Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Philippine Air Force's Medium Term "Flight Plan" for an effective Air Defense Capability

Recently the Philippine Star released a news report regarding the planned acquisition of 24 fighter aircraft in the near future for the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The report's headline claims that the aircraft will be coming from South Korea, although the content of the report reveals that it is still unclear from which country the aircraft will be acquired. To clear this report, it would also be best to discuss the nature of the plan being followed by the Philippine Air Force for their acquisition of more fighters. This is also related to other projects being embarked by the Department of National Defense (DND) and the PAF.





The PAF is scheduled to acquire MRFs, like the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon / Viper (above) and the Saab JAS-39 Gripen (below) as previously indicated by the DND and PAF as part of its mid-term modernization goals.
Photo of F-16 taken from Wikimedia, and of the JAS-39 from taringa.net



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, 

The Air Defense Strategic Plan also calls for activation of additional groups that will handle new capabilities to be introduced the PAF. This includes the 780th Ground Base Air Defense Group (in which the group's logo was posted in MaxDefense @ Facebook last February 24, 2015); and a still unnamed new group which will control Airborne Early Warning & Control and Electronic Countermeasures Aircraft assets. Other units will also be formed specifically to cater for peculiar support for the Air Defense units.



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.


The acquisition of Ground Based Air Defense System is among the most closely-guarded projects of the DND and PAF, and although not much releases are made to the media does not mean the project is not moving. The Israeli-made Spyder system is among those being considered for this project.



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.



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UPDATES:
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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.

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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.

Friday, March 20, 2015

3rd Attempt to Re-Bid the 155mm Towed Howitzer with Ammunition Acquisition Project for the Philippine Army and Marine Corps

On February 2015, the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) released a new Invitation to Bid for the 155mm Towed Howitzer with Ammunition acquisition project for the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps. This is actually the 3rd attempt to bid the project after the last attempt made last year failed after Elbit Systems Land & C4I failed to pass the post-bid qualifications. This is also the 3rd time that MaxDefense released a blog regarding the project with the 1st and 2nd bid attempt can be accessed HERE and HERE, respectively.


Elbit Systems Land & C4I of Israel previously won the tender to supply the 155mm Towed Howitzer and Ammunition. But was disqualified after failing the post-bid qualifications. They are expected to join the project bidding again this time.


The contract remains the same as the previous tender attempt, which includes the supply and delivery of 12 brand new 155mm towed howitzer systems, 240 rounds of high explosive (HE) cartridge, and an integrated logistics support (ILS) package for the entire system. The Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) remains at Php 438,620,000.00. The pre-bid conference was scheduled last March 5, 2015, and the bid submission and opening was originally scheduled on March 19, 2015 but was moved to March 26, 2015 as per a new supplemental bid bulletin released on March 10, 2015.

So far, MaxDefense has not determined the interested bidders for the project, although it is expected that previous interested entities will be trying their chance to bag the project. This includes Elbit Systems Land & C4I, who won the tender last year but was eliminated after failing the post-bid qualifications. 

Among the requirements released by the DND are for the product to be in use with the origin country's armed forces or by at least 2 other foreign armed forces, and that the bidders must be the manufacturer of the goods (howitzer system and ammunition). Changes in the requirement now is that the bidders should have also completed a similar project within 5 years from date of submission of bid. Previously the requirement was for 10 years, which could have been one of the reasons why the previous tender was only participated by a few bidders, and probably also the reason why Elbit did not got the project.

A supplemental bid bulletin released on March 17, 2015 made changes also on the requirements regarding the major parts of the howitzer system. Previously the requirement allowed subcontracting to a number of parts except for the barrel, breach lock, and central structure of carriage. This requirement reinforces its earlier requirement that the bidder must be the manufacturer of the goods itself. 


MaxDefense hopes that many other suppliers that did not participate in the previous bid attempts, like Hyundai WIA and it's KH-179 towed howitzer, will participate this time.
Photo taken from KDN website.


