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Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (Phase 1) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

As part of the 2019-2023 Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has raised the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) Acquisition Project calling for the purchase and induction of at least 12 Multi-Role Fighters to become the premier air combat aircraft of the country.

A pair of single-seat Gripens and Fighting Falcons (older variant of Viper) together in a formation. Photo taken from F16.net


Summary:

Multi-Role Fighter (Phase 1) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 17 February 2024.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (5th Fighter Wing)

Quantity: 12 aircraft or more


* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP, moved to Horizon 3 Phase of RAFPMP as of mid-2023.


* Project ABC:
 Php61,200,000,000.00 (approx. US$1.2 billion), possibly increased when moved to Horizon 3.


Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) with Sweden

* SARO Release:
 TBC


* Winning Proponent:
 TBC, most likely Saab AB of Sweden

Product for Delivery: TBC, most likely Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen


* Contract Price:
 TBC


* First post by MaxDefense: TBC

Status: PAF TWG was said to have selected F-16C/D Block 70 Viper on August 2019. PAF approved selected on September 2019, and DND approved selection on 30 October 2019. Despite approval, it appears that pricing issues has stalled negotiation with Lockheed Martin and re-opened the line of communications with Saab. As of June 2021, DND is said to prepare submitting proposal to Malacanang based on Saab's offer, which was selected due to pricing and delivery schedule. As of mid-2023, Sweden and the Philippines has signed a Defense Cooperation MoU including approval to export the Gripen to the Philippines. Saab remains the top contender although the Security Sector Assistance Roadmap as part of EDCA between the US and Philippines has pushed for the acquisition of F-16 fighters, both new and used. DND's Procurement Monitoring Report as of 05 July 2023 and 04 January 2024 mentioned that MoU for Cooperation on Defense Acquisition was not yet ratified, although the Embassy of Sweden in Manila clarified on 15 February 2024 that the MoU was signed on 03 June 2023 and was immediately ratified by the Swedish Government on the same day, and ratified by the Philippine Government on September 2023. DND confirmed on 16 February 2024 that the Philippines and Sweden will be finalizing the Implementing Arrangement for Defense Materiel Cooperation in Sweden on March 2024, paving the way for awarding of contract for MRF Acquisition to Saab afterwards. Plans to procure additional MRFs under Re-Horizon 3 will be a separate effort.



The Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper remain as the only shortlisted contenders for the PAF's MRF Acquisition Project. Photo taken from Aviatia.net.


Overview:

The Philippine Air Force has been in need of a new fighter aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter light combat aircraft since the early 1990s. 


Several attempts have been made from the early 1990s up to now, which all ended in failure due to lack of funding from the Philippine government.

In the mid 1990s, the PAF shortlisted several fighter aircraft offers made as part of the AFP Modernization Program, and ultimately selected the McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet to be its next multi-role fighter. The best attribute on the selection was having twin engines, which allows for a higher safety parameter especially when one engine fails. A first batch of 12 units was planned, with a possible options of up to 24 more units within the next 10 years.

Sadly, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 hit the Philippine economy badly, forcing the PAF to abandon its dreams, and making do with whatever is left of their budget after the exchange rate of the Philippine Pesos severely dropped and the government reduced its allocations.


As part of the 1995 AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Air Force selected the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet as its next multi-role fighter to replace the ageing Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter. The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 killed not just the MRF Acquisition, but also the entire AFP Modernization Program. This photo was taken during an inspection by PAF officials @ McDonnell Douglas' facility in the US (note the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle beside it). Credits to the original source of the photo.



There were also several offers made between that and the current Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), although the PAF was not able to take a full grasp of the chances.

As part of the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP, the Philippine government approved the PAF's plan to revive the Multi-Role Fighter acquisition project, with a Phase 1 budget of up to Php61.2 billion. MaxDefense believes that part of the package includes an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, and all necessary arrangements, equipment, training, tools, documents and technical support, logistics and transportation, and possibly spare parts.


Several models were originally considered for the project, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (which is the successor of the older and smaller F/A-18C/D Hornet), the new Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper, Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen and JAS-39E/F Gripen E, United Aircraft Corporation's Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulrcum-F and Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E.

In the end, the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) for the project shortlisted the JAS-39C/D Gripen and the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper. 

As of April 2019, no decision has been made yet, although information passed on to MaxDefense shows that both actually made very good offers, and that the PAF would not lose in selecting any of the offers.

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U P D A T E S:
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12 July 2018:

Results from the Slovakian fighter competition came out, which is between the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, similar to those competing for the MRF Acquisition for the Philippine Air Force.


A summary of the results taken from the Slovakian government report are as follows:

1. Saab offered 3 options: purchasing, rental, or leasing. Should Slovakia pick the JAS-39C/D Gripen, they prefer doing a purchase as they find it the most advantageous. Saab offered payment to spread over 10 years, will include a flight simulator, and delivery can be made around 20 months from contract signing.

2. Lockheed Martin only offered purchasing since leasing and rental is not allowed by the US legislation. Payment for aircraft and training can be spread over 5 to 7 years, while the AIM-9X Sidewinders payment can be spread over 12 years. Flight simulator is also included. Delivery may go around 4 to 5 years after contract signing.

MD Note: Slovakia's deal included ammunition, which the PAF separated from the MRF project.

3. Should there be a need to acquire used F-16s for training and to fill in the gap, the US government has offered to sell 14 used F-16s (around 20-30 year old models) for 214 million Euros, and will take around 2 years to refurbish and upgrade. No mention was made if the cost includes the upgrade although it is safe to assume that refurbishing them is included in the cost.

4. The JAS-39C/D Gripen was found to be be less capable in carrying load and equipment, lower fuel capacity, lower tactical range, lower endurance, lower climbing ability, and significantly lower acceleration compared to the F-16 Blk 70/72. The Gripen was also found to be using older generation of avionics like radar (non-AESA), early warning and protection systems, etc, which doesn't meet current and future air operation requirements of the Slovakian Air Force. The Gripen was found to not have significant improvement over the older MiG-29 despite being a new aircraft.

MD Note: JAS-39C/D uses Volvo RM12 afterburning turbofan, which is a Swedish version of the GE F404 engine used by the PAF's FA-50.

5. F-16 Blk 70/72 uses subsystems that are used by 5th Generation fighters, has higher payload, more choices of munitions to be carried, higher fuel capacity, tactical range, endurance, acceleration, uses advanced avionics (AESA radar, etc) and targeting, weapons, and imaging systems. F-16 also includes Auto GCAS which is an advanced safety feature not found on Gripen. F-16 acquisition is significant step compared to Gripen.

MD Note: The F-16 Blk 70/72 uses either the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 (Blk 70) or the GE F110-GE-129 (Blk 72), both of which are more powerful than the Volvo RM12 or the GE F404.

6. Training for Gripen will be in Sweden and will take 6-8 months. But tactical usage training on use of Link 16 and AN/AAQ-28 Litening III targeting pods is not included. Air to air refuelling training is not included. Limited training on air to air warfare, and no training on air to ground warfare. NATO STANAG 6001 Level 3 English language is required.

7. Training for F-16 will be in US and will take 3-4 years. Training will be for ALL air operations including aerial refuelling. English language training will be included should pilot candidate fail to meet English language requirements ECL 85.

8. Logistics support for Gripen is calculated based on 12 JAS-39C and 2 JAS-39D, operated from 1 base, with total operating hours of 2,100 flight hours/year. Delivery of spare parts is guaranteed by Swedish side for 10 years. Spare parts of aircraft is also ensured. Spare parts for other equipment for ground operations, avionics and ammunition is not included and require separate contracts with suppliers.

9. Logistics support for Viper is calculated based on 12 F-16C and 2 F-16D, operated from 1 base, with total operating hours of 2,520 flight hours/year. Spare parts and supplies included for 2 years of operation of aircraft. After 2 years, new contracts for spare parts supply is necessary. Spare parts included in contract will be delivered no later than 6 months before the first aircraft. Spare parts for other equipment for ground operations, avionics and ammunition does not require 3rd party. 2 years logistic support starts from receipt of every individual aircraft. New contract for supply of spare parts is necessary after 2 years.

10. Analysis of necessary infrastructure is based on recommendation of American and Swedish side and are necessary to implement to ensure effective operation of new technology and the required level. It was found that Slovakian infrastructure to support new aircraft does not meet requirement and found to be of low level. This may result in lower lifespan of aircraft and avionics. Failure to implement the recommended changes by the operator will most likely cause innumerable restrictions and will not secure compliance warranty.

Conclusion: The Slovakian side found the F-16 Blk 70/72 offer to be better compared to the JAS-39C/D offer from Saab, taking into account aircraft performance, training provisions, future proofing, availability of options, and package inclusions.

But take note: Slovakia is a NATO member. The Philippines is not a NATO member, although it is considered a US Major Non-NATO ally. But restrictions may apply to the Philippines in terms of equipment that can be included or sold depending on its relations with the US government, and in meeting US policies. The same can be said on Swedish government requirements, although the alliance with the US is a major advantage over Sweden which the Philippines has no major defense partnership or agreement with.


The full report can be found on the link below for easy reference.

"Proposal for acquisition of new tactical fighter aircraft I.part - unclassified" - posted at the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic dated 7/10/2018.


