"Under the auspices of its Capability Upgrade Plan, the air force could announce several acquisitions in the coming 12 months, a spokesperson said.
The plan calls for between four and six lead-in jet trainer/attack aircraft and six aircraft to replace the Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, plus two maritime patrol aircraft, and one or two others to be dedicated to command and control/intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks.
Manila also plans to request 12 former US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 25 fighters from Washington, although this is not a formal requirement. Any Philippine F-16 deal would be similar to the USA's granting last year of permission to transfer 24 ex-US Air National Guard F-16C/D Block 15s - categorised as 'excess defence articles' - to Indonesia.
For the lead-in jet trainer requirement, potential candidates include the Korea Aerospace Industries T/A-50 and Alenia Aermacchi's M-346. Both companies have made representations to the air force, which also foresees a light attack role for these aircraft.
Manila also hopes to obtain six aircraft for counter-insurgency operations. Possible candidates include the Air Tractor AT-802U, Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano and Hawker Beechcraft AT-6. Both the maritime patrol and ISR aircraft are likely to be in the twin-turboprop class."
Please take the announcement with a generous helping of salt.....the operative words in the report being "hopes" and "plans". Nonetheless, the PAF would doubtless be ecstatic if these come to pass.
The T/A-50 looks to be the prime contender for the first requirement. The ROKAF's buy of 20 FA-50s could bolster its chances here considerably.....
Another possibility is a package deal for KA-1 Woong Bee and FA-50s.
Photo © Jung In-Yong
Photo © Yunjin Lee - Korea Aero Photo
With a number of its campaigns making slow progress, and the Italian Air Force's order threatened by the economic crisis, the M-346's prospects here seem middling......
Photo © Roland Bergmann-Spotterteam Graz
However, addition and updates for the remaining S-211s in service might do the trick.
For COIN, the outlook is less bright for the AT-6 after its loss in the US.....while price could work against the tried, proven and highly desired Super Tucano. OTOH, being rugged and cheap are the AT-802U's main draws.
The MP and ISR roles would likely go to King Air variants of those, but could be challenged by East European types like the M-28 Bryza.
The PAF seem to be neglecting inter-island transport, and for that CASA's C212-400 offer a reasonable solution. They would need more surplus C-130s or, if they get very lucky, new CN-235s.
Lastly, I fear the request for 12 surplus Block 25 F-16s may be surrounded with much political posturing, that transitioning pilots would have graduated from the LIFT program long before the Vipers come.
All in all, quite a realistic goal considering the numbers and the absence of outlandish, ego-propping, prestige items as in past announcements. I wouldn't hold my breath, but frankly, I'd be delighted if these see the light of day.