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Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

 The Philippine Air Force is in the market for new trainer aircraft which would be used for intermediate-advance pilot training.


The Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Project was raised by the PAF to realize this requirement, and was included in the Horizon 2 phase's priority projects approved in-principle by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

A KT-1 Woongbi operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force. Photo credits to Wikipedia.


Summary:


Trainer Aircraft Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 02 July 2021.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (5th Fighter Wing or Air Education Training Command)

Quantity: 12 aircraft minimum


* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php4,200,000,000.00 (approx. US$86 million)


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

* Source of FundingGAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) process.

* SARO Release:
 TBA


* Winning Proponent:
 TBA, expected to be Korea Aerospace Industries

Product for Delivery: TBA, expected to be KAI KT-1 or KA-1 Woongbi


* Contract Price:
 TBA

* Residual Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:  #PAFTrainerAircraftAcquisition

Status: PAF TWG selected KAI's KT-1/KA-1 Woongbi, recommendation approved by CGPAF and submitted to DND. MaxDefense PH received confirmation that SND already approved procurement of Trainer Aircraft based on KAI's offer.


Overview:

Th new aircraft would be replacing the SIAI Marchetti AS.211 jet trainer, which has been in use with the PAF since the early 1990s. The type is already entering 30 years of service with the PAF in the next couple of years, although it is believed that the PAF would keep the AS.211 flying together with the new trainer for jet proficiency training and for low-intensity combat and surveillance roles.

One of the PAF's AS.211 Warrior jet trainer aircraft.

The aircraft would be slotted between the SF-260F basic trainer, and the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft which also doubles as  lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) for future fighter pilots.

12 units are planned for procurement with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php4.2 billion. It is planned to be procured through Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA), and could be a Government-to-Government (G2G) transaction with the winning manufacturer's country of origin.

MaxDefense PH is still confirming if these new aircraft would be assigned with the 5th Fighter Wing's 105th Fighter Training Squadron at Basa Air Base in Pampanga, or with the Air Education and Training Command in Fernando Air Base in Batangas. Since it is expected to replace the AS.211, it is possible that it would be with the 5th Fighter Wing.


The AS.211 is employed as a light attack aircraft and patrol aircraft, and is capable of using assorted munitions including AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and Paveway II laser guided bombs (both not shown), free fall bombs, and rocket pods. Photo credits to Peter Ho.


Aircraft Models for Consideration:

According to MaxDefense Philippines air force and defense industry sources, the PAF Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Trainer Acquisition Project were looking at several options, which include the following aircraft models:

1. Embraer A-29B Super Tucano - the PAF already operates the A-29B in the light attack and close air support role with the PAF's 15th Strike Wing, and is a practical choice for commonality. But it was said to be too capable for the trainer role, and all the added capability also increases the overall price of the aircraft.


A-29B Super Tucano of the Philippine Air Force. Photo credits to AFP Public Information Office.


2. Beechcraft Textron T-6C Texan II - currently one of the most widely used basic-advance trainer aircraft in the world, with the US military itself using it for their training requirements. The AT-6 Wolverine lost to the A-29B Super Tucano for the PAF's Close Air Support Aircraft program, although it is still pushing the T-6C for trainer requirements due to issues on the A-29B as trainer aircraft as mentioned above. Thailand ordered the trainer and light attack variants of the T-6.

The AT-6 Wolverine light attack and T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft. Photo credits to original source.


2, KAI KT-1 Woongbi - South Korea has been very active in marketing their defense products to the Philippines, and the KT-1 has been one of the first products they started marketing as early as the early 2000s. And with the sale of the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle years ago, KAI has established a foothold in the Philippine Air Force and DND. Within the ASEAN region, Indonesia is currently using the KT-1B.

The KT-1T, operated by the Turkish Air Force. Photo credits to original source.


4. Aero Vodochody L-39NG - one of the jet trainer aircraft offered to the PAF, the L-39NG is the latest version of the successful L-39 Albatross family of advanced jet trainer aircraft. The L-39NG makes use of the latest avionics systems and uses the American-made Williams International FJ44 turbofan engine. Vietnam ordered 12 units, which will start delivery by 2023.

The L-39NG jet trainer aircraft. Photo credits to Armada International.


5. Pilatus PC-21 - this is the latest trainer aircraft from Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft, known for the  successful PC-7 and PC-9 advanced trainers. The PC-21 is said to be the most advanced in the selections despite using a turboprop engine. But it is also one of the more expensive options, which could be am issue for the a stingy market like the Philippines. Currently, Singapore uses the PC-21 for advanced flight training.

Two PC-21 trainer aircraft of the Swiss Air Force. Photo credits to Swiss Air Force.


6. Leonardo Aermacchi M-345 High Efficiency Trainer (HET) - part of Leonardo's family of trainer aircraft, the M-345HET is a latest variant of the original SIAI Marchetti S.211 jet trainer already in service with the PAF. It uses a similar but improved airframe but with everything else updated to the latest technology include glass cockpit, more powerful but efficient turbofan engines, among others. No regional air force uses the type although the Italian Air Force is a major user.

The Aermacchi M-345 HET from Leonardo. Photo credits to Leonardo.


PAF Selects its Next Trainer Aircraft:

In 2020, MaxDefense Philippines started liaising with PAF sources on what they are looking for as their next trainer aircraft. 

Apparently, groups within the service are divided if they would prefer a jet-powered aircraft, or will they return to turboprop-powered aircraft models, considering the AS.211 Warrior is already powered by turbofan jet propulsion. 

So far, only the Aero Vodochody L-39NG and the Leonardo Aermacchi M-345HET were the jet-powered offers, so if the PAF selects a jet-powered trainer, we can definitely find it easier to see what they could have chosen.

But by late 2020, we received confirmation that the PAF TWG prefers a turboprop-powered trainer aircraft, taking out both the L-39NG and M-345HET from the shortlist.

By 2021, MaxDefense Philippines started receiving word from several sources that the PAF TWG has identified its top choice for the project, and has began negotiations with the top selection. And it was identified as KAI's KT-1 Woongbi, with another aircraft model believed to be Beechcraft Textron's T-6C Texan II coming in second.

This has become more apparent when we received confirmation last June 2021 that the TWG's recommendation was already approved and signed by PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, and has already been submitted to the DND, with Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana approving the recommendation for submission to Malacanang and the Department of Budget and Management.

As usual, this would be dependent on DBM if funds are available, and with Malacanang for final approval.


The KAI KT-1 Woongbi as seen in KAI's official brochure, which was also posted as part of the PAF Symposium 2021 Virtual Showroom. Photo credits to KAI.

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First edit and release: 02 July 2021 (through MaxDefense Philippines)
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource



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