RAFAEL SPYDER GBADS and the Philippine Airspace Protection

At present, the Philippine Air Force is doing its part to implement the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone at the fullest. One of the main fundamentals for this to be on its maximum effect is to purchase ground-based air defense systems to protect key strategic zones from potential enemies coming from the sky. And with that, this said military branch is inching closer to have such systems which means a lot for the country's protection.

The missile launching unit of Rafael SPYDER MR, a ground-based
air defense system designed to protect national airspace.
Photo Source.
The year 2019 provides a full of hopes and dreams especially if it means the Modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole, wherein different military branches have their own share of procurement projects intending to improve their performance as part of their mandate as an organization which is oriented to defending the country against threatening enemies that pose danger to the country, its sovereignty, and its citizens.

It is recently disclosed by the former chief of the Philippine Air Force that among those will be purchased in the year 2019 is the Ground-Based Air Defense System or GBADs originated from Israel. So far, the most usual or common offer of the Israelis to the Philippine military comes in the form of Rafael SPYDER family of ground-based air defense systems and munitions. While other defense outlets already discussed the fair technicalities with regards to this system, let us provide simplistic facts to provide an in-depth understanding especially that the country is about to receive its own GBADs, a first in the country with regards to its capability to operate such systems given that there are no decent air defense for the country throughout the years especially if it means ground-based air defense operations.

So, here are the key points that pertain to this project that is relatively new to PAF where such function is already being eyed upon for years, with recent updates provided the details to how close they are on having a deal with the supplier and eventually, seeing them operational on the country operated by the Philippine military.

Rafael is a defense company specialized in advanced weaponry
based on Israel.
Website: http://www.rafael.co.il

Known as רפאל - מערכות לחימה מתקדמות בע"מ in Hebrew, RAFAEL is a defense company owned by the Israeli Government. They serve as a developer and producer of advanced weaponry primarily designed to suit the needs of the Israel Defense Force or IDF.

Together with other defense industries in Israel such as Elbit and IAI or Israeli Aerospace Industries, they serve as a backbone for the IDF's military necessity to weapon up given that the country faced several conflicts which put harm on the country's very existence, one that was founded in 1948, the year when the company was also started as part of Israel's Defense Ministry National Research and Development Laboratory. 

It was incorporated into a limited company in 2002 although it remained majority controlled by the Israeli Government. The combat experience ranging from the six-day war down to the Yom Kippur war up to the present day with many skirmishes provides the points for their weapons platforms to improve. 

At the present date, the company produces advanced weaponry such as the SPIKE-ER that is presently in service with the Philippine Navy onboard the MPAC Mk.3s and SPIKE NLOS that will be armed the Philippine Navy AW-159 Antisubmarine helicopters soon. 

These two said missile systems with the former proven on a missile test have already proved its worth for the AFP to have that is a plus for the sales pitch for these Ground-Based Air Defense Systems like the SPYDER. 

The deals on the SPIKE missile series provide RAFAEL the experience of having negotiations with the key Philippine officials that involve defense procurement matters. So, this may provide an ideal reference for a company in terms of having transactions that may help pitch their product to the Philippine Air Force along with its Ground-based Air Defense Systems Project.

The SPYDER MR and SR obtain different characteristic in terms of
range, payload, and variations on systemic setup.
The SPYDER (abbreviated from Surface-to-air Python and Derby) is a ground-based air defense system made from Israel which can be configured from short range to medium range (SR and MR)

From the abbreviation in itself, the missile munitions are composed of both Python and Derby missiles which both are originally designed as air-to-air assets for the Israeli Air Force, typically fitted on their own aircraft such as the F-16 Fighter. 

In the Southeast Asian Region (ASEAN), the other countries that presently obtain the SPYDER are Singapore (the SR variant) and Vietnam (both the SR and MR variant). 

Now to link this with the Philippine Air Force's another project in the pipeline which is the Multirole Fighter Jet (MRF) program. The compatibility for the Derby missiles goes with F-16s and Gripen Es (not the C/D variant) while the Python missiles go compatible only to F-16s. 

