Developments on the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone Implementation

Here is a short and detailed update relating to the development that has unfolded regarding the deployment of additional radar sites across the country as part of increasing radar coverages under the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone implementation, and on the larger scale the implementation of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

IAI Elta, Philippine Air Force, ELM-2288 ER, air surveillance radar
This is one of three ELM-2288 ER radars installed across the country.
Image Source.

Earlier this year, developments have unfolded regarding the increase of air surveillance radar across the country with the delivery of the J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar systems from Japan, itself marked and counted as the first ever export of defense and military-related hardware overseas by the Japanese, while the Philippines count as the first overseas user of the air surveillance radar system.

In context, the J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar systems count as a mainstay radar system currently in-place in the Japanese mainland, along with its other newer radars like the more-advanced J/FPS-5 radar that relies on L-band and features as a 3D surveillance radar that can track ballistic missiles as this is a necessity in the country given their constant threats they received from North Korea's missile launches.

Just recently, a Twitter defense enthusiast with the handle named @GrangerE04117 that has tabs on Philippine defense and also a part of our community on the said social media site (follow us @DefensePitz), shared images coming from the Philippine Air Force with the following caption with some parts edited for minor grammatical fix.

"Last March 20, Brigadier General Ronie Petinglay, commander of the 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing, presented to the Provincial Council of Antique during the 9th Regular Session, the proposal for the establishment of an Air Force Radar Station in Mt. Liwliw, Anini-y, Antique."
Then the thread goes on with the map of the Philippines, with respective radar coverages and additional radar sites under Horizon 3, aside from the ones implemented under the Horizons 1 and 2 (see image above). For some added information, the Horizon 1 radars come with Israel Aerospace Industries' EL/M-2288 air surveillance radar, whereas the Horizon 2 radar comes with J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar installations.

With the added information regarding the Horizon 3 phase of adding more radar sites that will cover the entire, if not most, of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone, the discussion will cover the areas on where the Horizon 3 air surveillance radars will go, the radar coverage it brings to the overall objectives, and other relevant information that relates to the Philippine Air Force's air defense system initiatives and efforts.

PADIZ, Horizon 3 Radar, former U.S. Microwave Station Facility, Mt. Liwliw, Antique
This is an old facility found in Mt. Liwliw in Anini-y, Antique.
Via Twitter.

Based on the new pieces of information provided in our niche defense community in another social media site plus the ones coming from the Philippine News Agency, with the parallels seen with the provided images, there will be at least four more radar stations that will be part of the Horizon 3 planning, although it may still subject to change depending on the implementation set by the planners within the organization.

One of those areas is Mt. Liwliw, which founds on the southernmost tip of Antique, near the municipality named Anini-y. This area is already fond of military facilities, as the image above, as described by the Tweet provided above, shows that this was once a microwave relay station operated by the United States Air Force, which is one of many areas that serve communications among U.S. military installations in the region.

While microwaves have still considered by the United States Air Force as a secure line of communication such as the one regarding ballistic missile defense mechanisms, this old facility may likely see a new form of life sprouting in the area, in a form of a new radar facility, this time managed by the Philippine Air Force and its future radar systems that may come with a different setup compared to the first two types mentioned, in which this initiative has the full support of the local provincial government.

The other three sites under the Horizon 3 phase include Guiuan in Eastern Samar, Davao City, and the one in Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea. Speaking of Pag-asa island, it has recently received a lot of facility rehabilitation and improvement, in which, along with the island being a future radar site, will give not only an assertion of the country's legitimate domain in the West Philippine Sea, but also an extra capability in monitoring the area's airspace against any intrusions from other nations like China.

The sites provided will probably complete the overall surveillance radar systems coverage across the entire country's national airspace, completing one component under the Philippine Air Defense Identification System's mechanism, as other areas like air interdiction are still being materialized as the government pursues more multirole fighter jets and ground-based air defense systems for this operation.

ELM-2288ER Radar PAF, J/FPS-3ME Radar PAF, PADIZ, Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone, Philippine Air Force
Here is the radar coverage that defines the PADIZ, with the combined capabilities of both Israeli and Japanese-made radar systems.
CI Geography, with details on planned PADIZ provided by PDA.

As seen in the image above, the Horizon 3 radars dotted on the eastern part of the country such as in Guiuan Eastern Samar and Davao City will cover up the gaps that are not addressed during the installation of the Horizon 2 J/FPS-3ME radars that are primarily focused on Eastern Luzon, Wallace Air Station, and Mindanao’s Elum Air Station in Hill 900, Zamboanga City.

Basing further on the map, it is noticeable that the Horizon 1 radar system installations come with Israel Aerospace Industries’ ELM-2288 ER air surveillance radar dots along the country’s western coastline. 

It has the coverage that primarily faces the West Philippine Sea, either coming from Northern Luzon’s Gozar and Paredes Air Stations through Palawan with its Mount Salakot Air Station. The latter currently has eyes in the airspace over the Philippine domains in the Kalayaan Island Group, along with areas occupied by countries like Vietnam and China that are within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

The radar coverage made by Mount Salakot Air Station may get augmented with the one planned to install in Pag-asa island, as having one in the Kalayaan Island Group itself gives further surveillance coverage on the airspace in the area, especially with the ones coming in and out of China's primary artificial islands they've built in the area that actually comes with long runways capable of landing and takeoff things ranging from its fighter jets to actual cargo and bomber aircraft.

