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Philippines set to re-launch bid to acquire close-air support aircraft

05 October 2016

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is preparing to launch its fourth bid in two years to procure close-air support (CAS) aircraft, IHS Jane's understands.

The Philippines Air Force is looking to replace its fleet of OV-10 Bronco aircraft (seen here in US Air Force colours) in the close-air support role. (US Department of Defense/Tech Sgt Hans H Deffner)The Philippines Air Force is looking to replace its fleet of OV-10 Bronco aircraft (seen here in US Air Force colours) in the close-air support role. (US Department of Defense/Tech Sgt Hans H Deffner)

A source confirmed on 4 October that the PAF is scheduled to issue another request for proposals (RFP) in the coming months and that the programme is expected to be competed for by two aircraft: the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano and Beechcraft T-6 Texan II, a US version of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 Advanced Turbo Trainer.

IHS Jane's understands from PAF officials that the Super Tucano is the preferred platform.

Previously published tender documents show that the programme features the acquisition of six CAS aircraft and an accompanying logistics support package for PHP4.9 billion (USD101 million).

The project was launched in 2014 but has repeatedly failed at the bidding stage due partly to specifications that have disqualified potential candidates. For instance, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KT-1C, an armed version of the KT-1 Woong-Bee trainer, did not meet payload requirements.

It is believed that other candidates have failed due to the requirements of the Philippine defence procurement process. A particular stumbling block has been the stipulation, outlined in tender documents, for the successful supplier to already have exported its product to the armed forces in the country of origin or used by the armed forces of at least two foreign countries.

This requirement is one of the main reasons why the Super Tucano is considered in Manila as the favoured option. As well as meeting technical requirements, the aircraft is operated by the Brazilian Air Force as well as several foreign air forces, including those in Indonesia, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador.

A source told IHS Jane's that the RFP is expected to be issued "very soon". Recent delays in the programme, he said, were due to changes in administration in the Philippines.

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