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Indonesia's Anti-Submarine Aircraft Offer to the Philippine Navy

The Philippine Navy focuses on modernizing its overall capabilities in different threat assessments, whether it may be the one that lies under the sea or the one coming from the sky. The overall efforts pushed for its improvement give opportunity to a neighboring country whose aspiration is to expand its existing and ever-growing defense industry.

CN 235-200 MPA, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Philippine Navy, Indonesian Navy, TNI-AL, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, PTDI
Here is an image of an Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) C-235-200 MPA aircraft.
Image Source.

During the visit made by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Manila as part of its state visit to meet his Filipino counterpart President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the former asked support for the latter in the acquisition of anti-submarine aircraft, of which this comes as one of many gestures that will increase bilateral ties between two neighboring archipelagic countries, both of which are key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

Case in note, the Philippine Navy only comes with a single type of anti-submarine aircraft at the time this article has published, as this primarily refers to the Leonardo AW-159 Anti-submarine helicopters that comes as the mainstay platforms assigned onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates and comes complementary to the onboard anti-submarine capabilities that these two sophisticated naval assets that the Philippine fleet currently possess.

The Philippine Navy pursues such capability on its own as their counterpart in the Philippine Air Force purchases two (2) ATR-72-600 Long-Range Patrol Aircraft or LRPA, of which this comes as lacking with the capabilities needed for anti-submarine warfare, and instead focuses more on long-range surveillance patrol of surface naval, coast guard, and maritime militia vessels that China currently deploys within the country's 200 Nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea area.

This comes really timely as the Indonesia's aerospace industry, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, produces maritime patrol aircraft versions of the CN-235-200 MPA that may come as the potential candidate for this push made by the Indonesian president to the Philippine government, of which this sees both as a marketing for the bolster of the Indonesian defense industry and the improvement of the capabilities of the Philippine Navy, all of which are part of the ever-growing ties between both nations.

As some aspects of understanding the Indonesian aerospace industry or the development of the aircraft itself have already discussed in several articles here on Pitz Defense Analysis on both the topics regarding both the C-295 Medium-Lift Aircraft and the NC-212i Light Lift Aircraft of the Philippine Air Force, let us focus instead on the added capabilities that may come with this aircraft, with correlation to the capabilities of the Long Range Patrol Aircraft or LRPA have.

TC-90 King Air, Philippine Navy, Naval Air Wing, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, C235-200 MPA
Aircraft like the TC-90 King Air form as part of the Philippine Navy's Naval Air Wing.
From Jet Photos.

While the Philippine Navy as a service branch specializes itself more into maintaining and operating naval assets such as Frigates, Corvettes, Amphibious Vessels of different types, and Offshore Patrol Vessels, they also maintain a unit that is primarily responsible for conducting air operations that correlates to the primary service purpose of the organization, primarily focusing more both in the anti-submarine and surveillance domain operations.

As the history of this air unit under the Philippine Navy has already discussed in our separate entry on the Beechcraft TC-12 'Huron' Aircraft Acquisition Plan in an article link here, let us focus more instead on its current aircraft composition, which encompasses its current air capabilities that ranges from surveillance operations to specific roles like anti-submarine warfare, of which the Indonesians are attempting to market to the Philippine government to consider.

Currently, at the time this article has written, the Philippine Navy still did not possess the aforementioned Beechcraft TC-12 'Huron' Aircraft, and instead comes with a different aircraft belonging to the same family, which is the TC-90 King Aircraft coming from Japan's Self Defense Force through a donation.

Initially a lease, these patrol aircraft are essential to the improvement of the service branch's overall maritime patrol capabilities, especially in surveillance operations in the West Philippine Sea.

Another type of aircraft to point out are the BN-2 Islanders that have still served actively in the Philippine Navy's air wing, as one of such aircraft successfully conducted an air-drop of goods and materials intended to supply the personnel onboard the BRP Sierra Madre, as part of its first rotation and resupply (RORE) operations for the year 2024. 

This comes as a temporary solution while the vessels used for the resupply operations currently undertaking repairs after sustaining damage from encounters with both the China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels.

These aforementioned air assets of the Philippine Navy's Naval Air Group do not have any capabilities that can conduct anti-submarine operations, except at least one air asset that intertwines with the country's Jose Rizal-class Frigates. We are referring to the Leonardo AW-159 Wildcat anti-submarine helicopters, of which the naval service branch comes with at least a pair of these units. There is a likelihood that more AW-159s gets added later on, contemplating the increasing number of warships in the fleet.

