Changi Airport Wins Clark O&M

16 December 2018

The Changi Airport headed North Luzon Airport Consortium won the operations and maintenance contract of Clark International Airport’s existing passenger terminal, and the new terminal building set to be operational by 2020, the Department of Transportation said Friday.

The North Luzon Airport Consortium members includes Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. and Changi Airport Philippines Pte. Ltd.

Clark International Airport will open a new 4 million per annum  low cost terminal in the first half of 2020.

The new 100,000-square-meter terminal will double its capacity to eight million passengers a year as it makes way to become the primary low cost gateway to the country.

Clark International Airport has a current annual capacity of four million passengers. It registered 1.8 million passengers up to November 2018.

Airlines operating international flight in Clark include Qatar Airways, Scoot, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Asiana Airlines, Dragon Air, T'way, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Jetstar Asia, China Eastern and Emirates Airlines with flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Macau, Pudong, Incheon, Doha, and Dubai.

Antique Airport Re-opens

16 December 2018

Philippine Airlines has re-launch its services to Antique as it began on Sunday its Antique-Clark route twice a week.

The twice-weekly route will be serviced by PAL's brand new 86-seater Bombardier Next Generation Q400 aircraft, the company said in a statement.

Flight PR2205 departs from Clark every Sunday and Tuesday at 6 a.m., arriving at the Evelio B. Javier airport in San Jose de Buenavista in Antique at 7:20 a.m.

Flight PR2206, on the other hand, departs from Antique at 7:40 a.m., arriving in Clark at 9 a.m.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo,opens back the airport and welcome the return of PAL to Antique after 21 years of absence.

The Fokker-50 service has since been replaced by Asian Spirit (now AirAsia) Dash 7 until 12 years ago when it stopped operations due to economic non-viability with passengers opting to travel to nearby Iloilo for flights.

“After 12 years ago, the airport has returned to commercial operation,” Tamayo said

Trump Returns Balangiga Bells

The Spirit of MacArthur Carries them Home

11 December 2018

In the Spirit of MacArthur, a C-130J transport plane of the United States Air Force has returned the Balangiga bells to the country 117 years after it was taken in 1901 during the American-Philippine War at Balangiga Town in Eastern Samar.
The return was made possible after President Donald Trump promised President Rodrigo Duterte of its return to the country.

AH-1W for Attack Chopper?

10 December 2018

The U.S Department of Defense is in talks with their Philippine counterpart on the acquisition of 10 AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, with 2 frames possibly funded by Foreign Military Sales (FMS) assistance.

The US Department of Defense also puts the Philippines on notice that they might get a surplus fleet of 12 AH-1W Super Cobras retired by the US marines last year which the US started selling on the international arms market or donated via foreign military assistance (FMS). The newer AH-1W could also be upgraded to AH-1Z standards should the PAF put more money into the program.

Under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), the Philippine Air Force planned to acquire 24 attack helicopters valued at US$260 million (13.8 billion pesos).

Decision to buy purpose-built attack helicopters gained traction in 2018 after Jordan donated 2 used AH-1F attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force and the contenders for the project suddenly changed to Bell AH-IZ, Boeing AH-64E, Mil-28, Mil-24, TAI-129, and the Airbus EC665, which restricted quantity to at least 10 from the initial 24.

At US$260 million budget, Russia scored the highest number of 24 helicopters at US$12 million each for the Mi-24 (Hind) followed by Turkey with about 10 T-129 helicopters. The most expensive was Boeing with six Apaches followed by Airbus and Bell.

While Russia could have been a sure winner, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017 was the compelling reason which prevented the Philippines from dealing financial matters with Russia in US dollars so the PAF TWG selected the next best thing which is the T-129 helicopter that is smaller and lighter than Russia’s Mi-28 or the USA’s AH-64 Apache helicopter. TWG decision to secure the T-129 as the PAF attack helicopter was made prior to the US Department of Defense prohibition against export of the T-129 powerplants to other countries outside Turkey.

Discussions on the possible acquisition of AH-1W SUPER COBRA Attack Helicopters and associated equipment, together with parts, training and logistical support instead of the AH-1Z came into being only in September 18 in Pentagon when these were raised between US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana meeting at Washington among other defense related acquisitions and concerns.

The amount which covers about 8 new Bell AH-1W Attack Helicopters together with associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support will be supplemented by possible FMS equivalent to additional two to four frames according to DND source.

The Philippines will also have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters and its T700-GE-401 engines into its armed forces as these are all made in the USA.

Blackhawks, Finally

9 December 2018
United States Navy (USN) UH-60 delivering relief goods to tyhoon Yolanda victims in Leyte

The Philippine Air Force’s technical working group (TWG) has identified Sikorsky UH60 (Blackhawk) as the combat utility helicopter that would replace the mothballed Bell 412 EPIs, while the selection of the T129 ATAK of the Turkish Aerospace Industries may be reconsidered for its attack helicopter project choice due to power-plant problems.

“The Air Force TWG has come up with the recommendation for Black Hawk and T129 but I think we have problems with the T129,” says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The Defense Minister said that 16 units of the blackhawk helicopters will be provided by Sikorsky for $240 million, the same amount earmarked for the Bell 412s.

Lorenzana explained that Sikorsky originally offered 9 frames for the latest UH-60M variant while South Korea's Surion helicopter offered 10 for the same money, but the United States (US) through the U.S. Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program offered to finance the balance of the purchase price for the remaining six for a total of 16.

