The Joneses…Pinoys Get Six More NC-212Is

PAF NC212I. PTDI

SHAH ALAM: Indonesian state-owned PT Dirgantara today signed the contract to supply six NC212I twin engine transporters with the Philippines Department of National Defence (DND). Both parties also signed the maintenance contract for the two NC-212I already in service with the Philippines Air Force (PAF).

The contract signing for the aircraft was conducted at the department headquarters in Quezon City, PTDI announced on its social media network.

According to PTDI, once the delivered the six NC212I will also be operated by PAF. As for the maintenance contract the first aircraft to undergo maintenance will be flown to Bandung next month.

PAF took delivery of the NC212Is in June 2018, some four years after the contract was signed. The aircraft was contracted in 2014 under the PAF Light Lift Fixed-Wing Acquisition Project under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernisation Programme. The delivery of the aircraft was delayed as PTDI had difficulties in certifying the aircraft which was fitted with different avionics and other modifications than the previous versions. Following the certification, PTDI has had no more issues with the deliveries of contracted aircraft.

PAF operates the NC212I in many roles from maritime patrol to passenger and troop transport, search and rescue and medical evacuation. The NC212I has a carrying capacity of 28 passengers, eight more than the previous version.

The service has been seeking additional NC212I since the delivery of the first two which reportedly cost US$19 million. In February, the DND received some US$11 million or 15 per cent of the total cost for the six-aircraft contract, which was signed today.

Apart from the Philippines other export users of the NC212i in Asean include Thailand and Vietnam.

— Malaysian Defence

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36 Comments

  1. The new contract for the 6 NC-212i is around USD12.5 million per aircraft. For a 28 seater with a rear ramp door, that is reasonable.

    Nepal for example recently bought the PZL M28 Skytruck for about USD15 million per aircraft. M28 is a bit smaller, with only 19 person capacity, but still with a rear (quite narrow) ramp.

    But for the price, if you don’t mind the perceived old shape, the best value would be the Basler BT-67, for around USD12 million, an airplane that could fly into small airstrips carrying 38 passengers or around 6 tons cargo.
    https://www.aviationpros.com/aircraft/maintenance-providers/mro/article/21267235/basler-turbo-conversions-and-creating-the-bt67
    There is one example of the BT-67 regularly flying in Malaysia doing oil and gas surveys.
    https://www.planespotters.net/photo/829180/c-ftgi-bell-geospace-aviation-basler-bt-67
    more on the BT-67
    https://www.key.aero/article/upgrading-80-year-old-douglas-dc-3s-turboprop-engines

  2. I see the potential of NC-2121 replacing MasWing’s Twin Otters in Ba Kelalan and the interiors of both Sabah and Sarawak. Twin Otters can seat 19 plus cargo but anyone who has been in one will tell you it’s claustrophobic. NC-2121 can seat 28.
    Who knows, TUDM can find use for such an aircraft too.

  3. @ taib

    A brand new twin otter costs around usd7 million. A fully rebuilt as new version (reset to 0 hours) about usd4 million.

    NC212i has quite a few quirks that is not there with the very rugged twin otter (and why twin otters are the one preferred everywhere)

    The NC-212i, like the GAF Nomad, is quite sensitive to where you put your stuff inside it, so not to affect the CG. Also the TPE-331 turboprop engine is not quite favoured compared to the PT6 engine.

    Also the support/spareparts. Not many out there compared to the twin otter.

  4. Jun – “Philppines again is catching ”

    Yes. Soon we can expect PN surface action groups off the Kamchatka Peninsular and Yokosuka naval base.

    Taib – “Who knows, TUDM can find use for such an aircraft too.”

    It used to have use for an aircraft which could land on short strips and it has such an aircraft in the form of the Caribou. With the end of the Emergency there was no longer a need for such a capability. The CN-235 replaced the Caribou but it didn’t have the STOL capabilities. If anything; on paper the army would have a need but then it has helicopters which can fulfil most of the requirement.

    The PAF needs the capability because there are short landing strips all over the country [COIN ops are still ongoing] and on the various reefs they claim and occupy.

