Philippine President OKs Plan to Buy 2 PCG Helicopters, 90 Meters Patrol Ships

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MANILA, – President Duterte has approved the acquisition of two helicopters to be used in search and rescue operations by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Duterte promised PCG commandant Rear Admiral William Melad that the agency would soon receive the helicopters when the President toured BRP Tubbataha during the PCG’s 115th anniversary on Oct. 13, PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said yesterday.

Air assets such as helicopters are vital in the PCG’s performance of its functions, particularly in search and rescue missions.

“The helicopters can be utilized in air dropping of relief goods, dropping of rescuers at sea and evacuation of people trapped on roofs and on trees during calamities,” Balilo said.

Aside from the 10 units of newly built 44-meter vessels from Japan that would arrive in the country in staggered delivery until 2018, the President also approved the acquisition of two more ships from Japan.

The ships measuring 90 meters long may be delivered by 2020, the PCG said.

The government is also planning to order two ships from France to add to the PCG’s fleet.

An Airbus Helicopters H145 Medium utility helicopter using its external hoist.

The Japan Coast Guard ZANPA (PL-84) Hida-class patrol vessel.

USS Zumwalt Commissions in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE, -- The Navy's newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) was commissioned into active service Saturday, Oct. 15, at North Locust Point in Baltimore.

Zumwalt, the lead ship of a class of next-generation multi-mission destroyers, features a state-of-the-art electric propulsion system, wave-piercing tumblehome hull, stealth design, and the latest warfighting technology and weaponry available.

Secretary of the Navy, the Hon. Ray Mabus, delivered the ceremony's principal address.

"This ship is an example of a larger initiative to increase operational stability and give the U.S. a strategic advantage," said Mabus. "Our Navy and our Marine Corps, uniquely, provide presence - around the globe, around the clock - ensuring stability, reassuring allies, deterring adversaries, and providing the nation's leaders with options in times of crisis."

The ship's co-sponsors, Ann Zumwalt and Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, are daughters of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., after whom the ship is named. The sisters were an integral part of the ceremony, giving the order to "man our ship and bring her to life," in keeping with naval tradition.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer will be capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. It does all of this while maintaining its stealth - making this visually imposing ship difficult to find whether close to the shore or far out to sea.

"Today's ceremony marked the culmination of over three years of dedication and hard work by some of the finest Sailors I have had the pleasure to lead," said Capt. James A. Kirk, commanding officer of Zumwalt. "The only thing more impressive than the capabilities of the ship are the capabilities of its fine crew."

Zumwalt will challenge adversaries and their way of thinking about how we employ our forces, providing an asymmetric advantage. Working with Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, littoral combat ships, and amphibious ships to form adaptive force packages, Zumwalt-class destroyers will use its computing capabilities to make these groups more lethal through increased range, deception, computer integration, and data analysis from various platforms. With its stealth, size, power, and advanced combat systems, this warship will serve as a centerpiece for deterrence and stability in the maritime environment.

"This destroyer, like the others in our fleet, is capable of projecting power, no doubt," said Mabus. "The Zumwalt-class is much larger than today's destroyers with a considerably larger flight deck - enough space to operate host Joint Strike Fighters, MV-22 Ospreys, and unmanned systems and a Vertical Launch System second to none."

In addition to its size, the Zumwalt class will be the first Navy warships to utilize an integrated power system that will produce enough power to run current systems, as well as the power required for future weapons, computing, and sensor systems. Zumwalt generates approximately 78 megawatts of power, almost as much as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This means the ship can operate all of its systems and still generate enough electricity to power a small town, which provides the extra capacity to accommodate future weapons and computing systems. Combined with its size and power, Zumwalt will be able to integrate emerging technologies and new capabilities as they are delivered to the fleet.

USS Zumwalt embodies the legacy of warfighting excellence and innovation of Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. He exemplified honor, courage and commitment during 32 years of dedicated naval service. Believing it was his job to "modernize and humanize" the Navy, Zumwalt chose to embrace change and to lead it from within.

"I witnessed as he [Zumwalt] transformed our Navy, one Z-gram at a time... removing demeaning and abrasive regulations and moving to eliminate the scourge of racism and sexism from within our Navy," said Mabus. "Among many initiatives, he opened flight training to women and increased recruiting of under-represented Americans. And, as has always been the case when we open opportunities in our Navy and Marine Corps, we got stronger."

