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The Timawa forum community: Rebuilding a cyber-institution

Why 5.56mm sniping rifles for the AFP?

BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) – formerly SSV-2

Repost: What is the FA-50PH really for?

BRP Gregorio del Pilar at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, CA

The Timawa forum community: Rebuilding a cyber-institution

Posted in: About this blog | Comments (0)

The process of rebuilding the oldest, active, defense-oriented social media community in the Philippines is fully underway. (Proper credit to the now defunct Kawal Pilipino forum for being first).

parthenon
 Photo credit to Ludo38

We are taking things slow, making sure to re-establish the posting culture that made the Timawa community what it was, before completely opening the forum up for general membership. For those waiting on membership approval, we ask for your patience. We want to do this right and ask for your patience.

“Building new” often presents an opportunity to re-think how things are structured and organized. As we rebuild the community and its infrastructure, one area that has undergone a make-over is the forum’s front-end: a blog

http://defenseph.net/

This blog is hosted on a completely different database and therefore will stay up if the forum ever goes down for maintenance. It will also serve as a source of service bulletins, along with the forum’s Facebook extension: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/

The blog also allows the community to showcase specific threads. Whereas the original forum only had a static Webpage, the blog will allow forum members who take the time to write extensive — reference quality — posts to have their posts not only on the forum, but also showcase them on the blog for wider circulation. Think Horge and Ignatius level posts.

Here is an example how this would work and tie-back to the forum:

http://defenseph.net/2016/09/23/repost-what-is-the-fa-50ph-really-for/

Since posting on the blog itself is disabled, the forum would be the place for comments. Where they can be preserved and further discussed.

It’ll also be a place for updates about the community itself as well as summaries of the discussions within. Admittedly, one issue the forum had was that a lot of the nuggets of information were often buried in years worth of discussions that new members were expected to sift through. That gave rise to a “secondary market” of bloggers who data-mined Timawa discussions. While some were conscientious enough to give credit to the community — since these ideas were often synthesized through the contributions of many individuals and not just one person — as the source of insight, others have not been . . . to the lament and consternation of long-time community members.

The blog, and the forum, will be managed by a moderating team composed of veteran Timawa forum members. This broadening of both access and control of information shared on the forum ensures that no one individual can make far-reaching decisions that can affect the efforts of dozens of individuals who put pro-bono time and effort to making the community what it is. We are here to stay, and we will stay by our efforts as a community.

drillsgt @ September 24, 2016

Why 5.56mm sniping rifles for the AFP?

Posted in: Forum | Comments (0)

On August 21, 2006 the Timawa forum saw a discussion between a Philippine Marine Colonel (MBLT6) and a Singaporean Army Major (Shingen) about sniper rifles an engagement distances in the the Philippine setting. The end result was a glowing response from Shingen as follows:

This is one of the best post, or not the best post i have seen so far in this forum. Thank you so much for clarifiying things, all your examples are very clear and informative, especially no. 3. Would add this to my scrapbook and use it as material if required back camp.

This accolade elevated this discussion to a “reference thread” which moderators took special care in keeping troll free.

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Marine Scout Sniper Rifle (5.56mm) Barret (12.7mm / .50 cal)

In an effort to preserve this discussion from database crashes and similar incidents, this section the following thread has been replicated here:

First, lets define terms. The term primary sniper rifle refers to primary range. Our (Marine Corps) doctrine requires three types of sniper rifles ie., primary range (max 600m for company level) , intermediate range ( 800m max and a Bn organic) and long range (1000m and a Brigade organic). We practice combined arms concepts which means higher units may attach thier organic units to subordinates in order to tailor fit their capabilities to the environment they are operating in and the threats they are facing. secondly, the term sniper rifle does not dictate on the caliber. Its defined as a rifle with a scope accurized with high quality parts (match grade) and uses match grade ammunition. The 5.56mm round in the MSSR qualifies per our doctrines and international definition.

Why have 3 types of sniper rifles? Based on our experience in battling communist, muslim seperatist and military adventurism for 30+ years in different terrains in the Philippines. We had learned that under different sniping conditions the characteristics of a type of sniper rifle has its pros and cons.

Example 1. a sniper stalks his prey that requires moving at the least observation by the enemy the reason he has to be a master of camoflauge to avoid detection. It will be diffucult to crawl with a cal 50 barret. The MSSR will be a favorite in this conditions.

Example 2: The MSSR or primary range rifle is the king of 600m engagements simply due to lesser recoil. It accounted most of the kills in our year 2000 campaign in central mindanao. Why? against multiple targets and follow through shot in case of a miss nothing beats the 5.56mm round. the lesser recoil ensures target acquisition after recoil. We tested this with the equally accurisided M-21 7.62mm. each equally skilled sniper were required to shoot 6 poppers each and armed with the M21 and MSSR at 400m. The MSSR finished his 6th popper while the other was just starting to aim for his 3rd – FOV issues due to recoil i’m sure you know. Example 3: the cal 50 barret has the needed characteristics for longer range simply because of of its heavier 750 grain bullet which is less prone to that devil wind that all snipers fear. The MSSR cannot compete with this at longer range. But at shorter ranges below 600m the barret has distinct disadvantages. It has a louder sound report, flash and concussion (leaves/bushes moves) allowing easier detection and wow expect counter fire from the enemy. A sniper always ensures he is not detected please don’t do this in engaging the enemy with highly trained countersnipers. The barret is best in engagements at 1000m+ in a jungle environment if you can find one. the rule is more max at 400m. The MSSR has a an almost negligble flash an sound report. The 24 inch barrel has its advantages it ensures the total burning of the propellant before the bullet exits the muzzle hence lesser flash as well as higher velocity means lesser leads in moving targets – the 5.56mm round does have at least 250+ fps higher speed the the 7.62mm and cla 50 round – right?. longer barrels adds more velocity and having more range and lethality. and of course lesser concussion and sound report compared to the 7.62 and cal.50 round. the MSSR was adopted by us in 1996 and copied by the IDF and US in 2000 you are more than welcome to learn from our experiences.