  5. In my opinion RMAF could have a few of something like the PC-24 in its fleet.

    High speed, range for flights between east and west malaysia, and the ability to land and takeoff from short gravel and grass strips.
    https://www.flyingmag.com/pilatus-pc24-rough-field-certification/

    Many times RMAF undertakes mercy and MEDEVAC flights of just 1 person using the A400M. The PC-24 can do that from many airstrips in sabah and sarawak; while also capable of doing other missions such as MECU, liaison, and general transport/light cargo duties.

    And what does the PC-24 cost? Around the same as the NC-212i.
    https://robbreport.com/motors/aviation/pilatus-pc-24-can-do-it-all-2873366/

  6. … – ”In my opinion RMAF could have a few of something like the PC-24 in its fleet.”

    Yes you pointed this out several years ago. The problem is that a trade off has to be made and the trade off is that helicopters will perform service centric roles; even if certain roles can be better performed by a light aircraft. Also; unlike during the Emergency; very few army bases or forward locating areas have grass strips. They do have helicopter spots however.

    … – ”And what does the PC-24 cost?”

    The right question is now what it costs [your penchant for prices notwithstanding] but does the resource strained Army Aviation Corps see the need to allocate resources to operate/sustain a fixe wing capability? Note that even a few planes will require a ground crew and administrative staff in the dozens. Not only that but neither Kluang or the Army Aviation Corps facility at Kuantan has a runway or a runway connected to it.

    In short; despite all the on paper advantages the army does not; has never and probably will never in the foreseeable future see the need for a light plane.

  7. @hulubalang
    “RMAF could have a few of something like the PC-24 in its fleet”
    TUDM still has a few CN235 to perform such tasks. Not all were converted to MSA.

  8. I never mentioned PC-24 for PUTD, but for RMAF. My original suggestion was for the PC-24 to be the aircraft primarily for MECU mission, with secondary MEDEVAC/mercy flights, liaison, and light cargo tasks.

    For time critical MEDEVAC/mercy flights, the PC-24 (815 kph) has higher cruise speed than the CN-235 (450 kph).

  9. Honestly if RMAF wants something that can be used for secondary tasks and they got the funding and personnel, it will be more suitable for them to fly the Twin Otters especially in Sabah and Sarawak. I know its slower than the PC-24 but then again life is like that. As it is, it simply cannot afford it so it might be cheaper for this kind of work be subsidised by the government via MASWings for example. For medevac between the peninsula and Sabah/Sarawak again it will be cheaper to do it via the private sector. But again, this requires close coordination among the stake holders. As it is, it’s an ad hoc arrangement.

  10. Medevac & mercy flight as the name suggests are done out of mercy utilizing existing AF asset.

    It’s not AF day to day jobs to provide for medevac & mercy flight. It’s likely a lot cheaper to just give PC-24 to internal security agencies or just pay private companies.

    But then again we Unlike the PH are not an archipelagic nation. We are a state with 2 large land mass. PH would never get a interconnected road network but we could.

  11. … -”I never mentioned PC-24 for PUTD, but for RMAF. ”

    If memory serves you did [under a different guise] propose a light aircraft for the army.

    As it stands the RMAF is in the business of trying to reduce it’s logistical/support footprint; thus it’s safe to assume that it will not introduce into service the PC-24 or anything else of the same weight/size category despite whatever paper advantages there are.

  12. @ marhalim

    Issue with the idea of RMAF operating the twin otters is that there is no primary task of RMAF that needs the use of a 19 seat twin otter.

    Also most mercy flights that uses A400M and C-130H is to take patients to have better critical care from East malaysia to hospitals in West malaysia. Twin otters cannot do that, while current helicopters can do mercy flights within sabah or sarawak. The PC-24, while able to take off and land on grass strips, can safely cover the distance between East and West Malaysia.

    My premise of RMAF to use the PC-24 is primarily as an alternative to leasing aircraft for MECU taskings, and secondarily a cost effective alternative to A400M and C-130H of critical flights between East and West Malaysia with less than 10 passengers.

    So we can reduce the current high flying hours of the A400M fleet (RMAF fleet of just 4 is flying more than those that has 2-3 times the aircraft number) by not using the A400M to fly just 1 patient across the south china sea.