As the nineteenth Chief of Naval Operations, Zumwalt embrace of innovation resulted in a number of successful new programs, including the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine and the F-14 Tomcat, all of which had lasting impacts on the warfighting readiness of the Navy.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson, also spoke at the ceremony, commenting on the significance of the ship's namesake.

"Admiral Zumwalt, especially during his time as CNO, ensured that our institution lived by its values," said Richardson. "He was the 'The Sailor's Admiral,' looking at new ideas, acting to the limit of his authorities, and adjusting along the way to make his Navy ready for combat - but also with full cognizance of the impact on the Sailors that made up that Navy."

Perhaps most importantly, Adm. Zumwalt was a social reformer who recognized the primary force-multiplier of the U.S. Navy continued to be its Sailors, and as such began quality of life improvements throughout the Fleet. He was considered a "thinking officer" who was devoted to Sailors and creating an environment where everyone was treated equally - a legacy that can that can be seen today in the diversity of the fleet. His "one Navy" mentality reminds today's Sailors that taking care of our warfighters ensures the Navy remains tough, bold and ready.

"To say the Navy was transformed by Admiral Zumwalt is an understatement. Indeed, every leader on this stage and the great crew standing before us has benefited from Bud Zuwalt's passion to make the Navy even better," said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces during the ceremony. "So today we welcome this revolutionary warship to the fleet. A ship that demonstrates daring design and cutting-edge capability."

"On behalf of the U.S. Naval Surface Force, I proudly accept ownership of the Navy's newest ship to the fleet," Rowden said.

Zumwalt is scheduled to begin her transit to San Diego, making several port visits along the way. Upon arrival in San Diego, USS Zumwalt will begin installation of her combat systems, testing and evaluation, and operational integration with the fleet.

Once fully integrated, Zumwalt's stealth, power and lethality will provide a vital link from the Navy's current needs to its future capabilities.

The U.S. Navy's commissioning ceremony for the DDG 1000 destroyer.

Gripen a Strong Contender For Philippines

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MANILA, -- At the recently concluded ADAS 2016, in Manila, Philippines, Gripen campaign director Magnus Hagman spoke about how Gripen is a very strong contender for the Philippine Multi-Role Fighter programme.

“We see Gripen as one of the most important assets for an air force, a true multi-role fighter that can work in a real network centric environment, sharing data with various other aircraft and also incorporating that into a C4I system,” Hagman said.

For an archipelagic country like Philippines that has more than 7,000 islands, Gripen, with its STOL (short take-off and landing) capabilities, would be an ideal solution, he added.

Recently, Saab also announced that it will open an office in Manila by end of the year to support its Gripen campaign in the country. Talking to IHS Jane’s​, Carl-Eric Leek, who will head this office, said that Saab’s offer would include a package of support systems, similar to what was delivered to the Royal Thai Air Force (12 Gripen C/D aircraft).

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighter aircraft.

Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation refurbished two BN2A Islander for the Philippine Navy

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MANILA, -- Two (2) Britten Norman Islanders (BN-2A) of the Philippine Navy- Naval Air Group with their new paint scheme. The navy call it "haze gray," the war paint of the Navy's fleet, designed to make its vessels tougher to see. Good they put the same color scheme on their aircraft. It looks more military now compared to the old "Blue" paint scheme.

These BN2A Islander aircraft was been refurbished by Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC).

The first newly refurbished BN2A Islander of the Philippine Naval Air Group performed by PADC on 21 July 2015, was Philippine Navy aircraft tail number 320. Three (3) BN Islanders are now in Haze Gray paint scheme.

The Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) was the government’s arm for the development of the Philippine Aviation Industry.

To date, some of PADC’s major accomplishments include the assembly of forty-four (44) BO-105 helicopters and sixty-seven (67) BN Islander aircraft under a licensing agreement with Messerchemitt Bolkow Blohm (MBB)of Germany and Pilatus Britten Norman (PBN) of England, respectively.

The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a 1960s British light utility aircraft, regional airliner and cargo aircraft designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom (UK). Still in production, the Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe.

Although designed in the 1960s, over 750 are still in service with commercial operators around the world. The aircraft is also used by the British Army and police forces in the United Kingdom and is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world.

Two (2) Britten Norman Islanders (BN-2A) of the Philippine Navy- Naval Air Group with their new paint scheme.

China launches three more corvettes

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BEIJING, -- Photographs posted on Chinese online forums show that a further three Jiangdao-class (Type 056/056A) corvettes have been launched. The latest of the vessels was launched at the Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan around 3 October and is the 39th of the class to enter the water.