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27 September 2018:

As part of ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila, a MaxDefense contributor was able to speak to Saab's representative in the show, and asked why Saab offered the older JAS-39C/D Gripen C rather than the newer JAS-39E/F Gripen E.

According to the Saab representative, the Gripen C suites the requirements released by the PAF TWG better than the Gripen E, specifically on delivery period and cost.

The current JAS-39C/D Gripen C is said to meet and even exceed most if not all of the minimum standards required by the Technical Specifications, although they are open to offer the JAS-39E/F Gripen E should there be changes in the budget, specifications, and delivery requirements.



Saab brought in a full-size mock-up of the JAS-39C Gripen during ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila last September 2018. Interesting note on the 2nd photo showing its features. Photos shared by MaxDefense community members who attended the expo.



Meanwhile, our contributor was also lucky to be able to talk to Lockheed Martin's representative in the exhibition, who also mentioned that their new F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper is the current production model and is targeted for the export market as an alternative to their more expensive and more stringent-to-acquire F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The Viper features technology derived from the F-35 development, and is a far improvement over the last variant of the F-16.

Sadly, the representative was not keen on answering if they meet the delivery schedule of the PAF, which MaxDefense believes is quite tight for Lockheed Martin to follow based on previous deals with other countries and due to the US government's lengthy process of getting approval from the US Congress and State Department for export.


While not having a strong display as Saab, Lockheed Martin was also present in ADAS 2018, pushing for the F-16 Viper for the PAF. Photo shared by MaxDefense community member who attended the expo.


===============


16 October 2018:

In a post MaxDefense made in our Facebook community page, we made several comments on the pros and cons of going for the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, considering Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that the Philippine Air Force might go for this offer. Among those we mentioned are as follows:


The Saab JAS-39C Gripen.


Positive Notes:

1. The current JAS-39C/D Gripen being offered to the PAF is said to be in the latest MS20 standard, and includes the PS-05 Mk. 4 pulse doppler radar, which is considered among the best non-AESA fire control radar for fighter aircraft in the world.

2. There's the still debatable but widely accepted concept of Gripen's low purchase cost, quick turn-around time, less requirements for infrastructure and manpower, low operating cost, and simplicity of overall operation.

3. The JAS-39C/D Gripen uses the Meteor BVRAAM, which is said to be the best in its class.

4. MaxDefense sources from the PAF confirmed that Saab guaranteed the delivery of the first 4 to 6 aircraft within 18 months (1.5 years) after Contract Signing and and release of Notice to Proceed. If PAF signs up for an MRF in 2019, it means the PAF could get their Gripens starting 2020, far earlier than the US' standard delivery time which is around 4 years.

On the Negative Side of Things:

1. The primary concern MaxDefense had been mentioning since before is the combat range and endurance of the JAS-39C/D Gripen compared to the F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper and even the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle, considering the most likely location of any combat where air superiority, anti-ship, and strike missions would happen over the West Philippine Sea. Unless flying from Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, how long can the Gripen stay in the area and fight without relying too much on external fuel tanks and air tankers? Refer to the photos below for reference, based on Slovakia's official assessment of the Gripen vs the Viper.

2. Did the DND consider well the reliability of the Swedish government, which is stricter in terms of human rights issues than the US, which actually made special considerations to the Philippines due to Pres. Trump's cordial ties with Pres. Duterte? This is considering that just last year, the Swedish government imposed stricter arms export rules to countries with questionable human rights records? WHETHER WE AGREE OR NOT, it is a fact that globally, the human rights track record of Pres. Duterte's government has been in question especially by liberal European countries.

3. How strong is the support provided by the Swedish government, Saab, and the Swedish Air Force in terms of preparing the Philippines for fighter ops, as well as in sustaining the potential PAF Gripen fleet for the next 30 years? Compared to how the US does it, considering by default, no matter who is the country's president, the US and Philippine military partnership is strong and the default standard, no questions asked.

Unless the Philippines make a very drastic shift in alliances, the US will still be the one to train Filipino pilots and the PAF in general, even if it chooses Gripen. Will that be easier for both sides compared to if the PAF selects the Viper or even the Super Hornet?




These details came from the official assessment made by the Slovakian Defense Ministry and Slovakian Air Force, wherein they found that the F-16 Viper trumps over the JAS-39 Gripen C in terms of performance, range and endurance. Which are important for the PAF as the most likely place where a conflict may arise is far out in the outer edges of the Philippine EEZ. Photo taken from Slovakian government open sources.


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24 October 2018:

As part of the re-opening of Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, as well as the celebration of the "Balik Basa" 2018, both Lockheed Martin and Saab were present in the display section of the event, showcasing the F-16C/D  Block 70/72 Viper and JAS-39C/D Gripen C, respectively.

The event was a good chance to sway pilots and decision makers within the PAF and the fighter pilot community.

Both LM and Saab also displayed a scale model of their aircraft offerings, which can be seen below.


The Saab JAS-39C Gripen (top) and Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper (above) were showcased by both aircraft manufacturers during the re-opening of Basa Air Base and the Balik Basa 2018 reunion. Photos shared by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.


===============


21 January 2019:

Lockheed Martin brought in their F-16 Block 70/72 Viper Cockpit Demonstrator to Manila to demonstrate the aircraft's flight characteristics to the Philippine Air Force. Lockheed Martin also brought in a USAF F-16 fighter pilot and LM test pilot, Maj. Monessa Cantuncan-Balzhiser (who is an American of Filipino decent).

The demonstrator was in Manila for a few days, and several PAF pilots especially those from the 5th Fighter Wing were able to try it out, while Maj. Catuncan-Bazhiser also gave talks on the aircraft and its capabilities.

Photos below were exclusively shared to MaxDefense by one of our contributor.



LM brought the F-16 Viper Cockpit Demonstrator to Manila, together with USAF F-16 fighter pilot and LM test pilot Maj. Monessa Catuncan-Balzhiser. Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense by one of our contributor.


===============

17 April 2019:

A report from Sweden came out that the Swedish government ordered 14 Gripen fighter aircraft from Saab, but only did so to make sure that the production line is busy and the technical know-how of the production team won't be lost in the wait until Saab gets the go-signal to produce the latest JAS-39E/F Gripen E variant.

Apparently 10 single-seat JAS-39C Gripens and 4 twin-seat JAS-39D Gripens were ordered, and are partially completed, while the Swedish government and Saab markets the Gripen C to other countries and finish the partially-completed airframes for delivery to the foreign buyer and recoup expenses for the investment.

On our Facebook page post on the matter, we mentioned that MaxDefense has been trying to get answers on why one of Saab's offer to the Philippines and other fighter markets lately like Slovakia and Bulgaria involves the rapid delivery of a first batch of 3-4 fighters within a year after order confirmation, when usually it takes more than 2 years for a fighter aircraft to be delivered. This is one of Saab's key selling points for countries who wanted results to be made as quickly as possible, like the Philippines.

MaxDefense believes that if the PAF decides to select the JAS-39C/D Gripen C, Saab would just complete the first batch of at least 3-4 fighters (mostly twin-seater trainers for pilot conversion training) and deliver it to the PAF within 1 year from the release of the Notice to Proceed (NTP) and Opening of the Letter of Credit (LOC, if applicable).

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin's offer only allows for the 1st batch of fighters to be delivered to the PAF after more than 2 years from NTP release, since it may take time to get the export approval from the US Congress and the State Department (apparently the Philippines' Department of National Defense was assured that the US State Department has no issue and will release their approval quickly).


One of the JAS-39 Gripen in Saab's production line, and is almost complete. Photos taken from SvD Naringsliv.

===============


19 April 2019:

MaxDefense posted this resource portal for the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project.


Based on MaxDefense's information in the past few days, apparently the Philippine Air Force was given the priority for fund access for Horizon 2 for this year, since the MRF acquisition project is pushed to be decided, awarded, and contracted to the winning proponent within this year.

The massive value of this project might drain the annual modernization budget, even if the DND and PAF are only required to pay 15% as down payment, which is already worth more than Php9 billion. Considering the PAF has already finalized the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) project, and is pushing for the Attack Helicopter (AH), C-130 with ILS, Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS), and Medium Lift Aircraft to be all awarded and contracted this year, funding is indeed difficult to come by.


===============

04 June 2019:

Sources confirmed that the F-16 Viper variant being offered by Lockheed Martin to the PAF is the Block 70, powered by the General Electric F110-GE-132 engine instead of the Pratt & Whitney equivalent in the Block 72.

It will still be equipped with the Northrop Grumman APG-83 AESA radar based on the radars used in the F-35. It will also be standard with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II (JHMCS II) for full advantage in using the AIM-9X Sidewinder off boresight missile.

Conformal fuel tanks are also standard.


One of the flyers from Lockheed Martin marketing the F-16 Block 70 to the Philippines. Photo shared by one of our contributor who was present during one of LM's marketing sessions with the Philippine defense and military officials.

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05 June 2019:

The Elbit Systems Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II (JHMCS II), the standard helmet of the F-16 Block 70 Viper, was displayed today in the PAF Air Power Symposium. It is included in Lockheed Martin's offer to sell the F-16 Block 70 Viper to the Philippine Air Force.

