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Multi-Role Fighter Munitions Systems Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

As the Philippine Air Force proceed with plans to acquire a new Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) to become its most capable combat aircraft, requirements for systems related to the new aircraft are also pushing forward.

This includes the acquisition of air-launched munitions consisting of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and smart bombs which the MRF are capable of delivering.

This would all be acquired under the PAF's Multi-Role Fighter Munition Systems Acquisition Project, which is a project under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The MRF Munition Systems would be acquired almost at the same time as the MRF itself, although there are several lots within the project which could be awarded to different companies depending on the decision of the PAF.

The Saab JAS-39C Gripen with its mix of munition load-out. Photo credits to Flying Knights @ Instagram.

An example of potential load-outs of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, this example with the Turkish Air Force. Photo credits to the Turkish Air Force.


Project Summary:

Multi-Role Fighter Munition Systems Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 31 December 2023.

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

* Quantity: several lots

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Priority Projects of RAFPMP, moved to Re-Horizon 3 Phase.

* Project ABC: originally Php11,995,830,000.00, set for increase as project is shifted to Re-Horizon 3 Phase.

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement 

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA)

* SARO Release: TBC

* Winning Proponent: TBC

* Product for Delivery: TBC

* Contract Price:

* Residual Price: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: TBC

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status: To be procured in close coordination with the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project, as it would be dependent on the aircraft to be selected. The project is expected to be made of several lots which will include beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, short range air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, smart bombs, and targeting pods.



The acquisition of new Multi-Role Fighters will definitely raise the need to acquire munitions that would be used by these new fighters.

Currently, the PAF is looking only at the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper, and the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, which means that munitions that the PAF may intend to acquire should be compatible and ready for use by the selected Multi-Role Fighter model.

Among those being considered for acquisition are Advanced Short and Medium-range air-to-air missiles, air-launched anti-ship missiles, air-to-ground missiles, smart bomb kits for free fall bombs, and Advanced Targeting Systems (ATS).

These requirements reflect the mission profile being considered for PAF MRFs, which would probably focus on Air Intercept and Air Superiority missions, with a secondary role of anti-shipping and strike missions.

The PAF is already in possession of some types of guided and smart munitions including the Raytheon AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile and the AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and the GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bomb. All these are compatible with both the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Viper.

For Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen:

The JAS-39 Gripen takes advantage of its wide range of compatible air-launched munitions coming from different sources, as well as those made by Saab. Aside from American-made munitions, the Gripen is capable of using European munitions especially those made by MBDA.

For short range air-to-air missiles, the Gripen appears to have a wider range of missile selections including the Raytheon AIM-9 and AIM-9X Sidewinder, the Diehl Defense IRIS-T, MBDA's AIM-132 ASRAAM, Denel Dynamics A-Darter, and Rafael's Python 4 and 5 missiles. 

For medium-range air-to-air missiles, the Gripen is compatible with the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, the MBDA MICA and Meteor (considered to be the best in its class), and the Rafael Derby and I-Derby missiles. 

The standard anti-ship missile for the Gripen is the Saab RBS-15.

Illustration on compatible munitions that can be used by the JAS-39 Gripen. Photo credits to original source.

For the F-16C/D Block 70 Viper:

The F-16 Viper's munition compatibility is mostly focused on American-made munition systems, or those commonly used by the US Air Force. While it is possible for the Viper to be integrated with other missiles, it would probably need more time, money and effort to do so.

Standard short-range air-to-air missile includes the Raytheon AIM-9 and AIM-9X Sidewinder, the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM, and the Rafael Python 4 and 5 missiles.

For the medium range air-to-air missile, the standard is the Raytheon AIM-120C AMRAAM, although it is also capable of using the Rafael Derby and I-Derby missiles, and the older AIM-7 Sparrow. The F-16E/F Block 60 Fighting Falcons of the United Arab Emirates Air Force have shown the F-16's ability to also use the MBDA MICA missiles from France.

The standard anti-ship missile for the F-16 Viper is the Boeing AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missile, although it is very rare for the aircraft to be equipped for anti-shipping roles.

Compatible munitions with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It is possible that the list could be longer for the more advanced F-16 Block 70 Viper. Photo credits to original source.

Approvals on AIM-9X and AGM-84L missiles:

With the recent approval by the US State Department on the potential sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder off-boresight short-range air-to-air missile, as well as the Boeing AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missile, these would benefit the PAF considering the AIM-9X is compatible with both the Gripen and Viper, although the Harpoon missile is only currently compatible with the Viper.

While it is potentially possible to equip the Gripen with the Harpoon Block II missile, it is not feasible as it may need development costs to be shouldered by the Philippines. Thus it is more logical to acquire Saab's RBS-15 Gungnir missile in case the PAF selects the JAS-39 Gripen as its future MRF.

A JAS-39 Gripen fighter of the Swedish Air Force shown here with 4 RBS-15 Gungnir anti-ship missiles. Photo credits to Naval Technology.

Another missile that appears to have been approved for the Philippines is the Raytheon AIM-120C-7 or AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missile, although its approval was tied with the F-16 Block 70 Viper's approval.