I really had the same perceptions in my youth when I was a Lt 24 yrs ago. The macho 7.62mm or even the cal 30 (7.62mm x 54) M-1 garand round were superior in all aspects. But my experience change that with advancements in weapons technology as well as my combat and competition experience. I was amazed with the results of our 2000 year campaign as well as the success of the M-16 in the Service Rifle Competitions in Camp Perry,Ohio which since 1996 it had dominated the championships beating the favorites as the M-1A1 and military versions M-14 rifles. We in the Marine Corps have the only existing sniper school in the Philippines since 1967. We load our own match ammo for 5.56mm and 7.62mm in 69 grain Sierra BTHP match, 75 grain Hornady and 168 grain Sierra in 7.62mm BTHP match as well as subsonic rounds for both calibers for use in our Night Fighting Weapon System. Don’t know if there are existing sniper schools in other in southeast asian countries. And please no more lethality issues – shot placement at 600m is not an issue for the MSSR our snipers are trained to hit head shots at 600m and even a cal .22LR at shorter distances can ensure that kill. I’ve seen that – we operate in the most volatile region in Southeast Asia.

To comment this article, please refer to the following DRP forum thread.

drillsgt @ September 24, 2016

BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) – formerly SSV-2

Posted in: Forum, Philippine Navy | Comments Off on BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) – formerly SSV-2

The following article is an authorized reposting of the original adroth.ph article. It can also be found on the DRP forum here, where readers are encouraged to post their comments.

The two largest warships in Philippine Navy history are currently under construction at the PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia. The first vessel, tentatively named “Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) No.1”, is due for delivery in May 2016. Progress of construction for that vessel is chronicled in the following article: Strategic Sealift Vessel No. 1 taking shape. This article, on the other hand, chronicles the progress of SSV No.2, whose construction lags behind SSV No.1 by six months.

Both vessels are based on the Indonesian Navy’s Makassar class Landing Ship Dock (LPD), particularly the last two members of the class referred to as the “improved Makassar”, which were both built at PT PAL, based on a design by Daesun Shipbuilding & Engineering of South Korea. The resulting vessel should appear similar to the KRI Banda Aceh shown below.

Kri-banda-aceh
 KRI Banda Aceh c/o Wikimedia

The data assembled below largely comes from open-sources and is thanks in no small part to Indonesian members of the Timawa.net forum who monitor Indonesian news reports and share them with the Timawa community. Supplemental data was gleaned from the international press.

Event / Date photo was shared   Imagery 
September 20, 2016. Various photographs shared by Gombaljaya on the FB extension
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January 8, 2016. TR4 block of SSV-2 being moved into position.  tr4block
December 22, 2015. Blocks prepared for keel laying  12377770_227958797536054_4626429217158248112_o
October 25, 2015. Hull block completed. Shared on the Timawa FB extension  12189873_206785486320052_785769008714247769_n
October 5, 2015. Various photographs of keel construction. Shared with the Timawa community’s FB extension on this date. See here
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June 5, 2015. Steel cutting ceremony for SSV-2 held at PT PAL Indonesia. Photo c/o Tribunnews.com
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The Strategic Sealift Vessel project is the Aquino administration’s implementation of two older Arroyo administration projects:

Strategic Sealift Vessel – this was reportedly crafted by the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence (CNLE) and originally envisioned to acquire a 2nd-hand civilian Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) vessel from Japan. Delays in the execution of the project resulted in an aborted attempt as the Japanese vendor choose to sell the prospective vessel to another buyer.

Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) – this project sought to acquire a brand-new Makasaar class Landing Ship Dock directly from South Korea complete with an amphibious assault package and a sophisticated mobile hospital. The following image of a Philippine Navy poster displayed on Navy Day shows what this project sought to acquire as a single project.

mrv
 The original project that was broken up onto different components

The current administration opted to break up the MRV project into multiple components, award the contract to South Korea’s partner in Indonesia — which had the license rights to the Makassar class LPD — and then renamed the project to the current SSV title. The latter decision initially created confusion among long-time defense enthusiasts who had been aware of both projects, but were not privy to project decisions.

Discussions about this SSV is also available on the DRP forum.

drillsgt @ September 23, 2016

Repost: What is the FA-50PH really for?

Posted in: Forum | Comments Off on Repost: What is the FA-50PH really for?

The following is the most successful article on adroth.ph, with 3,600+ likes to date. This is an authorized reposting of the article, which was also shared on the forum here.

Want to comment on the article? Share your thoughts on the forum.

=====

The Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH is the single most sophisticated aircraft in the Philippine Air Force inventory. The arrival of the first two aircraft on November 28, 2015 heralded the formal start of the service’s efforts to rebuild it’s air defense operations capability. These two “Fighting Eagles”, as South Korea calls them, were the first of what will ultimately be 12 aircraft. According to multiple PAF sources, two more aircraft are due in the final quarter of 2016, while the remainder will be delivered in 2017 at a rate of one a month.

The aircraft in question appears below. Photographs c/o Lester Tongco, reposted with permission.

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The FA-50 represents many firsts for the PAF, to include the following:

  • First brand-new fixed-wing combat aircraft acquired since the F-5A Freedom Fighters that were acquired in the early 60s.
  • First aircraft with fly-by-wire technology
  • First combat aircraft capable of integrating with network-centric warfare environments
  • First supersonic aircraft since the retirement of the last F-5A in 2005.

