The Joneses…Vipers and Chinooks For Pinoys?

A US Army National Guard Chinook helicopter transporting a F-80 fighter jet. US Army.

SHAH ALAM: Vipers and Chinooks for Philippines. The Philippines may well be getting a dozen or so F-16 fighters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters soon, based on recent statements coming out from Washington.

The statement (edited for brevity):

US Secretary of State Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Austin, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Manalo, and Senior Undersecretary and Officer in Charge (OIC) of National Defense Galvez (referred to collectively as “the Secretaries”) convened the third U.S. Philippines 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2023.

Recognizing the importance of the U.S.-Philippines alliance to regional peace and stability, the Secretaries put forth a shared vision that supports the international rules-based order, deepens our economic ties, provides for our peoples’ broad-based prosperity, and addresses evolving regional and global security challenges.
Strengthen bilateral planning and interoperability to ensure readiness to respond to a range of crises and scenarios, through the conduct of high impact and high value joint exercises, trainings, and other activities as well as by fast tracking ongoing discussions on a new U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Defense Guidelines;
Prioritize the modernization of shared defense capabilities, particularly in the maritime domain, through various modalities, including U.S. Foreign Military Financing and Excess Defense Articles. The adoption of a Security Sector Assistance Roadmap in the coming months will guide shared defense modernization investments and inform the delivery of priority platforms over the next 5 to 10 years. In addition, the Security Sector Assistance Roadmap will identify areas for capacity-building to enhance the Philippines’ core institutions and support security sector governance. Meanwhile, both sides underscored the importance of fast-tracking discussions on an acquisition plan for a fleet of multi-role fighter aircraft for the Philippine Air Force, as well as of leveraging the additional $100 million in Foreign Military Financing that the United States announced last fall to acquire medium lift helicopters;
Accelerate the implementation of EDCA projects and increase investments in EDCA Agreed Locations to further support combined training, exercises, and interoperability between the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces, as well as the Philippines’ civilian-led disaster preparedness and response capacities. The United States expects to have allocated over $100 million by the end of fiscal year 2023 toward infrastructure investments at the existing five EDCA sites and to support swift operationalization of the four new sites;

A US National Guard F-16 fighter jet taking fuel a National Guard KC-135 tanker. US Air Force

The statement above of course did not mention F-16s and Chinooks but we know that the Philippines are looking at least a dozen multi-role fighters. The air force has down selected the F-16 and JAS-39 Gripen for the project but with the statement above it is likely that if the US is funding the fighter deal, the Viper will be selected.
Up and way. A Chinook with US Army National Guard transporting a F-80 fighter jet. US Army.

The Chinooks have been in the works since the US was instrumental in pushing Philippines to drop a deal to buy a dozen or Mi-17 helicopters from Russia during the last two years. Even by reimbursing the deposit paid by the Philippines. The US recently donated two Cyclone patrol boats to the Philippines Navy to add the sole one already operational.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

30 Comments

  1. Wait, how did “medium lift helicopters” morphed into Chinooks?

    They were talking about it, yes, but the more pressing needs is medium utility choppers ever since they scrapped to buy Bell412s and then later the Mi17s. Imho I think that will morph into Blackhawks for Pinoy rather than Chinooks for the moment.

  2. Pinoy is really flexing his muscle.
    They already have FA50 and Super Tucano and eyeing MRCA. It is part of the deal with US on 4 military base. Pinoy were interested in Gripen. They will get a number F16 EDA and an Sq new F16 70/72. They
    They also bought blackhawk and soon will be Chinook operator.

    PN also already bought some combatan frigate and corvette. They also have ordered additional 2 LPD from ID.

    Their military modernization “horizon plan” is really materialize.

    Hope our politicians open their eyes that pinoy could surpass Malaysia in military modernization soon.

  3. No, PAF medium lift helicopter requirement is for a Chinook size helicopter. Mi 17 is not a medium lift helicopter but it was chosen ahead of the Chinook as it was cheaper.

  4. “They already bought Black Hawks, initially 16 and then another 32”
    They mention about leveraging so it could also be that USD $100mil will be used to offset to final price that Pinoy has to pay for those choppers.

  5. Romeo – ”Pinoy is really flexing his muscle.”
    Rome0 – ” that pinoy could surpass Malaysia in military modernization soon.”

    Not again…

    Look at things in objective totality. They are making up for lost time after decades of neglecting the PAF. They are able to do so because the economy has improved and the AFP has started to focus more on external defence rather than external security which BTW is still a lingering concern given that there is still the ASG, BIFF, Maute Group; NPA and others and the country is a vast archipelago.