Another type of helicopter that comes actively with the Philippine Navy's fleet of warships are its Leonardo AW-109 naval helicopters, all of which serves onboard in any of its active naval vessels, whether it may be the largest ones in the fleet - the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks, or the mainstay Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, or even the Jose Rizal-class Frigates at some instance. These air assets provide an extra capability to the warships it complements, minus the anti-submarine feature, of course.

With its current air asset composition, it gives a sense for the Philippine Navy to kindly consider this platform provided by Indonesia's primary aerospace manufacturer, although the overall decision regarding this matter lies primarily to its leadership, with the advice and discretion from the officers in the Department of National Defense. Apparently, the meeting of the Indonesian president with the Secretary of National Defense provides the platform for this marketing push. 

CN235-200 ASW, C-295 MPA, Torpedo Launch, Philippine Navy, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, Airbus
An image that shows an Airbus C-295 MPA aircraft launching a torpedo during a test.
(c) Airbus, through Image Source.

At its overview, the CN 235-200 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of PT Dirgantara Indonesia belongs to the same family that the Philippine Air Force’s C-295 Medium-Lift Transport aircraft, whereby the latter comes as an stretched and improved transporter variant of the former that has built directly from Airbus production line, formerly CASA, in Spain. 

While sharing design preferences, let us discuss more about what this platform is capable of, particularly in the anti-submarine warfare domain.

Focusing specifically on the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft platform’s performance, the maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft comes at around 16,500 kilograms, while it also comes with the maximum landing weight of the same kilograms specified. 

The aircraft’s maximum payload, of which the aircraft’s capacity is allowable given that it will probably come with anti-submarine warfare components installed onboard, comes at around 4,700 kilograms.

Going further regarding the performance of the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft, the platform comes with a maximum cruise speed of 237 knots, loiter speed of 161 knots, and a maximum operational ceiling of around 25,000 feet. 

The key crucial capability of this aircraft, that being the overall loiter time that it has over a specific body of water across the country’s territorial and EEZ waters, is at around 11 hours and 20 minutes, with the maximum fuel range of around 2,098 nautical miles. 

As for the subcomponents and configurations found onboard the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft, PT Dirgantara detailed it further by having its crews configured into the following - a pilot and a co-pilot, a single flight engineer who's responsible for the fuel dump system if such system exist in an aircraft, at least four (4) operators that oversees and using the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the aircraft, and two (2) observers that physically monitors and surveys the area through a bubble window.

Complementing the four (4) operators are the console workstations found onboard the aircraft, which are then linked to other essential sensors and launcher systems in the aircraft. Regarding its sensors, the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft comes with a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera on the fuselage nose, a search radar installed on the bottom part of the fuselage, and electronic support measure (ESM) sensors both on the area near the cockpit and the aircraft’s tail portion.

Its configuration as an anti-submarine warfare platform means it comes likely with both sonobuoy launchers and torpedoes installed onboard, that functions at double with anti-submarine naval assets at sea like the Philippine Navy’s BRP Conrado Yap, the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, and the upcoming HDC-3200 Corvettes that possess these anti-submarine capabilities that further triangulates the tracking of submarines belonging to the opposition forces (OPFOR) under the water.

Case in note, Spanish-built C-295s with this configuration and role as an anti-submarine warfare platform also come capable of both a sonobuoy launching and torpedo-deploying measures, as this aircraft and the CN 235-200 ASW product of the PT Dirgantara Indonesia belongs to the same family of aircraft platform. 

And with the Philippine Air Force’s Long-Range Patrol Aircraft based on ATR 72-600 aircraft lacking any anti-submarine capabilities, getting this platform from Indonesia is a logical step to take.

PT PAL, Philippine Navy, Landing Docks Acquisition Project, Indonesia, Tarlac-class LPD
The Keel Laying ceremony for the first Philippine Landing Dock vessel took place on January 22.
Image Source.

Aside from the offers made by the Indonesian government through President Joko Widodo, especially on the anti-submarine warfare capabilities that the Philippine Navy may find as highly interesting as it keeps on modernizing, let us also cover other areas of development of the cooperation between two countries that belong to ASEAN, especially on other modernization-related projects that these archipelagic countries partake recently.