Failure of bidding for this project will enable the DND to do a negotiated bid with possible suppliers, which was the same process applied with the acquisition of UH-1 helicopters for the Philippine Air Force.

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MaxDefense will be updating its readers on this project through this blog entry and at MaxDefense @ Facebook community page. It is expected that this project's bid submission and opening schedule will not move as much as the other projects of the DND. Hopefully more bidders will be interested in this project than before.





Wednesday, March 18, 2015

M113A2 for the Philippine Army from US Army and Elbit Systems Scheduled to Arrive this year

The Philippine Army is expected to start receiving M113A2 armored personnel carriers from the US. These are to be acquired via Excess Defense Article grants by the US government.


After more than a year of delays, MaxDefense received confirmation from its Philippine Army sources that they are already scheduled to complete all necessary approvals from the US and Philippine governments that will enable them to receive 114 units of the M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers. These will be divided into several versions including armored recovery and command vehicles, but will mostly be the standard armored personnel carriers.

These are US Army stocks and will be provided to the Philippines as Excess Defense Article (EDA) Grant by the US government. The beneficiary unit in the Philippine Army is the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), who are currently operating the older M113A1 armored vehicles and its derivatives, the FMC Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the Turkish ACV-300. This will enable the MID to increase its order of battle with more tracked units, while releasing more of their wheeled armored vehicles for smaller cavalry units.

Philippine Army personnel inspecting the M113A2 stored in a US Army facility 2 years ago. These are among those scheduled for transfer to the Philippine Army.
Photo taken from Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army website.


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Aside from these armored vehicles from the US, another batch of M113A2 refurbished and upgraded by Elbit Systems Land and C4I of Israel will start deliveries also within this year. The contract for the project was awarded to Elbit in mid-2014, and they are given a year to deliver the said armored vehicles which falls to around middle of 2015.

Elbit Systems Land and C4I of Israel will supply upgraded M113A2 armored vehicles with Remote Weapons Systems.


This batch is composed of 14 fire support vehicles with the FV101 Scorpion's turret, 4 with 25mm cannon in remote weapons station (RWS), and 10 with 12.7mm machine gun in RWS.

MaxDefense previously discussed about this upcoming acquisition in a previous blog entry, seen HERE. More on this will be discussed should additional information be made available.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Philippine Air Force Gets Dornier UH-1D Helicopters, and Technical Clarifications on the Project's Alleged Issues

The recent articles by the Manila Times reported by Joel M. Sy Egco circulating lately regarding the irregularities on the Department of National Defense's (DND) acquisition of refurbished UH-1 helicopters has caught MaxDefense's eye due to a lot of errors and total disregard of facts. As the topic was discussed in our Facebook page, MaxDefense noticed a lot of its readers have difficulty understanding the issue, or understanding the errors on the allegations made by the Manila Times.


The Dornier UH-1D Super Delta upgraded version while undergoing flight testing at Clark Air Base, Pampanga. The Fastfin system is visible from this angle.
Photo by Tim Q. Maceren, taken from his FB page.


One of the UH-1D delivered by Rice Aircraft Services undergoing testing at Clark Air Base.
Photo taken by Tim Q. Maceren, taken from his FB page.



So, it was decided that MaxDefense will answer some of the technical issues, as well as obvious issues in this blog entry. MaxDefense suggests that further research be made by its readers to fully understand the issue and avoid bias.

So, first of all, we discuss the product itself, the Bell Model 204 & 205, otherwise known as the UH-1 series in US military language.


Short History of The Bell UH-1 Iroquois Helicopter:
The Bell Model 204 Helicopter
The Bell Helicopter company produced the Model 204 helicopter, with the first prototype flown in the late 1950s. As the US military accepted the helicopter, it was initially called the HU-1A, officially named "Iroquois" after an American Indian tribe, but HU-1A was pronounced "Huey" which is its more famous name. When the US military changed its aircraft naming standard, the HU-1A became the UH-1A powered by the Lycoming T53-L-1A engine. Bell later on improved the helicopter by increasing the engine size and power using the Lycoming T53-L-5, and lengthening the fuselage to accommodate more passengers, which was later called the UH-1B. 