Take note that this is only one area of consideration where missile fitting defines the capability of these birds once they are to protect the airspace and to implement the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ. Other areas may mean Cost per Flight Hour (CPFH) consideration on fuel and maintenance (in which JAS-39 Gripen is preferred) as well as the great capabilities that the F-16 bring in terms of payload and range. Nevertheless, that is for the Philippine Air Force Technical Working Group to decide.

Now back to the main discussion. Derby was developed in the 1980s and gets introduced in the mid-1990s. Since then, it finds itself on military aircraft such as the ones in the Israeli Air Force as well as on-ground platforms like the SPYDER wherein its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) design capacity is ideal for air defense such as for the Medium Range variant of this Israeli-made system. 

The Python missile meanwhile was developed way back in the 1970s in which the Derby BVR air-to-air missile is one of its variants, along with Shafrirs (Dragonfly) 1 and 2 and eventually the Pythons 3, 4, and 5. These missile and applications are a bit impressive on its worth where it can be both used as an anti-air platform both from the ground and from the air at the discretion of its user. 

That in itself may enhance the logistics supply chain, especially if both the ground and air units utilized similar missiles for their operations on the objective of providing effective air defense.

In line with the topic that pertains to ground-based air defense systems, let us take note that the SPYDER ideally utilizes the latest Python-5 missile and the Derby missile which defines its range of missile firepower that packs a punch against any air-based targets that ranges from cruise missiles to fighter jets. 

While these firing systems are what defines the combative aspect of the system, let us not ignore as well its sensory, command, and support mechanisms which are also as essential wherein the missiles fired may have not achieved its objective of blasting out targets in the sky without any radar guidance as well as command and control platforms. 

The SPYDER system utilizes the ELM-2106 ATAR for the Short Range (SR) variant and the ELM-2084 radar for the Medium Range (MR) variant. Both are produced by Elta Systems, Ltd which is a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industries or IAI. 

Take note that it is also through this subsidiary that the Philippine Air Force obtain the ELM-2288 AD-STAR (with more coming soon) for the Philippine Air Force's 580th ACWW or the Aircraft Control and Warning Wing in which the military branch finally regaining its eyes on the sky which is the first for the implementation of PADIZ which in itself is currently on Area Awareness 4 status. 

Such radar stations of 580th ACWW houses the Elta-made
AD-STAR radars for air detection. 
From 580th ACWW Facebook Page.
A Ground-Based Air Defense System is definitely essential in implementing an idealistic air defense zone such as the PADIZ. It is definitely that essential that the Philippine Air Force obtains an air group under the weapons systems division which is the 780th GBADG or the Ground-Based Air Defense Group.

The role obtained by the 780th GBADG goes in a similar gesture as the 5th Fighter Wing, in which their primary roles are aimed for air interdiction purposes, to take potential threats out of the Philippine Air Force to keep the airspace safe for the citizens to live without the worry of pounding bombs and missiles that threatens the way of life on the country as well as minimizing, if not to eliminate any potential casualties resulted from such strikes.

Its formation way back 2015 prompts the idea about the dedication that the Philippine Air Force has in terms of improving its performance of doing its duties and responsibilities which is a nice attribute of the DOTMLPF analysis chain where there is the sense of doctrine through the ideas of having an effective Philippine Air Defense System (PADS), re-organizing ranks that led to the formation of the group as well as having the training and reconsidering the maintenance, logistics, personnel and facility aspects of this decision which guides them on the decision that will help the country obtain the necessary capabilities in terms of having an effective air defense. 

In that sense, there is the determination for this project to become possible given that the organization realizes the essentiality of having Ground-based air defense systems in the arsenal that may serve as part of a larger component within the implemented PADIZ. This comes with the hopes that having a decent air defense system means a lot for protecting the country in the same way as the other branches of the military like the Navy's aspiration of having secured coastlines and the Army's protection of the country from the number of insurgents that still spreading violence up to the present date.