The first thing is on the developments surrounding the acquisition of the Philippine Navy’s Landing Platform Docks, as these vessels are currently under construction in Indonesia, especially on PT PAL Persero’s own shipbuilding facilities in Surabaya. Just recently, the Indonesian shipbuilder made a milestone by conducting its first keel laying ceremony for the first Landing Platform Dock under the Landing Docks Acquisition Project last January 22, while the steel cutting ceremony for the second vessel took place on the same day.

Just to recall, these naval vessels that are under-construction counts as an improved variant of the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks that the Philippine Navy already has in-service, of which an order of two more vessels count as a follow-up order of vessels that the country’s naval service branch have booked from the Indonesian shipbuilder. Apparently, this shows the country’s appreciation of the reliability and reputation of PT PAL Persero in providing the quality vessels that the Philippine Navy needs in operations.

That appreciation gets conveyed further by no other than the Indonesian president himself, saying that both the Philippines and Indonesian established further trust in having such transactions, with the former using the platforms that the latter has provided, further improving bilateral ties between neighboring countries especially in the defense and military fields. Also, it is a testament that both countries benefit from one another, as the former improves its capabilities and the latter expands its market.

Another acquisition project that clearly exhibits full defense cooperation between the Philippines and Indonesia is the purchase of NC-212i Light Transport Aircraft of the Philippine Air Force, whereby it cements the service and reputation of PT Dirgantara Indonesia before the Philippine Armed Forces, and may help as a leverage for them to market the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft that the Indonesian president has actively marketing to the Philippine government recently.

Like the CN 235-200 ASW, the NC-212i Light Transport Aircraft comes as a licensed-copy produced by PT Dirgantara Indonesia, of which its origin traces back to the Spanish aerospace firm EADS/CASA, the forerunner of what is now part of Airbus Defense that have provided the Philippine Air Force its C-295 Medium-Lift Cargo Transporter Aircraft. These platforms define the significant portion of the air service branch’s airlift capabilities, going alongside C-130s and S-70i Black Hawk Helicopters.

This means that the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft may come as a continuation of all these defense materiel that the Philippine military gets shall they consider this platform, as these developments help bolster bilateral relations of both neighboring archipelagic nations in Southeast Asia, not only in terms of economics or diplomacy but also in national defense aspects, as the region comes with ever-increased tensions currently stirred up by a regional power that lie unfounded claims over other countries’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

C-295, CN235-200 ASW, Airbus Defense, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy
The logistics chain will be easy for the Philippine Navy if it gets the CN235-200 ASW aircraft.
Image Source.

Indonesia's own military industry played a part in contributing to the overall improvement of the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole, ranging from supplying the Philippine Navy its Landing Platform Docks to supplying the Philippine Air Force its light-lift cargo aircraft. 

The projects mentioned refer to both of the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks and the current production-built Landing Docks of the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force's NC-212i Light Transport Aircraft, respectively.

While most of these projects come with highly successful and appreciative results, especially the currently active Tarlac-class and several NC-212i Light Transport Aircraft that have already delivered to the Philippine Air Force, the Indonesian government, especially its president at the time this article has written, is pushing the defense ties of both countries even further, especially with their plans of marketing their defense products to the Philippine's Department of National Defense to consider upon.

Currently, the Philippine Navy is still improving its capabilities, especially that it keeps on adding more naval assets in its inventory, especially the ones that possess anti-submarine capabilities such as the new HDC-3200 Corvettes from South Korea's HD Hyundai. This also connotes that the naval service branch may likely add anti-submarine helicopters to augment the incoming vessels, plus the fixed-winged ones such as the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft.

Speaking of logistics on maintenance and operations, having an aircraft like the CN 235-200 ASW aircraft will most likely goes smoothly, as the Philippine Air Force already maintains and operates the C-295 Medium Lift Transport Aircraft (see image above), as both shared similar design DNA and composition that the two service branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines can inter-operate one another regarding the sources of spare parts and know-how about its maintenance and operations.

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines improving its capabilities and the Indonesian defense industry trying to expand its market reach in the global military sales market, it is likely that both archipelagic nations that are also members of ASEAN may get the best of both worlds in terms in fully maximizing its defense relations even further, looking forward that deals like this gets push through, with all the technicalities considered and specifications satisfied within the Philippine military's own requirements.