It is possible that the US Government may sell the AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM to the PAF even if the PAF selects the JAS-39 Gripen for its MRF needs, but that remains to be seen, considering selecting the Gripen may not be taken lightly by the US Government.

A USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon with three AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles in one of its wings. Photo credits to Military Watch Magazine.

Israeli Missile Options:

Another possibility is the acquisition of missiles made by Israel's Rafael Advance Systems, which includes the Python 5 short-range air-to-air missile, and the I-Derby medium-range missile.

The Python 5 and Derby missiles can be seen in this photo during a display in Israel. Photo credits to DefenseTalk.com.

Both are being introduced with the PAF, although in surface-to-air missile variant as part of the Rafael SPYDER Air Defense missile system.

It would not be difficult for the PAF and Israel to approve the acquisition of the Python and I-Derby missiles, and it would not be difficult for the PAF to bring in the missiles as the PAF may have already have the knowledge base for the missiles by then.

There are also talks that both the Python and Derby missiles may also be acquired to equip the PAF's fleet of FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, so using them for MRFs may eventually happen even if they are not selected in this specific project's acquisition.

Python 5 missiles attached on an F-16 fighter of the Israeli Air Force. Photo credits to Jane's.

It remains to be seen what the Philippine Air Force will select, considering they are still not completely finalized with the fighter aircraft they would be procuring.

U P D A T E S:

18 December 2019:

Starting this week, US defense and company officials including those from Boeing and Lockheed Martin met with Philippine defense and military officials. Boeing was in discussion related to the MRF Munitions Acquisition Project which is closely related to the Multirole Fighter project. Boeing's discussions were specific on munitions for the F-16 Fighting Falcon/Viper, among them the Harpoon anti-ship missile and JDAM precision guided bombs. 

Contrary to claims made by fake news propagators, both the Harpoon and JDAM are plug-and-play munitions for the F-16 fighter, especially those variants the PAF is interested in having.

Boeing's presentation may touch on these products, and probably their other aviation products too including those for civilian and military aviation.

AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles carried by an F-16 fighter. Photo credits to original source.


21 May 2021:

We received several information from sources confirming that the Philippine Air Force has been in negotiations with American defense companies Raytheon and Boeing regarding the planned acquisition of munitions for the PAF's future Multi-Role Fighter. This was being done concurrent with the negotiations for the Multi-Role Fighter project itself.

And based on the information that we received, the basis for the munitions to be acquired was specifically for the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper.

Among those being negotiated are Raytheon's AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, and Boeing's AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, and JDAM smart bomb kits for 500lb and 1000lb bombs.

Should the PAF proceed with acquiring the F-16 Viper, the munitions would be included in the package, considering both will be acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program.

The PAF has allocated Php12 billion for MRF Munition Systems, which is separate from the budget allocated by the PAF for the Multi-Role Fighter itself. 

According to our sources, they do not see any issues with the US Government approving the munition acquisitions, as the PAF was said to be cleared from acquiring the AIM-9X, AIM-120C, and AGM-84 Harpoon being a US Major Non-NATO ally.

Top: The AIM-120C AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Bottom: the AGM-84D -1 Harpoon anti-ship missile. Photo credits to original sources.


25 June 2021:

Still related to the earlier news on US Government's approval to sell the F-16 Viper to the Philippines, two other approvals were made recently: the potential sale of the AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missiles, and the AIM-9X off-boresight short-range air-to-air missile.

The potential sale of Harpoon Block II missiles include 12 missiles plus 2 exercise missiles, and all other spares, support and training with an estimated price of around US$120 million.

Top: The AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missile. Bottom: News release from DSCA on approval to sell Harpoons to the Philippines.

The potential sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles include 24 AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles, 24 AIM-9X Captive Air Training Missiles, and 10 captive air training missile guidance units, plus all other spares, support etc. Estimated cost is US$42.4 million.

Top: The AIM-9X Sidewinder off-boresight short range air-to-air missile. Bottom: DSCA new release on approval to sell AIM-9X Sidewinder to the Philippines.

Obviously these approvals are intended for the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, in case the Philippine Air Force selects it for its MRF needs.

But it remains to be seen if this approval remains should the PAF decide to go with the Saab JAS-39C/D MS20 Gripen fighter, considering the AIM-9X Sidewinder is compatible with the Swedish fighter aircraft.


31 December 2023:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines received strong confirmation from sources that the Philippine Air Force has indeed received an offer for the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM and Meteor BVRAAM.

The only potential roadblock for acquiring the Meteor, which is considered one of the most capable air-to-air missiles in the world due to its long range and flight characteristics, will be the price. Apparently the Meteor is also very expensive, even compared to the already-expensive Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM C7 being offered to the PAF regardless if it chooses the JAS-39C/D Gripen or F-16C/D Fighting Falcon / Viper.

The Meteor is said to have a maximum range of 200 kilometers, although sources confirmed that it is higher although exact figures are confidential. In comparison, the most advanced air-to-air missile with China's People's Liberation Army Air Force, the PL-15 Abaddon has an estimated range between 200 and 300 kilometers.

The MBDA Meteor as seen mounted on a Rafale F3 of the French Navy. Photo credits to the French Navy through Naval News.


First edit and release: 28 June 2021
Copyright Philippine Defense Resource / MaxDefense Philippines

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