The Bell UH-1A Iroquois, which is the original name of the Huey. Take note of the short fuselage as compared to what Huey helicopters the Philippine Air Force uses.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.



The US military used the UH-1B for utility and armed missions, and this is where Bell addressed aerodynamic deficiency of armed UH-1B by replacing the engine again with the Lycoming T53-L-11, increasing the fuel capacity, and installing an improved rotor system. This was later on called the UH-1C, a gunship variant with rocket and gun pods installed. Further improvements of the UH-1C to increase power resulted to the UH-1M. The US Marine Corps have their own variant of the UH-1B/C called the UH-1E, with differences on the avionics used. Further developments of the UH-1C for the US Air Force resulted to the UH-1F, which used the General Electric T58-GE-3 engine, but only a few units were built. Many other minor variants were released.


The Bell Model 205 Helicopter
With the US military wanting to have a helicopter that can carry more troops, Bell proposed to stretch the UH-1B by 41 inches, enabling them to increase the seating capacity of the helicopter to 15 people. Modifications were also made on the doors and windows in accordance to the changes Bell made to the design. The rotors and tail boom were also lengthened, and the engine of the UH-1C was used. This ultimately became what was known as the Bell UH-1D. 


The UH-1H, like those used by the Philippine Air Force (above), are part of the Model 205 series.
Photo taken from Airliners.net, photo copyright @ Carlos A. Morillo Doria.


In 1966, Bell again made modifications on the UH-1D, by replacing the engine with the Lycoming T53-L-13 with 1,400shp, and shifting the pitot tube from the nose to the roof of the helicopter to avoid damage during landings. This was later known as the Bell UH-1H, the most famous of the entire Bell UH-1 series. A civilian version was also made, under the name Model 205A with minor differences including a different position of the tail rotor.


Foreign and Licensed-Built Bell 205 / UH-1:
Due to its popularity, several countries chose the Bell 205 series for their own military and civilian applications. Industrially capable countries like Italy, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan all manufactured their requirement for UH-1 helicopters.

Italy is among the most successful in manufacturing the Bell 205 locally, under a joint venture between Bell Helicopters and Italian aviation company Agusta as the Agusta Bell. They used the designation AB.205, which is similar to the UH-1H. Agusta Bell continued to produce several other variants of the Model 205, and went on to produce their version of the Model 212, 214 and 412 known as the AB.212, AB.214 and AB.412, respectively.

Germany was also able to acquire a license to build the Bell UH-1 helicopter by Dornier Flugzeugwerke. This would later be called the Dornier UH-1D, and in spite of having the "D" series label, is actually standard UH-1H. According to online sources, more than 350 units were built from 1967 to 1981,and majority have undergone Service Life Extension Program and upgraded avionics for night capability. 






Japan built its UH-1 series, with the license given to Fuji Heavy Industries. Originally they built the UH-1H series, but later on made in improved version called the UH-1J, with a more powerful 1,800shp Allison T53-L-703 turboshaft, night vision goggle cockpit compatibility, infrared countermeasures and vibration reduction system.


The Japanese-built UH-1J variant of the Huey. Based on its improvements, it may have similar features as the Philippine Air Force's UH-1H Huey II.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

Later Improved Models Based on the Bell Model 205 Helicopter:
Bell later on came up with further improvement on the UH-1H specifically for the Canadian Armed Forces by making it a twin engine variant instead of the single engine used for the Model 204 and Model 205. It was designated as the Bell 212 series in the civilian sector, and was called the UH-1N Twin Huey in US military service. It used the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T engines and was first introduced in 1970.

