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Thread: Our Country's Needed Military Upgrade

  1. #1

    Our Country's Needed Military Upgrade

    AFP chief to receive 2nd US patrol ship

    by Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
    Posted at 05/19/2012 8:39 AM | Updated as of 05/19/2012 12:32 PM

    WASHINGTON D.C. - Philippine Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa will formally accept delivery of the US Coast Guard high-endurance cutter USCGC Dallas in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday (May 22).

    Dellosa will stay overnight here on Monday before flying to Charleston the next day. He will be met there by Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano, Philippine Fleet commander, who is arriving there a day ahead.

    The “Dallas” will be re-christened the BRP Ramon Alcaraz in honor of the Filipino naval officer who skippered the torpedo boat “Abra” that was among the first to engage Japanese forces at the opening days of World War II, shooting down 3 enemy planes in the sky above Manila Bay. He was later captured but survived the war, passing away in 2009 in Santa Ana, California.

    She is the 2nd Hamilton-class all-weather patrol ship turned over to the Philippine Navy under a “hot transfer” arrangement with the US. The first ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar has been assigned to the Spratly Islands and recently figured in the stand-off with Chinese vessels in Scarborough Shoal.

    The “Dallas” was launched in 1968 and initially served as an “ocean station”. She received her baptism of fire in Vietnam, providing fire support and interdiction of Vietcong smuggling boats.

    The “Dallas” is equipped with an Oto Melara 76mm gun and two 25mm “Bushmaster” machineguns. However, officials tell ABS-CBN News that like the “Hamilton” the US is stripping down most of the modern gear aboard, especially the sophisticated radars and sensors, despite an appeal from top Philippine officials to keep the advanced equipment.

    The BRP Alcaraz is not going home soon. It is scheduled to be refitted at the expense of the Philippine Navy. It is expected to arrive in the Philippines in the 3rd quarter of the year.

    A Philippine Navy crew has been in the country for several weeks training aboard other Hamilton-class ships. This will be the same group that will take the BRP Alcaraz back to the Philippines.

    This comes as the Pentagon today briefed the US Congress about China’s military modernization, especially growing indications that it was trying to extend its influence farther abroad.

    Although China says it is spending $106 billion this year to upgrade its military – which is lower than US military spending – the report suggested they could be spending more than what they’re saying in public.

    Philippine officials say they are setting aside $1.2 billion to buy new combat aircraft outside the US. The Philippines has expressed a desire to purchase a squadron of American-built F-16 Falcons but there have been questions about cost and the readiness of the Philippine Air Force for a quantum leap towards state-of-the-art planes. Changing The Face of The Game!

  2. #2
    US holds back Philippine military aid

    By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star
    Posted at 06/23/2012 1:39 AM | Updated as of 06/23/2012 11:22 PM

    Philippines told to stamp out extrajudicial killings

    MANILA, Philippines - The United States’ assistance to the Philippine military that the US Congress continues to withhold until the government meets certain conditions related to solving and prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings already amounts to $13 million for the past five years.

    The US embassy in Manila yesterday said that the US Congress is withholding $3 million in Foreign Military Financing from the Philippine government in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.

    “To obtain these funds, the Philippine government must demonstrate it is continuing to take effective steps to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings; strengthening government institutions working to eliminate extrajudicial killings; investigating, prosecuting, and punishing military personnel and others who have been credibly alleged to have violated internationally recognized human rights; and ensuring the Armed Forces of the Philippines is not engaging in acts of violence or intimidation against members of legal organizations who advocate for human rights,” the embassy said in a statement to The STAR.

    Withholding by the US Congress began in 2008, and was carried out as follows: FY 2008 - $2 million, FY 2009 - $2 million, FY 2010 - $3 million, FY 2011 - $3 million and FY 2012 - $3 million.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine government has made significant strides in terms of protection and promotion of human rights.

    “And yet the amount remains conditioned to date,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

    In some countries where there are widespread concerns over human rights, Hernandez pointed out that the US government executed a national security waiver to release the conditioned funds but this is not applied to assistance for the Philippines.

    US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said during the first Kapihan sa Embahada on Thursday that there is still no indication that the US Congress would remove a congressional hold on a portion of its aid to the Philippine military until significant progress has been made in prosecuting those responsible in extrajudicial killings.

    Washington also urged the Philippines during the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month to take additional measures to ensure that the military exercises full control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the police over Civilian Volunteer Organizations, holding these units accountable for the Philippines’ obligations under international human rights law.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario denied allegations by the US embassy that the Philippines has not satisfied the criteria set by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations for the lifting of the withholding element on a portion of assistance to the Philippine military.