  13. propose a light aircraft for the army

    Probably 1 or 2 Sikorsky PZL M28 from US Excess Defence Articles to use as organic paradrop training capability to offset the reduced number of CN-235 as those are nearly free (and have a rear ramp door that the twin otter does not), but not the PC-24. My premise for the PC-24 is for RMAF MECU. Quite a few air forces use jets for twin engine training, USAF and RAF are those that i can think of.

  14. … – ”Probably 1 or 2 Sikorsky PZL M28 from US Excess Defence Articles to use as organic paradrop training capability to offset the reduced number of CN-235”

    – How would it be used ”as organic paradrop training capability to offset the reduced number of CN-235” when it can only carry a fraction of what the CN-235 can?
    – How will the Army Aviation Corps; even if it wanted to; with its extremely limited resources be able to sustain even a small number of fixed wing platforms?
    – Does any Army Aviation Corps facility even has a runway?
    How many army bases or forward operating bases across the country even have dirt strips? They have heli landing spots.

    In the larger scheme of things; despite whatever paper advantages are to be had it’s extreme unlikely the army would want to venture down this route. It will make do with what it has and conserve and eventually expand its resources for the long delayed Nuri replacement.

  15. In the past I questioned how practical it would be if say a load comprised just 2 pallets but which had to be flown in a A400M. Based on this reasoning we need to retain a twin engine transport platform but the CAP 55 which some people view as holy writ and sacrosanct lays out an eventual plan to a transport fleet comprising only 4 engined platforms.

    Yes on paper there is a need [like many things on paper] to have a light twin engined platform with a STOL capability but based on inherent limitations; is it actually a sound move? Even if it’s just two airframes the number of air crews; ground support personnel and administrative personnel would number in their dozens [it’s not like we have an abundance of manpower]. Spares and tooling would have to be stocked; people would have to be trained, etc. On top of that how often would a requirement arise to land on a short strip? How many MEDEVAC sorties do we expect on average per annum? As it is resources are strained and finances are tight.

    There is no perfect solution; just what comes the closest to suit one’s requirements in line with one’s level of resources after making the needed trade offs. Using a C-130 or a A400M for various taskings may be impractical and not cost effective but it’s way more practical in the long run than having to operate a small number of light transports and having to create and sustain the needed training/support infrastructure.

  16. “…medevac between the peninsula and Sabah/Sarawak again…”

    This can be minimised if only MOH can upgrade 1 hospital in Malaysia Borneo to handle those cases.

  17. “when it can only carry a fraction of what the CN-235 can”
    Freefall, HAHO/HALO trainings are usually conducted in small groups. For those that require mass drop with static line, of course you will still need something like the C-130H and A400M.

    German army is also using M28 for parachute training
    https://twitter.com/3PARA/status/1543995364587470848
    UK 3rd PARA doing exercise with german counterparts on M28 and A400M.

    “be able to sustain even a small number of fixed wing platforms”
    As long as it is not a highly modified aircraft specific to PUTD. PZL M28 has been supplied to countries such as Nepal.

    “Does any Army Aviation Corps facility even has a runway?”
    Kluang AB has a grass runway 1259m.
    Kuantan AB 2743m runway.
    Lahad Datu FOB 1371m runway.
    M28 needs 548m for takeoff at max weight.

    “unlikely the army would want to venture down this route”
    Perfectly aware of that, which is why the suggestion is for PUTD to request for free ones through US EDA, if we can get them. US AFSOC after retiring all in 2022, still has a few left available for US EDA donation. Out of 16, 10 already donated to Costa Rica (2), Estonia (2), Kenya (3) and Nepal (3).

    As for the PUTD nuri replacement, the interim solution is leased used blackhawks. I don’t see why used blackhawks cannot be the one PUTD buys for good. Still there is duplication in the want of RMAF (36 medium lift heli) and PUTD (at least 2 squadron/regiment of medium lift heli, to establish 1 PUTD brigade each in Eastern and Western Field Commands). With RMN now to have at least 5 HOM for its organic transport use, as is others like PDRM, MMEA and Bomba, does the RMAF still need to have 36 medium lift heli?