On 19 June satellite imagery showed the two other corvettes under construction in a dry dock at the Liaonan shipyard in Lushun. By early October photographs of the fitting-out berths in the yard showed that the ships had been launched and that the installation of sensors, antennas, and missile launchers was continuing with the ships afloat.

Online sources suggest that these ships were launched about 14 September.

A total of 27 Jiangdao-class corvettes are currently in service with the People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN), according to IHS Jane's World Navies .

The vessels displace around 1,500 tonnes, are armed with four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles, a 76 mm gun, two triple-barrelled lightweight torpedo launchers, and an eight-cell HQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile launcher.

While a number of the class are equipped with a variable depth sonar, the photographs available of the three recently launched ships do not show whether any of them are the anti-submarine variant.

The rate of production of the Jiangdao-class ships averages about one every six weeks. Twelve ships of the class are currently being fitted out or undergoing pre-commissioning trials at the four shipyards involved in their construction: three each at Liaonan, Wuchang, Hudong, and Huangpu.

Fitting out and sea trials for these ships takes around 12 months, so four of these are likely to enter service before the end of the year.

The People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force Type 056 Jiangdao - anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette.

South Korea begins receiving Taurus cruise missiles

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SEOUL, -- South Korea has received its first lot of Taurus KEPD 350K cruise missiles during a ceremony at the headquarters of Taurus Systems in Schrobenhausen, Germany, it was announced on 14 October.

An undisclosed number of missiles were formally handed over to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) during the event, which took place on the same day as the announcement. The RoKAF signed a contract for the Taurus KEPD 350K in November 2013, with reports putting the number at either 170 or 180 missiles.

The Taurus KEPD 350K is being integrated onto the RoKAF's Boeing F-15K Slam Eagle fleet. According to MBDA Deutschland (the lead company in the Taurus Systems consortium, which also includes Saab Dynamics), this work is now in its final stages.

The missile is an enhanced version of the Taurus KEPD 350 fielded by Germany and Spain on its Panavia Tornado, and Boeing EF-18 Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft respectively. Sweden is looking at integrating it onto its Saab JAS 39 Gripens also.

The baseline Taurus KEPD 350 missile is a 350 km to 500 km-class weapon designed for use against hardened and buried targets with its Multi-Effect Penetrator Highly Sophisticated and Target Optimised (MEPHISTO) penetrator warhead and intelligent fuzing system. Once launched, the missile, which is powered by a small turbofan engine, flies at extremely low altitudes (30 m) at speeds of up to Mach 0.9. The Taurus KEPD 350 missile measures 5.1 m in length, 63 cm wide, 32 cm high, and weighs in at 1,400 kg.

The Taurus KEPD 350K for the RoKAF differs slightly in that it is equipped with a new Rockwell Collins GPS receiver that comes with a Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) to prevent jamming.

A Taurus KEPD 350K missile being displayed for the first time in front of its F-15K Slam Eagle host aircraft at the ADEX 2015 defence exhibition in Seoul.

Australian Senate Committee Recommends Buying Another Fighter as "Hedging Strategy’for F-35A Acquisition

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CANBERRA, -- The controversial F-35A Lightning Joint Strike Fighter is expensive and running late but there's no real alternative available to meet the RAAF's needs for an advanced combat aircraft, a Senate committee says.

However, it recommends that Defence adopt a "hedging strategy" to be implemented by 2019 at the latest in case further JSF delays raise the risk of a capability gap between the retirement of older RAAF aircraft and entry to service of the JSF.

In a report tabled in the Senate on Thursday, the foreign affairs, defence and trade committee said it received evidence criticising the JSF, with some calling for its procurement to be cancelled.

Committee chairman Senator Alex Gallacher said the members were not convinced any of the suggested JSF alternatives were capable of meeting Australia's needs.

They included the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale.

Many suggested the US F-22 Raptor but the committee said the F-22 production line was closed and unlikely to reopen. And even if it did, US law prohibited foreign sales.

"Notwithstanding the criticisms, the committee is satisfied that the F-35A is the only aircraft able to meet Australia's strategic needs for the foreseeable future, and that sufficient progress is being made in the test and evaluation program to address performance issues of concern," Senator Gallacher told the Senate.

However, in light of problems with the JSF program, the committee said it retained a healthy scepticism of Defence's assurances on the JSF's cost, delivery schedule and capability.

