Department of National Defence to Strengthen Air Force

The Philippine government is considering the purchase of a number of Indonesian-made military aircraft following a visit of the Indonesian Vice Defence Minister who arrived on one of the aircraft that the country is promoting.

cn-295 philippines
Image Source: Wikimedia
The CN-295 aircraft is an upgraded version of the CN-235 aircraft, a medium range twin engined transport aircraft that was developed jointly by Indonesian manufacturer IPTN and CASA of Spain. It is primarily used in military roles for surveillance, air transport, and maritime patrol. The aircraft is suitable for a wide-range of humanitarian and defence missions that are of importance to Asean nations. The Turkish military is currently the largest user of the CN-235 with 61 aircraft. The CN-295 aircraft which is of interest to the Philippine Air Force was developed in 1995 as a stretched version of the CN-235. The CN-295 is currently in service with more than 15 countries. As of March 2013, more than 120 aircraft had been ordered with nearly 100 already in operation. Asian Spirit, the airline that was later rebranded as Zest Air used to operate a single civilian version of the CASA CN-235 on domestic flights in the Philippines.

asian spirit philippines
Copyright Photo: Adrian Thompson/
The CN-295 is assembled in Indonesia under license from CASA of Spain. More than 17 air forces have added the aircraft to their fleets including Indonesia, Spain, and Portugal. The Indonesian Ministry of Defense is touring the aircraft around Asean countries in an effort to promote a common defense system among the member countries. The aircraft has a maximum range of 4,600 kilometres and an ability to transport up to 71 personnel or up to 9 tonnes of cargo. The CN-295 is capable of short take-off and landing performance and flights of up to eleven hours without refueling.

Cn-295 philippines
Image Source: Wikimedia
The Philippine Air Force currently operates two ageing C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Representatives of the Air Force and Department of National Defense were on hand to observe the demonstration of the aircraft which included a 30 minute flight from NAIA to Clark Airport. The Defense Undersecretary, Pio Lorenzo Batino, said that they are making preparations to acquire the aircraft through a government to government transaction with Indonesia. The aircraft is valued at US$28 million each.

It is rumoured that one aircraft will be deployed to the Navy for long-range reconnaissance missions and anti-submarine warfare. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Defence, the common use of the aircraft in the Asean region would enhance cooperation among members and significantly reduce maintenance and operational costs of the aircraft. The Indonesian Air Force currently has 9 units on order and while it has already taken delivery of 2 aircraft, it is willing to allocate 3 delivery slots to the Philippine Air Force in order to help expedite delivery. All of the ordered units are due by 2015.

uh-1 philippines
Image Source: Wikimedia
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense is already set to acquire 21 UH-1 helicopters. According to Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, the department must fast-track the order as the Air Force requires helicopters to enhance its security and disaster response capabilities. With the rainy season approaching, the government needs the aircraft sooner than later to aid in disaster response missions. The Philippine government has allocated approximately P1.2 billion for the acquisition of 21 helicopters. The government had originally tendered the order for public bidding. But following failed bidding and the time sensitivity of the order, the government decided to proceed with the procurement through a negotiated bid.

It was reported that Radom Aviation Systems of Israel and US based Rice Aircraft Services participated in the original bidding process. The Philippine Air Force has been requesting additional helicopters since 2011. It currently has only 16 mission-capable UH-1 helicopters available in its fleet which is 51 helicopters shy of the optimum number of helicopters required to adequately service its missions within the country.


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