On February 19, 2016, these two aircraft conducted an air interception exercise involving a Philippine Air Lines Airbus carrying President Aquino who was returning from a US-ASEAN summit in the United States. This was reportedly the first intercept exercise of its type attempted by the Philippine Air Force since 1998 using its now retired F-5As. This exercise not only benefited the pilots of the aircraft, but also practiced coordination between air traffic controllers of the Civil Aviation Administration of the Philippines (CAAP) and the PAF’s Air Defense Wing. CAAP and PAF controllers were responsible for tracking the President’s aircraft and guiding the FA-50s to a point where they could use their own radars to find the airliner.

During the PAF’s heyday, in the US-bases funded 60s, such intercepts were part of normal operations for enforcing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ). During this period PAF fighters would intercept all manner of aircraft, from Soviet bombers transiting the South China Sea enroute to Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, to Air Force One on a visit to the Philippines as shown below.

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Photograph c/o Francis Neri Albums

These aircraft, however, appear to have a questionable future under the administration of President Rudrigo Duterte, who raised a firestorm in defense social media circles when he called the FA-50 “useless” at an economic consultation forum in Davao City on the 21st of June

The President had the following to say about the crown jewel of the PAF’s jet-aircraft fleet. Relevant excerpt begins at  Time index 36:07:

Video Excerpt:
DUTERTE: “You only have . . . what . . . two F-50s? Bakit mo binili yan?

Kayong mga taga Air Force, do not misconstrue my . . . I am a Filipino, I’m a citizen of this country and I have every right to say what I want to say. Sayang ang pera doon. You cannot use it for anti-insurgency which is really the problem of the moment. You can only use it for ceremonial fly-bys. What do I care about <fade out>. Kung binili mo ng choppers na may night vision, you when the kidnapping . . . you could have a catch up those guys

There’s only one purpose for buying it. To match the airpower . . . at least 1-on-1 sa China. Pero, beyond that Scarborough Shoal, anak ng hueteng there are 300 Migs there. They can reach Manila in 6 minutes”

Duterte’s objections to the aircraft are predicated upon three assumptions:

  • The FA-50s were acquired to counter Chinese air power in the West Philippine Sea
  • FA-50s cannot be used for the anti-insurgency campaign
  • The AFP prioritized the FA-50s in lieu of helicopters with night-fighting capability

This article seeks to fact-check these assumptions.

Assumption 1: The FA-50s were acquired to counter Chinese air power

The short response to this would be: “No it is not”.

A detailed answer will require an understanding of what the FA-50 can and cannot do, and a high-level review of the AFP modernization program as a whole. To draw attention to the misconceptions surrounding this aircraft, both among its critics and even some of its well-meaning supporters, this article will begin with what the aircraft can’t do.

Had the Philippine Air Force sought an effective counter to Chinese fighters, the FA-50 would have been a poor choice. In South Korean Air Force service, the Fighting Eagle is a replacement for aging F-5E and F-4 fighters. Both are second-string combat aircraft relegated to supporting roles for Korea’s principal fighters, namely the F-15K air superiority fighter and the relatively smaller — but still formidable — F-16K multi-role fighter.

The FA-50s range is limited. Airforce-technology.com cites a range of 1,851 km for the pure trainer version of this aircraft: the T-50 . While the Fighting Eagle’s actual range is classified, the fact that it’s external dimensions are virtually identical to the T-50, it stands to reason that it’s range would be no better, and could only be worse given the range-sapping external weapons pylons and the weight of additional equipment of the FA-50. In contrast, the smaller of the multi-role fighters cited above — the F-16 — has range of 3,221 km.

To put these figures into a counter-China context, Pag-asa island is approximately 852.77 kilometers from Metro Manila — a one-way flight that’s already almost half the aircraft’s range . This leaves the FA-50 little time to remain on station over Pag-asa before it needs to return to an airfield to refuel. It also has no in-flight refueling capability, therefore to reach, and loiter, over Philippine garrisons in the West Philippine Sea, it would need to sacrifice its precious few under-wing pylons to carrying fuel tanks, much as it did during its ferry flight from South Korea to the Philippines. Fuel tanks in lieu of weapons.

 Landing in Taiwan enroute to the Philippines. Note fuel tanks on the various hardpoints

The FA-50 is also hampered by lack of manufacturer-certified Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air weaponry. Official KAI documentation only cites AIM-9 short-range air-to-air missiles as its principal counter-aircraft armament, along with its 20mm gatling gun. While support for longer ranged missiles is not impossible, it will require a compatibility testing process that has not yet taken place.

All these facts inevitably lead to the question: If the aircraft is at such a significant disadvantage when facing Chinese fighters, why did the PAF bother to buy the FA-50 in the first place? Or in Duterte’s words “Bakit mo binili yan?”

The PAF’s long-term modernization program actually calls for the acquisition of Multi-Role Fighters (MRF) that can establish air superiority within the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ), as well as provide air support for AFP forces on the ground or on water. These would be the “true fighters” that would challenge Chinese Sukhois (not Migs) in the event of escalation of hostilities and not the FA-50.

As per a Department of National Defense White Paper on the Philippine Defense Transformation — the successor to the AFP Modernization Program and the Capability Upgrade Program — the PDT’s goals with respect to air power are as follows:

Strategic Air Strike Force through a combination of manned and unmanned assets in order to gain and maintain air superiority over friendly and contested territories.  The force should be capable of neutralizing a threat’s military potential that may be used against our forces; and, of supporting our surface forces through air-delivered weapons.  The force should have multi-role fighter aircrafts and unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV)23 capable of air interdiction, air combat maneuvering, air-to-ground and air-to-ship missions.  Inherent to the assigned missions is the training and proficiency of the fighter pilots and operators. Continuous training and participation in joint and/or combined air, land, and sea exercises shall be undertaken towards developing a proficient Strategic Air Strike Force.