(c) 2024 PDA.

Danish F-16 Fighter Jets for the Philippine Air Force?

The Philippine Air Force still seeks more fighter jets that come in an arrangement different from its Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition project and the Excess Defense Articles arrangement with the United States, whereby they put extra additional air defense capabilities and short transfer times into mind. Now, the Philippine government is sourcing more aircraft from other sources to attain that goal.

RDAF, Royal Danish Air Force, F-16 Fighter Jet, Philippine Air Force, Hot Transfer, Ukraine, Argentina
The Philippine Air Force aims to get some European-based F-16 fighter aircraft like the ones from the Royal Danish Air Force for its capability improvements.
Image Source.

The leadership within the Philippine Air Force aspires to get more-capable Multirole Fighter aircraft for the longest time, both since they retired the older Vought F-8 Crusader and the Northrop F-5 A/B from service, and since the entry of the newer FA-50PH from Korea Aerospace Industries that brought the air service branch back to the supersonic age once again, with the latter renewing that interest for that more-capable aircraft for Philippine air defense and patrol operations.

This is the same point of waiting for a longest time as said in a recent interview made by CNN Philippines to the Philippine ambassador to the United States Ambassador Jose Manual Romualdez, whereby the Philippine government is now actively negotiating to their counterparts to the United States in securing more F-16 multirole fighter aircraft, as this comes as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' ongoing modernization efforts in-line to the current government policy of improving its external defense posture.

In a separate interview, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States pointed out that the acquisition of new F-16 Viper aircraft may come as a costly one, saying that it may require more than half of the country's annual budget (Php 27.5 Billion for the year 2023), and they are now looking to other sources of getting such aircraft like the country of Denmark in Europe. This likely refers to the prices provided under the multirole fighter jet acquisition program.

Currently, the multirole fighter jet acquisition program has the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen being the frontrunner of the project, with the only pending step left is on the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Sweden and the Philippines by the Swedish parliament. The time is running out for both sides to keep it stuck, and as reports suggest, the United States may provide an enticing arrangement that will ultimately help the Philippine Air Force secure its squadron of new F-16 Vipers.

With the Danish F-16 fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force now raised up, let us now discuss even deeper the history of the aircraft serving within the Royal Danish Air Force, the upgrades and service life extension programs it received, the other contenders to the acquisition of these Danish-served fighter aircraft, and ultimately the nature of this acquisition as compared to the 'EDA F-16 jets from the United States and the Multirole Fighter Jet acquisition project, all of which are separate programs of their own right.

F-16, Royal Danish Air Force, Flyvevaben, Philippine Air Force, Hot Transfer, United States, Lockheed Martin
The Danes have bought at least 77 units of F-16A/B in the late 70s, replacing their older F-404 Starfighter.
Image Source.

Based on the known repository website for F-16s operating in different countries - Denmark included, this Scandinavian country initially bought seventy-seven (77) units of F-16 A/B in the late 1970s, just in two to five years since the first single-seat F-16 fighter aircraft first flew in 1976 and the first operational unit successfully delivered and eventually entered service within the United States military in 1979. Denmark actually played a role in the inception of the F-16 program.

Some developmental background, the F-16 program has developed with a five-nation consortium in mind, whereby the United States and the other four European countries that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO - Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and of course, Denmark, entered an agreement for the production and long-term operations of the aircraft plus the assembly of components and parts coming from all the countries aforementioned.

The F-16 multirole fighter aircraft has come a long way from just an aircraft that serves the consortium of countries and their air forces' operational requirements to one of the most well-marketed products of Lockheed Martin, as they are now actively selling the latest variant of the F-16 aircraft, the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, to countries that are seeking this aircraft like Taiwan and Slovakia, and also potential customers like the Philippine Air Force.

Currently, Denmark has at least 62 F-16 fighter aircraft, of which 48 are fully functional platforms and 14 are in reserve status, although all the units undertook mid-life upgrades or MLUs, ensuring that these Danish F-16 multirole fighter aircraft continues to operate within the Royal Danish Air Force requirements until the delivery of F-35 Lightning II 5th Generation aircraft has completed, enabling them to decommission these jets out of service, eventually.