    In his speech on May 2 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Del Rosario said the Philippines has “effectively taken such steps” and there has been a significant decline in extrajudicial killings and a strong policy environment in place that institutionalizes respect for and sensitivity to human rights.

    He stressed that warrants of arrest have been issued against high profile suspects such as retired Army Gen. Jovito Palparan and former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and at least 198 suspects have been charged in the Maguindanao massacre.

    A portion of the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) allocation for the Philippines has been conditioned since 2008 on the issuance of a report from the State Department on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

    The Philippines appealed in January to remove the “withholding element” on a portion of its assistance to the Philippine military by the US Congress, saying the perception of worse human rights situation in the country is not factual.

    Del Rosario met last Jan. 14 with members of the US House Appropriations Committee who were in Manila for a visit and discussed bilateral issues including defense, security development assistance and good governance.

    Second Navy ship

    Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy said that the second warship to be acquired from the US would cost more than the BRP Gregorio del Pilar since the government had to buy weapons and accessories that were stripped from the vessel.

    The Navy purchased weapons and communication systems for the second warship after the US had turned down a request by the Philippines to include these features in the vessel.

    The government spent P400 million to acquire Gregorio del Pilar, the first warship provided by the US to the Philippines last year.

    Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama could not tell how much had been spent for the accessories of the second warship, which will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, but admitted that the transfer costs, training and other expenses would definitely exceed P400 million.

    A second warship was turned over by the US Coast Guard to Philippine officials last May.

    The government has allotted P8.8-billion worth of Malampaya funds for the military’s capability upgrade effort.

    More than P5 billion of these funds have been released while the rest will be handed down this year.

    About 90 Navy officers and personnel are now in Charleston, South Carolina to undergo training on how to maneuver the ship.

    He said the Navy would also tap the Malampaya funds to acquire three helicopters to be used to conduct aerial surveillance and to support the warships when conducting security patrol.

    He said the acquisition of Ramon Alcaraz would improve the Navy’s capabilities while enhancing its maritime domain awareness.

    The Ramon Alcaraz was named after a torpedo boat commanding officer during World War II. It is a high-endurance cutter and has features similar to that of Gregorio del Pilar and was largely used by the US Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness. The ship can accommodate up to 180 officers and sailors. – Alexis Romero Changing The Face of The Game!

  3. #3
    Philippine Air Force to buy 6 fighter jets

    By Kate Evangelista

    3:28 pm | Friday, July 1st, 2011

    MANILA, Philippines—The defense department is eyeing to purchase six fighter planes for the Philippine Air Force, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday.
    In a press conference held during the 64th anniversary of the PAF, Gazmin said the procurement is part of the Department of National Defense’s medium term capability upgrade plan.
    The fighter jets have the capability to conduct maritime patrol, said Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol.

    The announcement came as the Philippines and China exchange diplomati protests and verbal jabs over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    The Philippines accuses Chinese forces of at least nine incursions in the Manila-claimed areas in the Spratly Islands since February.
    Okol said a baseline fighter jet costs between $23 to $40 million.

    Seven units of F-5 were the last fighter jets the Air Force had and they were decommissioned in 2005 after being in service for 40 years.

  4. #4
    Philippines to get 5 French patrol boats

    Agence France-Presse

    5:30 pm | Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will buy five patrol boats from France for about 90 million euros ($116 million), partly to guard disputed areas in the South China Sea, the coastguard said Tuesday.

    Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, the chief of the poorly equipped coastguard, said one 82-meter (271-foot) ship and four 24-meter (79-foot) patrol craft would be delivered by 2014.

    Tuason cited the need for such ships to patrol the rough waters of the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

    “When we patrol the West Philippine Sea, we encounter huge waves, turbulent waters so it will be better if we will use bigger ships,” Tuason said in a statement.

    Coastguard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo said the larger ship was a “heavy endurance vessel that can be deployed even in bad weather.”

    This is the first such ship to be acquired by the coastguard, he added.

    The Philippines and China began a stand-off in April over the Scarborough Shoal, a group of islets in the South China Sea.

    China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

    Balilo denied that the new French ships were being acquired due to the territorial dispute and said the coastguard, which currently has only nine operating ships, needed new vessels to perform their duties.

    He said the new vessels would be deployed throughout the archipelago and not concentrate just on the disputed areas.

