Philippines Get MPA ISR Kit from the US

SHAH ALAM: AS we were busy with DSA 2016, a report came out during the week stating that the Philippines is getting a manned MPA palletised ISR kit from the US. The ISR kit is one of the four separate projects funded by the Pentagon’s Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) this year for the Philippines, costing nearly US$42 million.

The ISR kit alone cost only US$8.7 million (see the story below). The amount of kit given to the Philippines is 85 per cent of the total of funds (US$50 million) provided for the MSI in 2016 for five countries including Malaysia.

Malaysia obtained a total of US$2.3 million – mainly for communication gear and upgrades to command and control centres. It must be noted that the amount of funding and the type of equipment provided under the MSI is based on the requirements of the respective nations after consultations with the programme manager.

So if we were to request for US$1 million worth of kit from the list provided to us, it is likely we will get them. The list of equipment offered may well be worth ten times more however!

ISR Hercules modifications from Lockheed Martin
ISR Hercules modifications from Lockheed Martin

From USNI news.

“SPAWAR will outfit Malaysia with $1.2 million in secure communications and an expanded Malaysia Armed Forces (MAF) common operating picture to connect the Royal Malaysian Flight Operations Center, Operational Forces, and MAF headquarters. MAF leaders also requested that the system be installed at the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Fleet Headquarters at Lumut Naval Base, and that five mobile kits be provided to bring on ships during operations and exercises. Overall operations center upgrades, including contributions from PACFLEET and the Air Force, total $2.3 million.

U.S. Marine Forces Pacific will assign an officer to advice MAF for five months under the MSI 2016 program. Malaysia does not have a Marine Corps and wishes to develop amphibious, littoral and coastal defense capabilities for use in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone, which was attacked by gunmen in 2013. Air, land and maritime defense capabilities in that region have been beefed up in the years since the attack.

 U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jamie Camacho, left, and a Malaysian soldier begin their amphibious beach assault during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015 near Tanduo, Lahad Datu.During the culminating event, Malaysian soldiers alongside Marines assaulted the beach using tactics learned throughout MALUS AMPHEX 15. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/Released)
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jamie Camacho, left, and a Malaysian soldier begin their amphibious beach assault during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015 near Tanduo, Lahad Datu.During the culminating event, Malaysian soldiers alongside Marines assaulted the beach using tactics learned throughout MALUS AMPHEX 15. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/Released)

The Marine advisor will help expand a current exercise in Malaysia, Malus Amphex, into a multilateral exercise, and will help plan additional East Sabah amphibious exercises.”

Hercules sensor combination from Airdyne Aerospace.
Hercules sensor combination from Airdyne Aerospace.

It is unlikely though at the moment at least we will be able to request more funding using the MSI as the government can ill afford to offend China. However it will be less controversial if we were to obtained the same ISR capability for the Hercules using our own funds.

Anyhow posted below is the list of things the Philippines are getting. The most interesting is of course the palletised ISR kit. Yes, it maybe a low end solution compared to the platforms we have been offered but it will allow us to use our fleet of C130 Hercules for the MPA role without using the crews’ Mark 1 eyeballs.

As the story did not named the maker of the ISR kit given to the Philippines, I used both the Lockheed Martin and Airdyne Aerospace ones. Based on the pictures, I am guessing that the Airdyne Aerospace kit is more affordable. A good thing if we need to buy them using our own funds.

A sensor pod fitted on a US Marines Hercules by Airdyne Aerospace
A sensor pod fitted on a US Marines Hercules by Airdyne Aerospace

From USNI News:

“MSI funds four separate projects between the United States and the Philippines this year, costing nearly $42 million.

CONOPS for the Hercules ISR capabilities by Lockheed Martin
CONOPS for the Hercules ISR capabilities by Lockheed Martin

First, to assist Filipino military and law enforcement organizations, a maritime and joint operations center support project will “provide automatic identification systems (AIS) sensors, communications-network enhancements (software and hardware), and training to increase and strengthen the command and control (C2) relationships among the individual capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippines Coast Guard, and the Philippines National Coast Watch Center (NCWC).”

Lockheed Martin off the-shelf solutions for the Hercules podded capabilities.
Lockheed Martin off the-shelf solutions for the Hercules podded capabilities.

The Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) will oversee the biggest part of this project – equipment upgrades for the three organizations to create a common operating picture, worth nearly $15 million. The Maritime Domain Awareness Common Operating Picture will bring in new hardware and software, Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, encryption devices, communications gear and more.

Roll On/Roll Off multi-mssion capability proposed by Lockheed Martin
Roll On/Roll Off multi-mssion capability proposed by Lockheed Martin

A team led by U.S. Pacific Fleet – with members from the Naval War College, U.S. 7th Fleet, Navy headquarters and more – will train and assess the Armed Forces of the Philippines on “analyzing information collected at fusion centers and preparing it for review by decision makers and international partners.” The assessment will take place in the coming months, during a bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in June and a multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise in August. The results will help inform future investments the Pentagon may make in future MSI projects, according to the document. PACFLEET will send similar assessment teams to work with Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

TCOM 22m Aerostat
TCOM 22m Aerostat

Second in the summary of projects is a maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) improvement project worth nearly $18 million. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will oversee the bulk of this program, providing a Tethered Aerostat Radar System with long-range detection and monitoring capabilities to help the Philippines “detect maritime and air traffic within its coastal waters.” The aerostat will detect traffic within 90 nautical miles of its location in Puerto Princesa Palawan, Philippines, and it will feed information back to the military and law enforcement’s common operating picture.

“The project also includes a manned maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) palletized ISR kit to be installed on a previously purchased C-130 aircraft, as well as two roll-on/roll-off mission suite pallets, costing $8.7 million.

“This ISR suite of equipment rapidly configures standard C-130 aircraft for tactical signals intelligence, providing capabilities that identify, geo-locate, and report communications intelligence and signals of interest to air and ground-component commanders,” according to the document.

BRP-Gregorio del Pilar of the Philippines Navy which was formerly a Hamilton class cutter of the US
BRP-Gregorio del Pilar of the Philippines Navy which was formerly a Hamilton class cutter of the US

In a third program, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) will help determine what command, control, communications, and computers (C4) may be needed for Hamilton-class high- endurance cutters the Philippines bought from the U.S. Coast Guard under the Excess Defense Articles program”.

The MSI – which is part of the US initiative to counter China’s influence in the region – has a total US$425 million funding for a period of five years.

According to the USNI News report ” FY 2016 projects, costing about $50 million, are meant to help the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand increase maritime security and maritime domain awareness, while also working with Brunei, Singapore and Taiwan on training and headquarter-level integration.

— Malaysian Defence

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