• Knowing the Philippine Army's BO-105 Helicopters

    These donated helicopters operated by the Philippine Army's Aviation Regiment provides much needed field support, especially on medevac-related evacuation and other logistical concerns.

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  • Navantia's Submarine Offer to the Philippine Navy

    The Spanish shipbuilder has offered its submarine offer for the Philippine Navy's submarine project. How will it fare compare to its competitors like France's Naval Group and South Korea's Hanwha Ocean?

  • Knowing the AW-109 Helicopter of both PAF and PN

    Both the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy possess this type of helicopter that basically define as a first step towards a more capable Armed Forces, implemented during the First Horizon of the AFP Modernization Program.

  • The Phil. Army's Interest on the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM

    The Philippine Army is improving its firepower capabilities, and it witnessed the performance brought by this anti-tank missile during the Balikatan 2023 Exercises. Now they are considering it for their systems.

  • Know More About Us

    Just kindly click this link to understand more about our resolve of providing knowledge and perspective in relation to the Philippine defense and other related topics or discussions.

Capabilities of FA-50 and as Part of Air Defense System

A nation with a decent air defense system comprises radars, fighter jets, communication stations, and early warning systems. And with that comes FA-50, which capabilities the Philippine Air Force has, undermines than that of its neighbors who have fully fledged Multirole fighter jets.

Philippine Air Force FA-50 jet.

Philippine Air Force is indeed called on its adage as an all-air, no force organization since 2005 where it retired its last of those 1960-era F-5A/B Freedom Fighters. Those alone restraints the air force to do air patrols, intercepting aircraft, and most of all, implementing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ). It was not until late 2015 where the first two FA-50 jets have arrived from South Korea. 

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI developed these jets) as a replacement of their own F-5 jets. They developed these out of T-50 trainer jets in which KAI also developed for training. Its designation in the Philippines can be categorized as Lead-In Fighter Trainer or LIFT. 

Its primary purpose was to train pilots on how to operate a jet that fitted the latest avionics and gauges, which is a far cry from most planes PAF gets from its inventory. All of this is for the pilots to do flybys, patrols, exercises, and other things where the skills were needed when the more sophisticated, highly capable Multi-role fighter comes in. It also comes with its secondary purpose. 

Since PAF starts from level one all over again, it comes as not of a surprise that FA-50 jets are interim fighter jets since MRFs are still about to materialize. All of this in which it stirs confusion among common people upon the purpose of the FA-50. Not also to mention that the Flight Plan 2028 comes up with plans for a credible, stronger air force.

The question comes in this way: is FA-50 capable of its mandate alone? How does it play a role in an ideal air defense system? How do its specs come out with its expectations?

With the notes coming from Tan Tian Cai. [link here]
A screen of an early warning radar.

Among the endless debate over the FA-50PH's roles and capabilities, equipment level, and future MRF, people get so caught up in the argument over what the FA-50PH can do or not that they often outright ignore the big picture. A lot has been said over how the FA-50PH could serve as an interim interceptor until the future MRF enters service.
People take one look at the FA-50PH's spec sheets and conclude that it's on par with a light MRF as it's already well equipped for multi-role missions. Many people like to point to fact that the FA-50PH is equipped with Link 16 Datalink as a benchmark that it's capable of joint forces operations.
Unfortunately, specs alone don't tell the whole story. To use the much exhausted Link 16 as an example, the data link by itself alone is useless. In simple terms, before you can use the data link to share data, you need assets to collect the data to be shared. If you have no data to share, then the data link is useless.
Here lies the problem. The PAF lacks not only fighter jets, but they also lack the important force-multiplying assets, namely proper radar coverage of its territory. Radar is the eyes of the battlefield. You simply can't hit what you never saw coming no matter how powerful your gun.
Looked at from this angle, the issue is serious. The FA-50PH's Link 16 is useless because the PAF doesn't have AWACS to gather data over the local airspace and share it with the FA-50PH. It's been discussed both over here as well as on the mother forum that the Philippines' ground-based radar network has coverage gaps and blind spots.
The situation will remain unchanged even when the PAF's new MRF jets arrive. All their advanced sensors are for naught if they lack the rear end support of AEW&C assets. Assets that the PAF lacks.
After all, this said, the bottom line is simple. The PAF must NOT neglect the need to invest in force multipliers. At the very least, radar coverage of the Philippines airspace must be improved. Because even the best MRFs are blind without radar vectoring to tell them where to go to perform a successful intercept.
What the Philippines urgently need is not new fighters. It's a radar network to detect intruders and guide friendly aircraft to intercept.

Airbus Military C295 AWACs.

Overall, the capabilities of the whole air force in general is far from being upright, citing the fact that there are many things that are yet to be materialized. The FA-50s are a start but are insufficient to implement PAF's mandate for a PADIZ. 