Bell also released an improved Model 212, called the Model 214, which uses the more powerful Lycoming LTC4B-8 engine while retaining the twin-blade rotor, and was called the Huey Plus. Another development was made by Bell by using a 4-bladed rotor, which later on became the Bell Model 412. Its current variant, the Bell 412EP, was chosen recently by the Philippine Air Force to become its latest Combat Utility Helicopter model and is expected to replace the UH-1 series in its inventory.


A CH-146 Griffon of the Canadian Armed Forces together with a UH-1H Huey of the Philippine Air Force. The Griffon is actually a militarized Bell 412EP helicopter customized according to the needs of the Canadians.

The latest iteration of the UH-1 was again made by Bell, this time by working again on the UH-1N design by lengthening its cabin, increasing the engine power and size using General Electric T700 engines used in the Sikorsky S-70/UH-60 Black Hawk, and having a 4-bladed rotor for improved lift and performance. This resulted to the UH-1Y Venom, currently the combat utility helicopter of the US Marine Corps. This variant is still in production until now.



The latest variant of the UH-1 series is the Bell UH-1Y Venom, which is currently used by the US Marine Corps.
Photo taken from Airliners.net, copyright @ Kevin Whitehead.




Background on the DND's UH-1 Helicopter Acquisition Project:

This project was regarding the acquisition of 21 refurbished UH-1 helicopters for the Philippine Air Force. 13 units will be standard models, while 8 will be upgraded models. All are expected to be used and refurbished by the winning bidder before delivery. 

The PAF decided to acquire more UH-1 helicopters as funding to acquire new helicopters are scarce, with the government only providing enough to acquire 8 new combat utility helicopters from 2013 until 2017. With only a budget of more than a billion pesos, the acquisition of more UH-1, being the PAF's premier combat utility helicopter model, was still found to be the best solution, as the platoform still have potential for effective use for another 10 to 15 years after proper maintenance and continued refurbishing and modernization. 

Aside from this, there is an urgent need to beef up the helicopter fleet as many of the PAF's UH-1H helicopters have not entered refurbishing works and modernization, ending up as non-flying assets after reaching a certain period. Although there are plans to refurbish current PAF helicopters, it might take long before this can fully take place. Acquiring readily available units is still considered the fastest way to acquire additional assets.


An illustration of the fastfin system as installed on a Canadian Armed Forces CH-146 Griffon (Bell 412)
Photo taken from Canadian American Strategic Review website.


Apparently, the units delivered by Rice Aircraft Services are German-made UH-1D helicopters by Dornier. According to MaxDefense sources, 8 are to be upgraded to "Super Delta" standard, which is said to be almost similar to the Huey II the PAF is currently using. It features a more powerful engine, a fastfin system, night vision goggle-compatible cockpit, and other features not present on the standard UH-1D or UH-1H. The remaining 13 will be standard "Delta" models.



A UH-1D undergoing testing at Clark Air Base. Note the fastfin installed at the tail end of the helicopter. This could be one of the UH-1D Super Delta, which is an upgraded version of the UH-1D.
Photo taken by Tim Q. Maceren, taken from his FB page.




Answering the Technical Allegations of the Report:
MaxDefense will be answering the news report released last March 8, 2015 by Manila Times in a part-by-part manner. You may refer to the link below to see the sources of the topic outlines:

"Choppers bought for P1.2B defective"
http://www.manilatimes.net/choppers-bought-for-p1-2b-defective/168066/



1. "Delivery of Old, Refurbished Units":
The project was meant to acquire used and refurbished UH-1 helicopters from the very beginning. The UH-1 series has long been out of production with Bell or any of its license-production holders like Agusta, Dornier, Fuji Heavy Industries and AEDC. So it is already expected that the helicopters would not be new due to unavailability of any new UH-1 helicopters.



2. "Contract Was for UH-1H Helicopters":
This is completely untrue. The project was actually called "Acquisition of UH-1 Helicopter Project", without specifying the exact variant. So the bidder could actually bid using other variants of the UH-1 series aside from the standard UH-1H being used by the PAF. 