Thanks to one of our community member who wish to remain anonymous for the photos!






All photos above from a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

===============

06 September 2019:

Last July 2019, the Philippine Air Force sent pilots from the 5th Fighter Wing to the Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC to have familarization with the 113th Fighter Wing US Air National Guard's F-16C/D Fighting Falcons.

This is a follow-on to the BACE-P Exercises held between the 2 units in the Philippines earlier this year.

I won't go sideways, over and under with this. This is one of the major reasons why the Philippine Air Force and even major officials of the DND has been swayed into going for the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Viper offer for the PAF's Multirole Fighter Project. This demonstrates the US' commitment to help train and sustain any future PAF F-16 fleet, and demonstrates the importance of commonality and interoperability between the allies.

The US has also offered something else to support the PAF should it select the Viper. Who knows the 113th Fighter Wing might even be the one assisting the PAF in the transition.





All photos above from 113th Wing DC Air National Guard's FB page.

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04 October 2019:

MaxDefense received confirmation from sources involved in the MRF Acquisition Project that the Philippine Air Force's leadership has agreed to the selection made by the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) and Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT), including other related sub-projects which includes the MRF Munitions System Acquisition Project.


This was after the DASAT presented their selections for the two projects to the PAF Senior Leaders which is composed of the Commanding General PAF Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez and all other senior PAF leaders.


It was confirmed by MaxDefense sources that as early as August 2019, the PAF TWG for the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project has selected the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper, which topped the selection over the other shortlisted model, the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen MS20.

MaxDefense Philippines can officially confirm now that PAF prefers the F-16 Block 70 Viper!

A CGI of the F-16C Block 70 Viper. Credits to original source of photo.

No complete information was provided on why the F-16 Viper was selected over the JAS-39 Gripen, but it appears that interoperability, performance, and support from the Pentagon through several defense cooperation programs with the Philippine government are the main reasons.


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26 October 2019:

Among those scheduled for discussion in the upcoming Senior Leaders Roundtable Discussion on 30 October 2019 will be the approval of the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project, including the selected fighter aircraft model and offer. Discussions would be specific in justifying why the PAF selected the F-16 over the JAS-39.

It would be noted that the Philippine Air Force's Technical Working Group and Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT) already made a selection based on their evaluation of the two shortlisted fighter aircraft - the Saab JAS-39C//D MS20 Gripen, and the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper.


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05 November 2019:

As part of the recently concluded Senior Leaders Meeting last 30 October 2019 and attended by all seniod DND, AFP and PAF leaders including Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, it was confirmed by MaxDefense sources that the Senior Leaders has APPROVED the implementation of the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project based on the offer made by Lockheed Martin.

This will now be forwarded to Malacanang and to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for final approval and appropriation of funding. The government will only need to make sure there is funding for the initial deposit requirements which is around 15% of the total value of the project.

MaxDefense received information that the DBM was asked to give importance to the PAF MRF Acquisition over all other big ticket projects of other armed services, considering the PAF's MRF Acquisition is the costliest defense project to be undetaken by the Philippines in its entire history.


A flyer from LM on the F-16 Block 70 offer to the PAF. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a community member.

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14 December 2019:

As shared by a Philippine Air Force officer and MaxDefense community member in our community page. No words needed to describe.

Still onward to PAF Waypoint 2022!


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18 December 2019:

We received reports that Boeing executives are in the Philippines to meet with officials from the Philippine Air Force. While they are not directly offering a fighter aircraft to the PAF, they are actually offering air-launched munitions that can be used for the F-16C/D Block 70 Viper.


Among those offered to the PAF are the AGM-84 Harpoon air-launched anti-ship cruise missile, and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guided/smart bomb system, plus several other products not related to the MRF project.


The AGM-84 Harpoon (top) and the JDAM smart bomb (above). Credits to original sources of photos.

It is unconfirmed though if Boeing also offered the newer AGM-84 Stand-off Land Attack Missile (SLAM) variant was also offered.

As confirmed by a source, the AGM-84 Harpoon is directly compatible with the F-16C/D Block 70 Viper, but also with the entire F-16 Fighting Falcon family including older variants.

AN AGM-84 Harpoon air-launched anti-ship cruise missile carried by an older F-16 variant, most likely an F-16C Block 30/32 based on the fighter's production year (1987). Credits to original source of photo.


Based on evidence shown to MaxDefense by sources, the offer made by Boeing was specifically for the F-16 series, and not for any multirole fighter or any other aircraft. Not even specific for the PAF's existing KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagles.

This further validates that the F-16 was indeed already selected and positioned for final approval, despite official announcements by the DND and PAF that they are still in the selection process between the F-16 Viper and the JAS-39 Gripen.
In addition, Lockheed Martin executives were also in the Philippines to conduct another discussion, this time with Philippine government officials from the executive branch especially those involved in the final approval of the MRF Acquisition Project. They also held further discussions with PAF and DND officials as part of their continued effort to market the fighter aircraft and finalize the inclusions and details of their offer.

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10 January 2020:

MaxDefense was informed by sources that the US Air Force's F-16 Viper Demonstration Team would be coming to the Philippines, and will conduct flight demonstrations with the USAF F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft.


It remains to be seen what other activities will be held with the Philippine Air Force, or if demonstrations will be open to the public.

Tune in to our social media page for more updates.



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06 March 2020:

Unknown to many, the Philippine Air Force has already welcomed the US Pacific Air Forces' Viper Demonstration Team last February 2020 at Basa Air Base, and has already conducted demonstrations of their F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter aircraft with members of the PAF's 5th Fighter Wing.

This pushed through BEFORE the Philippine Air Force and the US Pacific Air Forces conducted the Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange - Philippines also last February 2020 between the PAF's 5th Fighter Wing based at Basa Air Base, and a contingent from the US Pacific Air Forces based in Misawa Air Force Base in Japan, and Kunsan Air Force Base in South Korea.

===============

19 October 2020:

After months of uncertainty due to several issues, let us make an update on this project.

Despite Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70 Viper being selected by the PAF TWG and PAF leadership, and supported by the DND, it appears that the negotiations between the DND and Lockheed Martin has reached a deadlock due to pricing issues.

According to MaxDefense sources, Lockheed Martin has revised its pricing and proposal to the DND and PAF, with the revised cost now higher than before. The price increase was significant enough for the DND to step on the brakes and re-discuss the project with the PAF leadership and Technical Working Group, and re-open the lines of communication with Saab.

So far, the PAF and DND has negotiated not just with Lockheed Martin, but with other suppliers for the F-16 Viper's munitions including Raytheon for the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and Paveway laser guided bombs, and with Boeing for the AGM-85 Harpoon anti-ship missile and Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits which are to be acquired under the MRF Muntions System Acquisition Project that is tied together with the MRF Acquisition Project. So this setback may also affect all the other suppliers.

With funding still a problem and has not been secured up until now, this setback could be a reason why the MRF Acquisition Project as well as the MRF Munitions System Acquisition Project were not among those given funding priority under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP for Fiscal Year 2021.

Should Lockheed Martin or the US government fail to untangle this setback with the DND, there is a likelihood that Saab might come back to the negotiating table and offer a better deal to the DND and PAF than the last proposal they made.

 And with US Pres. Donald Trump unable to make sure he's getting re-elected in the upcoming US presidential elections, the US government may be stuck at the moment as well on what it can possibly do to help Lockheed Martin in the Philippine fighter competition.

Looks like the doors have re-opened for Saab again, although the delays in settling the MRF project won't be good for the PAF. Photo credits to War History Online.

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02 June 2021:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from multiple sources saying that the Department of National Defense has been serious in pushing the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition of the Philippine Air Force, with no less than Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana personally pushing for the project to progress.

But the recommendation has changed. Based on several confirmation we got from PAF sources, the DND would be submitting the proposal to procure the Saab JAS-39C/D MS20 Gripen fighter aircraft, rather than the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper that was selected by the PAF's Technical Working Group in 2019.

Up until early this year, the PAF was pushing for the acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 Viper in which 12 brand new units were offered by the US to the PAF. 

Based on the TWG's evaluation, the aircraft's capabilities exceeded that of the JAS-39C/D Gripen - longer range and endurance including conformal fuel tanks, much modern avionics, more powerful engines, AESA radar, use of wide range of US munitions, interoperability with US military, and full support by US military including easy integration during combined force operations. Negotiations and several meetings were held with Lockheed Martin and US government officials to procure the fighter

But because of financial reasons, the PAF was left to choose between moving their MRF acquisition to the next Horizon 3 phase, or select a cheaper alternative. Cheaper alternatives include acquiring a 2nd squadron of KAI FA-50, or going with Saab's Gripen offer. Pushing the project to Horizon 3 means delaying the planned acquisition of more MRFs under that phase, as the PAF was planning to get a 2nd and possibly 3rd squadron of MRF by that phase.

While the Viper was the top choice and the 5th Fighter Wing's favorite, it was more expensive. As mentioned in an update we have last October 2020, MaxDefense PH confirmed that despite already being more expensive than Saab's offer, Lockheed Martin increased the package price further for the F-16 Viper, which may have reduced the prospects of the Viper to be selected for the project. The difference between both offers was said to be almost US$400 million, which is painful indeed for the PH government especially with the current financial strain it is experiencing due to COVID 19 pandemic affecting government spending and the economy.

