Images show Myanmar Air Force JF-17/FC-1 conducting flight tests in China

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NAYPYIDAW, -- Images have emerged on Chinese online forums showing what appears to be one of the first Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder/FC-1 Xiaolong multirole combat aircraft on order for the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) conducting test flights in China.

Released around 13 June the images show a single-seat JF-17/FC-1 with the standard camouflage and tail insignia of the MAF being flight-tested at what appears to be CAC's airfield in Chengdu.

Diplomatic sources told Jane's in December 2015 that Myanmar had signed a contract earlier that year for 16 such aircraft at a unit cost of USD16 million.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources told Jane's in February 2017 that these aircraft will be of the Block II variant, which was first rolled out from the PAC's Kamra plant in 2015 and which, unlike the Block I variant, features an air-to-air refuelling capability and improved avionics and electronics.

China's state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) - CAC's parent company - is believed to also be providing technical assistance to Myanmar as the aircraft replaces the MAF's ageing Chengdu J-7 fighters, which were exported as the F-7M Airguard and acquired in the 1990s.

Myanmar is widely believed to be the first export customer for the Sino-Pakistani fighter, deliveries of which are expected to begin before the end of 2017.

Images have emerged showing what appears to be one of the first JF-17/FC-1 fighters on order for the MAF conducting test flights in China.

Philippine Air Force Acquisition of 6 Close Air Support Aircraft Finally Advances

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MANILA, -- Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 6 Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft acquisition project for Philippine Air Force is now moving to a “milestone” stage after several failed initiations in the past years.

This project is part of AFP Modernization Program First Horizon which is set to end this year.

“The acquisition of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) next Close Air Support Aircraft has finally reached an important milestone after 4 years of failing to have it move beyond planning and pre-bid conferences,” MaxDefense Philippines said in an article.

“With Embraer already considered the Sole Compliant Bidder, the Philippine Air Force will be conducting Post-Bid Qualification (PQ) Inspections to confirm the submitted documents of Embraer, while also checking Embraer’s aircraft manufacturing as well as the Super Tucano itself,” MaxDefense said.

“Once they get the conformance approval from the PQ inspection team, the PAF would make a recommendation for the DND to provide a Notice/Letter of Award to Embraer which fomally signifies the awarding of the project to Embraer, and with that a Contract will follow between the two parties,” MaxDefense added.

The six close air support aircraft to be acquired will be replacing/complement the Air Force’s Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco” turboprop attack planes.

The DND previously confirmed that projects under First Horizon will be completed.

“The leadership of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will pursue the implementation of the approved projects which are not yet contracted or completed under the First Horizon (2013-2017) of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP),” DND said.

“Projects such as the CAS aircraft, LRPA (2 long-range patrol aircraft) and FA-50 Munitions are still in various stages of procurement,” it added.

The Philippine Air Force Attack Pilots from the 17th attack squadron "Jaguars" with this A-29 Super Tucano at the 15th Strike Wing flight line at Danilo Atienza Air Base for a flight demo.

Thai Cabinet Nod for Bt2.3 bn Armoured Carriers Deal with China

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BANGKOK, -- The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Army’s proposal to buy 34 armoured personnel carriers from China.

The proposal to buy the ZBL-09/VN-1 for Bt2.3 billion was put forward by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

The Cabinet gave the nod for the purchase with budgetary commitments in fiscal years 2017-20.

The Army chief will later fly to China to sign the government-to-government purchase contract.

The Cabinet was told that the new VN-1 carriers will be stationed at the First Cavalry Division, the 10th Cavalry Battalion in Nan, and the 7th Cavalry Battalion in Uttaradit.

Thailand will buy 34 Norinco ZBL-09/VN-1 armored personnel carriers from China worth 2.3 billion baht ($68 million) .

Vietnam Received Former South Korean Corvette

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HANOI, -- As reported in the Asian Web resources in the Vietnamese naval base at Vung Tau is preparing for the official handover ceremony of Vietnamese Navy arrived to former South Korean corvette PCC 761 Gimcheon type Pohang.

PCC 761 Gimcheon was inducted into the South Korean Navy in 1987 and taken out of their composition December 31, 2015. It is one of 24 corvettes type Pohang standard displacement of about 1260 tonnes constructed in several modifications South Korean shipyards in the 1980s and early 1990s. This type includes the well-known and corvette PCC Cheonan is 772, sunk March 26, 2010 as a result of allegedly DPRK torpedo attack submarine. Since 2009, the type of ships Pohang commenced withdrawal from the South Korean Navy, so far excluded from the list of seven ships. Head corvette PCC Pohang 756 is now installed as a museum ship in Pohang, in whose honor and was named.