  18. Most of the cases of the medevac in the last few months are where the patients are flown out between peninsula/Sabah/Sarawak so they can be near to their loved ones instead of the need for better medical care. I think most cases can now be handled in Sabah or Sarawak nowadays. I stand to be corrected of course.

  19. “Yes on paper there is a need [like many things on paper] to have a light twin engined platform with a STOL capability but based on inherent limitations; is it actually a sound move? Even if it’s just two airframes the number of air crews; ground support personnel and administrative personnel would number in their dozens [it’s not like we have an abundance of manpower]. Spares and tooling would have to be stocked; people would have to be trained, etc. On top of that how often would a requirement arise to land on a short strip? How many MEDEVAC sorties do we expect on average per annum? As it is resources are strained and finances are tight”

    Which is why my proposal for PC-24 is for the primary mission of MECU (Multi Engine Conversion Unit), which will replace the leased King Air 350. MECU is not just a on-paper need. MEDEVEC between East and West Malaysia, cargo etc will be secondary tasks, which currently cannot be done by the leased aircraft due to it is not equipped with a cargo door. The PC-24 has 815 kmh cruise speed, 3,333 km range, 1,200kg payload capacity and cargo door as standard (that can pass thru stretchers).
    https://www.westair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/pc-24-rfds-medevac-mission-scaled.jpg

    So it is not an additional task/mission, but is an existing primary mission (MECU) with added secondary East-West Malaysia MEDEVAC/mercy flight mission that is currently conducted by RMAF with A400M.

    As for crews, RMAF recently designated the 16 Skuadron as the MECU/PLTT squadron and transferred to Kuantan. So right now we have dedicated squadron/personnel (unlike non-squadron status of PLTT when it was in Subang AB).The 5 year MECU lease would expire around 2026 and that would be a viable time to get the PC-24 for 16 Skuadron.
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/beechcraft-king-airs-to-be-retired/

    Back on the pinoys, there are news that the USA will be giving them 3 ex USAF Super Tucanos.

  20. …- “Perfectly aware of that”

    You’re apparently awAre of a lot of things. If we put aside all the paper advantages; neither the RMAF nor the army want such a capability for reasons I’ve alluded to. The army is stretched on resources as it is and wants to converse its resources and focus on the Nuri replacement in the coming years. The RMAF wants to reduce its logistical/support footprint.

    If want ones to make a case for light aircraft; the same could also be done for various other things we have a paper requirement for. It’s far more than just looking at what’s cheap; what’s available; what it can do and who operates it. We can’t afford the luxury of having a certain asset to cater for certain niche roles or to cater for certain eventualities. Like I said : Using a C-130 or a A400M for various taskings may be impractical and not cost effective but it’s way more practical in the long run than having to operate a small number of light transports and having to create and sustain the needed training/support infrastructure.

  21. “The RMAF wants to reduce its logistical/support footprint”
    Replacing leased King Air 350 with PC-24 will not increase RMAF logistical footprint, as it is replacing, not adding to a current capability. The ability to shoulder low load cross SCS flights from the A400M would also save operational costs.

    “focus on the Nuri replacement”
    For PUTD, yes the focus should be for Nuri replacement, but why shouldn’t we talk about organic light fixed wing capability? The current capability by RMAF that is now reduced by half due to the conversion of CN-235 to MSA, so there is visible a gap that could be filled.

    The focus on the Nuri replacement needs to also address the elephant in the room, the separate requirement by both RMAF and Army PUTD to replace the same number of Nuri’s.

    There was around 36 Nuris in 4 squadrons in RMAF (9 each squadron).

    RMAF wants 36 medium lift helicopters (with 12 already fulfilled with the EC725). Wants to buy 24 new medium lift helicopters in 2026-2030. PUTD wants at least 2 squadrons of medium lift helicopters (Army 4nextG outlining the need of 2x PUTD Brigades, one each in Western and Eastern Field Commands). No clear plans for how many yet revealed to the public.