According to MaxDefense PH's sources, Saab's offer was not only cheaper than Lockheed Martin's, but was also lower than the project's approved budget of Php61.2 billion (excluding munitions).

Delivery date was also an issue. Saab has committed to the PAF and DND to deliver the first batch of fighters by 2024 if a contract could be signed and NTP released within this year. In comparison, Lockheed Martin may only be able to deliver new Vipers starting 2025 or 2026, and has proposes the hot transfer of used F-16D Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcons as military assistance.

Also, Saab committed to deliver not just 12, but 14 new fighter aircraft. In comparison, Lockheed Martin, thorough the US government, committed to provide 12 new F-16C/D Block 70 Vipers, and to hot transfer between 2 to 4 used F-16D Block 30 fighters used by the US Air National Guard.

The proposal is set to be submitted to Malacanang soon, as the proposal was already with the DND since last week. And it is expected that a Defense Cooperation Agreement would be signed between the Philippines and Sweden in the coming months should this deal proceed. This is needed as there is no mechanism currently available for the Philippines and Sweden to conduct Government-to-Government defense deals.

Also, the PAF TWG is said to be starting the review of the Project's Terms of Reference (TOR) this month, which serves as basis to the contract.

So far, this is what we've gathered although more information is being gathered from as many sources as possible.

In a way, its still a good news since it means the Philippines will proceed with its fighter procurement. But the PAF will have to settle with a less capable fighter but cheaper to fly and operate, rather than wait for another administration to proceed with this project.

It is expected that the Swedish government won't be like Canada in terms of looking at reasons not to sell the fighter to the Philippines, and turn a blind eye on the current administration's other issues and allow the deal to proceed.

It remains to be seen if the US will make last minute efforts to turn the tide to their favor, considering PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement negotiations are ongoing.

The JAS-39C Gripen. Photo credits to Air Force Technology. 

===============

25 June 2021:

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has confirmed that the US State Department has approved the sale of 12 F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper fighter aircraft including associated spares, services, logistics support, training, and munitions for the Philippine Air Force, with an estimated cost of US$2.43 billion (~Php120 billion).

While the approval covers both Block 70 and 72, MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from Lockheed Martin that they did offer the Block 70 with the GE F110 engine.

So why is the cost from the DSCA's report is far higher than the Philippine Air Force's budget of Php61.2 million (US$1.25 billion), or Philippine Defense Resource / MaxDefense Philippines' previous report of around US$1.6 billion.

Take note that the estimated cost is not fixed, and could still go down depending on the final agreed package inclusions that the Philippines DND and US Government would agree on.

If one will notice, the package included munitions (AIM-120 AMRAAM and others), at least 3 extra spares of major components like engines, AESA radars, mission computers, comms and other avionics, and Sniper or Litening Advanced Targeting pods. 

Our basis on previous reports on the price provided by Lockheed Martin to the DND/PAF did not include these, although we were informed that at least 1 set of spares were included in the 12 F-16 Viper pricing, and that the US Government could potentially provide many of the items under US FMF grants.

The PAF intends to procure munitions separately under its MRF Munitions Systems Acquisition Project, with a separate budget of Php12 billion on top of the MRF budget. Compared to the package inclusions on F-16 Viper deals approved for Bulgaria, Bahrain and others, the PAF package is way bigger despite the number of aircraft involved.

This is standard for US military sales - they do not want the end user to end up lacking in spares, support, and other inclusions. When the PAF bought the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle from South Korea's KAI years ago, it did not include even a single spare engine, radar, and other major components which resulted to some aircraft becoming hangar queens for long periods of time.

Since the price is still an estimate value,  negotiations between the US and Philippine Governments could drop this price further, not to mention the application of a potential US Foreign Military Financing (US FMF) program grant amount which was said to further reduce the cost the Philippine Government would be paying.

Just to list down the inclusions of the approval:
* 10 F-16C Block 70/72 Viper single-seat fighters
* 2 F-16D Block 70/72 Viper twin-seat fighters
* 15 Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229EEP (Block 72) or General Electric F110-GE-129D (Block 70) afterburning turbofan engines;
* 15 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG) 
* 15 AN/APG-83 AESA Scalable Agile Beam Radars (SABR);
* 15 Module Mission Computers 7000AH;
* 15 LN-260 Embedded GPS/INS with SAASM and PPS;
* 24 AIM-120C-7 or C-8 medium-range air-to-air missiles;
* 1 AIM-120 Guidance Section;
* 48 LAU-129 missile launchers;
* 3 KMU-572 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (L-JDAM) tail kits;
* 6 Mk 82 500lb bombs;
* 6 Mk 82 500lb inert training bombs
* 6 FMU-152 or FMU-139 fuses
* 6 Sniper or Litening Advanced Targeting Pods;
* 15 Multifunction Information Display System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS);
* 15 M61A1 Vulcan 20mm rotary cannons;
* Several other equipment including Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, communications, transponders, countermeasures dispensers, missile launchers and adapter kits, sensors, 20mm munitions, cartridges, bomb racks, flares and chaffs, night vision devices, missile containers, testing equipment, TER-9A triple ejection racks, etc.

Also take note that US Government commitment to hot-transfer used F-16C/D Block 30/40 Fighting Falcon fighters to the PAF are not listed here, as this would be a separate commitment by the US Government and Lockheed Martin if the PAF buys the Viper.

More on the DSCA approval from their press release:
https://www.dsca.mil/press-media/major-arms-sales/philippines-f-16-block-7072-aircraft


A CGI of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper. Photo credits to Lockheed Martin.


===============

26 June 2021:

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that they found the US offer for new F-16 Block 60/72 Viper as too expensive, thus their decision to look at other options.

So far, there is only 1 other option based on previous statements, and that is the Saab JAS-39 Gripen from Sweden.

As we previously mentioned, the Gripen was offered at a far lower price than the F-16 Viper, 

MaxDefense Philippines confirmed that both PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes and Sec. Lorenzana has signed the recommendations selecting the JAS-39 Gripen for the MRF Acquisition Project.

More on the this on the report from Inquirer.net below:
https://globalnation.inquirer.net/197309/lorenzana-pricey-f-16s-prompted-look-at-fighter-jet-options

A USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft takes-off from Basa Air Base as part of BACE-P Exercsises 2019 between USAF and PAF fighter units. Photo credits to DVIDS.

===============

11 September 2021:

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana tries and seems to enjoy the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper cockpit/flight simulator as part of his visit in the US, as he was oriented by Fil-Am Lockheed Martin F-16 / F-35 test pilot, former USAF pilot Maj. Monessa "Siren" Catuncan -Balzhiser(ret).






Credits to original source.

===============

15 October 2021:

Look, more demonstrations!

This time, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez checks out the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper static flight simulator.

Lockheed Martin is offering the GE-powered F-16C/D Block 70 Viper to the Philippine Air Force for its multirole fighter requirements.


Photo credits to Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, USA.

===============

21 October 2021:

The US Government has broken down the cost of the F-16 Block 70 Viper offer for the Philippines.

If its just the aircraft, spares and the AIM-120C AMRAAM only, the Philippine Air Force's budget of Php61.2 billion would be sufficient enough, and even has some loose change to spare.

Specifically and called Major Defense Equipment:
* 10 F-16C Block 70 Viper single-seat fighters
* 2 F-16D Block 60 Viper twin-seat fighters
* 3 spares of SABR radar, GE engines, display generators, mission computers, GPS/INS, 20mm Vulcan guns, MIDS-JTRS terminals
* several AMRAAM rounds, launchers, bombs, LJDAM kits, Sniper targeting pods, etc

But, this is where the problem lies. As we have always mentioned in the past, the US does not sell arms when they knew the buyer has no capacity to accept them as they are.
The US estimated that the Philippines need to spend another US$1.31 billion (Php65.5 billion) ON TOP of the amount to buy the fighters, AMRAAMs and spares.

This is to cover several mission-essential equipment including the following (called Non-Major Defense Equipment)
* AN/ARC-238 radios; 
* Advanced Identification Friend or Foe with Combined Interrogator Transponder and Mode 5; 
* Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems II (JHMCS II) or Scorpion Hybrid Optical-based Inertial Tacker (HObIT); 
* Integrated Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite; Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program (ECISAP) support; 
*AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Systems (CMDS); 
* Joint Mission Planning Systems (JMPS) or equivalent; 
* AIM-120 CATM; 
* LAU-118 launchers with Advanced Launcher Interface Computer (ALIC); 
* LAU-117 missile launchers; DSU-38 Precision Laser Guided Sensor for LJDAM; 
* Harpoon interface adapter kits; 
* PGU-28 High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) ammunition; 
* PGU-27 ammunition training rounds (non HEI); 
* Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD); 
* ARD-446 impulse cartridges; 
* ARD-863 impulse cartridges; 
* BBU-36/B impulse cartridges; 
* BBU-35/B impulse cartridges; 
* MK-124 smoke flares; 
* MJU-7/B Flare Cartridge L463; 
* BRU-61 Bomb Racks; BRU-57 bomb racks; 
* MAU-12 bomb racks and TER-9A triple ejection racks; 
* weapons support, test equipment, and missile containers; 
* chaff and flare; 
* Night Vision Devices (NVD) and support equipment and spares; 
* secure communications; 
* cryptographic equipment; 
* aircraft and personnel support and test equipment; 
* integration and test; 
* weapons, ammunition, pylons, launcher adaptors, weapons interfaces, fuel tanks, and attached hardware; 
* travel pods, precision measurement equipment laboratory, calibration, and simulators; 
* spare and repair parts, repair and return services; 
* maps, publications, and technical documentation; 
* studies and surveys; 
* classified/unclassified software and software support; 
Then there's essentials like the following that are also included in the cost:
* personnel training and training equipment; 
* facilities and facility management, 
* design and/or construction services; 
* U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; 
* and other related elements of logistical and program support.