While a number of candidates for MRFs have been discussed in Philippine media at various points over the past 6 years — from the Saab Gripen to the Lockheed-Martin F-16 — selection of the actual aircraft has not yet been made. Nevertheless, the nature of the mission assures the following facts about these prospective MRFs will apply:

  • There will be a significant performance gap between existing PAF trainers and MRFs. Although the F-5As were retired in 2005, PAF pilots have not been flying supersonic since long before then because concerns about the material condition of the F-5s restricted them to subs0nic flight. This has implications at multiple levels, to include the physical training regimen for pilots that would acclimate to high-g maneuvers.
  • MRFs will employ technologies that are generations ahead of whatever currently exists within the PAF. Fly-by-wire, for example, is the gold standard for modern fighter aircraft. This a system of multiple flight-computers that translate what a pilot wants to do, into actual control surface configurations. A pilot’s flight controls are no longer directly connected to the tail, ailerons, and elevators of the aircraft, they simply send requests to the fly-by-wire computers. While relatively common in the civilian airline industry, the PAF has virtual no experience operating — and more importantly maintaining — this technology. Other avionics components present in modern MRFs, from multi-mode radars to advanced low-bypass turbofans, present similar learning curves for airplane handlers — both on the ground and in the air.
  • MRFs will require a level of logistical support to which the service is unaccustomed. The quantum leap in capability of MRFs comes at a price, not only in pesos, but also in logistical complexity. The piecemeal acquisition of replacement components and cannibalization of existing aircraft for parts — that have become the norm for the PAF — will have a much more detrimental effect on these sophisticated aircraft than on its existing fleet of Vietnam-era aircraft. This will will require paradigm shifts within the organization, no only for aircraft maintainers, but even the budgetary planners responsible for forecasting logistical requirements.

To ensure a safe, sustainable, transition to this class of advanced aircraft, the Philippine Air Force deemed it necessary to acquire a bridging platform that would help the entire organization prepare for the herculean task of assimilating future MRFs into the fleet. The consequences of transitioning neophyte pilots to advanced MRFs too quickly are illustrated by the accident rate of the Indian Air Force, which is partly attributed to the lack of intermediate-performance aircraft, that the aerospace industry currently refers to as Lead In Fighter Trainers (LIFT).

This search for a bridging platform gave rise to the acquisition project formally called the “Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-In Fighter Trainer” project. This is an amalgamation of two previously separate projects: an effort to acquire ground attack aircraft which dates back to the original 1995 modernization program, and the relatively new LIFT project. To put the role of the FA-50 into perspective, LIFT will be discussed first.

In the PAF, LIFT fits into the following training syllabus (photos c/o of the Francis Neri Albums reposted with permission):

 555660_4137923887371_1913264358_n  sf260  1092119_596083070414122_1193737797_o insert  PAF_mod
Basic Trainer Advanced Trainer Basic Jet Trainer Lead In Fighter Trainer Multi-Role Fighter

Prospective PAF student pilots begin flight instruction with the Cessna T-41s of the PAF Flying School. Pilots that pass the initial screening phase and are destined for fixed wing aircraft proceed to the SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 for more advanced flight instruction. The subset of candidates that are qualified for fighter pilot duty with the Air Defense Wing learn the air defense trade on the SIAI-Marchetti S211 Basic Jet Trainer.

In addition helping new pilots transition to high-performance fighters, LIFT also reduces operational costs associated with multi-role fighters by offloading part of proficiency training to the comparatively cheaper LIFT.

A notable difference with the PAF’s LIFT, compared to similar aircraft in other nations, is that it is combat-capable. South Korea, for example, uses the unarmed T-50 for its LIFT purposes, while using their FA-50s for the above-mentioned low-end attack role. To understand why the PAF went this route, one must understand the service’s experience with its trainers.

t50 fa50

Training aircraft in the PAF have, historically, found themselves pressed into combat service either to make up for force-deficiencies, or as a stop-gap for a complete lack of suitable combat aircraft. When the T-28 Trojan close air support aircraft were withdrawn from service in the wake of the 1989 coup, select SF-260 trainers were converted into combat configuration. The retirement of the F-5A fighters in 2005 gave rise to Project Falcon, which produced the air superiority-grey colored AS211 which served as the PAF principal “fighter substitute” for almost a decade.

In a move that seemingly accepted the inevitability of history repeating itself, the PAF Project Management Team merged its LIFT requirement with its long-standing Surface Attack Aircraft project. So instead of acquiring a pure LIFT aircraft which would have been limited to flight instruction, the project acquired the FA-50PH: an aircraft suitably equipped to prepare the organization for the arrival of more capable multi-role fighters, with a secondary function of providing ground attack functionality. Like the S211 that came before it, it will also serve as an interim fighter — simply because the PAF doesn’t have anything else that even remotely approximates its capabilities.

Assumption 2: FA-50 cannot be used for anti-insurgency

Unlike it’s air-to-air weaponry, the FA-50 is already cleared to use a variety of ground attack weapons. All of which could be brought to bear in internal counter-insurgency campaigns, particularly against groups with a predilection for constructing defensive fortifications. The most recent instance of military action requiring fixed-wing strike was in Lanao in August 2008 where AS-211s were used.

The FA-50 can carry more ordnance than either the AS211s or the Vietnam-era OV-10 Broncos of the 15th Strike Wing. For comparison, the following table indicates the number of Mk.32 500lb bombs that each plane carries. Data reported from multiple sources within the PAF.

Aircraft Number of Mk.82 500 lb
OV-10 4
AS-211 2
FA-50 6

A brochure from Korean Aerospace Industries gives the following insight into the capacities of the various hardpoints, as well as support for bomb racks on the inner pylons, which makes the six-bomb report possible.

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While superior bomb-carrying capacity is, by itself, a significant improvement. What sets the FA-50 apart is the increased bombing accuracy because of its avionics. Existing AS211 and OV-10 are largely dependent on the pilot’s aim, and restricted to specific bombing profiles that require flying over the target, at relatively low heights, for manual weapons release. The FA-50s, on the other hand, is not limited to such profiles.