  5. #5
    DND eyes 100 new APCs from Italy

    By Alexis Romero

    (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 23, 2012 - 12:00am

    MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to acquire 100 armored personnel carriers (APC)s and dozens of artillery equipment from Italy in support of the military’s capability upgrade program.

    Documents obtained by The STAR showed that the Italian government might donate 100 units of operational M113 APCs and 25 units of operational FH70 155 mm howitzers.

    The possible donations are in connection with the procurement of other equipment that may become part of what the DND called the “Italian package.”

    The DND is currently negotiating with Italy for the procurement of Maestrale-class ships, medium-lift fixed wing aircraft (C27J-Spartan), special mission aircraft and three naval helicopters.

    If the procurement pushes through, the 100 APCs and 25 long-range cannons may be included in the package.

    “In connection with the acquisition of the aforementioned equipment (ships, aircraft, helicopters) the Italian government will donate 100 units operational M113 armored personnel carriers and 25 units operational FH70 155 mm howitzers,” the DND document read.

    The APCs and artilleries are expected to enhance the military’s security operations.

    The DND said the Italian defense ministry has designated a liaison officer to the Philippines to handle the acquisitions and represent the Italian government in the discussions with suppliers.

    The department said it is also negotiating with the supplier regarding the specifications of the equipment.

    “The imprimatur to contract with them is directly from the Italian government,” it said.

    The Philippines is resorting to government-to-government transactions to fast-track the acquisition of key defense equipment.

    Earlier, DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the negotiation for the acquisition of the two Maestrale-class warships from Italy may be completed by yearend.

    Last August, the DND announced plans to acquire the Maestrale-class ships from Italy to boost the country’s maritime security capability.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had said the two missile-firing warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy and cost about P11.7 billion.

    The ships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities. They also have missile systems and modern radars.

  6. #6
    ‘Right is might’


    By Babe Romualdez

    (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2012 - 12:00am

    Last Friday, I was invited to speak before faculty members and students of the International Studies Department of the De La Salle University and share my thoughts regarding foreign policy issues involving the Philippines. It’s been such a long time since I have been to the La Salle campus and I could not believe the changes, with so many buildings now dotting the place — perhaps indicative of the progress in an institution that has been in existence for 100 years.

    We were originally invited by Professor Rene de Castro to participate in a discussion of China’s foreign policy in a post Hu Jintao era, along with former ABC News Beijing Bureau Chief Chito Sta. Romana with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing as guest speaker. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I was unable to make it. In any case, the symposium last Friday was arranged by associate professor Francis Domingo and Dr. Charmaine Misalucha, vice chair of the department.

    We are told the symposium is part of La Salle’s efforts to broaden the awareness of students on global issues, and we get a good sense that the young people who attended the activity were very keen in knowing more about the Aquino administration’s position regarding the territorial dispute with China. Fortunately, in a trade delegation dinner the previous night, we were seated in the same table with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. He gave us a brief on our current stand on the whole issue. The quotable quote from the Secretary, as he put it, is that “On the South China Sea challenges, notwithstanding our limitations, the Philippines is taking the strongest position that ‘right is might’.”

    This perspective was, perhaps, the impetus that drove President Aquino to speak up during the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia when he spontaneously stood up disputing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s statement that the ASEAN member countries have come to a consensus and not to “internationalize” the discussion regarding the territorial disputes involving China. As a result of President Aquino’s objection, other nations who also have claims on the disputed territories are now speaking out. The fact of the matter is — the only option we have is to bring international attention to the territorial dispute — making sure it becomes a global concern.

    It’s clear that our foreign policy is very much indicative of the current administration’s resolve to “do what is right.” In retrospect, doing the right thing is indeed a solid principle that should govern the conduct not only of governments and their leaders, but even ordinary individuals. More often than not, people subscribe to the idea that “might is right” — where money, power, influence, military capability and even sheer physical strength alone automatically gives one moral suasion, supremacy or ascendancy over others.

    Criticism, of course, is par for the course when you are the leader of a country like the Philippines where everyone wants to have his say. But one cannot also deny that over the past two years, this administration has been trying its level best to do what is right and correct some of the wrongs that have happened in the past. A core focus of this Aquino government is the dispensation of justice and reforming the Judiciary, obviously borne out of the fact that P-Noy fully knows what it was like to be a victim of injustice.