In short, the US offered a TOTAL COMPLETE PACKAGE.

Remember when the PAF acquired the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle from KAI, they did not even have spares (became apparent when 1 aircraft suffered bird strike and was out of action due to lack of spare engines), and ammunition, chaff and flares were acquired separately (many of which which were not yet delivered, 5 years after the jets itself were delivered).

Since the PAF has no advanced multi-role fighters at the moment, Pentagon believes that the Philippines will need to invest a lot just to have the ability to support new fighters.

If the PAF acquires additional fighters in the future, the overall cost will be less than the current one because by then, the PAF would have the infrastructure, training, and capability to sustain and operate them.

Since EDCA is starting to go full swing, is there a way for Pentagon to assist in reducing the non-MDE costs by using the deployment of F-16 fighter units in the Philippines to provide the support needed for at least the next 5 years?

Can Pentagon also look at the possibility of shouldering some of the cost of non-MDE items as part of its military assistance to the Philippines? If they can afford to give munitions to the PAF, maybe its possible to provide kits, cartridges, racks, accessories, etc.?

Now the question is, how much is Saab and the Swedish Government including in their offer to sell the JAS-39C/D Gripen to the PAF? If its just aircraft + training, then we know why they are cheap then.

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper (above) scale model as presented in  PAF activity in 2018. Photos shared by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

===============

27 October 2021:

Philippine Ambassador to Sweden Maria Lumen Isleta met with officials from Saab last 15 October 2021, with Amb. Isleta commiting to assist Saab in expanding its network within the Philippine Government to allow it to market its products.

Saab's biggest opportunity at the moment is selling the JAS-39C/D MS20 Gripen multirole fighter to the Philippine Air Force, although Saab is also trying to win other projects in the AFP Modernization Program as well as gain opportunity in marketing its products to other agencies of the Philippine Government.

This includes marketing its Carl Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle system, the Saab 9LV CMS and Sea Giraffe AMB systems, unmanned underwater vehicles and mine warfare systems, air defense and air traffic control radars, the RBS-15 Gungnir anti-ship missile and RBS-70NG MANPADS, among others.

We also received confirmation from the GHQPAF that Commanding General PAF Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes is scheduled to visit Saab in Sweden, and meet with Swedish defense officials soon.

Photo credits to original source.

===============

04 November 2021:

Looks like we were right from the start when we said in our previous blogs and posts that Sweden may have issues on exporting the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C to the Philippines.

Apparently there are groups within the Swedish government that are being kept out of the loop and have issues on the possible sale to the Philippines, as there are questions on the Philippines' human rights record under the leadership of Pres. Duterte.

MaxDefense mentioned before the severity of such record especially for highly-liberal countries like Sweden. At this rate, even if Saab breaks through a sale to the Philippines, there can be other issues during the entire life cycle of the fighter aircraft that will affect their operation, especially if the Philippines won't improve its human rights record under a new administration from 2022 onwards.

More on the report from Aftonbladet,  a Swedish publication on the link below:

https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/wOxJ2M/fmv-topp-raderade-mejl-om-vapenexport-onskar-teckna-kontrakt

===============

07 November 2021:

Anyone wondering where is Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, as he was not present during CNN Philippines' "The Generals" interview?
As we mentioned several days ago, he was schedules to visit Sweden to meet with Saab officials, as well as with Swedish military officials.

He is also scheduled to visit Poland and Turkey, which are related to existing deals with both countries involving the delivery of final batch of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Poland's PZL Mielec, and with the issues regarding the delivery of T129B ATAK attack helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries.

Thanks to PAF for the information.

A pair of JAS-39C Gripen fighters. Photo credits to Swedish Air Force.

===============

22 February 2022:

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana presented a summary of accomplishments of the Department of National Defense during the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. Among those presented is this list below, which includes the 12 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.

For those who are confused: this is just a list of approved projects. But being approved only becomes relevant if appropriate funding has been provided. And for the Multi-Role Fighters, this is the main issue.

MaxDefense PH has mentioned several times in the past the Multi-Role Fighter Project has been approved for implementation since June 2018 when Horizon 2 started. The problen is not the approval itself, but the money for it.

And at the moment, time is running out. The cut-off to avoid being classified as a "midnight deal" is getting closer and there is still no positive sign that a contract can be signed soon with either Saab or Lockheed Martin.

We can just hope and pray that the government can at least fund the initial 15% worth approx. Php12 billion (if based on JAS-39C/D Gripen) to start this project before time runs out.

Photo credits to Presidential Communications Office, GRP.

==============

15 June 2022:

The Philippine Air Force's Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas Sr. recently said that Pres. Duterte already approved the acquisition of Multi-Role Fighters, although he did not say when.

Media outlets appear to report that the approval was only made recently, but in fact, Pres. Duterte approved the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project as early as June 2018, as part of the 84 projects included in the Horizon 2 phase priority projects of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Out of 84 AFP projects, 16 are from the PAF. 

So the recent announcement is not really a new development since the project has been approved 4 years ago. The only issue right now is securing the initial funding for the project to start moving.

So far, Gen. Canlas confirmed that only Saab's JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin's F-16C/D Block 70 Viper are in the offering, but has not really explained further the situation of the project.

===============

09 July 2022:

1. Contrary to reports wherein PAF spokesman Col. Mariano said the 2 contenders for MRF are F-16V Block 50/52 and JAS-39C/D Gripen, the PAF is actually looking at F-16V Block 70/72.

Sources from Lockheed Martin confirmed this to MaxDefense PH, saying that the Block 50/52 are not in production anymore, and have been superceded by the Block 70/72 variant. This means LM cannot offer the Blocl 50/52 to anyone including the PAF.

So its F-16 Block 70/72 Viper vs JAS-39C/D Gripen. Col. Mariano may have just been mistaken in his statement during the interview with PNA.

2. Contrary to Indian reports saying the HAL Tejas is being closely considered for MRF project, this is actually not too accurate.

First of, the PAF itself confirmed that the MRF project is just between the F-16 Viper and JAS-39 Gripen. Secondly, the PAF is considering the Tejas as a light combat aircraft or surface attack aircraft in the same category as the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle.

The Tejas is actually a potential competitor for the PAF's plan to procure addition LCA/SAA to beef up its capability.

3. The PAF'a recent announcement that it is looking to acquire more FA-50s, this is also not related to the MRF project.

As we have been reporting for several years now, the PAF's origonal Horizon plans call for at least 24 light combat aircraft/surface attack aircraft/lead-in fighter trainers. So far, the PAF has 12, and it is looking for a minimum of at least 12 or more.

Any plan to procure additional FA-50s or equivalent (like the Tejas) would fall under a different project and not the current or future  MRF Acquisition Project.

4. On development advances of the KAI KF-21 Boramae and potential sale to the Philippines, this isn't happening anytime soon.

KF-21 Boramae is still under development and is targeting mass production only by 2026. It would cater the requirements of the Republic of Korea Air Force first, then the Indonesian Air Force afterwards. Then there's the Ph procurement law on the product being proven and in use by the source country or two other foreign countries. So the KF-21 will only become eligible once both ROKAF and TNI-AU operate them at a certain number of years.

Any plan to procure the KF-21 would fall under a different MRF project from the one being presently pushed, most likely either Horizon 3 or beyond.

5. So why is the MRF acquisition still pending? Apparently there's 2 reasons: political and funding.

While Gripen was recommended by PAF TWG on MRF acquisition (with the TWG head all praises to Gripen's capabilities in all his internal presentations), there are still political considerations which actually is in favor of the F-16 Viper despite its being more expensive and longer delivery lead times.

The argument by the US is that they are an ally and can easily help support the PAF in sustaining the F-16, while Sweden is not an ally, which means Saab's offer is purely commercial.

As for funding, its going to be a Multi-Year funding allocation which means distributing the cost into several yearly payments (hulugan), and it appears that there are still issues especially if the Viper is selected considering it went beyond the project's budget. Its more of a need for political will to proceed with the project and support its funding.

===============

04 September 2022:

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez has been working to get 12 of Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70 Viper fighters to fit into the Philippine Air Force's budget for the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project under Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP.

He is also hoping the funding is an issue on the Philippine side, and he is hoping that the Marcos administration can do something to make it work.

This supports what MaxDefense PH have been saying since before that despite the Saab JAS-39.Gripen C offer being cheaper, there is still strong preference for the more advanced but more expensive F-16 Block 70 Viper within the PAF.