While PAF sources are reticent to discuss these facets of the aircraft openly, the FA-50’s ground attack mission in the South Korean air force, combined with its lineage with the F-16 strongly, as well as open source data about the aircraft’s avionics (e.g., embedded GPS, Inertial Navigation System, Heads Up Display etc.) strongly suggests the presence of computer-assisted bombing capability that greatly improves the effectiveness of conventional bombs. In South Korean service, the FA-50 is equipped with an Israeli-made Elta EL/M 2032 Multi-Mode Fire Control radar system which aviation Website Daegel.com describes as:

The radar enhances a fighter jet’s air-to-air, air-to-ground, and air-to-sea capabilities, enabling long-range target detection and high-resolution mapping, among other features.

This translates to highly accurate “dumb bomb” delivery either via Constantly Computed Impact Point (CCIP) or Continuously Computed Release Point (CCRP) bombing modes. While these two bombing techniques have been in existence for decades, it wasn’t until the FA-50 that the PAF could begin training in them. CCRP would allow the FA-50 to drop its dumb bombs from very high altitude — above cloud cover — and still have reasonable accuracy. The exact Circular Error of Probability (CEP) for bombs dropped in this manner is secret, but will undeniably be less than that of Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) which public sources have cited at 20ft. However, CCIP and CCRP are still used in conjunction with PGMs for situations where guidance for the PGM becomes unavailable after weapons release (e.g., weather interfering with guidance laser, etc.). PGMs are, in fact, best used in conjunction with either CCIP or CCRP.

Purely for perspective, the following are two bombing maneuvers made possible by CCRP. These images were taken from an October 1957 article in Popular Mechanics about computer-assisted bombing in the USAF, purely based on Inertial Navigation Systems, and without the benefit of embedded GPS systems. Note that these samples are purely to enhance appreciation for the flexibility of the technology. It is not a declaration that these are, or will be, part of the PAF’s own Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP).

bombtoss verticalrel
 Bomb toss  Vertical release

Furthermore, as per PAF sources, the availability of embedded training systems on the aircraft — which were integral to its training function — permit the simulation of weapons delivery without actually expending ammunition.

Even without either CCIP or CCRP, the FA-50’s superior ordnance carrying capacity translates to more Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) that can be brought to be bear on a target for precision targeting of multiple High Value Targets (HVT) with minimal collateral damage. This relatively new addition to the PAF arsenal provides a valuable capability in counter-insurgency, and one that was actually demonstrated in March 2012 reportedly c/o of an OV-10 carrying at least one such weapon. Although photographs of the event have never been release, a PAF modernization document with a photograph of a PAF OV-10 in the process of dropping a Paveway II was circulated in defense social media.

B4JPn phsmartbomb-b&w2
 PAF OV-10 dropping Paveway II, photo c/o of a PAF pubication  Photo c/o Rappler.com

Assumption 3: The AFP prioritized the FA-50 in lieu of helicopters with night fighting capability

The AFP has already had five years of the COIN-centric first phase of the Capability Upgrade Program which initially replaced the 1995 AFP Modernization Program. It’s insurgency-focused capabilities are at an all-time high, as are it’s night fighting capabilities. Given that the speech was delivered before the President formally assumed office, and before his formal briefing about the AFP’s capabilities, it is not inconceivable that he was not aware that the Philippine Air Force actually already has eight (8) all-weather AgustaWestland AW-109 attack helicopters with the ability to detect ground targets day or night. These are addition to the two attack helicopters of the Philippine Navy.

ah3 ah2  flir_close 1
 AW-109 in hangar during Balikataan 2015. FLIR turret clearly visible under nose. Close-up of FLIR turret with view of rocket pod. Screen capture taken from a PAF video  Screen capture of a night-time firing of air-to-ground rockets. Screen capture taken from a PTV4 video

High speed photo reconnaissance

The rebuttals to the assumptions listed above have already addressed the question of “What is the FA-50 for?” in broad strokes. This section will explore other uses for which this aircraft is highly suited.

One function that the FA-50 is uniquely suited is high-speed reconnaissance. Not to be confused with maritime patrol, which is slated to be fulfilled by another PAF project, which will be discussed in another article.

No other Philippine asset, military or civilian, can put human eye-balls above a crisis point faster than the FA-50. Be it an emerging crisis anywhere within the Philippine EEZ, or photo reconnaissance of remote disaster stricken areas as part of the preliminary assessment of a disaster response plan.

Although not currently part of the SAA/LIFT munitions project, reconnaissance pods that can provide real-time images to a ground station do exist and could broaden the FA-50’s usefulness. The following pod is an example. Only proper evaluation and testing will determine its suitability for the our aircraft.

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 Reecelite Tactical Reconnaissance Pod. Photo c/o Rafale

Why a brand new plane for LIFT?

Older, 2nd-hand, aircraft to perform the SAA/LIFT function could have potentially been acquired in lieu of brand new aircraft. However the availability of low-use airframes, with sufficient airframe life to satisfy the requirements of Administrative Order 169, Series of 2007 , while not impossible, is questionable.

3.2.3. Used equipment or weapons system may be acquired, provided that:

a. The used equipment: or weapon system meets the desired operational requirements of the AFP;

b. It still has at least fifteen (15) years service life, or at least fifty percent (50%) of its service life remaining, or if subjected to a life extension program, is upgradeable to attain its original characteristics or capabilities;

c. Its acquisition cost is reasonable compared to the cost of new equipment; and

d. The supplier should ensure the availability of after-sales maintenance support and services,

At any rate, right or wrong, the previous administration’s experience with sticker shock at a lackadasical attempt to acquire refurbished F-16s in 2012, soured the DND against refurbished fighters. This ill-fated F-16 project is a story in itself, and is reserved for a future article.