The document above used by the DND to invite bidders for the project already shows that the project is for REFURBISHED UH-1 HELICOPTERS. There was no emphasis on the "Hotel" variant as well. So there is no violation on this part. There are many other documents on the bidding that is available to the public at the DND-BAC's website.
Document snipped from DND-BAC website.


But does that mean the PAF will accept any variant? No. The PAF already have extensive experience with the UH-1H, and would definitely prefer the UH-1H or any similar variant. This would make the maintenance, training, spare parts acquisition, and parts recycling possible. Which brings us to the next question.



3. "The Age of the UH-1D is older than the UH-1H...":
As discussed earlier, the German-made Dornier UH-1D were built between 1967 and 1981. The US-made Bell UH-1H were built starting 1966 until the late 1970s. By age, the German UH-1D and the US UH-1H are almost the same age. But this is also an inaccurate way to determine the age of an aircraft. 


Two Dornier UH-1D helicopters used by the German military.


The most important detail is, when was the aircraft manufactured? It is impossible to compare the age of aircraft without this detail, and by just using a 15-year range as we might be comparing a 1968 model UH-1H with a 1975 model UH-1D. But based on the range alone, it would be possible that any of the UH-1D made by Dornier and any of the UH-1H made by Bell would be of the same age, plus/minus a few years.

Technically, the Dornier UH-1D and the Bell UH-1H is one and the same. This can be verified in numerous online sources, as well as by helicopter databases like helis.com. Dornier obtained the license to build the Bell Model 205 initially based on Bell's UH-1D, but opted for the option to use the Lycoming T53-L-13. The same engine was being considered by Bell to install on the UH-1D for improved lift performance, which a year later the new variant will be officially called the UH-1H. 

Thus, the UH-1D made by Dornier is essentially one and the same as the UH-1H made by Bell. Also, Dornier's UH-1D is far superior to Bell's UH-1D, in the same manner that the Bell UH-1H is superior to the Bell UH-1D. 



4. "UH-1D are not reliable and their parts are obsolete...":
Being new doesn't necessarily mean reliable. Although newer products tend to be generally more reliable than older products, using this in a general statement like what the report can be considered as totally inaccurate and misleading.

Since the Dornier UH-1D is essentially one and the same as the Bell UH-1H, maintenance and parts for both helicopters are the same too. MaxDefense sources indicated, and several online sources also confirmed, that parts for the UH-1D and UH-1H are actually interchangeable. Although Dornier probably does not make new spare parts for these helicopters, Bell does, and Bell can provide parts and support for both helicopters, aside from the fact that both can use the same original and compatible aftermarket parts from other companies but are accepted by Bell itself, which means the supply chain is not affected by the difference in the helicopter's designations. This was confirmed by the DND's Fernando Manalo an interview a few days ago. If the UH-1H parts is acceptable to the PAF, then the same is true for the Dornier UH-1D's. There are also many companies with large stocks of spare parts for most Model 205/UH-1 helicopters, as aside from the Philippines, there are still a lot of countries using the UH-1 helicopter, including the US military, national guard, and police forces. Examples include Dakota Air Parts, Timken, AirTechnology Engines Inc., and many others. 

It would be worth noting that the Philippine Air Force actually uses both the Bell UH-1H and civilian Model 205A, as well as the newer Bell 412EP. It also had experience in operating the a very few Bell 212s in the past, all of which are different from one another. But this did not negatively affected the supply chain of the PAF as well. 

(Add to that the possibility that Japan might provide the PAF some of their Fuji Heavy Industries-built UH-1H and UH-1J, will that become another issue that the media will come up again in the future?)