===============


01 October 2022:

During the Senate hearing on defense budget allocation for FY2023, Philippine Air Force Vice Commander MGen Cordura mentioned that the PAF needs at least 36 multi-role fighters in 3 squadrons by the end of Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program by 2028.

The composition of that is 12 fighters in 1 squadron to be procured under Horizon 2, and 24 fighters in 2 squadrons by Horizon 3.

But with Horizon 2 ending and no funding provided up until now, it looks like the procurement timeframe is already pushed back, the plan has become more difficult to attain.

===============

14 October 2022:

The Philippine Air Force's desire to procure Multi-Role Fighters have been in the pipeline for more than 40 years now, and is one of the longest desires that the Armed Forces of the Philippines in general has failed to realize. 

The current plan to procure Multi-Role Fighters is just another chapter of that story, with offers coming in from different manufacturers and governments.

For this current program, the PAF actually received offers from the usual suppliers like Lockheed Martin with their F-16V Block 70/72 Viper, Saab with their JAS-39 Gripen C and Gripen E, Dassault with their Rafale, Boeing with their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Rosoboronexport with their MiG-35 Fulcrum and Su-30 Flanker.

The PAF also received offers from new players including HAL with their Tejas Mk 1 and 1A, PAC with the JF-17 Thunder, and KAI with their FA-50 Block 20 Fighting Eagle.

And this have been continuously happening up until recently as these manufacturers, knowing that the PAF has not signed a contract with anyone yet, continuously update with improvements on their products, and other relevant information that may affect the decision makers to select their product.

But the reason why the PAF currently only have the F-16V Block 70/72 Viper and JAS-39 Gripen C in their shortlist are because of several factors:

1. The current MRF Acquisition Project's specs calls for a SINGLE-ENGINED model, due to operating and maintenance cost issues. This effectively took out the MiG-35 Fulcrum and Su-30 Flanker, the Rafale, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

2. Second is the decision to have a fighter that is an improvement over the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle, which means removing "light combat aircraft" from the shortlist like the FA-50 Block 20, the Tejas 1 and 1A, and the JF-17 Thunder, which are instead considered for the separate SAA/LIFT Acquisition Project, and not the MRF Acquisition Project.

3. While Saab is offering the newer JAS-39 Gripen E, the decision to push and offer the older Gripen C model was based on catering to the PAF's budget, delivery timelines, and requirements. The Gripen E was more expensive, and due to prioritization of earlier orders from Sweden and Brazil, Saab won't be able to meet the PAF's required dates.

4. While the F-16V Block 70/72 Viper was more expensive, it was due to the fact that Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon offered to provide a comprehensive logistics support, training, spares, and munition to go with the aircraft, jacking up the price beyond the PAF's budget. The Viper's delivery date is also getting longer as more countries order the fighter, but that is a being addressed by the US Government by offering EDA used F-16s to allow the PAF to gain experience on the fighter while the new aircraft are being made.

5. It is true that Boeing has been offering their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, but that is not something new. Boeing's offer is comprehensive and is being updated every few months, as the company is not just offering the Super Hornet to the PAF, but also the AH-64E Apache Guardian, the CH-47F Chinook, and missiles like the Harpoon. An offer remains an offer if not taken seriously by the PAF.

6. Dassault has also raised up the bar on their offer. Despite being expensive even compared to the already expensive offer from Lockheed Martin for Vipers, the French Government has offered to provide soft loan financing for the Rafales, as well as for their Scorpene-class submarines, Gowind-class corvettes, Frégate de défense et d'intervention frigates, and even FREMM/Aquitaine-class large frigates.

It remains to be seen if the PAF would change its specs to allow TWIN ENGINE models to be shortlisted. But that means a potential increase in cost, which is exactly the reason why the PAF has no MRFs until now. Deciding to procure a more expensive fighter at this point does not make any sense.

For now, the ball is actually with the Philippine Government, which has failed to provide the necessary funding for the project to proceed as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP. Delaying it further would force the PAF to look for alternative projects like prioritizing the SAA/LIFT Acquisition Project. With Poland signing up for 48 FA-50 Block 20 Fighitng Eagles, and Malaysia expected to order at least 18 units as well, the queue is getting long for the FA-50 Fighting Eagle and delivery may take longer than when the PAF ordered its first batch back in 2013-2014.




Photos for reference only, credits to original sources.

===============

03 December 2022:

Reports from Sweden mentioned that the Swedish Government has given the green light to allow the export of Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters to the Philippines, which ia being negotiated with thr DND under a US$1 billion deal.

This is after Pres. Duterte has finished his term, which the Swedish Government found to be the stumbling block of any arms export to the Philippines due to his poor human rights record.
But apparently the Swedish Arms Export agency Inspectorate of Strategic Products does not want to confirm or deny due the approval of export due to state and industrial secrecy.

MaxDefense Philippines previously reported that 12 new JAS-39C/D fighters are being offered, with a potential for 2 more new-build aircraft being added to sweeten the deal as Saab faces competion from Lockheed Martin's F-16C/D Block 70 Viper.

So far Saab's offer is far cheaper than Lockheed Martin although several factors like being much more advanced fighters, interoperability with an ally and a huge support market lean towards the F-16 Viper.

Three JAS-39C/D Gripens of the Royal Thai Air Force. Photo credits to Royal Thai Air Force.


===============

18 December 2022:

Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas confirmed during a PAF event that he led a group to Sweden to try out the Saab JAS-39 Gripen D just a few days ago.

He also confirmed that Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was able to talk to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the sidelines of the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in Belgium, which may include discussions about the offer of Gripen to the Philippines.

Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas posted these photos in his social media page showing him in Sweden trying out the Saab JAS-39 Gripen D as a passenger, and flown by a Swedish pilot.

These were most likely from the Swedish mission he mentioned in a PAF event that we posted about earlier, with the photo background showing snowy surfaces, which means it was taken during Swedish winter which is around this time of the year.

MaxDefense PH was first to report a few years ago that Saab offered 12 new-built JAS-39C/D Gripens in MS20 configuration, with Saab adding 2 more for a total of 14 fighters,  based on the Php61.2 billion budget for the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project.

Saab is competing with Lockheed Martin which offered their latest new-build F-16C/D Block 70 Viper, although the offer was around US$2.3 billion for 12 aircraft. MaxDefense PH was also first to report that the US Government offered to provide between 2 to 6 additional F-16C/D Block 30 Fighting Falcon fighters from EDA to allow PAF pilots to start training and operating fighters in preparation for the new Vipers. These Block 30 fighters can also be upgraded to Block 70 standard similar to what Taiwan did.

Price wise, the Gripen is the obvious winner. But it remains to be seen what the US might do considering its plans to increase defense assistance to the Philippines especially with EDCA now back in the priority programs, and its expansion being discussed and most likely approved by the Marcos administration.


Photo credits to Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas' social media page.

==============


28 December 2022:

Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Annika Thunborg rendered a courtesy call to Department of National Defense OIC Senior Usec. Jose Faustino Jr at Camp Aguinaldo on 21 December 2022.

Discussions were on defense relations between the Philippines and Sweden, with the possible acquisition of Saab JAS-39 Gripen C fighter aircraft topping the agenda.

It would be remembered that reports from Sweden points to the approval by the Swedish Government to export the JAS-39 Gripen to the Philippines with improving human rights situation after the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr also had talks with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Krisersson at the sidelines of the EU-ASEAM Commemorative Summit in Brussel, Belgium last 14 December 2022, while former Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas visited Saab and had a piggyback ride on a JAS-39D Gripen of the Swedish Air Force also within December 2022.

So far MaxDefense Philippines has not seen any confirmation from Philippine Government documents on the availability of funding for the initial costs of the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project of the PAF for FIscal Year 2023, although there are unprogrammed funding that may be made available for such purchase, depending on Pres. Marcos' approval. So it is still possible for the MRF Project to push through in 2023.

It would be remembered that Saab offered 12+2 JAS-39C/D Gripens to fit the PAF's budget of Php62.3 billion for the project, while Lockheed Martin's offer for 12 F-16C/D Block 70 Viper is more than Php120 billion but includes a large spare parts and sustainment package that will allow the PAF to have worry-free operations for several years, and ammunition.
Saab's offer only includes a basic ILS package that isn't comparable to the American offer, but is definitely cheaper.



Photo credits to DND.

===============

31 December 2022:

A European defense page reported that Saab offered a lease option to the Philippines for its JAS-39 Gripen C/D fighter aircraft, similar to those accepted by Czech Republic and Hungary.
This is to male it easier for the Philippines to afford having fighters for the Philippine Air Force as funding continues to be the biggest problem.

While a lease option may have been made, MaxDefense Philippines believes that the Philippine Government may not take the option, and instead will make ways to find the needed funding for the project.

This could be through unprogrammed funding for Fiscal Year 2023, which can be tapped to produce the 15% initial funding for the project to allow the purchase of 12+2 JAS-39C/D Gripen, the IRIS-T and Meteor BVRAAM, and the RBS-15F anti-ship missile, among others.
MaxDefense Philippines reported back in 2018 that the MRF Acquisition Project has an approved budget of Php61.2 billion, while the MRF Munition Systems Acquisition Project has an approved budget of Php11.996 billion for a total of Php73.196 billion.

===============

09 January 2023:

It has become clear that the MRF Acquisition Project did not push through in 2021 not just because the Philippine Government failed to allocate funds for the project. 

