will be acquired by 2020.
Trainings and International Exercises:
The new equipment would be nothing else but displays if the ones operating them are not abreast on the technology and capabilities these equipment can do.
The PAF is trying to reach is schedule to be a participant in several international military exercises, which includes Cobra Gold annual exercises hosted by Thailand, Exercises Pitch Black hosted by Australia biennially, and Red Flag exercises hosted by the United States.
|The PAF intends to join the Cobra Gold and Exercise Pitch Black in the near future, as well as the prestigious Red Flag exercises in the US.|
According to the PAF's Flight Plan, the PAF should already be a regular participant in Cobra Gold by 2018, in Pitch Black by 2020, and in Red Flag by 2022. Currently, the AFP is an observer in Cobra Gold, and has been a minor participant in the recently concluded Cope North 2015 in Guam.
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In general, the PAF has already identified the road it plans to take, but it would not be possible if the executive and legislative bodies of the government still fail to provide the necessary support for this initiative. It is already a very conservative effort made by the PAF, and failure of the government to provide the budget and support will meant the PAF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole will be going nowhere.
MaxDefense will be abreast with the developments on this effort by the PAF, and separate blog entries will be tackling the other modernization efforts of the PAF on its Tactical and Support Wings, and Air Force Wide Support Units. Meanwhile, the focus for this year would be the delivery of the gap-filler radar system from Israel, and at least the first 2 units of the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle SAA/LIFT aircraft which will temporarily be used to fill the country's limited air defense capability.
March 24, 2015:
This might be the fastest update ever made on MaxDefense blogs.
Just a few hours after this blog entry was released, the DND confirmed that the Philippine Air Force will be starting the rehabilitation of Gozar Air Station in Lubang Island, Occidental Mindoro, to accomodate a new radar system scheduled to arriving soon.
Gozar Air Station was formerly equipped with an air defense radar system but the air station fell to disrepair after its radar system became obsolete and decommissioned.
More of this update on the link provided HERE.
March 27, 2015:
Aside from the Gozar Air Station in Lubang Island, the DND has started preparation for the rehabilitation of Salakot Air Station in Palawan, and Paredes Air Station in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. Both air stations were previously operating air defense radars, and are scheduled to receive their new radars from Israel by next year.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other officials visited the both the Salakot and Gozar Air Stations recently.