BOOK REVIEW: Raid on the Sun – Inside Israel’s Secret Campaign that Denied Saddam the Bomb

I actually finished reading this book sometime during the last quarter of last year, but it’s only now that I got to go around and review it. The book is about a successful raid by the “Heyl Ha’Avir” (Israeli Air Force) in 1981 using their F-16 Fighting Falcons on a Nuclear Reactor in Iraq called “Osirak”. The raid is significant for a number of reasons, first of which is that it was the first time the F-16 was used to bomb a target in actual combat.

Second was that the F-16 was very new to the Israelis, the first ones were delivered in January of 1980 and yet just over a year later they were already using it in combat. Third was that the Israelis did have a number of older aircraft that they were more familiar with like the F-4 Phantom, for example, and yet despite that they insisted on using the F-16 instead, a testament to the aircraft’s capabilities.
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BOOK REVIEW: Magnum! The Wild Weasels in Desert Storm

After months of “Reading While Standing in Line” on my Smartphone, I finally finished the book “Magnum! The Wild Weasels in Desert Storm”. The term “Wild Weasels” is the code name assigned by the United States Air Force (USAF) to their aircraft assigned to seek and destroy enemy Surface to Air Missile (SAM) installations.

The first chapters of the book covered the history, description and tactics used by these Wild Weasel aircraft from its inception during the Vietnam War all the way to Desert Storm. The middle chapters covered the pre-deployment and deployment of its crews to Desert Storm and relied mostly on direct quotations from the memoirs and diaries of a couple of pilots.
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The Philippines’ Pivot to China

A composite picture of the flags of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippiines. Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the middle of March 2017, China’s Vice Premier Yang’s Wa … oh sorry, I meant, “Yang Wang” (cough, cough) … while visiting Davao City expressed interest in funding at least two projects that was presented to him by the Philippine government. The two Infrastructure projects are worth a total of USD 3 Billion (or Php 150 Billion, assuming an Exchange Rate of USD 1 = Php 50) spanning 223 kilometers (km) of Infrastructure for Mindanao.

The first of these is the Davao City Expressway Project with a budget of USD 490 million (Php 24.5 Billion) which is a 23.3 km highway that features an elevated expressway.1 The second is the Mindanao Railway Project with a budget of USD 2.56 Billion (Php 128 Billion) is a 200 km circuitous railway line that connects the major cities of Mindanao like Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and General Santos City.2
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Military Movie and Series Reviews – March 2017

An image of one of the posters for the series “Plane Resurrection” courtesy of the PBS Network.

With the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on a bit of a break, I decided to take a little break myself and post my reviews of real life or fictional movies or series with military themes that I have seen over the last couple of months. Admittedly all of these materials I have seen are from Netflix, but I did try to include other sources also for them if they are available.

WWII: 1941 AND THE MAN OF STEEL (Five out of Five Stars)
Link: http://www.tpt.org/world-war-two-1941-and-the-man-of-steel/

Available on Netflix, Youtube, DVD and the PBS Network, this series consists of two 45 minute episodes and is originally produced by BBC. This is an absolutely fascinating documentary of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia in World War Two (WW2) from the viewpoint of the Russians. At its center is Josef Stalin, it shows his biography including his inner circle and how he rose into power and transformed Russia.
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Kilo class Submarines for the Philippine Navy?

A Kilo class Submarine of the Russian Navy. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A Kilo class Submarine of the Russian Navy. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Oh, what a difference a year makes. This time last year it was almost inconceivable for the Philippines to consider getting weapons from Russia. And yet look at where we are now, under a new President with a radically new Foreign Policy, the Department of National Defense (DND) recently went out and announced that it was considering getting the Kilo-class Diesel-Electric (DE) Submarines from Russia for the Philippine Navy.1

’Submarines in Asia’
Now may be time the right time for us to seriously start thinking about getting Submarines because after Thailand solidified their deal of acquiring Yuan-class Submarines from China,2 the Philippines and Myanmar are about the only major countries left in Asia without Submarine capability. The other Asian countries with no subs are either smaller countries, or countries that are landlocked like Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, etc.
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US Armed Forces Aircraft Operating Costs – August 2016

An F-16C of the United States Air Force in flight. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
An F-16C of the United States Air Force in flight. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The United States (US) Defense Department released a couple of months ago a Financial Report showing the “Reimbursement Rate” for all the military aircraft used by the US Armed Forces.1 That rate is also a measure of the Cost per Flight Hour (CPFH) of each aircraft, or how much it costs to operate the aircraft for every hour of flight.2

Relations between the US and our new President Rodrigo R. Duterte has not been very good lately, hence I’m not sure if this information is still relevant to us anymore. But the US does have a new President, so there is a chance that relations with them will improve. At any rate, I think that it will still be good to take a closer look at these CPFH data just for general knowledge.

Now these data are a little bit tricky since they do tend to vary a lot if you look at some of the data that has been published out there over the years from other sources, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s just consider these latest data as the most accurate one for now.
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The Basler BT-67 for the Philippine Air Force?

Front view of the BT-67 Gunship of the Colombian Air Force. Photo courtesy of The Dakota Hunter website.
Front view of the BT-67 Gunship of the Colombian Air Force. Photo courtesy of The Dakota Hunter website.

The American company Basler Turbo Conversions recently revealed to the major defense publication Jane’s that they were offering their BT-67 Gunship as replacement for the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) OV-10 Bronco Light Attack Aircraft.1 It was a bit of a surprise for me because prior to this announcement, all of the candidates for the Bronco’s replacement were much smaller aircraft. So let’s take a closer look at what Basler has to offer.

’The BT-67’2
The BT-67 is a refurbished, modernized, and improved version of the Douglas DC-3 which first entered service with the American armed forces way back in 1936. What Basler does is to first get an old DC-3 aircraft, inspect and then do a complete overhaul on it. They then reinforce the airframe, wings and control surfaces to allow the aircraft to handle an increased maximum takeoff weight.
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