Decommissioned ship corvette PCC 758 Gyeongju in 2015 was transferred to Peru, and now corvette PCC 761 Gimcheon transferred to Vietnam, and another RCC 762 Chungju is preparing to transfer to the Philippines. It is reported that Philippine sources confirm the upcoming transfer of Vietnam corvette Gimcheon, testifying that his future Vietnamese crew was trained in South Korea at the same time the future of the Filipino crew of the corvette Chungju.

Recall that in 2014 the Colombian Navy also received a similar pattern derived from the South Korean Navy corvette PCC 755 Anyang ( one of the four types of ships Donghae , built in the early 1980s and decommissioned in 2009-2011).

Judging by the published photos of former corvette Gimcheon in the Vietnamese naval base in Vung Tau, before transferring to Vietnam with him was dismantled aft 76mm Universal Compact Gun Mount Oto Melara and both 324-mm triple-tube torpedo launchers for anti-submarine torpedoes, and the forward 40-mm twin Gun Mount Oto Melara Twin Compact replaced by a six-barrel 20 mm artillery installation Navy Vulcan.

The ship has already received the Vietnamese side number "18". For transmitting the Vietnamese Navy, former South Korean corvette PCC 761 Gimcheon type Pohang in Vung Tau (Vietnam), June 2017.

China offers Support, Help to Myanmar After Plane Crash

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BEIJING, -- China will offer support and assistance for Myanmar's follow-up efforts after a military plane crashed off the Southeast Asian country's southern coast with 122 people on board, state media said.

China, as a friendly neighbor, shares Myanmar's sorrow over the incident, President Xi Jinping told his counterpart U Htin Kyaw in a condolence message, state news agency Xinhua said late on Friday.

"Xi mourned the dead and extended sincere sympathy to the government and people of Myanmar, especially the families of the victims," the agency added.

The aircraft, a Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane, lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff on Wednesday, while at a height of 18,000 feet (5,485 meters), about 43 miles (70 km) west of the coastal town of Dawei, the Myanmar military has said.

Soldiers, family members and crew were on board the weekly flight from several coastal towns to Myanmar's biggest city of Yangon when it went missing.

Search teams have found one more body, taking to 32 the tally of those pulled from the sea, the military said in a statement on Saturday, adding that high waves and stormy weather continue to hinder recovery efforts.

A Shaanxi Y-8 of the Myanmar Air Force, similar to the aircraft involved in the crash.

FSMTC Offers the Philippines Helicopters, Marine Equipment and Small Arms

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MOSCOW, -- Russia held a presentation for the Philippines helicopters, marine equipment, small arms, "Interfax" on Wednesday, the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Russia.

"Talking about the supply of certain models of arms and military equipment is premature waiting for official requests from the Philippine side." - said the official representative of the Russian FSMTC Maria Vorobyova.

She said that the Philippine side held presentation of production of concern "Kalashnikov", Mi-17V-5, Mi-171SH helicopter, Mi-35 helicopters, speedboats, Coast Guard Systems, other samples of military products.

In FSMTC we said that we are talking about military equipment and weapons that will help the Philippines improve the efficiency of the fight against terrorism and piracy.

"The question of the formation of the legal framework of the Russian-Philippine military-technical cooperation", - said m.Vorobevy.

"The Russian Federation in response to the interest of the military-technical cooperation of the Republic of the Philippines in the development of leadership expressed its readiness to further discuss the parameters of mutually beneficial partnerships in this sphere", - said the representative of the Russian FSMTC.

The Russian Federation Air Force Mil Mi-35M attack helicopter.

Philippine Navy's Latest Ship Arrives In Manila

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MANILA, -- The Philippine Navy's second brand new landing dock vessel, the BRP Davao Del Sur, arrived at the South Harbor on Monday, May 8.

"After almost 4 days of voyage, Davao Del Sur has anchored at [the South Harbor in Manila]," said Navy spokesperson Lued Lincuna.

"She will undergo customs, immigration, quarantine and security (CIQS) procedures,"

The welcome ceremony for BRP Davao Del Sur is scheduled on Wednesday, May 10. Separate commissioning rites is expected to immediately follow.

The BRP Davao Del Sur departed Surabaya, Indonesia for Manila last week, May 4. Rear Admiral Gaudecio Collado, commander of the Philippine Fleet, was in Indonesia to conduct the ceremonial Sail Away ceremony for the vessel.

BRP Davao Del Sur is the navy's second Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), following the arrival of the BRP Tarlac in June 2016. The two brand new ships cost the previous Aquino administration P4 billion ($85 million*).

It is a much awaited asset of the Philippine Navy. The SSV has ability to serve as one-stop operations center at sea, crucial in sending quick deployments such as in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

"It will complement our first, the BRP Tarlac, of course. It will have an impact on our HADR [high availability disaster recovery] operations because it's a very big vessel. It can accomodate a lot of cargo and a lot of personnel," said Lincuna.