    As it stands the AFP as a whole is still in need for extensive modernisation and all the recent buys does not change the fact that there is a long list of things which are long long overdue for replecement and sustained funding is required.

  6. Romeo – ”eyeing MRCA.”

    Have been ”eying” them since the 1990’s when Kfir was offered and when the PAF looked at Fulcrums and Falcons.

    The good news for them is that the mainstream press tends to do a better job srutinising and questioning authority; there is also more discourse/debate and the fact that several Congressmen/Senators are ex AFP also helps.

  7. PAF original plan is for heavy (not medium as Marhalim says) lift helicopter, with Chinook as the intended helicopter. The program has always been referred to as Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project by PAF.

    Lack of funds for meaningful numbers of Chinook meant that the budget for the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project was diverted to buy Mi-17. Getting medium lift Mi-17 with the budget for the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project is the cause of confusion among many observers.

    But clearly this US statement is referring exactly to medium lift helicopters, of which Blackhawk (and not Chinook) should the one on offer. US in 2022 has proposed to sell/give additional blackhawks as a replacement for the cancelled Mi-17 buy.

    So PAF Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project to get Chinooks will still be unfulfilled, as the Mi-17 seems will be replaced by more blackhawks.

  8. Azlan-“They are making up for lost time after decades of neglecting the PAF”

    When I wrote “flexing his muscle” was in the context that pinoy has bought so many in just few years and will still on arms market for sometimes due to their improved economy.

    Will or Will not pinoy will surpass Malaysia is still a million dollar question, but if we look at the last 5 years and make a trajectory line then it is very possible. We can disagree on this.

    How I see what pinoy did is similar to ID. They both have an executable plan and they go with the plan. Even both have bought some similar equipmemts. Super tucano, LPD, F16.

    It just remind me of ID, how they were 10 years ago when they executed their MEF military plan and they still growing.

    What about ATM’s 4nextG, 15to5 and cap55 progress?

  9. Romeo – ”They both have an executable plan ”

    They both are large archipelagic nations; have long focused on internal security and have long neglected the armed forces. An ”an executable plan” is only as good as what’s actually funded and the political will; if you need a list of things which have been postponed indefinitely for decades I’ll be happy to share. Have a personal interest in what goes on in the Philippines.

    Romeo – ”but if we look at the last 5 years and make a trajectory line then it is very possible. ”

    They are like us ”buying a bit of everything” of stuff which is mostly overdue. They will have to be able to commit to a sustained level of funding for a certain period and note that the Philippines too faces various issues [rising prices; food security; a wide gulf between wealth brackets; a low taxpaying base; etc] which can have an impact on the defence budget.

  10. It doesn’t matter whether they are catching up. Buy today, get today’s equipment. Buy 10 years ago, get 10 years old equipment. If no money to pay and everything unusable in 5 years. Doesn’t matter, cycle repeats in 20 years time and there is this huge gain in new assets with 20 years newer technology and capabilities. This is better than not getting new ships for 20 years, not getting new jets for 20 years, not replacing helicopters despite saying it will be replaced 15 years ago, not replacing loss LPDs for 15 years, not buying anything new and stuck using old technology and suffering from attrition. Regardless of how well those old equipment are, they are still old. New is still better than re-hulling 30 years old ship by scavenging from another old ship and buying 2nd hand jets which are 30 years old, with the intention of using those assets for another 10 maybe 20 years. Keep up with the same narrative, and people will just go “its so true, they are just catching up, we don’t need to do anything, since they are just catching up.”

  11. Phil national defense already on Talked to US counter part to transfer 3 Super Tucano that will be retired. US will build credible defense for Philippines to Counter China because if war started bet china & taiwan. Philippines is the closest ally country that near in Taiwan And Taiwanese can refuge there.In line for 5 to 10 years transfer MRF, Cruise missile, missile shield,patriot, artillery, missile artillery, drones, military cargo planes, helicopters and radars..for sure it will surpassed Malaysia….because aside from buying war asset from their own budget. USA will transfer more lethal weapons to Philippines. What missille in our inventory can counter brahmos cruise missile of the Philippines

  12. “Will or Will not pinoy will surpass Malaysia is still a million dollar question”
    There is the matter of how much % per GDP expended for defence, and the strength of each currencies at play, which is why i advocate nations expenditure should be converted to USD$ per GDP when comparison done. Unlike the others, Msia have been allocating about 1% per GDP thereof for defence, simply because the Govt decided money is better put into social uplifting programs and elevating the poor.