    Perhaps that is the reason why P-Noy has been coming up with “out-of-the-box” appointments, like the selection of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice and just recently, with former UP Law dean Marvic Leonen who became the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Leonen will serve for 21 years, longer than Sereno’s term. Who knows — he may even become the next Chief Justice since he will be one of the most senior appointees when Sereno retires in 2030.

    As far as the perception of the international community is concerned, the Philippines has made a lot of inroads in the economy. Investment prospects are on the upswing, and even the IMF said we are the only country with an upgraded growth forecast this year. In fairness, however, we have to give credit to GMA’s administration since it was during her term in 2006 when we paid off all IMF outstanding loans.

    Like his mother, P-Noy relies on Divine guidance when faced with tough decisions, seeking spiritual advice from Fr. Catalino Arevalo and Carmelite Sister Agnes Guillen. Clearly, the President’s Christian faith is what gives him the guiding light to pursue the right path.

    At the end of the day, it’s not really how much money you have, how powerful you are or how influential you have become — but whether you kept the righteous path which, as the Bible said, keeps shining brighter and leads to eternal life. Many leaders who persisted in staying on the wrong side of history learned this painful lesson the hard way — when it was already too late to make a turnaround, staying on the wrong path which ultimately led to their destruction.

    * * *

    Contrary to previous reports, Ayala-led Bank of Philippine Islands has not reached a final agreement with the Lucio Tan group for the majority acquisition of Philippine National Bank. Apparently, there are still several details and conditions that are not acceptable to “Kapitan” before he gives his nod on the proposed merger deal. Everybody is well aware that the Tan family has many internal issues to resolve before any concrete agreement takes place. Currently, there seems to be some squabble on who among the family members would be entitled to Board representations or who would sit in committees should the merger with BPI take place.

    * * *

  7. #7
    21 Huey choppers to boost PAF’s operations

    By Frances Mangosing

    2:58 pm | Monday, November 26th, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines—The 21 refurbished Huey helicopters seen to be added to the Philippine Air Force’s list of assets, will not only boost the aviation wing’s capability and military operations but will also be of use to the upcoming 2013 elections, the Department of National Defense said Monday.

    Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo said the Air Force requested additional helicopters as they are anticipating an increase in air mobility requirements due to election-related flights in various parts of the country.

    He also said that the project was already in the pipeline as early as 2011, when then PAF Commanding General, Lt Gen Oscar Rabena, requested President Benigno S. Aquino III for additional Hueys. The said helicopters are also urgently required during calamity and disaster operations.

    According to a recent report of the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) assessment team, there are only 16 fully/partial mission-capable Hueys in the PAF inventory. Currently, the PAF is 51 units short of reaching its ideal number of operational combat utility helicopters.

    “The acquisition of CUHs aims to address the capability shortfall on the number of utility helicopters in order for the PAF to efficiently perform their missions. Utility helicopters are deployed all over the Philippines and have proven to be the most effective platform for the internal security operations (ISO) and the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) campaign,” Manalo said.

    “With the present national security condition, the acquisition of additional combat utility helicopters to augment the existing UH-1H ‘Huey’ fleet is imperative. The PAF’s primary helicopter is the Huey, which falls under the light lift category. Having been the workhorse of AFP tactical operations for many years, the Huey fleet has succumbed to natural attrition due to structural stress and aircraft accidents,” he added.

    An Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) was issued in March 2012 for the acquisition of 21 refurbished UH-1H helicopters under negotiated procurement pursuant to Section 53.2 (Emergency Cases) of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184, s-2003.

    The Defense Department submitted the request to the Government Policy and Procurement Board (GPPB) for authority to implement through negotiated procurement the said acquisition project last June 2012. However, last September, the DND received the GPPB’s decision to conduct public bidding for the UH-1H project instead of negotiated procurement.

    The bid opening is set on December 4, 2012, with six potential bidders having already bought the bid documents, signifying their intention to participate in the bidding process. To avoid the danger of not being able to fully-support the helicopter lift requirements of the 2013 elections, the PAF has recommended that the delivery time for the Hueys be not later than February 28, 2013, Manalo said.

  8. #8
    Second batch of Sokol choppers delivered to PAF

    By Frances Mangosing

    5:03 pm | Friday, November 30th, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines – The second batch of Sokol combat utility helicopters, aimed at boosting the military’s operations were delivered to the Philippine Air Force.

    The two additional Sokol choppers were in addition to the first four choppers delivered in February, a statement from the supplier PZL Swidnik in Poland said early this week.