Selecting brand new aircraft, on the other hand, that are still in production not only assures the PAF of thousands of flights hours of useful airframe life — which translates to decades of service — but also of continued availability of parts. A factory-fresh F-16, for example, has a designed airframe life of 4,500 flight hours which, depending on the sortie rate and demands of the mission profiles, will actually last decades.

Delving into the PAF’s history yet again, it was the lack of spares for an aircraft that had long since been retired from service with the country of origin that eventually grounded the most capable fighter the PAF has operated to date: the F-8H Crusader.

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 F-8H in flight. Photo c/o Vought Corp. F-8s scrapped in Clark AFB

Summary

Modernization of an air force cannot happen overnight. Dr Sanu Kainikaa, an air power strategist with the Royal Australian Air Force and a retired fighter pilot and Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force, summarizes this task on page 48 of his book “The Art of Air Power”, published by the Air Power Development Center of the Royal Australian Air Force:

Of all military capabilities, air power is the most cost intensive to develop, acquire and operate. This places an added responsibility on air force leaders to select and maintain the appropriate air power capabilities that will provide the necessary level of security to the nation. The situation is further complicated by the long lead time required to establish air power capabilities of the right calibre. In combination, the onus of responsibility on the air force leadership is ominous. On the other side of the coin, it has also to be emphasised that air power is critical to success in all contemporary conflicts and is, therefore, a crucial element in the overall warfighting capability of a military force.

Another aspect of the cost of developing air power capabilities is the quantum of resources that need to be expended to create a cadre of professionals who clearly understand all aspects of the professional application of air power. This is once again a drawnout process and cannot be put in place at short notice or in an ad hoc manner. Time and experience are of the essence here, perhaps even more than the need for financial resources. The resource intensiveness of the physical assets and the need to invest wisely in long-term developmental requirements—both in hardware and human capabilities—makes air power a unique capability. This also makes it a complex capability to sustain at the necessary level of competence.

Even if it were not the Duterte administration’s intention to pursue the PAF’s modernization during its tenure, it would be behoove his administration to preserve whatever gains had already been made to give future administrations the latitude to fulfill such plans. The momentum that the PAF is gaining with its FA-50s –if not in terms of raw military power, then in the airpower-related skills for the entire organization — must not be dismissed casually.

Had Duterte’s assumptions about the FA-50PH been correct, then he would have been justified in the stance he took at the SMX forum. With an acquisition cost of US$426.6 million (P19.9 billion), these 12 aircraft alone cost more than the budgets of the Department of Science & Technology and Department of Trade & Industry combined. These are funds that could have been put to use to shore up other aspects of the AFP’s capabilities, or kept in the AFP Modernization Trust Fund for use in the purchase of the true MRFs that the PAF intends to buy.

However, re-examination of the rationale behind why the FA-50 was purchased in the first place, its capabilities, and a simple review of the Philippine Defense Transformation program, yields flaws in these assumptions that arguably can be attributed to lack of information. This article was written in the spirit of aiding efforts that the DND, AFP, and PAF are undoubtedly taking to educate the President about the goals of the PAF component of the modernization plan. The sustainable transition to an external facing air defense posture and the future of the Air Defense Command hinge upon the success of this education campaign. It is of such importance that it deserves the support of any and all knowledgeable patriot.

Ensconced within that transition plan is the FA-50PH, and the training benefits it provides both pilots and plane handlers. It would do the AFP well to highlight the safety benefits that a bridging platform offers to pilots to the President.  After all, Duterte is a pilot himself.

drillsgt @ September 23, 2016

What happened to “Lame Reports”

Posted in: About this blog | Comments Off on What happened to “Lame Reports”

This page used to be called “Lame Reports”, a site dedicated to recording media gaffes related to defense issues and was intended as a way to encourage media outlets to get their editorial acts together. However, with the demise of the Timawa.net forum, the site has been re-purposed for a much broader purpose: To promote wholistic discussions about Philippine defense in general, to include its original media focus, as well as to serve as a replacement for the community that was unceremoniously deactivated after 10 years of operation.

The new expanded moderating team, consisting of Timawa forum veterans, look forward to more years of fact-based discussions for years to come with this page and its associated forum as a base.

Join us in our new forum: http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php

drillsgt @ September 23, 2016

PH media doesn’t have a monopoly on gaffes

Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Off on PH media doesn’t have a monopoly on gaffes

While this site is focused on PH media gaffs, it is also important to point out that press gaffes are not restricted just to Filipino reporters. So as an indulgence in “misery loves company”, here is a gaffe from our northern neighbor.

That being said . . . we slip up this way too.

drillsgt @ August 17, 2012

Each to his own facts?

Posted in: Media outlets, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Media outlets, Philippine Star | Comments Off on Each to his own facts?

What is really going on?

From: Philippine TV Ratings Facebook page

drillsgt @ June 21, 2012

“Media goes to war” by Ed Lingao

Posted in: Ed Lingao | Comments Off on “Media goes to war” by Ed Lingao

The following commentary was written by Ed Lingao, a well known defense correspondent, and posted on Facebook at the following location:

http://www.facebook.com/notes/ed-lingao/media-goes-to-war/10150344744554639

The author has graciously granted permission to repost his article here.

MEDIA GOES TO WAR

by Ed Lingao on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 7:21pm

I think I have spent enough time in the field to know that the anger of footsoldiers is quite understandable, although sometimes misdirected. The same goes for the frustration they feel after suffering casualties.

However, what I cannot understand is how media screws it up every time. Every time. Is it a problem of ignorance, or arrogance? Or is it simple laziness?

1. this morning, one newspaper used the word slaughter in its lead to describe the death of the 19 troops. talk about loaded words. the troops were not lined up and shot. the firefight lasted more than ten hours. ten hours. this is not the only example. time and again, we would come across the word ‘massacre’ to describe what happened in Basilan. again, loaded words. we are agitating further those already agitated by using words in the wrong context. why? perhaps because they are sexier? BTW, I read the inquirer.