The PAF's 505th Search and Rescue Squadron operates around 8 Bell 205A helicopters, similar to the photo shown above. These have minor differences with the UH-1H, but is said to be less similar to the UH-1H, as compared between the Dornier UH-1D to the Bell UH-1H.
The PAF previously operated the twin-engine Bell 212 / UH-1N Twin Huey, although they are now said to be stored and there are currently no plans to put them back in service.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Another Huey derivative being operated by the PAF is the Bell 412EP, currently used by the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, although the PAF's 205th Helicopter Wing is expected to get a few within this and next year as Bell Helicopter Textron delivers the first batch before November 2015.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.


5. "If the DND awarded the contract to a supplier...and those helicopters should have been used during the Mamasapano incident..." 
This is a non-technical phrase that MaxDefense could not stand to leave unanswered. The PAF, with or without these new helicopters, currently has air assets that could have been used to assist the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos during the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015. It was assumed by the reporter's so-called source that the PAF doesn't have any air assets available at all! 

It was clear that the military, more so the PAF, was not given any instruction from higher ops to use their air assets to assist the PNP-SAF in any way before and during the operation, be it for close air support, insertion, extraction, and rescue. So the 21 new helicopters would not be of any help to the PNP-SAF even if they were delivered before January 25. This statement by the report's source, now called "Joey" by a later article posted on March 11, 2015, actually reveals a lot on his real intention for bringing out this issue to the spotlight. Being wrong on technical matters can be acceptable if the source is a non-technical person. But bringing this out in poor reasoning just to give more reason to grill the project is uncalled for.



6. "Helicopters delivered....were not yet operational...":
This was confirmed by the DND recently, as reported by the Inquirer on March 9, 2015. Only 8 of a total 21 helicopters were accepted by the PAF, while the rest are still being assembled, checked, tested, and will undergo acceptance later on. The DND already confirmed that they have given Rice Aircraft Services and its partner Eagle Copter up to April 15 to complete the turnover for the balance units. So there is nothing wrong with this.


Some of the UH-1D helicopters are still awaiting completion of assembly, so it is obvious that they are not yet flying.
Photo taken by Tim Q. Maceren, taken from his FB page.



7. "President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] was hoodwinked into believing that the aircraft delivered were UH-1H models..."
The President previously said in his previous public statements including previous State of the Nation Addresses that the helicopters coming are refurbished UH-1 helicopters, not specifically UH-1H helicopters. 

Here is the link to the President's previous SONA wherein he stated that UH-1 helicopters are being acquired. So far the text only says "UH-1", without the "H".



8. "The age of the UH-1D is older than the UH-1H....":
This was answered in Item # 3.



A Dornier UH-1D used by the German armed forces.
Photo taken from Airliners.net, copyright @ Jakub Nanowski/EPGD Spotters.



9. "...the manufacturer [Dornier] is no longer existing and no helicopter parts are being manufactured specifically for the UH-1D...."
Although Dornier has already folded years ago after a failed venture with American company Fairchild (yes, the manufacturer of the A-10 Thunderbolt), they were able to successfully turn-over the rights of Dornier products production, sales, and support to RUAG Aviation, a Swiss company with facilities in Germany and many other countries. They even continue building some Dornier aircraft products until now like the Do 288 New Generation. Their website also indicates that they provide Life Cycle Support Services to Dornier military aircraft like the UH-1D and Alpha Jet. 

As with the spare parts, this was answered in Item # 4.





The DND, through its undersecretary Mr. Fernando Manalo, confirmed a few days ago that at least 8 units were already accepted by the PAF. MaxDefense sources confirmed this information, and that PAF pilots were dilligently doing their job to see if the helicopters are indeed in tip-top shape before they signed the reports prior to release of acceptance papers. 

Also, Pinoy Aviators, a group page in Facebook with members from the civilian and military aviation community, confirmed that a batch of helicopters were formally accepted this morning (March 11, 2015). These are composed of 2 standard "Delta" and 4 "Super Delta" upgraded helicopters. Source apparently came from one of the PAF Huey pilots included in the testing phase. It is unclear though if this is in addition to earlier reported acceptance of Delta and Super Delta helicopters.


