Russian Precision Guided Munitions and the Philippine Military Airstrikes in Marawi City

Throughout the conflict that still taking place in Marawi City, so does the news that precision-guided munitions are being used in battle which is, per se, used in surgical strikes where it was aimed at a specific target without collateral damage. Henceforth, such a topic needs to be discussed thoroughly.

2017 Pitz Defense Analysis
AW-109 strike on enemy positions. From ABS-CBN
As part of the operations to reclaim Marawi from ISIS-affiliated bandits, the AFP is on the offensive where in this Urban format of warfare, the ground troops are gaining street by street, house by house, room by room. And with this matter, miscalculations can cause grave consequences such as this strike that have caused 11 soldiers dead.

That has caused the Defense Department to temporarily suspend the airstrikes that have taken place where ground troops for the meantime will do the job of flushing these bandits out. As detailed in news reports that were given, the aircraft involved is an SF-260 Marchetti plane where apparently, it was armed with conventional or unguided ones that are also called "dumb" bombs. Meanwhile, the same department also opted to acquire Precision-guided bombs from Russia wherein it, as the report says, will be used by FA-50PH jets for airstrikes just like the ones presently taking place in Marawi. Henceforth, the present situation goes the necessity of having these munitions in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines wherein such assets will be used and its accuracy on specific targets is an efficient way of flushing out targets without incurring any more further damage or collateral loss in the battlefield just like the recent mishap regarding the so-called "friendly fire"

In this matter, the discussions will be varied from the one confirmed use by the Philippine Air Force to the possible options as per Department of National Defense plans to procure such precision-guided munitions especially the ones from Russia. This development in which, given the situation, is something that may find helpful to enhance capabilities that can be used against any threats like these bandits.

An OV-10 dropped a Paveway precision-guided munition in a
live-fire test.
Known but not common, the Philippine Air Force has a handful of precision-guided munition such as these Paveway laser-guided bombs. These guided munitions from Raytheon in the United States is ever since helping the air force conduct precise surgical airstrikes where a weapon effectively reaches its target without wasting many resources on pounding the enemy as well as minimizing if not eliminating collateral damages.

It was apparently used first in 2012 in Parang, Sulu where it has a destructive yet impressive result where the blast site is deemed great but wrong information was given which render no enemy casualties. But for that, its capabilities help improve the abilities of the pilots where nighttime operations, its GPS or homing device will lead itself to the target. But such use was disputed at that time, wherein itself isn't sufficing the fact that pilots are being trained to use these new Precision-guided munitions that were introduced in 2010.

The Raytheon Paveway comes in different shapes and sizes with the Paveway II also having its own variants of sorts. The Philippine Air Force, in this case, has the GBU-12 Paveway II bombs which are indeed a guided munitions version of the Mk. 82 bomb which in itself the Air Force also obtained in its inventory. And in these, it sought action against insurgents especially in the hot war zones in Mindanao like the present Marawi crisis. Given below are its specifications retrieved from

These precision-guided ordinates are helpful for the AFP to conduct its surgical strikes but are now slowly running out of stock which causes casualties due to friendly fire. Not to mention the recent reports on the use of FA-50PH for bombings in Marawi due to its avionics whereas what airforce-technology says consists of embedded Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS), integrated mission computer, identification, friend or foe (IFF), radar altimeter, multimode radar, store management system, UHF/VHF radio, tactical data link, data transfer and recording system, Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS). Its sophistication may somewhat suffice a bit for a meantime where a dumb bomb can be dropped with precision due to its system.

Somewhat to this matter, the slowly-diminishing number of precision-guided munitions in the Philippine Air Force inventory may prompt for the Defense Department to procure more in replacement. And with these also comes the Russian option where the President recently visited Russia for various agreements which includes defense and security-related matters. Such agreements so to speak, give the chance for the military to procure Russian weapons in which the term includes precision-guided munitions. But before that, let us take note of the things that may possibly happen if such an agreement will get materialized.