Lorenzana added that while the PAF wanted Bell 412s possibly made in America, they still requires an engine build in Canada so the problem would still be there as what is now happening with the Pratt & Whitney PT6T engine parts of existing 412s. He said the T129 selected by TWG is heading in the same direction of the 412s if it pushes through as selections were made prior to events leading to export ban of T129s engine outside of Turkey.

Lorenzana said the contract for the Blackhawk choppers would be signed early 2019, while that of the T129 attack helicopter project would be deliberated further considering that they already received warnings from their US counterpart.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has called off the deal to acquire 16 Bell 412 EPI helicopters from Canadian Commercial Corporation earlier this year after Canadian Parliament ordered a review of the government's acquisition for its use for offensive operations instead of transport missions.

PAF Committee Selects T129 Attack Helecopter

But Will It Fly?

4 December 2018

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) selection committee has finally selected to acquire an attack helicopter from Turkey.

The variant selected was the TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK, which is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. The T129 is being produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland.

The controversial selection however missed the point of being an attack helicopter, its powerplant.

The United States (US) has officially denied Turkey, its NATO ally, a certificate to export the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) helicopter engines that powers the PAF attack helicopter, and that brings problem to the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) that manufactures the desired helicraft.

The LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines are produced by a joint venture of the US-based manufacturer Honeywell and Britain’s Rolls-Royce.

The Turkish company failed to obtain export license from the US Department of Defense. The license is required for the US-made parts of the engines that are meant to power the aircraft. The prohibition applies to all country exports and not merely Pakistan, also a US ally.

The sales prohibitions came after Turkey purchased Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems in defiance of Washington’s warnings.

A similar warning was made to the Philippines last month when Russia offered top-of-the-line military hardware to the country which put military officials on pause.

This early, the PAF already had difficulty securing engine parts for its Bell 412s and AW109 due to Canada's objections.

The engine embargo could potentially affect the needs of the Philippines, a US ally,  as the alternative Rolls Royce engine is far inferior to that offered by the American company.

SU-35 Offer Is Real

30 November 2018

The Russian Federation has officially offered the Philippines a military hardware that is too good to refuse. While still in wraps for now, Malacanang sources disclosed this equipment to be a submarine (pair of Project 636 Improved Kilo class), squadron of MRF jets (Su-30SME/35), and missile defense batteries (pantser s-1/buk m-2) to be financed by loan grant to as much as US$2 billion.

If all taken, that is ₱110 billion-off the ₱300 billion revised AFP modernization program second horizon budget.

The acquisition of submarines was originally planned for the third horizon (2023-2028). But the current navy chief, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, lobbied for the immediate inclusion of diesel-electric submarines in horizon two.

Russian state-run Rosoboronexport attended the Asian Defense, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference, ADAS 2018 in Manila Philippines last September 28 showcasing for the Philippine Air Force Su-35 and Su-30SME super-maneuverable multifunctional fighters, the Yak-130 training and combat training aircraft, the Mi-35M transport/combat helicopter, Ka-226T light multi-purpose helicopter and the Mi-171Sh military transport helicopter, Pantsir-S1anti-aircraft missile/gun system and the Igla-S MANPADS.

It also exhibited small arms like the AK-100 family of Kalashnikov assault rifles and armored vehicles, for example, the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle and BT-3F armored personnel carrier for the Philippine Army. While for the Navy, the Project 636 large diesel-electric submarine, Gepard-3.9 class frigate and boats for various purposes are on display at the Company’s stand.

Russia said they are working on workable payment schemes with the Philippines to pay for the products that they intend to order as its State-run company is prevented from using US dollars under Section 231 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA). CAATSA provides prohibition upon foreign exchange transactions under U.S. jurisdiction and transactions with the U.S. financial system.

Rosoboronexport General Director Alexander Mikheyev who met with President Duterte confirmed the restriction and said the company would focus on conducting transactions in the currency of a customer instead of US dollars.

Mikheyev said it had examined a number of ways to work around US sanctions against the company and was now considering the possibilities of working in non-US currencies.

Gripen Locks MRF Acquisition

29 November 2018

Sweden is locked on bagging the Philippines Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) acquisition project as government confirms ₱61 billion (USD1.1 billion) budget to procure a Multi-Role combat aircraft over the next five years when the Philippine Air Force (PAF) enters phase II of its modernization project, which runs from 2018 to 2022.

The Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) programme calls for the acquisition of 12 fighter aircraft with a ceiling price tag of not more than US$1.1 billion.

The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has concluded a study in support of its programme to procure a new fighter jet and confirmed that Saab’s Gripen aircraft is in pole position to win the contract to be awarded next year says Delfin Lorenzana in Ozamiz City yesterday.

Swedish defense company giant SAAB offers for 12 new fighter aircraft JAS 39 Gripen C / D with the latest MS20 package, ammunition, maintenance and support services with ranges between 800 and 900 million euros. The Manufacturer has cultivated ties with the Philippine military for more than two years as it positions itself to win a multi-billion dollar contract for a Gripen squadron.

Total funding for PAF modernisation under the second horizon is ₱139 billion (USD2.5 billion).

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has budgeted ₱61 billion (USD1.1 billion) to procure a multirole combat aircraft over the next five years.

The Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) programme, which will feature the acquisition of 12 aircraft in its initial phase - is one of several requirements for the PAF as it enters its 'second horizon' modernisation phase, which runs from 2018 to 2022. Total funding for PAF modernisation under the second horizon is ₱139 billion.