MaxDefense is unsure if there are indeed corruption issues involved in the acquisition of these German birds. But MaxDefense believes that all the technical issues raised by Manila Times recently unto the project might either be a product of intentional or unintentional misinformation, poor understanding of the product, lack of research, or just laziness. A short hop on Google can give the writer tons of information on the helicopters. Using these reasons to build-up a case against the project is uncalled for, and probably have other intentions that are directed to the people involved in the project and the President himself. We will not be touching those issues, and we will leave that to the DND, PAF, Rice Aircraft Services, and the government to answer.


To cap-off, here is a video posted in Youtube during the testing of the helicopters, uploaded by RecSpin.com:


During tests in the US prior to delivery to the Philippines:






During testing @ Clark Air Base, Pampanga:






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UPDATES:
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March 16, 2015:
The Manila Times has again posted a new article, part of their continued accusation against the UH-1 acquisition deal between the DND and Rice Aircraft Services-Eagle Copter venture. The link is provided HERE.

This time, the article indicated that there are officers from the Philippine Air Force that are covering-up the deal, and that the PAF only showed 2 helicopters to the media during the presentation to the press last week. News video from UNTV is available HERE.

This is a serious allegation made by the source, the so-called "Joey" in Manila Times report by Mr. Joel Sy Egco, as even if they were unnamed by the report, these officers have confirmed to the public via media reports that the helicopters are working perfectly. This includes those in the posted video news report above, Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya, Director, Public Information Office, PAF; and Maj. Aristedes Galang, Operations Officer, 210th Tactical Training Squadron, PAF. It may also include Capt. Bryan Dofie, Huey test pilot of the PAF, who shared information in Pinoy Aviators Facebook page that all UH-1D accepted by the PAF are working in perfect order. There are many unnamed officers who is affected by this allegation.

What MaxDefense is curious to know is, how come these PAF officers, who themselves will be using the said helicopters in their day to day work as pilots, will risk theirs and their friends and colleague's lives to accept the helicopters and confirm that they are working perfectly? MaxDefense does not personally know these officers, but who is more believable at this point in time, "Joey" & Manila Times, or the pilots & PAF? How about the enlisted men who are among those involved in the testing, does the allegation involve them as well?


Another point of discussion is the allegation that only 2 helicopters are flying because out of all those accepted, only 2 helicopters can fly. As previously said and even emphasized to MaxDefense's recent Facebook reply to Mr. Sy Egco, MaxDefense will definitely need to correct the errors in military technology information. And although this is not directly a MilTech issue, continuous monitoring of the issue can actually debunk may of the accusations.

During the Media Presentation, only 2 UH-1D helicopters were shown. The video below shows the 2 helicopters:




Both are actually standard model UH-1D, with body number 502 and 186. If these are the only ones flying, then how come there are photos and videos of UH-1D Super Deltas flying scattered around the internet and social media sites? See the photo below from Mr. Tim Maceren:


Photo copyright @ Tim Maceren.



This is one of the UH-1D Super Delta upgraded helicopters. Although the body number is not yet painted as of this photo, this is definitely not among those shown to the media. So that makes it 3 flying aircraft. Also, the Manila Times reported that there are actually 4 UH-1D in Villamor Air Base that day. So how did the 3rd and 4th helicopter reach Villamor Air Base in Pasay City from Clark Air Base in Pampanga?

The presence of a photo of a 3rd unit flying, plus the presence of 4 UH-1D in Villamor Air Base makes the report from Manila Times wrong. We have not yet even included many other aircraft that are already reported accepted and working/flying in very good condition by MaxDefense and other sources.

With time moving, it would be best if the PAF can show that the aircraft they accepted are flying, which according to MaxDefense sources, is happening soon. Meanwhile, with Mr. Sy Egco indicating that "Joey" is coming out soon, let's see what's in store from his allegations.