    Also the need to keep in mind the near future medium lift helicopter revolution with the US Army recent selection of Bell V-280 Valor as the Blackhawk replacement.
    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/bells-v-280-valor-tiltrotor-picked-as-armys-black-hawk-replacement

  22. — – “Replacing leased King Air 350 with PC-24 will not increase RMAF logistical footprint”

    The King Airs are leased…

    You can make all the arguments to support the narrative but the facts remains that neither the RMAF or army intends to go done this route.

    … – “but why shouldn’t we talk about organic light fixed wing capability”

    You can talk about it all you want and focus on the paper advantages whilst overlooking certain aspects. Nobody’s stopping you.

    I’ll merely say again “If one wants to make a case for light aircraft; the same could also be done for various other things we have a paper requirement for. It’s far more than just looking at what’s cheap; what’s available; what it can do and who operates it. We can’t afford the luxury of having a certain asset to cater for certain niche roles or to cater for certain eventualities” and “Using a C-130 or a A400M for various taskings may be impractical and not cost effective but it’s way more practical in the long run than having to operate a small number of light transports and having to create and sustain the needed training/support infrastructure”.

  23. It is very likely, RMAF doesn’t want to be the one fulfilling Army’s mobility aspirations. In the past, yes, the RMAF can support the Army but RMAF did end up transferring some Nuris to the Army. As the Army changes how it fights and pursues more mobility (e.g. air assault), the RMAF is simply saying they can’t use the Cougars at the required tempo to support the Army’s aspirations. The Cougars have their own Air Force duties. Whether more Blackhawks would be bought or leased is probably dependent on whether the faction running Army HQ this cycle is putting Nuri top or near top of the list. As-is it seems the 4×4 and 6×6 (armour) still have priority. In totality, MAF’s rotary fleet is still smaller than the Nuri days, a much bigger gap than ageing armour.

  24. … – “There was around 36 Nuris in 4 squadrons in RMAF (9 each squadron).”

    Just like how I told you that actual army TOEs can vary irrespective of authorised TOEs; actual numbers in RMAF squadrons were/are not uniformed. They varied/vary which of course you’ll no doubt be keenly aware of.

    … – “Also the need to keep in mind the near future medium lift helicopter revolution”

    Great news; I’m sure many are waiting in keen and intense anticipation and I have no doubt you’ll be watching closely and forming the appropriate conclusions but that programme will have no impact on the Army’s Aviation Corps; although I’m sure you’ll find a way to make a connection.

  25. If there’s a requirement for a twin engine turboprop then just get an ATR 72 which could utilize the facilities & manpower to support the ATR72 MPA.

  26. … – ”does the RMAF still need to have 36 medium lift heli?”

    This is something you [under a different guise] asked many moons ago and my answer [as it was then] is that it totally depends on what the RMAF sees itself doing with a squadrons worth of Cougars.

    … – ”The PC-24 has 815 kmh cruise speed, 3,333 km range, 1,200kg payload capacity and cargo door as standard (that can pass thru stretchers).”

    Ta for the usual tech quotes as was the case with the JLTV and other things but the issue’s not the effectiveness or utility of the PC-24 or anything else you have a fancy for but whether it fits in the overall scheme of things as far as the RMAF and army are concerned… You – as is the case – are focusing on all the plus points but overlooking the reasons why neither the RMAF or the army are remotely interested in what you’re proposing and ignoring the reasons why it might not be a practical option. A clear assessment of anything entails looking at both the pros and cons. I do see the need for a light lift platform [like I do for various things] but at the same time I recognise why it’s not something comtemplated.

    kel – ”It is very likely, RMAF doesn’t want to be the one fulfilling Army’s mobility aspirations. ”

    Get with the times. As far back as 15 years ago the army already declared that it wanted to focus on SF insertion and CSAR/SAR. It was agreed that the army would progressively assume responsibilities for service centric lift which is precisely why it received Nuris. Note that the RMAF and army had previously reached an agreement in which the army would be the sole operator of any dedicated rotary attack platforms.

    kel – ”dependent on whether the faction running Army HQ this cycle is putting Nuri top or near top of the list. ”

    You’ve got it wrong. It was the government which decided the Nuri replacement will be funded the next Malaysia Plan; not any ”faction’ within the army which incidentally pushed for an immediate replacement.