Recent updates from Sweden confirmed that an approval by the Swedish Government to export the Gripen to the Philippines was not made during the term of former President Duterte due to his notorious human rights record, 

Swedish approval was only made during the term of current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr due to improvement in the country's human rights records with the new leadership.
Now that the issue of approval by Sweden has been done, the next issue would be the funding.

MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from numerous sources from the DND, PAF, and recently from a high-ranking cabinet official of the Marcos administration that the DND has resubmitted its request for approval of the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, still based on the JAS-39C/D Gripen proposal. 

===============

09 March 2023:

Despite the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen being selected by the Philippine Air Force's Technical Working Group for its Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project, this has become a case of "until contract is signed, expect anything to happen".

We received word from several sources that the push forward on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and Philippine defense departments have bolstered efforts to gain support and influence to support the selection of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Viper.

The EDCA is said to help make it easier for the US to support F-16 operations and sustainment of the Philippines since it is their country's product, and their own supply chain supports F-16s and its subsystems.

The US cannot provide any support for the JAS-39 Gripem except for emergency requirements for ammunition, since the Gripen is not in service with the US military, and has subsystems that are not even in the US military's own supply chains.

Also, EDCA may be a backdoor for the US to reduce the overall cost of the F-16 Viper since many of the items included in the overall package that pushed the Viper's price beyond the PAF's budget  could be provided by the US separately or procured separately by the Philippines through mechanisms under EDCA.

According to our sources within the circle of Pres. Marcos, there are indeed people close to the president, as well as lawmakers and people with influence that are advising Pres. Marcos  to negotiate with the US as part of improving military ties and as deterence to China, to get the Vipers PLUS several earlier versions of the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon as interim while newbuilds are still under construction as part of a friendly and more affordable package that includes Foreign Military Financing option.

It remains to be seen though if these backdoor moves will derail ongoing negotiations with Saab and the Swedish Government for the procurement of the 14 JAS-38C/D Gripen using unfinished airframes paid for by Sweden a few years ago.


===============

12 April 2023:

As expected, it looks like EDCA and the closer defense ties between the Philippines and the United States will have an effect on the Philippine Air Force's Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project.

As part of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the Philippine and US Foreign Affairs and Defense Secretaries attended by Philippine Foreign Affairs Sec. Enrique Manalo and National Defense OIC Senior USec . Carlito Galvez, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, among those touched was the fast tracking of acquisition of Multirole Fighters for the PAF.

The official statement from the meeting include the following:

"Meanwhile, both sides underscored the importance of fast-tracking discussions on an acquisition plan for a fleet of multi-role fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force...."

While it did not specifically say buying American fighters, it is obvious that the US will support the Philippines in procuring and attaining a fleet of American-made fighter aircraft.

The point that the MRF has made it into the official statement shows how important the need for MRFs are not just in the Philippines' point of view, but also that of the Americans who are guaranteeing our defense against foreign aggression.

MaxDefense Philippines have always been saying that politics has become a key element in the PAF's MRF Acquisition, which could benefit Lockheed Martin's bid to supply the F-16 Block 70 Viper to the PAF including a commitment to supply a few F-16C/D Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcons from US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) to assist in immediately building up air defense capability and familiarization of our air and ground crew while waiting for the new F-16 Vipers to be manufactured and delivered.

And we have always been saying that EDCA provisions as well as the security situation in the Indo-Pacific has pushed the US to consider providing more fighters from US EDA stocks aside from those committed as part of new build Viper deal.

While the DND is still in discussion with Sweden and Saab for their JAS-39C/D Gripen, it doesn't make sense anymore in terms of logistics, maintenance and training to have them if the PAF will still receive F-16s from the US, with or without the Viper deal. 

Hopefully the US push to assist the PAF build its MRF fleet would start immediately.

===============

04 June 2023:

Related to the recent signing of a Defense Materiel Cooperation MOU between the Philippines and Sweden, the Philippine Air Force led by its current Commanding General LtGen Stephen Parreño visited Sweden recently, specifically to visit Saab's facility including looking at their products, and engagement with the Swedish Air Force.

The photos show the team looking at the Saab JAS-39D Gripen which is the current frontrunner for the PAF's Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project, as well as the Saab Erieye airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) system which is being considered for the PAF's upcoming AEW&C Aircraft Acquisition project as part of Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP.

There is a strong possibility for Saab to win the 1st phase of the MRF Acquisition Project due to budget considerations. The DND has only increased the budget for MRF Acquisition by a few billion pesos which is still not enough to afford the more capable F-16 Block 70/72 Viper.
Saab offered to sell 14 JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters to the PAF with the budget they have, plus an unspecified number of air-to-air missiles including IRIS-T short range and Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, and unspecified type of air-to-ground munitions including stand-off missiles.

What worries us is the lack of commitment for a longer logistics support for the aircraft which is reflected by its low purchase cost. It will depend on Sweden on how good they can assist in supporting the Gripens once operated by the Philippine Air Force.

So far, the JAS-39 Gripen even in its C/D variant is said to be more capable than most traditional Chinese or Russian fighters, including against the Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 Flanker family. 

The sale of the Gripens may not be the last for the PAF's dream of acquiring fighter aircraft, as it has separate discussions with the US for the potential transfer of refurbished F-16 Block 40 fighters, as the PAF plans to grow its fighter fleet despite limited procurement funds in the next few years.



Photo credits to Philippine Air Force.

===============

12 June 2023:

With the current developments especially the improved defense & economic relations between the Philippines & Sweden, it is becoming apparent that the DND still aims to go with the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen for the Philippine Air Force's MRF Acquisition Project. Here's why: 

1. Price - the PAF's budget for MRF has practically unchanged, which means only Saab can meet the budget vs quantity needed. Lockheed Martin's offer for 12 aircraft, sans the other package inclusions, is still beyond the PAF's budget. At best it can only afford 6 Vipers.

2. Delivery - apparently Saab can deliver the first 4 aircraft in less than 1 year from NTP release. Meanwhile Lockheed Martin can't do the same, and instead may only do a hot transfer of 2 to 4 F-16 Block 30 that they committed to provide which may take a year or more to transfer to PAF.

Despite this, it appears that its not the end of the Philippine Air Force's attempt to have the F-16 fighter in its arsenal. The PH-US Security Sector Assistance Roadmap is still open for options to obtain used F-16s, probably Block 30 or 40 for transfer to the PAF.

MaxDefense Philippines mentioned before, the US remains open to the transfer of used F-16s as grants,, but may require the Philippines to pay for mid life extensions & upgrades using American companies and service providers. In this wat, the PAF may still have the chance to have F-16 Block 70/72 Vipers in its arsenal.

But this means the Philippines will need to shell out money for the upgrades, and this may cost north of US$600 million for 12 aircraft. The US may assist by using FMF to shoulder part of the costs, or provide loans to assist in the payment of the upgrade works.

Then there's the question on the capacity of the Philippine government to sustain a larger fighter fleet. The PAF can only sustain depending on how much support it gets from the Philippine govt. Can a fleet of 38 fighters composed of 14 JAS-39C/D Gripens and 24 F-16C/D/V Fighting Falcons & Vipers be sustained?

In the original Horizon 1 to 3 target plans back in 2013, the target was for the PAF to have 48 Multirole Fighters and 24 Lead-in Fighter Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft by 2028. The PAF should insist the need for funding to sustain such numbers if it wants to attain a Minimum Credible Defense Posture with 38 MRFs and 12 LIFT/LCAs.

A pair of single-seat Gripens and Fighting Falcons (older variant of Viper) together in a formation. Photo taken from F16.net

===============

21 June 2023:

The Philippine Air Force held again an industry exhibit which was participated by companies that are vying to win contracts under the PAF's modernization program.

As expected, Saab and Lockheed Martin are both present with their JAS-39 Gripen C and F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, respectively.

Saab also made information available to PAF on their Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft in anticipation of the PAF's upcoming AEW&C Aircraft Acquisition Program (which we'll discuss more in a separate post).

Korea Aerospace Industries is also present and made a pitch to supply 2 squadrons of new upgraded FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft and upgrading the PAF's existing FA-50PG fleet, and also pitching the KF-21 Boramae fighter for future MRF requirements.



Photo credits to Frances Mangosing.

===============

22 June 2023:

The Philippine Air Force's Multirole Fighter Acquisition project is becoming an interesting competition between Lockheed Martin, Saab and Korea Aerospace Industries.

With only around US$1.4 billion to use including the budget to procure the necessary munitions like BVRAAM, High Off-boresight SRAAM, stand-off and anti-ship missiles, and targeting pods, the wiggle room is limited due to low budget.

Lockheed Martin's original offer of 12 new F-16C/D Block 70 Vipers together with several rounds of AIM-120C7 AMRAAMs, spares and support package for 5 years, costs twice the PAF's MRF budget, and now it appears that they have reduced the package inclusions so the PAF could acquire at least 7 F-16 Vipers. The US Govt is also throwing in between 2 to 5 F-16C/D Block 30 or 40 Fighting Falcons for hot transfer as part of the deal, to allow immediate training and familiarization with the type.