Measuring 123 meters long and with a maximum carrying capacity of 11,583 tons, the SSVs can transport heavy equipment, supplies, and troops to anywhere in the archipelago. It has provisions for 121 crew members and can house up to 500 soldiers. It can also carry up to 3 naval helicopters on its heli-deck and two "baby boats" in its rear hold. No other load-bearing ship in the Navy's fleet can compare.

The BRP Tarlac has also been recently deployed to conduct naval blockades in southern Philippines, helping in the military's operations against local terrorists.

It will also participate in the Philippines-US Balikatan exercises scheduled this week.

The Philippine Navy Tarlac-class landing platform dock BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) on her voyage home to Manila.

Singapore Navy to Commission First Littoral Mission Vessel on 50th Anniversary

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SINGAPORE, -- The Republic of Singapore Navy is set to commission the first littoral mission vessel RSS Independence on its 50th anniversary on May 5.

“This will be a significant moment to mark the Navy’s coming of age at 50 years, as we complete our 3rd generation transformation, as we move into our redesign for LMV Indy to be the lead platform, to be, if I can borrow the phrase, the ‘flagship of our future Navy’,” Republic of Singapore Navy chief, Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han, said in May, last year.

RSS Independence, the first of eight littoral mission vessels finished sea trials and arrived at her homeport at Tuas Naval Base on May 26, 2016.

Littoral mission vessels are being built to replace the 20-year-old Fearless-class patrol vessels which the Singapore Navy started to gradually decommission.

The eight vessels are being built by ST Marine under a contract signed with Singapore’s ministry of defense in 2013.

The LMVs will be configurable to undertake a wide spectrum of operations. More than twice the size of the current class of patrol vessels in service with the Republic of Singapore Navy, LMVs measure 80 meters in length and displace 1,250 tonnes. All eight vessels are expected to be operational by 2020.

ST Marine most recently held a launching ceremony for the fourth vessel in the class, the future RSS Justice, on March 18, 2017.

The Republic of Singapore Navy RSS Independence littoral mission vessel.

Myanmar Seeks to Purchase Two Submarine

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NAYPYIDAW - Deputy Defense Minister Maj Gen Myint Nwe has announced the Burma Army's ambition to own a submarine. "Our neighbors have submarines and we want them to be dependent on the state budget.

The military leadership is considering it, "said the major general at a press conference. During a visit to Russia in 2013, Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing expressed interest in purchasing two Kilo-class submarines, relics of the last years of the Soviet era.

The same year, reports surfaced that some 20 Burmese naval officers received submarine training in Pakistan. Burma Navy officials also studied onboard Indian submarines in 2006, said the major general. Burma's Navy is presently equipped only to deal with coastal engagements, and is incapable of more sophisticated territorial defense. As fleet expansion continues, Burma may take more concrete steps towards subsurface capability. "Submarines are necessary armed units for a navy," said the major general. Burma Navy will acquire a submarine.

The proposal will first undergo a parliamentary review committee.

The committee reviews military proposals pertaining to the procurement of weapons and equipment as well as budgetary measures, but the military does not go into complete detail for the committee for pertaining to information security, he added. Since 2011, the Burma Air Force has put 49 fighter jets and helicopters into commission. Between fiscal years 2011-16, the Navy put 22 ships into service.

The major general says the country's defense budget amounts to between 13 and 15 percent of the Union budget. In the 1990s, the Burmese Army established military academies and turned out many junior officers, but focused primarily on quantity. But since 2011, the army has placed a higher emphasis on quality and set higher standards of military academies, the major general said.

The Russian Navy Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarine.

Philippine Coast Guard gets 4 patrol boats

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MANILA, -- Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will soon have four brand new fast patrol boats from France.
This, as Philippine Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade visited the shipyard of French boat manufacturer OCEA in Sables d’Olonne, France on April 1 to inspect four brand new 24-meter fast patrol boats (FPV 72 MKII) purchased by the Philippine government for the PCG.
The boats are part of the Philippine Ports and Coast Capability Development Contract signed between the Department of Transportation and OCEA on September 9, 2014 to modernize the Coast Guard’s fleet.
Aside from the four fast patrol boats, the contract also includes a brand new 82-meter offshore patrol vessel (OPV 270 MKII), five-year preventive maintenance for all five boats, spare parts for five years, and technical assistance and training for the crew.
During the discussions with OCEA CEO Roland Joassard, Secretary Tugade also discussed positioning the Philippines as a regional hub for ship repair and how OCEA could play a role in achieving this goal, being a supplier of patrol boats to other countries in the region.

Joassard promised to assist the Philippines in this endeavor and extended verbal commitment to sign an agreement to this effect before the end of 2017.
The Philippine delegation included Philippine Ambassador to France Ms. Ma. Theresa Lazaro, Philippine Coast Guard OIC Commodore Joel Garcia, BCDA President, and CEO Vivencio Dizon, Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez and Consul Rapunzel Acop.

An OCEA FPB72 Mk.II patrol craft seen here undergoing trials in France.