  27. “actual numbers in RMAF squadrons were/are not uniformed”

    yes obviously but the overall numbers was for quite sometime, 36 units. And that is the exact number that they want as the Nuri replacement.

    “but that programme will have no impact on the Army’s Aviation Corps”

    There will certainly be, just as there will be impact if we buy Rafale or Typhoon for RMAF now.

    The FVL FLRAA of which the Bell V-280 is choosen, will begin replacing blackhawks in US Army starting 2030. Any medium lift helicopter we buy brand new in 2026-2030 will need to be used, if as long as the nuri, up to around 2070. That brand new helicopter performance will be subpar when compared to the V-280 by the time we get those helicopters. The V-280 has 2x the speed, and 2x the range of a blackhawk. This is a technological leap in medium transport helicopter performance quite similar to what happened to fighters going from 4th gen to 5th gen.

    If we get cheap used blackhawks for PUTD, then by 15 years time, by the end of the 2030s we could replace them with V-280s.

  28. … – “yes obviously but the overall numbers was for quite sometime, 36 units”

    Your “obviously” notwithstanding; no.
    For the last decade or so of the type’s service period it was lower than that. A few were permanently declared not operational and stayed that way.

    … – “There will certainly be”

    You might think so but the reality is that whatever the Yanks do with their rotary lift requirements it will have no immediate and foreseeable impact on what the Army Aviation Corps does.

    … – “This is a technological leap in medium transport helicopter performance quite similar”

    Well thanks for the update but it will have little impact on us because we won’t be moving in that direction soon. May I remind you that when the Osprey entered service soothsayers and fan boys claimed that it would lead to a major shift; it didn’t. The Bell V-280 may indeed revolutionise things but it’s impact on us will hardly be felt: if anything. Note that I’m talking about the next one and a half decades and not your perennial “40-50” years.

    … – “, by the end of the 2030s we could replace them with V-280s”

    Yes. On paper if we want to list the possibilities the list would be a long one… We and everyone else “could” do a lot things.

  29. If V280 enter US services by 2030s then it would only reach IOC & available for FMS only in 2040s & the US would still used the Blackhawks all the way till 2070 ish giving them plenty of buffer if the v280 programme go sideways as it always does.

    Revolutionary is also risky. It afterall can be a dud like the NH90 & osprey or it could be very expensive to operate like the f35s. So what is the benefits of taking these huge expensive, long term & risky bet with the Valor?

    Historically speaking US maintain her advantage through innovation, they have the money, talent,drives & culture to support such a task. MAF meanwhile had always play it safe and only procures stuff when the platform in question is a matured proven product. Obviously matured proven product from the west like f35s,Anka & predators is still a leaps & bound ‘supperior’ to what others can produce.

  30. Actually Osprey is not a dud. Its used by the USMC, USN, USAF (Special Operations), and JGSDF. Also tilt-rotor is no longer experimental. The V-22 entered service in 2007. First of its kind that proved this design works and tilt-rotor. The Osprey is the reason why the V-280 exists. But to understand the V-280, one needs to understand why the US Army chose the V-280. The US Army wanted to replace the Blackhawks for the Air Assault role. The tilt-rotor V-280 had the advantage of flying faster and further than conventional helicopters (and the Blackhawks). If your missions do not benefit from flying further and faster, then save money and get conventional helicopters. But if speed and range is important tilt-rotor is the future. But it flies very differently. V-22 Osprey pilots say it actually flies more like a cargo plane. When it hovers, it pretty much is on autopilot. Meaning, transitioning to tilt-rotor requires training a helicopter pilot to fly a plane.

  31. Most of the unit combat soldiers are equipped with optics. There has always been the plan for the Army to equip its soldiers with optics when they issued the M4. Unfortunately, most of the M4s procured are not fitted with the rails to do so. There have been small contracts issued out to equip the M4 with the rails for the optic though I am not purview to numbers

  32. kel – ”Actually Osprey is not a dud.”

    No and it’s silly for anyone to say so. What it was/is is prohibitively expensive to procure and maintain and can be argued; a wee bit early for it’s time. As it stands however Osprey and the V280 are the way ahead; is what in the coming decades traditional rotary platforms will evolve into.

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