    The contract, as part of the modernization program, involves the delivery of eight choppers and ground support equipment, spare parts, support services and training for aircrew and maintainers. The remaining two will be delivered in early 2013.

    “This delivery marks an important program milestone for both PZL-Świdnik and the Philippine Air Force. The outstanding capabilities of the Sokol helicopter and its ability to perform a wide range of roles will further enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force” said Nicola Bianco, Managing Director, PZL-Świdnik S.A.

    The Sokol choppers were transported from Jasionka Airport near Russia to Clark Air Base in Manila.

    The choppers arrived in the country on Monday morning via an Antonov cargo plane, the PAF said.

    It added that the Sokol choppers would be turned over to the 505th Search and Rescue Group, where other four delivered earlier.

    The helicopters, which have enough space for two pilots, two crewmen, three medical attendants and six rescued survivors, will be used for search and rescue missions.

  9. #9
    2 more US warships in PH

    By Frances Mangosing

    8:40 pm | Friday, October 26th, 2012

    Bath Iron Works shows a rendering of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s next-generation destroyer, which has been funded to be built at Bath Iron Works in Maine and at Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic “railguns” right out of a sci-fi movie. AP

    MANILA, Philippines—Two more US warships are in the western part of the Philippines for a five-day goodwill visit amid military drills by China in disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    Lieutenant Colonel Neil Estrella, spokesman of the Western Command, said the two guided missile destroyers — USS John McCain and USS Mustin– have been docked in Puerto Princesa in Palawan since Monday for a regular port call.

    The ships are part of the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group, the largest US aircraft carrier docked in Manila Bay since Wednesday along with two escort ships, the USS McCampbell and USS Cowpens, also for a goodwill visit.

    It was not earlier declared by officials that USS John McCain and USS Mustin will be part of the USS George Washington’s entourage.

    “Pagka ganyan di naman sila magkakadikit ng location but part of a group,” Estrella said.

    All the US warships are part of the US Seventh Fleet based in Yokusuka, Japan.

    The Marine officer did not say how many US warships are currently in the Philippine waters.

    Amid the port visits of US ships, two Chinese vessels recently conducted military drills in the hotly-contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

    The exercise involved deployment of marine corps, helicopters, landing ships, infantry combat vehicles and speedboats.

  10. #10
    Navy exec says size of PH warships shouldn’t matter

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    7:12 pm | Sunday, May 27th, 2012

    FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—The American vessels that the government bought and turned into warships may not have impressed a public awed by modern Chinese ships now guarding the contested Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

    But Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, Navy flag officer in command, on Saturday said the vessels’ size and age should not really matter. He said the Navy is upgrading its technology, not in response to the standoff at Scarborough, but as part of a scheduled upgrade that was started several years ago.

    Yet improving the Navy’s technology also requires enough time for its personnel to familiarize themselves with modern equipment, he said, after addressing the cadets comprising the Philippine Military Academy’s “Gabay-Laya” Class of 2016.

    “Even if I had all the money in the world, I myself will not be getting all the top-of-the-line equipment [immediately] … the reason being there has to be some form of transition. You are used to riding a bicycle or a tricycle and suddenly you buy a Mercedes Benz,” Pama told the Inquirer.

    In his speech, Pama said: “The constant challenge we face, as with the rest of the other branches of service, is the urgent need for our capacity-enhancement and capability-building in the face of regional and transnational threats.”

    Amid scarcity of resources, he said the government had found ways of securing the cutters BRP Del Pilar PF-15 and BRP Alcaraz PF-16, which would be commissioned in December.

    He said the government is also buying frigates and has improved the country’s coast watch systems.

    “There has to be a sort of transition for our people to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills and that’s even more important than acquiring anything else,” he said.

    When asked, Pama said public impressions were correct about the Navy’s outdated equipment.

    He said the shoal standoff had drawn policymakers to the demands of beefing up the country’s fleet.

    “Admittedly, the military did not receive proper attention for a while, which is understandable because the government has other priorities,” he said.

    The new warships were former US Coast Guard vessels, which were outfitted and sold to the Philippines without their weapon systems.

    Pama said these vessels “serve our purpose, the purpose being the size of the ship [enables the Navy] to bring it to patrol areas when before, navigating these seas had been difficult for the older vessels.”

    “Just because [these vessels are] X number of years, it does not mean they are useless. They are not,” he said.

    “The size of the ships conforms with our operational demands. It’s not that new but then again, it’s an easier step to transition into the necessary skills [for operating modern vessels],” he said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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