Regarding support mechanism matters, one may ask to the vehicle platform that the SPYDER GBADS may be fitted upon. So far, the system can be fitted on a truck that is in production with Tatra, MAN, Scania, and Mercedes Benz

Among these four truck providers, it may be a good thing to say that MAN trucks, a Volkswagen subsidiary from Germany may have a better chance for the system to be fitted given that they have an excellent reputation of providing trucks with the government, primarily the Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine National Police units. Hence, that will help smoothen the logistics chain across as the time passes by when spare parts maintenance arises.

So having this platform defines a lot not only to the Philippines and its national security but also to the relations between this nation and Israel which is the supplying country of systems like the SPYDER. 

It is worthy to take note that the recent rhetoric made by the administration against the United States (although this was disregarded by the Department of National Defense at some point in time), suggests that it is appropriate seeking military equipment instead of countries like South Korea and Israel. 

Taking aside any purely political statement, this may help provide an idea about the security relations of both countries have where the SPYDER, once it is awarded in favor of it and for both the DND and RAFAEL to forge a contract, may go as one of the symbols about the strong relations between these nations.

Israeli Air Force F-16s can be fitted with Derby and Python missiles.
Having both the SPYDER and F-16Vs from Lockheed Martin may be a big
plus for PAF's overall capability. 
Photo Source.
The decision of the Philippine Air Force to have GBADs as part of its long-term plan of regaining capability to implement the Philippine Air Defense System is something that is welcoming especially that the country is presently lacking it in terms of scanning, intercepting, and shooting enemy targets either from air platforms such as the Multirole Fighter jets or from the Ground through GBADs.

The SPYDER definitely now obtain the chance of getting part of PAF's effort to perform its duties as the defense department announced that this is the preferred platform for the Ground-based Air Defense System. 

Nevertheless, the country needs these defense systems especially in protecting key strategic locations that are vital to the nation's security and welfare in its entirety. So, having them may somewhat help further guarantee the safety of these areas especially in case of conflict. 

It is worthy to take note that this also helps improve ties with Israel especially with its defense industries notable to develop defense technology that keeps the country surviving from its inception up to the present date especially from its hostile neighbors wherein such technology may provide the country's needs to protect itself as part of the overall effort of obtaining minimum credible defense posture or deterrence that make any foreign invasion costly to the ones that have plans to carry it out.

So, the only thing now is the hope that the notice of award and eventually, the contract to be signed so as the supplier will be getting the assurance to supplant the Ground-Based Air Defense System to the Philippine Air Force. 

If RAFAEL bagged this contract, this may help further benefit not only in terms of providing them the defense systems package but also its munitions that will help the organization's Fighter Jets where it will be provided additional firepower for more satisfiable results.


The screengrab was taken from the DBM website. Click the image
to enlarge.
The Department of Budget and Management or DBM released a Special Allocation Release Order or SARO (see page 18 no. 6) in connection to the implementation of the Ground-based Air Defense System Procurement Project as this article discussed.

With SARO No. SARO-BMB-D-19-0004325, the Budget Department released at least the exact 15% of the contract price (Php1,027,012,500.00 of Php6,846,750,000.00) where it means that the project is close to an award and eventually to be followed by the signing of the contract then the issuance of the notice to proceed which will kickstart the production of the components for three batteries of RAFAEL Spyder MR variants from Israel.

Hence, from here, the time will be ticking until its delivery date reaches with the new unit components - from the launchers to the system radar being delivered to the country. And that will be a stepping stone for the organization to have a better aerial deterrence as needed in implementing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ.


Unknown said...

Its a very good news for filipinos

The Patriot said...

IF its possible, Its a good Idea to have the stationary radar stations mobile, or at least the whole building housing riding on tracks so that it will move a distance to avoid incoming missiles to destroy it. if hot, it should also be defended by anti-aircraft/air/missile batteries.

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