    FWIW there is no right or wrong. Spending the bare minimum when were not at war or expect to be in one is nothing wrong, with our munitions more likely to time expired rather than being fired in anger. What was wrong is that even with a puny budget it could be worked on but due to national interest to prop up “established” and new local suppliers, we do not get our money’s worth.

  13. Catching up reasoning is a scapegoat of lazy and over-confident person. One day you will woke-up Sabah is not in Malaysia anymore. Because you are over confident that they will not surpassed you and you do nothing for the last few years to improved. Philippine Logic better late modernizing than never. Malaysia Logic waah they are just cathing-up our GDP spending is higher than them…But in reality we are just over confident we over-look that Philippine spending now is higher than Malaysia even they spend less than 1 percent of their GDP. Try to research their Military budget Vs Malaysia Military Budget. The military gap now is narrower. Our afvantage only we have MRF and Submarine. Once the acquires 36 MRF their flight plan for sure it will surpassed us because it is newer than our ageing MRF and USA will help them to maintain because of EDCA we will settle for FA-50 as a MRF bec our MRF are in retiring stage. Also in their subamarine plan they will acquired 3 to 6 submarine so definetly they will surpassed us.

  14. Jun – ”Catching up reasoning is a scapegoat of lazy and over-confident person. ”

    In contrast you’ve got it all figured out don’t you…

    Jun – ”One day you will woke-up Sabah is not in Malaysia anymore.”

    ”One day” we might wake up and find the Arctic Circle has melted or the sea level in Jakarta has risen. What the AFP is doing is playing catchup after years of neglect and to better improved its external defence capabilities driven by concerns posed by China. That is completely different to gaining the ability to take Sabah which is a different matter entirely.

    Jun – ”Because you are over confident that they will not surpassed you and you do nothing for the last few years to improved.”

    Who is ”overconfident”? You perhaps? Others are just putting things in perspective; nobody is knocking anybody.

  15. Honestly, the way we were/are governing both Sabah and Sarawak, eventually, they will ask for freedom. And this is not because another neighbour getting their programmes right.

  16. I know that the core of military modernization is about funding. Everyone has their own limit even for Singapore.
    When I said “executable”, it means the plan is carry out as It should be. It seems that SG,ID and even PH know what their capacity and capability. They can capitalize their military spending.

    When I said PH can surpass us actually I said with confident because of their economy and how they manage their military spending.

    How PH today is similar to ID 10 years ago. Many people took with a pinch of salt if ID military modernization can surpass us. ID hardwares almost all were incapable and old.

    When we decided to continue the LCS, I know that we still can not change. Politics is priority. So, when will we act “Si vis pacem, para bellum” is a million dollar question. The good news is our neighbours are start doing it.

  17. Honestly if I were an East Msian, I would want that too, looking at the shitshow politics wrought by the main political parties ever since BN downfall. It was from this scenario and the chaotic aftermath of which party should rule or whom the politician should be PM, that the indigenous parties finally realised they could dictate things themselves and have their own thinking, no longer needing kowtow to the main parties.

    In terms of defence I doubt there are existential threats to their independence (if it comes), as today’s scenario it is unlikely Pinoy or Indonesia will actually invade to takeover these states not unless they willing to get international condemnation and withdrawal of support from their US ally. Altho defence is just one equation of selfrule and both states have many other resource-strapped issues, OTOH they could join up with Brunei as a Pan Bornean Federation of states with equal status akin to the UAE. Just my 2sen of what come may.

  18. Romeo – ”I know that the core of military modernization is about funding.”

    Gratified to know that. It’s also not just funding but the political will and continuity.

    Romeo – ”It seems that SG,ID and even PH know what their capacity and capability. ”

    Singapore yes. Indonesian procurement; irrespective of people going gaga about that they’re getting; is still heavily politically driven with an eye on prestige and various issues related to domestic politics [i.e. the hodgepodge of things which creates a major logistical issue which domestic critic/observers have expressed concern about]. Note that the TNI also still enjoys a lot of influence and is much more of a national institution [due to history and social factors] compared to the MAF; this makes it easier to justify/gain funding. The Philippines is different but there’s overall agreement amongst the public irrespective of political alignment on the need to better enable the AFP to defend territorial interests in the Spratlys.

    Romeo – ”I said with confident because of their economy and how they manage their military spending.”

    As I said; they are buying ”a bit of everything” [like us] but the AFP is large; it has huge peacetime responsibilities; it has gone though a prolonged period of neglect [much more than the MAF] and there is barely enough cash to do they things they want. You note the things they buy; also note they things they’ve postponed or scaled back due to funding issues. Also, their economy is improving but there are deep rooted issues/challenges which I alluded to; issues/challenges which are an impediment. Whether or not they can sustain the needed level of funding over a period is the key thing I’m looking out for; not what they but now or plan to buy.

