DN - Defence Notes

Super Tucanos are finally Philippines bound

1st December 2017 - 11:12 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Hong Kong

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On the final day of November, the Brazilian aerospace company Embraer announced that it had been awarded ‘a firm order' of six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training aircraft for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Embraer said that deliveries will start in 2019, with the 15th Strike Wing of the PAF based at Danilo Atienza Air Base, Sangley Point, Cavite, primed to operate them.

The contract under the auspices of the Horizon 1 modernisation plan is believed to be worth $99 million.

Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, commented: ‘We are honoured to be selected by the Philippine Air Force, our second operator in the Asia-Pacific region and with the confidence expressed by our customer.’

The PAF will use the EMB 314 aircraft for ‘close air support, light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception and counterinsurgency missions’. 

The Super Tucanos would have been ideal for the type of bitter combat that occurred in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao, but unfortunately the contract has been a long time coming.

On three previous occasions over the past four years the bidding process for close air support aircraft was cancelled, leaving the PAF languishing with old Rockwell OV-10 Bronco and SIAI-Marchetti SF-260TP types. On the fourth occasion the A-29 was declared sole compliant bidder on 7 June.

The Philippines is the fourteenth country to select the Super Tucano. Regionally, Indonesia acquired 16 airframes via a 2010 order.

Beechcraft competed with its AT-6B Texan II Wolverine but the Philippines declared it ineligible. One likely reason was that the AT-6B Wolverine is not currently operated by any air force, something demanded by Philippine procurement regulations.

The Super Tucano had long been regarded as the favourite to win this competition, and some believe the tender specifications were based around those of the Brazilian aircraft. Philip Windsor, Embraer’s business development manager in Asia-Pacific, said his company’s offering was a ‘fully compliant solution’.

The PAF’s future requirement under Horizon 2 is expected to stretch to another 18 CAS aircraft so that the SF-260TP fleet can also be replaced.

On 16 October Embraer announced another contract for six Super Tucanos. Though the company refused to identify the buyer, there is speculation that it is Nigeria.

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