Category Archives: Weapons

Russian Smart Weapons for the FA-50PH?

A Soviet R-13 (AA-2 Atoll) missile on the outermost right hull pylon of a Saab J-35 Draken fighter aircraft. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Aside from China, the other country that this new Administration under President Rodrigo Duterte is “pivoting” to is Russia, and as part of that initiative, the Department of National Defense (DND) is considering the possibility of using Russian made Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) on our FA-50PH Fighting Eagles.1

A PGM or “Smart Weapon” is a weapon that is able to adjusts its flight path to hit its target. It can either be guided towards the target, or has its own independent guidance system.2 Note that this is at least the second time that the DND was reported to be pursuing such possibility,3 so they seem to be really serious about doing it. The big question now though is whether this is even possible at all?
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The Spike ER and NLOS Missiles of the Philippine Navy

A full scale mock up of a Spike NLOS missile. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A full scale mock up of a Spike NLOS missile. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd revealed to the press recently that they will provide the Spike ER missiles for the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Spike NLOS missiles for our Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopters.[1] The Spike ER will likely be used on our Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mark Three (Mk3) while the Spike NLOS will be used on our AW159 Wildcat Helicopters.

Both Spike missile versions were bought as part of the packages for the MPAC and AW159, with the MPAC project awarded in February 2016[2] while the AW159 acquisition was awarded in March 2016.[3] These acquisitions are significant because for the Spike ER, it will be the very first missile system ever to officially enter service with our PN ships. The Spike NLOS on the other hand will be the first ever guided missile to enter service for use with the PN’s helicopters.
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The Elbit UT25 and ORCWS Systems of the Philippine Army

A UT30 Mk2 Remote Weapons Station (RWS) mounted on an M113 of the Philippine Army. Photo courtesy of John K. Chua.
A UT30 Mk2 Remote Weapons Station (RWS) mounted on an M113 of the Philippine Army. Photo courtesy of John K. Chua.

The Philippine Army (PA) finally entered the age of Remote Weapons Station (RWS) when such units it bought were finally delivered. An RWS is a remotely operated weapons system that can be installed on various platforms. These systems became common when the major armed forces of the world like the United States of America (USA) and the major European countries started adopting them during the last decade or so.

The Army’s RWS turrets were bought in 2014 under the PNoy Administration from the Israeli company Elbit Systems as part of an upgrade program for the PA’s M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). Four M113s were upgraded to have RWS turrets armed with 25 mm cannons while another six M113s were armed with .50 caliber Machine Guns. The .50 caliber RWS-equipped M113s were the first to arrive in September last year[1] and a year later the 25 mm RWS-equipped units were delivered.[2]
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The Mystery of Marcos’ Rocket Program

The Bongbong Rocket. Photo courtesy of mitch romero thru Youtube.
The Bongbong Rocket. Photo courtesy of mitch romero thru Youtube.

I think that every kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s knew that the Philippines under the then President Ferdinand Marcos had an indigenous Rocket Program. However, that program was some sort of an “Urban Legend” because while people talked about it every now and then, there weren’t really a lot of solid news reports about them. I personally, for example, have never seen it on newspaper or TV reports, it was something that somebody else just said via word of mouth. The strange thing is that even now, almost half a century later, in the age of internet and easy information, there is still very little information about the program.

Worst of all is the fact that there are very few surviving samples of the actual rockets and launchers themselves. You would think that with such large rockets and launchers, at least a couple would’ve survived, especially since it was such an important achievement by our country. Hence these rockets are some sort of a “mystery”. Now below are the information I was able to gather together from mostly reputable sources, but some of them may not be entirely correct because there just aren’t a lot of good information to go around with.
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2013 AGM-65 Maverick Procurement for the FA-50 Golden Eagle

An AGM-65 Maverick missile. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
An AGM-65 Maverick missile. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Aside from the possible AIM-9L Sidewinder missile procurement for the FA-50 Golden Eagle (or Geagle) mentioned in my previous blog “2013 AIM-9L Sidewinder Procurement for the FA-50 Golden Eagle“, another type of missile is being procured for the aircraft as per the Philippine Air Force’s Modernization Update1, this time it is an “Air to Surface Missile”.