Saab is offering 14 new JAS-39C/D Gripens, with a basic integrated logistics support package for 1 or 2 years. It remains to be confirmed if Saab will upgrade these aircraft with the current program that is scheduled for implementation with Sweden's own JAS-39C/D Gripens.

Korea Aerospace Industries appears to fit rhe sale of 24 upgraded FA-50 Block 20 (or Block 70 based on their new Block classification) Fighting Eagle LCA, and may even afford the upgrade of the PAF's existing FA-50PH aircraft to Block 70 standard. While not considered as real Multirole Fighters, the FA-50 is being touted to be a small MRF that can do at least 70-80% of what the F-16 Block 70 Viper can do, minus the munitions carrying capacity, range, and power.

Separately there are discussions between the US and Philippine Governments on the transfer as grants of 12 to 24 used F-16C/D Block 30 Fighting Falcons as part of the US Security Sector Assistance Roadmap, which could be upgraded to F-16C/D Block 70/72 Viper standards using PH govt funds and/or US FMF.

Here are out points of view regarding these developments:
1. Saab can deliver the 14 JAS-39C/D Gripens the fastest compared to KAI and Lockheed Martin, considering the production schedules of all 3 companies. Not only are the Girpens 70% complete and just needed to reach 100% by getting a confirmed buyer, but both KAI and LM have huge orders that will place any Philippine order at the end of the production line. Saab confirmed that they can deliver a first batch of 3 or 4 Gripens within 1 year from signing of Notice to Proceed, with the rest delivered in 2 more batches every 6-8 months from then.

2. While the F-16 Viper is the most capable in the selection, its price is really a roadblock, and getting just 6 or 7 aircraft won't give the PAF the capability it needs due to availability issues. If the US and Philippines can finalize the deal to transfer used F-16s and convert them to Block 70/72 Viper standards, it seems logical to also award the new MRF project to Lockheed Martin. But one question that might pop out is if its more logical to just get the used F-16s and upgrade them all to Viper standards without buying new production Vipers?

3. A possible option is for the PAF to acquire the JAS-39C/D Gripens as a quick and stop gap solution while the US and Philippines iron out the deal on transferring used F-16s and converting then to Block 70 Vipers, since the Gripens can start deliveries by 2024 , and the F-16 transfer and upgrade may take 4 years before the first aircraft can be delivered. But this means having 2 different MRFs in small quantities which makes logistics and training more complicated.

4. Another possible option is to go with KAI's offer for 24 new FA-50 Block 70s, while still finalizing a deal between US and Philippines for the transfer & upgrade of used F-16s to Viper standard. This is easier for logistics and training since the PAF already uses the FA-50PH. But again, the FA-50s might take longer to deliver than the Gripens, while there is still a question of them being able to address the threats in the West Philippine Sea due to their shorter legs. Using extra fuel tanks means less munitions carrying capacity although the 300-gallon center line tank may help at bit. Also aerial refuelling capability is absent due to lack of tanker aircraft, or if there will be it could be limited.

5. Then there's the question of affordability for the Philippines to upgrade used F-16s to Viper standards. Upgrading 24 old Block 30 or 40 fighters to Block 70/72 would definitely go way past US$1 billion mark. Can the Philippines afford this on top of buying new MRFs? If not, the US may not even consider transferring those used fighters as it is, or only transfer a handful for goodwill. And if no or few used F-16s arrive, it means the PAF will end up with only the 12 FA-50s it has now, and whatever offer KAI, LM or Saab has made.

The PAF really needs to decide very soon on these offers, especially that our allies and partners believe that a war in our region due to China's aggressive actions may happen in the next 5 years or less. The Philippines will be caught again with its pants down, just like 82 years ago.



The FA-50 Block 20 Fighting Eagle, JAS-39C/D Gripen, and F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. Photo credits to original sources.

===============

18 July 2023:

The DND has also indirectly but obviously confirned in its Bids and Awards Committee 2 update as of 7 July 2023 that for the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force, the DND has already selected the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C/D is indeed the fighter of choice.

According to the document, the DND is only awaiting the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) mechanism between the Philippines and Sweden, which indirectly points out that Sweden will supply the Multirole Fighters.

MaxDefense PH has mentioned as early as 2021 that Saab was selected by the Philippine Air Force's Technical Working Group and its offer used as basis for approval of the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project. But it was delayed by opposition in Sweden's parliament, with the export to the Philippines  ultimately approved only early this year.

Saab has offered 10 single-seat JAS-39C and 4 two-seat JAS-39D Gripen fighters updated to MS20+ configuration. Reports by others that an Erieye AEW&C was included are false according to PAF, DND and defense industry sources.



===============

04 October 2023:


Prior to this, the Philippine Air Force has selected the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, wherein 14 were offered despite the specifications calling for a minimum of 12 aircraft. 

If the PAF changes the quantity of the fighters to be acquired, it could spell doom for Saab and Sweden to sell the 14 new but unfinished airframes being kept by Saab for sale to interested buyers. Since there are only 14 airframes available, a change in quantity, which we believe could be between 24 to 36), closes the door to Saab - umless the PAF and DND will do a mixed procurement and take advantage of Saab's ability to deliver the Gripens in less than 2 years.

MaxDefense PH already mentioned before that there are ongoing negotiations for used F-16s to be procured/granted for the PAF. Since brand new F-16 Block 70 Vipers are expensive and have a long delivery lead time, it is highly possible that the DND and PAF are looking at mixed procurement of new and used F-16s.

Another possibility is the procurement of 24 to 36 FA-50 Block 20 Fighting Eagles from South Korea, while also negotiating for used F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from the US.

F-16s and FA-50s. Photo credits to original source.


===============

05 January 2024:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines has confirmed that Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed the Re-Horizon 3 Phase procurement plan as of December 2023, which includes a revised plan on the procurement of multi-role fighters.

In the meantime, the current MRF Acquisition Project remains, although it appears to be part of a greater plan to procure more MRFs than what is currently planned.

Based on the DND and PAF's plans, the procurement of Saab's JAS-39C/D Gripen remains the top choice although there are already indications that other options are also being eyed.

So far, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel "Babes" Romualdez have confirmed to the media that the United States Government has no objections for the Philippines to procure F-16 fighter aircraft, both new or used, either from the US or from 3rd party countries.

Ambassador Romualdez as well as Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has confirmed that the US has even recommended the Philippines to look at 3rd party countries from Europe like Norway, Denmark, as well as Israel since they are retiring their F-16s and could be available for immediate transfer.

The European F-16s are older F-16A/B Block 10/15 Fighting Falcons, but have been upgraded to MLU standard that brings them close to capabilities as the newer F-16C/D Block 50/52 variant.

These could be quick solutions by the US since waiting for US-sourced EDA F-16s may take time to be ready since they will still undergo modernization and rehabilitation works that might take at least 2 years.


The US Government has apparently recommended that the Philippines look at F-16s being retired by European countries like Norway (top) and Denmark (above). These are older F-16A/B Fighting Falcon models but have been updated to MLU standard said to be close in capability to the newer F-16C/D Block 50/52 models. Photo credits to F-16.net.


===============

15 January 2024:

The Department of National Defense released an updated Procurement Moinitoring Report as of as of 04 January 2024, summarizing the status of ongoing projects under the AFP Modernization Program.

Among those reported was on the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition, which is said to still be awaiting ratification of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sweden.

The MoU pertains to the MoU on Defense Cooperation signed by the Philippines and Sweden back in June 2023. 

This is probably one of the reasons why the DND under the new leadership of Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro has been looking again at other options, as Sweden appears to be the delaying factor for the implementation of the project. 

The ratification of the MoU is most likely been held due to reasons related to the Philippines' human rights issues during the administration of former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, and awaiting for moves from the current Marcos administration to make significant improvements in the Philippines' overall human rights condition.

It would be remembered that the DND has revised plans to procure the Multi-Role Fighters, which may affect the ongoing negotiations with Sweden. The current Re-Horizon 3 procurement plan, as well as recent pronouncements from the DND and other government officials are publicly available proof of these potential changes.

Screenshot from DND PMR.


===============

17 February 2024:

The Embassy of Sweden in Manila confirmed on 15 February 2024 that the MoU for Cooperation on Defense Acquisition between Sweden and the Philippines was signed on 03 June 2023 and was ratified by the Swedish Government on the same day, while the Philippines ratified the MoU on September 2023. Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines was tagged by the Embassy of Sweden in Manila it their post.

This is in contrast to the DND's Procurement Monitoring Report posted as of 04 January 2024 which states that the DND is awaiting for the ratification of the MoU with Sweden.

Also, the DND on 16 February 2024 confirmed that a meeting will take place with their Swedish counterparts to finalize the Implementing Arrangement for Defense Materiel Procurement on March 2024, which will be basis for procurement by the Philippines of Swedish-made weapon systems including the Multi-Role Fighters from Saab, and ammunition like the RBS-15 Mk. IV air-launched anti-ship missiles.


Posts made by the Embassy of Sweden in Manila (top) and DND (above) which clarifies the MoU on Cooperation on Defense Acquisition between Sweden and the Philippines as well as confirming the finalization of Implementing Arrangement for Defense Materiel Procurement by March 2024. Photo credits to Embassy of Sweden in Manila and DND.


===============

First edit and release: 19 April 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource


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