The mid-life upgrades that the Danish F-16s have received may come as a metric in the decision-making process of the Philippine government into considering it for the improvement of capabilities of the Philippine Air Force, as this complies to the special provisions pointed out in the 2024 budget for at least 50% or more remaining lifespan for a military hardware, although the Philippine Ambassador to the United States stressed that the revision of the procurement law may help to push this deal through.

And while the Philippines seek to secure some of the Danish F-16s for the improvement of capabilities of the Philippine Air Force's fighter aircraft fleet for the longest time, it does not mean that there will be no competition for them in securing this aircraft, as there are other countries that are also looking after this type of aircraft coming from the Royal Danish Air Force for their respective air force requirements and their broader defense and security-related needs.

In the competing of limited fighter aircraft resources, it may not come surprising if the plans of securing any of the F-16s that the Philippine Air Force aims to get, both new and used, are all ticking against time, as the production line for new F-16s may get longer if new orders supersedes any Philippine Air Force plans, and that same thing goes with both the Danish F-16s and the ones arranged under the Excess Defense Articles with the United States. 

Ukrainian Air Force, F-16, Royal Danish Air Force, Training, Philippine Air Force, Argentina, Hot Transfer
Here is a fictionalized digital rendition of what will be if Ukraine finally gets its F-16 from countries like Denmark.
Image Source.

As mentioned, there are other countries that aimed to secure the Danish F-16 Multirole Fighter Jets for their respective air force requirements, one of which is in a current state of war that they really do badly need these jets to turn the tide of conflict in their home country, against a more-capable eastern neighbor whose capability wears down through time, coupled with the sanctions that have inflicted to this country since the war started in March 2022.

This refers to the Eastern European country of Ukraine, of which they are entering a second year of prolonged conflict against the perceived might of the Russian Federation, that it significantly dwindles much of the military hardware and troops on both sides as the result of this atrocious conflict. This prompted European countries like Denmark to throw more support to Ukraine and its government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that Ukrainian pilots start training with Danish F-16s in mid-2023.

The Danes have shown their full commitment to the Ukrainian war effort that they devoted themselves to providing the latter at least nineteen (19) F-16s for its air force requirements, with at least six (6) units slated for delivery at the second quarter of the year 2024 instead of within this period, citing reasons relating to delays on the ongoing training of the pilots as it is their first in both operating and maintaining the aircraft, as they come in different to the Sukhois and MiGs that the Ukrainians typically use.

Adding it up, another European country like the Netherlands has shown their commitment to the Ukrainian effort to get at least 42 of their own F-16s, adding it up to at least 61 F-16s for the Ukrainian Air Force to use, a gesture that immediately boost the capabilities of the Eastern European country’s air defense capabilities as they aim to counter the Russian air dominance even further since the invasion started in 2022. Like Denmark, the Royal Netherlands Air Force slowly replaced their F-16s to the newer F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.

Aside from Ukraine, the South American country of Argentina set its sights on the Danish F-16 multirole fighter aircraft, whereby the United States government actually approved the sale of at least 24 of this renowned multirole fighter jet, now increasing the number of F-16s likely ended up to countries other than the Philippines to at least 43, leaving less than a desired number of multirole fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force to get, showing that they fight against time if they are keen to secure this MRF from the Danish.

This is where the beloved ambassador raised another option into securing the F-16 fighter aircraft that the Philippine Air Force really needs, which is through financial aid from the United States for the country to secure this type of fighter aircraft. A think-tank in the same article further supported the idea for the United States to provide its Foreign Military Financing scheme to the Philippine government to avail, especially if it goes on getting the F-16 fighter jet through the Danish approach, or for its EDA negotiations and MRF project.

F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, Philippine Air Force, Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, Lockheed Martin, PAF, MRF
Lockheed Martin F-16 Display in ADAS 2018.
Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.

As the proposals raised for the Philippine government’s negotiations on the acquisition and transfer of the F-16MLUs from the Royal Danish Air Force through Ambassador Romualdez, let us discuss further the Multirole Fighter Jet or the MRF acquisition project, whereby reports typically confuse the said proposal to this ongoing program, even though the Danish F-16 deal comes differently to the MRF, of which it primarily focuses more into securing newly built aircraft.

Currently, based on the latest Procurement Monitoring Report presented by the Department of National Defense on their website (PDF file here) for the 2nd half of 2023, the Philippine Air Force’s MRF Jet acquisition project still comes as pending, as they are still waiting for the Swedish Parliament to ratify the Memorandum of Understanding or MOU between the Philippines and Sweden in the mid-2023. Basically, there are no changes in the status since the previous report covering the first half of the year.