And the points given in the post on our Facebook page are the potential outcomes that have come in this matter. Despite all of these, one might as well point out the potential Russian Precision-Guided Munitions that potentially may have come out if such a deal, given its plans therein by the Defense Department, will be materialized where conditions are gone favorably in such a plan.

The Russian KAB series.
The Department of National Defense is considering these Russian munitions given also the President's verbal statements regarding the said subject matter wherein the said statements also emphasizes the Russian use of such precision-guided ordinates against ISIS in Syria that in a good sense, its relevance against the Marawi crisis that also involves ISIS-affiliated bandits gives a good relevance that has come up with such proposal.

As per the Russians, the guided bombs used in Syria are the KBU variants 250 and 500 (kilograms). These bombs that were used against extremists are dropped from a Sukhoi jet and were then guided by both the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and its Russian equivalent which is the GLONASS or Global Satellite Navigation System. To take note, defense agreements and other fields of interest were all signed in Russia wherein it paves the way for the possibility of procuring these precision-guided weapons.

To take note, the word possibility in the deals like these pertains to the chance that it may happen, or rather not depending on the circumstances given such as the AFP's take on its compatibility along with the other factors therein. Insofar as the deals are concerned, the process is still on the "planning stage" of procurement wherein it also gives a chance or a mere possibility as to whether the AFP or the Defense Department will proceed on the deal or not, signifying various factors that will also thoroughly discussed in this article.

The Defense Department's plans of procuring these Russian PGMs, just like any other weaponry they are planning to procure, will be undertaking evaluation where it can be determined its usefulness in the Armed Forces. Moreover, it was being said to help further enhance the ground attack capabilities of the Philippine Air Force's brand new FA-50 jets where the last batch recently arrived which completes the delivery of 12 units. President Duterte also opted to buy 12 more of such fighter jets as per Horizon 2 plans.

In this matter, albeit the promising capabilities it may bring, but in it comes the reality that will surely hamper in this kind of consideration in having Russian PGMs fitted in a South Korean-made fighter trainer jet with subsystems outsourced from the United States. Such a point, aside from the points given above, will be discussed deeper in this paragraph.

Compatibility and Bureaucracy are the main factors to
determine Russian PGM procurement to the jets like these. Photo from John Chua
Aside from the hopes that Russian PGMs can help flush out extremists just like in Marawi City, the said plan is also encountered with numerous problems wherein by its nature, such plans may not be materialized wherein it diminishes the possibility due to several factors played in such a plan or if such a deal may take place.

One of the given factors is the manufacturer's restriction upon weapons integration wherein approvals are deemed needed for it to be realized. Not also to mention the US bureaucratic restrictions that dictate as per the usage of defense articles as well as the other military weaponry with US subsystems attached such as in the case of South Korean FA-50 which are powered by US-made General Electric F-404 engines.

Also, a given factor is the different ecosystems these weapons are produced. The FA-50s are produced in South Korea with systems adhering to the US as well as NATO-based standards wherein its Armed Forces are armed with such weapons adhering that standard. Henceforth, the compatibility of the jets is considered where it is gone vis-a-vis to the systems with those of its Western Allies. 

As for the Philippines, the same does apply wherein like South Korea, it also adheres to Western-based weapons standards which also have come up with the procurement of these jets as the Philippine Air Force restores its capability after it retires its F-5A/B a decade ago. The Russian KAB precision-guided munitions meanwhile are of different platforms and ecosystems where it adheres more with the Russian standard which is deemed different from those of the Western-based ones. 

At present, the Russians as far as it is concern didn't provide a platform for these KAB PGMs to fit for the FA-50s making this deal less feasible. Not also to mention their pessimism on such a defense deal where the Russian doubted it wherein it emphasizes the Philippine laws when it comes to defense spending as well as constitutional provisions about that matter. Also, this article gives an insight, especially on Russian-based PGMs.

In such a case, it will be all up to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its assessments and evaluations to determine whether it is up to what the military is seeking on precision-guided munitions in what it sees as useful in its mandate such as those presently took place in Marawi and in other insurgency-related issues therein. This in which, lets the AFP seek the weapons it really needs where the government may address it.