    Romeo – ”So, when will we act “Si vis pacem, para bellum” is a million dollar question.”

    Until we get clobbered literally. Until then defence will not be a priority; the average taxpayer will remain indifferent and despite some cosmetic changes; policy will remain largely unchanged; there will be none of the deep rooted holistic reforms needed.

  19. It started during BN as it held power since they became part of Malaysia. But came out in the open following the explosion of social media and May 2018.

  20. Yes the frustration and resentment has been lingering way way before political events which took place in 2018.

  21. VN,PH & ID are lower middle income economy with hundreds of millions in population and thus has 20 years of solid high growth Infront of them. These 3 are always destined to be the foremost power in ASEAN and they are taking in their rightful place.

    What happened before was a fluke of nature where MY & SG despite its unstable demographics actually managed to keep it internal political stable compared to PH,VN & ID.

    Procurement wise these countries has plenty of ability to be in debt to procure platforms but for us debt & procurement are hard but the bad news is as money is easy to comes they won’t be interested in jointness & networking but for us establish jointness & networking interoperability is a live and death challenges.

  22. Azlan:
    “It’s also not just funding but the political will and continuity”
    No money no shopping…that is the first rule. Back then we only have political will and continuity. Today we have them all.

    “Singapore yes. Indonesian procurement…”

    Nope…SG does what always did because they have no other way, being ahead in tech is a must. TNI influence is politic is very low now, is just that civil politician realize the important of having a strong TNI. All start when they were embargoed.

    “despite some cosmetic changes; policy will remain largely unchanged”

    Exactly….PH annual military budget already surpass us, thanks to their economy…PH will surpass us in military modernization, part of it because they way we do which is not helping even when the money is already scarce.

    Zaft:
    “VN,PH & ID are lower middle income economy with hundreds of millions in population and thus has 20 years of solid high growth Infront of them”

    But some Malaysian still think that today is still 1980s or 1990s.

  23. Romeo – “No money no shopping…that is the first rule. Back then we only have political will and continuity.”

    Oversimplification. It’s having money and the right policy in place followed by continuity. We’ve never had the political will to spend mote than t be minimum because of the overall mindset and the period when we were focused on defence was during the decades we faced an internal threat. What we do is buy and bit of several things [i can give examples of periods] then hunker down again when the economy is slow.

    Romeo – “SG does what always did because they have no other way, being ahead in tech”

    Correction. It’s because of all the regional countries it’s the most vulnerable and feels the most vulnerable. That’s why it’s the only regional military capable of performing multi domain high intensity ops and why they have a policy of always maintaining a qualitative edge over the MAF and TNI.

    Romeo – ” thanks to their economy…PH will surpass us in military modernization, part of it because they way we do which is not helping even when the money is already scarce”

    As has already been explained. They are playing catch up after years of neglect and they too face major funding issues. Their economy too faces issues which I have alluded to. I may not be an economic expert but I spend a lot of time in the Philippines and I know where it’s like on the ground so to speak; rather than in the virtual world.

    Instead of getting memorised by things they buy; also factor in that muuch they’re buying is long overdue; is a bare fraction of what the AFP needs ; is in dribs and drabs and that the bulk of the AFP remains underesourced.
    Various things have also been cancelled or postponed. Have you seen PA units in the field [ones you see on TV training with U.S. troops are very different from the bulk of the army]
    or spoken to PN people?

    I won’t use simplistic generalised cliches like “overtaking” and “surpassing” but will merely say again that the biggest challenge is to sustain a certain level of funding over a certain period. If you closely observe things in the Philippines you’ll know that that’s the biggest issue.

    Also note that the AFP is getting the hardware but will take time to acquire various core competency skills
    which have been lacking because for several decades its focus was COIN rather then external defence.

    Romeo – “But some Malaysian still think that today is still 1980s or 1990s”

    With the key exception of your goodself naturally.

  24. All this talk about the PAF procuring new equipment, its always viewed in such a negative light. If an ASEAN nation improves their defence then its a net positive for every other nation in ASEAN too. Instead its always how we are going to lag behind some country just because they are going to get new toys sooner.

  25. ubi kentang – “All this talk about the PAF procuring new equipment, its always viewed in such a negative light

    No it’s not. What it is is people make fast and simplistic comparisons to us. The AFP is finally able to make some long overdue changes and that is good but it has to be seen in the right context rather then loose comparisons with anyone else.

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