2. i have the misfortune of having a car radio that only picks up FM, so i usually tune in to one FM radio station that has an AM news format. Last night, some marvelous commentators decided to talk about the five million pesos that PNoy gave to the MILF for leadership training. Now, that issue is explosive enough when viewed under present circumstances. The two commentators however chose to lay it out some more. One said, baka naman kinaltas yang 5 million sa budget ng PNP at binigay sa MILF. Or, horror of horrors, baka kinuha sa budget ng AFP? the speculation, ridiculous as it was, came out of nowhere and was basically unsubstantiated, yet it was said on the air. it was clearly pampagalit sa listeners. of course they later said that these were questions that they want answered. but the fact is that they laid it out first as if these were valid questions to ask, even though there was no basis for this line of questions. lay on the malice first, and then habulin nalang ang disclaimer – is that how it goes? then of course, they talked about five million pesos for the milf while troops had rotting boots. in the context of peace negotiations, both sides try to have confidence building measures. this is not the first time govt committed an amount to rebel groups with the proviso that the amount be spent for building peace and understanding. in that context, 5m is small change compared to other government expenses such as waging all-out war or keeping our congressmen and senators happy. kawawa at naapi na nga ang mga tropa, ginagalit at ginagamit pa natin. TV5, you have shown you can spend a lot of money on good equipment; sadly you haven’t shown you can spend money on good people.

3. I understand how some troops want a war to finish everything. That is gut instinct after losing so many men. But the decision is not theirs, so the responsibility for enlightening the public and the body politic falls on us. yet we have just proven plain stupid, uneducated, and unenlightened. So many commentators are agitating for all-out war, as if they had ever stepped onto a battlefield. Too many strategists and armchair generals are out there, beating the drums of war, telling our troops how to fight. I have been to Al-Barka. In fact, I had even slept there a few days after the 2007 beheadings. When the marines came in with 100+ men, four trucks and two APCs, they came away bloodied; when the army went in with only 40+ people, half of them trainees, without any armor or backup, they should have known what they were up against.

Is our anger driven by the supposed treachery of the rebels? Perhaps. Things are so muddled up there, that both the rebels and the army cannot get their story straight. But you can also look at it this way – the army went into Al-Barka, a community of MILF and ASG rebels, and so the fighting started. It looks fine and dandy on the map, especially when you see a neat dot that says ATS. But in reality, there really is no frontline there, no delineation or line on the ground that says, this is where the ATS begins. Quite simply, they live there with their families, not on that dot, but all over that dot. So was it an ambush? perhaps, perhaps not. If you are pinned down because the enemy happens to LIVE all around you, then perhaps it could seem like so. Jim Libiran got into an argument here with someone who tried to overanalyze the fighting there. The other guy insisted that it was a well-laid trap because the MILF supposedly did a pincer maneuver. So much for the armchair generals.

Ahh, so maybe our anger is magnified by the number of casualties that the government suffered. And yes, we should be outraged by the number of dead. But who do we blame then, for the high number of dead soldiers? Think about it. In battle, do you expect your enemy to say, tama na, marami na tayong napatay, atras na tayo? In other words, should we blame the enemy for fighting hard, and then let our commanders off the hook even after they let our troops down? In other countries, a full-blown investigation followed by a general court martial would be in order.

I propose, for our safety and sanity, that everyone now agitating for immediate all-out war be equipped with the latest gadgetry and weapons, and airdropped into Al-Barka so they can live out their deepest fantasies in the mud and coconut trees of Al-Barka. The mediamen can bring all their alalays and their makeup kits if they wish. After all, we all want to look good doing our stand-ups, don’t we? Oh and they can bring their writers too, since many of them can’t write sensibly even if their lives depended on it. Don’t bother to bring your expensive cellphones and blackberries; walang signal dun. Don’t bring your IPads, especially if you intend to stay for several days; walang kuryente dun para mag charge. ang angry birds dun, ibang klaseng bomba ang iniitsa. Bring sunblock, bring bug spray. Bring hairspray na rin.

And if you still have room in your pack, try to bring lots of good sense, though, and bring an open mind. No matter how gory and bloody and terrifying it looks in the movies, Hollywood will never ever get it. You can never smell real fear in a moviehouse.

Oh before I forget, let Erap take the lead too. In fact, he is welcome to dress up again in his army uniform so he can prance around the hills of Al-Barka while the rebels nip at his heels and show him what it really means to be a tough guy.

drillsgt @ October 27, 2011

Press room dynamics and jitters

Posted in: Public Information Agency (PIA) | Comments Off on Press room dynamics and jitters

The Department of National Defense organized a Communications and News Exchange (CNEX) forum on the 16th of September 2011 at the Public Information Agency building in Quezon City. The following day, the Office of Public Affairs posted the video on YouTube. Present that day were the Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire Gazmin, GEN Eduardo Oban, CSAFP, and two members of his staff.

It was an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of the press room. The SND’s opening statements clearly were crafted to steer questions in the direction of the AFP modernization program and build up territorial defense capability. Things however did not turn out that way.

Internal Security Operations (ISO) remained top-of-mind for the press. Questions started with peace talks with the CPP-NPA and Jemaah Islamiyah. Afterwards the bulk of the questions centered on the re-arrest of MGEN Carlos Garcia for violations of the Article of War. The SND and his staff were clearly prepared for this eventuality with the presence of the Judge Advocate General, BGEN Gilberto Jose Roa. However this, and the other lines of questioning that prevailed, failed to maximize the presence of Maj. Gen. Roy Devartadura, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans (J5) and the former head of the AFP Modernization Office.

