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Fighter / Surface Attack Aircraft / LIFT Munitions Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

 As part of efforts to equip its fleet of KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft with a basic ait-to-air missile capability, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has embarked on the acquisition of short-range infra-red guided air-to-air missiles under the Horizon 1 phase Priority Projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The project, called the Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer (F/SAA/LIFT) Munitions Acquisition Project Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles, is among the four sub-projects allocated for the acquisition of munitions and countermeasures for the FA-50PH fleet.

The missiles could also be used by other incoming air assets of the PAF's Air Defense Command, and can even be used by the existing fleet of SIAI Marchetti AS-211 Warrior jet trainers with a few modifications required, as well as the future Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft that will be selected by the PAF.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder family was already leading on the PAF's evaluation early on even before procurement phase started. Credits to original source of photo.


The PAF's current and only short-range air-to-air missile in its inventory was the Raytheon AIM-9B Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile acquired from the US in the late 1950s-early 1960s (depending on which sources or publications).

These are first-generation missiles that were first armed with the PAF's fleet of F-86F Sabre and F-86D Sabre Dog 1st generation jet-powered fighters, and later on with the F-5A/B Freedom Fighter and F-8H/P Crusader 2nd generation fighters.

Reports surfaced that the PAF undertook a modest upgrade of some of the remaining AIM-9B missiles in the late 1990s, and were armed by the PAF's F-5A/B Freedom Fighter light fighter and SIAI Marchetti AS-211 Warrior armed trainer jets, although this did not made the missile any better than the current models in service with other air forces.

With the introduction of the KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, the PAF is then pushed to equip them with a set of modest munitions including air-to-air and air-to-ground guided and unguided types. Evaluation was made by the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) for the F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Acquisition Project and found the AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder to be the best balance between capability and cost. It is not the latest in use by other air forces but it is a current variant that is used mostly by 4th generation fighters like the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon.

Negotiations proceeded with American arms manufacturer Raytheon, with a Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Raytheon's German partnership Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH. by mid-2017. This is because Germany's Diehl remains as the only AIM-9L/I-1 manufacturer as Raytheon itself has moved on to newer variants of the Sidewinder missile family including the modern AIM-9X off-boresight variant.

Post qualification inspections were conducted by the Department of National Defense's Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC) and PAF's TWG on the first week of July 2017, and a Contract was signed early August 2019. 

The Notice to Proceed (NTP) was handed over to Diehl Raytheon by 31 August 2017, signalling the start of production of the missiles for the PAF. Delivery was slated by 2019, although this was delayed due to several reasons.

Delivery was started in 2021, and was completed in 2022. 

Project Summary:

F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 14 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)

* Quantity: Classified

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Project of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the US through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0012038 dated 08 August 2017, released 09 August 2017

* Winning Proponent: Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH (Germany)

Product for Delivery:  "a few hundred" Raytheon-Diehl AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missile. Exact quantity not provided due to OPSEC reasons.

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
20 June 2015 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFFSAALIFTMunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50MunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50SRAAMAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in 2017. Fully delivered as of 2022, although operationalization appears to have been made either late 2022 or early 2023.  PROJECT COMPLETED.

U P D A T E S:

04 September 2017:

The SARO for the F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Acquisition Project Lot 1 was confirmed to be released as of 09 August 2017, with a total amount of Php1,016,734,088.00. The point that a SARO was already released means that a contract is well underway.


13 June 2019:

The DND's spokesperson Arsenio Andolong reiterated that the PAF will be receiving AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles for its FA-50PH fleet, and mentioned that the missiles will be delivered within 2019.

He also confirmed that all missiles are brand new fresh from the factory coming from Diehl Raytheon.

A ROKAF FA-50 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. Credits to original source of photo.

12 September 2019:

One of our contributors has shared a photo to MaxDefense Philippines, of PAF personnel handling AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder missiles to arm a PAF FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft.

Upon checking with sources, it was confirmed that the said missiles are actually dummy rounds used for training purposes.

PAF personnel handling dummy AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder missiles. Photo shared to MaxDefense by one of our contributor.


12 July 2020:

MaxDefense received word that another batch of missiles were delivered by Diehl Raytheon earlier this year.

But there seems to be a problem. Apparently Diehl Raytheon pushed for the delivery to be made without the batch testing done in Germany. Diehl Raytheon officials were confident that the testing would have a positive result.

It turns out that testing was done in the Philippines, and the overall result was a failure. Thus the Philippine Air Force cannot accept the batch of missiles delivered.

It still needs to be confirmed if the PAF was able to push back the delivered batch to Diehl Raytheon, or if another testing was conducted to further verify if the missiles can be declared a failure or pass.

Nonetheless, Diehl Raytheon confirmed that they will complete deliveries of the missiles within 2020.


20 March 2023:

Despite deliveries of the AIM-9L/I-1 missiles as early as 2020, it will be noted that the Philippine Air Force only started flying their FA-50s with the missile starting in this year's Cope Thunder Philippines 2023 exercises earlier this month.

Previously FA-50s can only be seen with the AIM-9L/I-1 missiles on the ground, at times even seen with the older AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles that were first procured by the PAF in the mid 1950s. 

If not, mock-ups of the AIM-9L/I-1 were also used.

With this development, it can be said that the delivery of the AIM-9L/I-1 including its formal induction and operationalization were only made recently.

One of the PAF's FA-50PH Fighting Eagle seen with AIM-9L/I-1 missiles on its wingtips during Exercise Cope Thunder Philippines 2023. Photo credits to PAF.


With the Diehl Defense AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short-range IR air-to-air missile already delivered and formally operational with the Philippine Air Force, MaxDefense officially consider the Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-in Fighter Trainer Munitions Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 12 September 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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