C4iSR: Air

Philippine Air Force receives airborne ISR boost with C-130 SABIR kit

03 October 2018

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y Kim (centre right) with the PAF’s SABIR C-130 aircraft during a ceremony to mark the capability’s official handover. Source: US State Department

The 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing (AISW) of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), based at Benito Ebuen Air Force Base on Mactan Island, has received an Airdyne Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response (SABIR) kit for use on board one of the service's C-130 transport aircraft (identified as a C-130T with PAF serial number 5040).

The SABIR fit allows a 'vanilla' C-130 to be reconfigured for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) role via the introduction of port and/or starboard payload struts, a new paratroop door with a bubble observation window, an inboard avionics rack, a tactical workstation, a stores ejector, and an operator's seat. Regarding the specific Philippines application, Airdyne's website reported it as incorporating L-3 Wescam's MX-15 HDi electro-optical imager and a variant of Elta Systems' X-band (8 to 12.5 GHz) EL/M-2022 synthetic aperture radar.

The new Philippines capability has been funded by the US Southeast Asian Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), with the USD15.1 million SABIR package being said to include system installation and sustainment together with the necessary crew training.

The SABIR fit is described as providing an advanced ISR capability "without sacrificing the [host] aircraft's primary function as a cargo plane". The introduction of SABIR within the PAF's inventory is billed as increasing the Philippine military's "maritime domain awareness, airborne command-and-control, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief [HADR] capabilities".

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