The one in Mt. Liwliw, Antique, as depicted on the map, comes as a redundancy for the radar coverage in Visayas area. It comes as other radar air stations installed in areas of Mount Salakot, Elum Air Station, Gozar Air Station, Parañal Air Station, and the one planned in Guiuan Eastern Samar and Davao City already has individually covered portions of the airspace through these radars. 

The redundancy may provide a comprehensive radar detection for the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone as it goes deeper within Philippine territory. Another thing to point out with the proposed radar installation Mt. Liwliw in the province of Antique is may go as a backup radar installation in an event that other air surveillance radar suddenly comes under attack or went offline, as its operation still provides the air defense detection that the Philippine Air Force needs in an event of war.

In its entirety, the areas where the radars have installed from Horizons 1 to 3 achieve the 100% radar coverage that the Philippine Air Force attains as part of its primary aim of enforcing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone into full force, although there are still more things needed to achieve a full air defense system that comes with its implementation, such as the ongoing fast entry of updates surrounding the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition.

SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, Philippine Air Force, Multirole Fighter Jets, F-16 Viper,
SAAB’s JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D variant comes with a lot of attention lately after the Philippine and Swedish governments signed an MOU for defense materiel.
Image Source.

Another thing to point out and to get updates on in relation to the current improvements that take place in fully implementing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ is the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, whereby it is still a close competition between SAAB and their JAS-39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Viper. There is some recent information that may give us an idea about the status of this project.

Just recently, both the Department of National Defense Officer-in-Charge Carlito Galvez Jr., and his counterpart in the Sweden Ministry of Defense Pål Jonson signed a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, enabling both the Philippines and Sweden push cooperation in areas from the current materialization of the Revised AFP Modernization Program to Sweden’s interest in the Philippines’ Self-Reliance Defense Posture initiatives by investing into the country’s defense industry.

This has widely interpreted as a move that enables SAAB’s JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D variant offered to the Philippine Air Force to market further and eventually for the leadership to take the fighter jets, as the offer made by the Swedes come cheaper than the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper jets, despite having an additional package for its spare parts (which itself is a big contributor to the increase of its unit price), and also the jets being more capable plus commonality to the potential Excess Defense Articles that the United States is offering to the Philippines.

One thing to point out is an alternative proposal pushed by the United States to provide Block 50 F-16s to the Philippine Air Force instead of the original brand new F-16 Block 70 variant. The said Block 50s may come with brand new avionics, making the jets technically ‘brand new’ after the airframes undertaking Service Life Extension Program or 'SLEP' procedures for any flight fatigue detected throughout its use with the first user. 

Given the recent developments, there may even be a likelihood that the Philippine Air Force may end up with both JAS-39 Gripen and F-16 Multirole Fighter Jets, with the former being the primary candidate of the Multirole Fighter Jet acquisition program as they offer the remaining brand new Block C/D jets they have from the production line.

While the current developments on this one essential component of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ recently unfolded across multiple media outlets, there will be interesting news that may come out eventually that comes related to the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, as any information comes out at the time this article published may define for an ultimate capabilities improvement to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ air service branch. 

Wallace Air Station, J/FPS-3ME, Philippine Air Force, PADIZ
Wallace Air Station Antennas when it was still a US-based military installation.
Image Source.

The ongoing development on the improvement of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ provides an updated information regarding the current and future planning of installing more radar outposts across the country, assuring that there is a full radar coverage covering the country’s entire airspace, both at the current delimitations of the air defense identification zones and the planned 2028 version as seen on a map we presented.

Add to this some important developments on the longest-running Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Program, whereby both SAAB and Lockheed Martin are doing their very best to provide the juiciest offer for the Philippine Air Force to consider despite having a meager budget. It comes as securing this contract means getting a foothold for the market of Multirole Fighter Jets for the years to come, ranging from after-sales support of spare part components and any prospect plans for follow-up orders.

The additional radar stations slated under the Horizon 3 plans and programs for the development of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone finally make the radar coverage phase of this implementation a reality, as the areas provided adds to the overall redundancy and increased coverage especially deep within the country’s territory and the airspace it corresponds, as this will provide more eyes to both the Ground Air Defense Batteries (SPYDER-MR GBADS) and fighter interceptor aircraft (FA-50PH and the future Multirole Fighters) to do its job.

This signifies the ongoing progress that is clearly seen on the projects that are slated for implementation in the next two years or more, with hopes for further implementation of the project and not just stop from getting these current plans done within their timeline. It means that the improvements and developments that ensure the security of the country’s airspace come constantly, as the technology advances and its military applications are constantly changing along with it.

In conclusion, the additional sites for the Horizon 3 air search radar installation as part of this entire process of improving the country’s primary detection phase of its air defense identification zone comes as a significant step, as having these air stations deployed across the country comes just as essential as both the Multirole Fighter Jets or the Ground-Based Air Defense Systems, as all the said elements intertwine with one another, ensuring that no adversary has an advantage in taking over the Philippine airspace.

Editorial note: We revised portions of the article referring to the zero-timing of airframes, as this term usually goes with replacement of components within the aircraft. Proper term for airframe rehabilitation is 'SLEP' or Service Life Extension Program, that fixes aircraft fatigue and prolongs aircraft life by ten thousand flight hours or more.

(c) 2023 PDA.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its about time to have an early warning radar. How about radars for low flying aircraft and cruise missiles?

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