This is despite the progress made in the deal between the Swedish and Philippine sides regarding the deal pitched by SAAB for its JAS-39 Gripen C/D multirole fighter jets, such as the approval of the Export Control Board (EKR) for SAAB to export the Swedish-made fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force’s MRF acquisition project. 

The slow movement on the MOU ratification may become dire for both SAAB and the Philippine Air Force, as current external defense policy pushes have put this deal at risk as it slowly runs out of time.

The pending status unsurprisingly prompt the Philippine Air Force and the government at-large to seek into other options, with the most obvious one regarding the acquisition of F-16s through different options such as having a different arrangement with the United States government through their Excess Defense Articles or EDA, and through choosing the new F-16 Block 70/72 Viper jets under the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project with the deal sweetened that a squadron (12 units) of jets is attainable.

So, it is not surprising for the Philippine government through its ambassador to the United States to do all the badly needed negotiations just for the Philippine Air Force to get the multirole fighter jet it needs, as it is clear from the get go that the Armed Forces of the Philippines are badly in need of these jets yesterday. 

Apparently, based on what sources shared to Pitz Defense Analysis, the idea of having more FA-50s may come as a ‘Plan B’ in case the MRF acquisition project fails, corroborating a previous report of it on our site.

Hence, these developments have shown the liquidity of the situation surrounding the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, especially the Philippine Air Force, like the rest of the Philippine Armed Forces, now embark to the largest phase yet of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, now coined as the Re-Horizon 3 phase which have this project being the primary priority of the Department of National Defense, alongside the acquisition of warships, submarines, and advanced radar systems.

With the budget increase and the likelihood that it remain constant in the upcoming years, the entire Philippine Armed Forces may eventually get the tools it need for territorial defense, especially now that the rehashed Horizon 3 phase provides the framework of priority projects needed to enhance capabilities, of that includes both the Multirole Fighter Jets, the F-16s currently in negotiation under the United States EDAs, and that one deal involving Royal Danish Air Force’s F-16 multirole fighter jets.

BACE-P, Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange - Philippines, FA-50PH, F-16 Viper, Philippine Air Force, United States Air Force
Philippine Air Force and United States Air Force service members pose alongside one another during the Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange - Philippines (BACE-P) in 2019.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Small, via DVIDSHUB.

As the Marcos administration successfully approved the revision of implementing the third phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program now called as the “Re-Horizon 3”, it is not surprising that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the Philippine Air Force, and with the support of the Department of National Defense and the national government at-large, is gunning to get more multi-role fighter aircraft for the country’s air defense purposes, with the eyes primarily set on the F-16 fighter jets.

This comes to a point that a certain legislator promotes the viability of the F-16s, especially all the plans and programs that are pushing under the Philippine Air Force from the current Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project as it compete against the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen from Sweden, to other options like the stocks under the Excess Defense Articles of the United States plus tapping on third-party sources like Denmark who is in the process of replacing its jets with the newer F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

But with all the eyes within the Philippine’s own defense community staring straight to the current push of getting multirole fighter jets for the Philippine Air Force like the F-16s of both new and pre-loved, one also needs to acknowledge that the time is going against the actions of the planners within the air service branch and the Department of National Defense, as Argentina and Ukraine being hell-bent on securing the Danish F-16s for their own use, while the production line gets longer now as Turkey now likely joins the fray.

With the deal with SAAB for the JAS-39 Gripen being in the limbo as the Swedish Parliament is slow in ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippines, and with the current developments regarding other countries getting both the in-stock and order for production F-16s, it is not surprising if thing will go hard for the planners in achieving timeline for getting MRFs for the Philippine Air Force, as what we said in the beginning of this article, the country needs the fighter jets yesterday.

Despite the developments at hand, one thing is certain out of these developments. That is the likelihood that the Philippine Air Force may likely end up getting the F-16 Viper multirole fighter jets under the multirole fighter jet acquisition project, aside from stocked F-16s like the ones from Denmark and the F-16s provided under the Excess Defense Articles. At the end, it will come with full certainty if the projects push through, contracts signed, and the jets with the Philippine Air Force insignia have arrived in the country.

(c) 2024 PDA.




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