Thus, goals are far from reach as per capability wise is concerned. For now, let there be satisfaction for these LIFT jets, and keep the modernization ongoing, if one really wants to have a credible, strong air force.

(c) 2016 PDA, edited and improved 02/17/2023.

Analysis: Frigate Acquisition Project

A project that has been dragged on for years, and risks to go on until the new administration sits in.


This project was made introduced by the Philippines Department of Defense as the result of rejecting the deal regarding the second-hand Maestrale-class frigates from Italy which they point out that it was all due to logistics and upkeep expenses are all of the problems. Thus, it was leading to the Defense Secretary deciding to have new hulls instead that economy-wise, will have a longer life span servicing the navy for more years to come.


Several shipbuilding industries participated in the deal, and they were the following:

- Garden Reach Shipbuilding and Engineering, offers Kamorta-derived ships for the Navy.
- Hyundai Heavy Industries, offers HDF-3000 which is Incheon-derived ships.
- Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, offers DW-2000 ships.
- STX Korea, offers the same type of ship as Hyundai would do.
- Navantia, offers the Avante 2200 combatant
- STX France, offers the N2GF or the Upgraded Floreal class.

These bidders are doing their best to bag the project. It was then given through the bid bulletins in February and March 2016 that issues as per exchange rates, sovereign guarantees, the timeline of the opening of bids, and so on that it makes the process a bit delayed. Not to mention also that the bids and awards committee takes two years just to hire a consultant regarding the project, citing the problems as per balancing the ship's capabilities given the balance.

As the result, STX France did not give their bid on the second bid opening, and upon the event, out of five bidders, two were come out flexible as per project giving Php 16bln or in US Dollars, at around 340 million. And these were the Garden Reach Shipbuilding and Engineering which were designated in Kolkota, India, and Hyundai Heavy Industries who are from South Korea.


This process is where the shipbuilder must undertake so that every technicality like financial standing, building capabilities, and other factors regarding the project stands out, and hence, the contract will be signed out.

Garden Reach Shipbuilding and Engineering
Kamorta-class corvette. Source: GRSE website.
This is the shipbuilding industry, undertaking from the Indian government, and is situated in Kolkota, India. They are the ones who made the Kamorta-class heavy corvettes for the Indian navy and as well building other ships for the Indian navy and some of its neighbors like Sri Lanka. As per bid results, this industry shows out as the most responsive bidder in the project and is now undertaking the post-qualification process. Rumors show that such a process is already done with this industry and the result will be gone public soon.

Hyundai Heavy Industries
Incheon-class Frigate. Source: Republic of Korea Navy.
The second winning bidder after GRSE. This shipyard was designated in South Korea and has a reputation for building both civilian and military-type ships. Reports do include that the South Korean Navy's DAPA tapped Hyundai to built Aegis destroyers. Yonhap News says it so.


While we are writing this blog, there were news brewing out of our beloved sources that the PQ team will be going to South Korea by next week, probably starting June 6. All of which means one thing: GRSE failed the post-qualification process.

This means that it will be HHI's turn to undertake the Post-qualification process. Time-wise, there are chances that this project will be dragged up until the new administration sits in. Unless the PQ team does its best to sign up the contracts on or before June 30. In this case, the bidding process continues, and with one of two bidders failed the bid, everything goes on and the project in such a case now hangs in the balance. All of which will mean the success and failure of this project in this crucial phase of the process. 

The thing is, the committee simply doing its job of making the 16 billion pesos of money's worth out of this project. In other words, this project is a balancing act of capabilities and worth of having such capabilities that suit naval needs.


As of October 19, 2016

The Hyundai Heavy Industries, after months of waiting, has recently been awarded by the DND through its "Notice of Award" where the HHI and its Incheon-class frigate are considered the preferred bidder for the program. Furthermore, the negotiations for the settlement of the system and other matters are taken place wherein the terms in the contract will be ironing out that it will favor both sides.

The signing of the contract is suspected to take place within this month, especially by next week. The weapons systems with regards to this project will be leaning on "Korean-made" products, and the Fitted-for-but-not-with weaponry will be installed later as part of the plans laid out by the Philippine Navy. The ship will be derived from HDF-3000 or the original layout there is of the Incheon-class frigate. It is suspected that the later design of the frigates created by HHI such as HDF-3500 will be integrated into these ships, conforming to the specifications laid by the bidding team.


The time span of the overall process was indeed that long but with justifiable reasons. One of which is the committee's hiring of the expert to give up a glimpse as to what kind of combat warship will suit the needs of the navy. Another is that funding allocation gives problems to some of the bidders in the project. And now, with GRSE, accordingly suffering some financial problems and giving the post-qualification process to HHI adds more time to the bid process. Overall, the slow and thorough process will definitely give two outcomes, whether to give worth for it or failure of the project in general.




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