As the forum wound down, the PIA fielded its own reporter into the fray: Gideon Kapayaw. As of writing, it is unclear if he took to the floor to shift the balance of questions back to the AFP modernization program, or if he was tasked to focus on a line of questioning that was oriented towards the DND’s external defense obligations from the start. Regardless of his intended role, his question was . . . awkward . . . in a general sense and good fodder for this blog.

The priceless moment starts at 45:40, when what seemed to be an unprepared Mr. Kapayaw (the forum moderator had to call him twice) initiated the following exchange:

PIA: Sir I have a question about the “marching orders” of DND ever since the Beijing visit of President Aquino. Sa ngayon po ano ba ang ano po ba ang ating . . . ang marching orders ng DND (followed by a second question to CSAFP Oban about the status of the Spratlys dispute)

Speculatively, Mr. Kapayaw could have sought information about whether or not the Beijing visit had eased tensions in the Spratlys and if it affected the AFP’s defensive posture in the area. However his unfortunate choice of words: “marching orders”, seemed to imply that the AFP was sitting its hands waiting for something to do. The AFP has been engaged in near continuous combat for over fifty years, fighting a multi-front insurgency, and periodically engaging in external entanglements. It is, therefore, constantly carrying out orders. An incredulous SND, who one could imagine had a “WTF” thought bubble floating above his head, gave the nervous reporter a second chance to collect his thoughts and restate his question with the following query:

SND: Ah I’m sorry paki-ulit nga ulit yung question na related sa akin

Unfortunately, like a moth to the flame . . .

PIA: What are the marching orders of DND from our president ever since the Beijing visit?

The resulting response was a simple re-statement of the AFP’s mandate to defend the republic, and a clarification that no new instructions were issued specifically as a result of the Beijing visit. The second half of his question to CSAFP Oban was ignored. Everyone gets nervous, and gets the better of everyone at one point or another. Most of us, however, are lucky enough not get such moments on camera. Nice try Mr. Kapayaw.

The SND’s opening statements seemed to fall on deaf ears. While a lone question about the establishment of a National Coast Watch System did come out, it appeared that the reporters present already had their “marching orders” about what details to report upon. The J-5, a man many a military enthusiast would arguably give an arm to speak with, barely got a word out.

Ultimately, the press gets to decide what is news worthy and what isn’t. They have their reasons (e.g., target audience, ratings, etc.) for their focal points.

Given this fact, it begs the question: If the DND really had a specific point that they wanted to get across, why not write their own article, post it on their Websites and numerous Facebook accounts, and just copy-furnish the press? That way even if the report doesn’t match up with the press’ priorities, it still gets to the people.

drillsgt @ September 23, 2011

Using Wikipedia to spice up a report

Posted in: Services, Philippine Air Force, Media outlets, Philippine Star | Comments Off on Using Wikipedia to spice up a report

In December 2009, the Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of National Defense issued a Notice of Award for the Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The winning bidder was the Polish company Wytwornia Sprzetu Komunikacyjnego “PZL Swidnik” S.A., which offered its W-3 Sokol intermediate helicopter. Since the announcement, little if any details about the helicopter were ever released from official sources.

Then in September, 2010, the Philippine Star, care of Roel Pareno, produced the following article with surprisingly detailed descriptions of the helicopter’s armament. The following is an excerpt.

From: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=612969&publicationSubCategoryId=63

Air Force acquires 8 Polish-made attack helicopters
By Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) Updated September 18, 2010 12:00

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The capability of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be enhanced with the purchase of eight Polish-made attack helicopters.

PAF chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena announced yesterday that the Air Force has already acquired eight brand new Sokol W-3WA Falcon helicopters from the PZL Swidnik Co. of Poland.

Rabena said the helicopters, purchased at a cost of P2.8 billion, are all heavily equipped.

Rabena said the twin-engine combat helicopters would be delivered early next year.

PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the delivery of the helicopters would also include the training of the pilots and proper use of the weaponry for crewmen.

Okol said Sokol Falcon helicopter has weapons that include a GSz-23L gun, Strzala-2 AAMs missiles and Gad fire-control system.

The helicopter is also equipped with night vision capability, compatible instrumentation and armored seats that protect crewmembers from small arms fire.

He said the other helicopter units would be equipped with starboard-mounted 23mm GSz-23 twin-barrel gun; Mars-2 launchers for sixteen 57mm S-5 or 80mm S-8 unguided rockets, ZR-8 bomblet dispensers, Platan mine laying packs, and six cabin window mounted AK 47, 5.45mm Tantal or PKM machine guns.

Okol said the helicopters could be used for rescue missions.

< Edited >

The weapons list in the article surprised many long-time military enthusiasts. It didn’t make sense at multiple levels.

First of all, the CUH was supposed to be a transport helicopter. It was meant to operate in the same manner as the UH-1H Iroqouis (Huey) that is currently the PAF’s principal troop-mover. The UH-1s are only armed with two side-facing M-60 machine guns for self-defense purposes, thus reserving most of the helicopter’s lifting power to moving men and materiel.

The second, and more alarming, concern was the potential logistical impact of the list. The report mentioned weapons that did not currently existing in the PAF inventory, and therefore would be specialized purchases for a relatively small fleet of aircraft. The guns listed would introduce new types of ammunition that were not manufactured by the Government Arsenal, and would therefore have to be imported — again, for a very small fleet of aircraft.

The report just seemed wrong. As it turns out, it was.

Not long after the report came out, military-enthusiast community inquiries made their way to the PAF spokesman himself regarding the details that the report claimed that he had shared. Apparently . . . those details did not come from him and words had been put in his mouth.

In a effort to add spice to the article, the reporter reportedly inserted details that he had gotten from a Wikipedia article about the Sokols into his report. He had done so with little regard for whether or not the data was actually applicable.

It has never been made clear if the decision to embellish was the reporter’s handiwork, or if was an editorial decision.

drillsgt @ September 8, 2011