The procurement details called for 125 Air to Surface Missiles for a total cost of P 1,696,697,702 which at the exchange rate of USD 1 = P 45 (used in the FA-50 transaction) would be equivalent to USD 37,704,393. Unit price will be at P 13,573,582 or USD 301,635. The transaction will be made thru direct contracting, and a note for October 2013 read, “… reviewed lot 2 AGM 65 …”. So it seems that the procured missile will be for the AGM-65 Maverick.

‘Maverick Background’
The AGM-65 Maverick missile is made by the American company “Hughes Missile Systems” and first entered service with the United States Armed Forces in 1972. It is described as an air-to-ground or surface, precision-guided tactical missile designed for close air support for use against targets such as armored vehicles, air defense systems, ships, ground transport and military/logistical facilities.

Just like the Sidewinder it is another commercially successful missile with over 70,00 built and served in over 34 countries in eleven versions. The Maverick is a COMBAT-PROVEN design, having seen actual combat action from the jungles of Vietnam during the Vietnam War to the deserts of Iraq during the US-Iraqi wars. Estimated combat accuracy of the missile has been between 60-90%.2
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AFP Arms and Equipment – Zamboanga Crisis, September 2013

The Zamboanga Crisis is over as per Malacanang, it was a trying 19-days for the city of Zamboanga which started September 9, 2013 and officially ended at September 28, 2013. Total tally in terms of lives and properties lost is staggering:[1]
– 166 Moron National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction scum dead, 271 arrested
– 23 heroes died, 18 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 5 from the Philippine National Police
– 10,000 houses burned or destroyed
– 12 civilians dead, 120,000 people or 10% of the population of Zamboanga were uprooted from their homes

Despite this, though, the “crisis” was a CLEAR VICTORY for the PNoy Administration both strategically and in terms of body count. Strategically, the MNLF faction sought to occupy Zamboanga, but were driven out and ending up either being killed or arrested. In terms of body count, for every soldier or policeman killed, over 7 MNLF faction thrash lost their lives. The victory did come at a high price as the MNLF manure took their frustration and desperation of their impending defeat on the civilian populace by burning down so many houses and thus displacing so many people.

I intend no disrespect towards the heroes and civilians that have died or suffered during the war, but the crisis did give us the opportunity to have a look at some of the equipment the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is using in actual combat. This is NOT intended to be a “comprehensive” coverage of all of the weapons used by our troops during the crisis, just some of it. The primary reason for featuring such equipment are the pictures, once I see a nice, interesting picture of a weapon or equipment in action, then I work backwards from there.
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The Birth of the Personal Guided Missile: The Switchblade Drone

Every now and then we encounter new weapon that is truly revolutionary and just totally blows your mind. Such events are relatively rare, and whenever they occur they are a source of great enjoyment for me. The last time this happened was probably when the US started arming their Predator Drones with Hellfire Missiles way back in 2001, so you could say it is now “overdue” to have another such event. And for me, that latest event is the birth of the Personal Guided Missile in the SWITCHBLADE DRONE.

Small, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) has been relatively in common use by United States (US) forces for the last half decade now. These have been used as a means to provide foot soldiers with a quick way to get a vantage point from the air to survey their surroundings, and all the advantages that it brings. What differentiates the Switchblade Drone from others out there is that it is not only used for observation, but it can be used as a weapon as well.

The Switchblade was first introduced in 2011, is about 2 feet long, weighs 6 pounds, and is launched by placing its launcher tube on the ground very similar to that of a mortar. Once launched, the operator can then use the drone’s camera for observational purposes … Or to guide it towards an enemy and/or his equipment. In effect, it is a PERSONAL GUIDED WEAPON. It’s electric motor has a loiter time of up to 10 minutes, flies at around 500 feet altitude, and has a range of up to 12 miles. Here is an illustration of how it works:

Photo courtesy of the "Telepresence Options" website
Photo courtesy of the “Telepresence Options” website

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