Given these circumstances, the Philippine Air Force at present will simply resume its airstrikes where it will rely more on the skills of the pilots through the use of dumb bombs and as well the FA-50 avionics where bombardment on targets, despite the absence of Precision-guided munitions shall be done where it will be executed at the best of their capabilities. Not also to mention the artilleries on the ground that can also do the job.

Russian KAB-500 in use for Syrian operations
The Philippine Military as per posting will still be resuming its operations where with PGMs running out of numbers, the Philippine Air Force may resort to dumb bombs and rely on its pilot skills or avionics to carry it out. But with that also has the collateral damage that has caused 11 soldiers dead which prompts SF-260 planes' operations to be suspended. 

With reports that Russian PGMs like the KAB series are being looked upon by the Defense Department for procurement, it still comes with obstacles where compatibility, bureaucracy, and restrictions being the main emphasis on the matter. Hence, replenishment of Precision Guided Munitions on the diminishing number of Paveway IIs in the inventory may take time wherein it being materialized depends on the assessments of the AFP and the Defense Department. 

As for now, sniper positions have blasted all thanks to airstrikes wherein with that comes the hopes and dreams that the conflict will end, the threat eliminated, and the peace and security of Mindanao will get restore once again.


Unknown said...

Since Russian made precision guided munitions is just a possibility, and most likely incompatible. Is there any Korean made munitions that has a possibility to be certified for the FA-50?

Does the manufacturer's restrictions only pertains to the use/certifications and acquisitions of US made munitions? or non-US munitions also needs approval for use from the US?

BTW, what happened to the previous sidewinders-L/ munitions acquisition from US? Was it stalled and not granted by the US or just not signed by the present administration?

How about the offer of the Israeli's to arm our FA-50's?

Inspire More said...

Hello DocG!

To answer your question, let us explicate one by one.

First, about the Korean-made munitions. They are opting to have their own indigenous-made PGMs but it is still under development stage with it expecting to be in service until 2019.

Second, the restrictions by the US of A. Restrictions pertains to everything made in USA. That means, in case of these PGMs, the restriction pertains to the one which will carry these payloads like the FA-50s in which there are US-made components integrated unto it.

Third. There are no news about the sidewinder deal where in it being the FA-50's FFBNW feature. But that does not mean no movement is taking place. Better wait and see about it.

And lastly, the Israeli offer. From SPIKE-ERs to Soltam M-72s, one may just hope that it may involve Derby missiles as well as the PGMs IAI have here:

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Inspire More,

Then that means everything pertaining to the FA-50 needs approval from the US before use. Even if korean or Israeli made munitions needs approval from the before it can be integrated?

Back in 2013, there was a bid for the procurement of munitions, I'm not sure what's the status of this bidding now. Was it denied by US for sale?
Air-to-Air Missiles (312 Pieces)
Air-to-Surface Missiles (125 Pieces)
20mm Ammo (93,600 Pieces)
Chaffs/IR Flares.

One of the forum thread discussed these issue:

If the US won't approve any sale then what's the use of buying further FA-50 or MRF Saab Gripen in the future if we can't arm them? Then the only alternative are the Russians.
Russian aircraft are cheap but the maintenance cost is a burden and a hindrance. But we surely can arm them.

Inspire More said...

Technically yes. You may even refer to the Federal Regulations stipulated here:

As for the air-to-air and air-to surface missiles, there is nothing to worry about considering that there are no sanctions applied at present (take note, Paveway IIs are procured by PAF way back 2011 as per this article) as well as mentioning other things like upgrading the Del Pilar frigates and the recent turnover of weapons to the Marine Corps (four of which are gatling guns).

As per the Russian PGMs, the only possible thing for it to be integrated is through Russian planes or if somebody offers a platform for the jets to use which is again, for approval. As for the JAS-39 Gripen and others, there are always other alternatives for the AFP to uparm them so as they do assessments and evaluation about the matter.

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