Australia plans to buy 72 of the advanced F-35A Lightning aircraft and perhaps as many as 100 to form the core of the RAAF's air combat capability out to mid-century.

The RAAF plans to have the first two squadrons operational by 2020.

By that time, the oldest RAAF F/A-18 Hornets will be 35 years old and the rest not much younger, with limited scope to extend their life in the event of JSF delays.

RAAF chief Air Marshal Leo Davies told the committee he was confident there would be no capability gap.

It wasn't convinced and recommended Defence develop a hedging strategy to address the risk of a capability gap.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute told the committee the most sensible hedge would be procuring additional F/A-18F Super Hornets.

The the first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning jet arrived at Luke Air Force Base.

Basler Offers BT-67 Gunship to Philippines

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MANILA, -- US company Basler Turbo Conversions is offering its BT-64 gunship to the Philippines as that country looks for a replacement for its ageing Rockwell OV-10 Broncos, the company announced on 12 October.

The BT-67 is essentially a twin-turboprop conversion of the Douglas DC-3 Dakota fitted with updated systems such as digital avionics, a night-vision goggle-compatible cockpit, weather radar, and a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor. It is being offered as a multirole platform that not only performs the ground attack role of the OV-10, but can also fulfil transport, surveillance, aero medical evacuation, and maritime patrol requirements of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

According to the Basler Turbo, the BT-67 offers a flexible configuration depending on the mission, a rough-field short take-off and landing (STOL) capability, a readily accessible pool of parts and spares, and reduced vulnerability to manportable air defence systems (MANPADS) on account of the exhaust vents for the twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R engines being angled over the wings.

The BT-67 is based on arguably the most proven airframe in the history of aviation, with the DC-3 having originally entered service in the mid-1930s. Performance specifications for the turboprop-powered Basler variant give it a more than 4,500 kg payload capacity over 650 n miles (or 1,200 kg over 1, 875 n miles with long-range tanks), and a 35 m 3 cabin volume. The aircraft has a cruising speed of 210 kt and a service ceiling of 13,000 ft.

Already fielded by the air forces of Colombia (gunship), El Salvador (transport), Guatemala (transport), Mali (transport), Mauritania (surveillance), Thailand (scientific research), and by the US State Department (transport and surveillance), deliveries to the Philippines could start a year after a contract signature.

The Philippines is set to re-launch its OV-10 Bronco-replacement programme, with a new request for proposals (RfP) to be issued in the coming months.

The Basler BT-67 FAC F-AIr gunship is the forward looking infrared on display.

Singapore Navy Launches Unity, its Third Littoral Mission Vessel

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SINGAPORE, -- The Republic of Singapore Navy launched its third Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), called Unity, on Thursday morning (Oct 13) at Singapore Technologies Marine's (ST Marine) Benoi Yard.

Overseeing the launch ceremony was Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung. Also in attendance was Mr Ong's wife, Mrs Diana Ong, who launched the vessel.

The first and second LMVs, Independence and Sovereignty, were launched on July 3 last year (2015) and April 16 this year (2016) respectively. They are currently undergoing sea trials.

The Navy's newest ships, the LMVs will replace the Fearless-class patrol vessels, which were in service for about 20 years.

Faster and more versatile than the current vessels, the LMVs can also be quickly configured with software and equipment to take on a variety of missions, including unmanned systems and helicopter operations.

The 80m-long vessels were designed to be operated and maintained with a lean crew of 23, compared to the Fearless-class ships which require 30.

The navigators, warfighters and engineers all work in a unique integrated command centre, which contains the ship's bridge, combat information centre and machinery control room. In other ships, these functions would be located in separate areas.

The LMVs also feature a "stacked mast", which allows the crew to access more than 90 per cent of the ship's system components. This saves time on maintenance as the ship does not need to be docked to be maintained.

Mr Ong said the ship featured a "Uniquely Singapore" design, bringing together the efforts of the Navy, the Defence Science and Technology Agency, ST Marine and defence technology industry partners.

In his speech, Mr Ong, who is also Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), noted the significance of the ship's name and said that Singaporeans had to be united in the face of challenges, including increasing terror threats.

"Unity is our strongest defence against any sort of attack," he said.

"We must be united in our goal for a harmonious and peaceful Singapore, and stand together to guard against the growing terror threat."

The Republic of Singapore Navy's third Littoral Mission Vessel, LMV, Unity at the Singapore Technologies Marine's Benoi Yard.