June 24, 2021 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. State Department has paved the way for the Philippines to potentially acquire 12 F-16V fighter jets and associated weapons.
Rendering by Lockheed Martin
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA
) announced the Southeast Asian nation was cleared to buy:
- 10 F-16C Block 70/72 aircraft;
- 2 two-seat F-16D Block 70/72 aircraft;
- 15 Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229EEP engines or General Electric F110-GE-129D engines;
- 15 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG);
- 15 Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Scalable Agile Beam Radars (SABR);
- 15 Raytheon Modular Mission Computers 7000AH;
- 15 Northrop Grumman LN-260 Embedded Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS);
- 24 Raytheon AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) in the C-7 or C-8 variant;
- 48 MArvin Group LAU-129 missile launchers;
- 3 KMU-572 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM) tail kits;
- 6 Mk-82 500lb bombs + 6 inert training bombs;
- 6 FMU-152 or FMU-139 fuzes;
- 6 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP) or Litening ATP;
- 15 Multifunctional Information Display System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS-JTRS) aircraft terminals, and;
- 15 M61A1 Vulcan Anti-Aircraft 20mm guns.
- Associated and support equipment.
The package is worth an estimated $2.43 billion.
DSCA notifications do not serve as guarantees that sales will happen. Once the sale is also approved by Congress, the foreign customer can negotiate on price and quantity, both of which can change.
In two other separate notifications released around the same time, DSCA cleared the Philippines to buy 24 Raytheon Technologies AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder
air-to-air missiles and 12 Boeing AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles, worth about $42.4 million and $120 million, respectively.
The proposed sale of Harpoon missiles is also noteworthy given that the Philippines’ involvement with several standoffs against China over disputed islands in the South China Sea. The Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militias have previously harassed Philippine civilian vessels in the area.
The Block 70/72 version of the F-16 being offered to the Philippines is the latest version of the mainstay fighter of many Western or Western-aligned countries. The key improvement of the aircraft over earlier versions is the AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned radar, which is also being retrofitted to the existing F-16 fleets of several Asia-Pacific users, including Singapore
, South Korea
However, the F-16 will see competition from Saab’s JAS 39C/D Gripen under the Philippines’ multirole fighter acquisition effort that is part of the country’s Horizon 2 modernization program. The Philippine Air Force’s current front line combat aircraft is the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50PH, which is a light attack jet based on the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer.