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The Philippines is continuing its upgrade and enhancement of radar air surveillance coverage across the archipelago.
On 20th September it was reported that the radar capabilities in the north of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines would be increased. The investment into radar is intended to enhance the coverage of the West Philippine Sea, along with the wider Pacific area.
There is no word yet on what the radar acquisition will consist of in terms of radar type, number to be acquired, budget and programme timelines. However, as reported in the January 2013 edition of ChainHomeHigh, the Philippines Air Force (PAF) has announced plans to acquire three ground-based air surveillance radars.
This news follows an announcement in March 2012 that the PAF would perform a wide-ranging modernisation to include the acquisition of six combat aircraft, twelve trainers, long-range maritime patrol aircraft and a single air defence radar.
The announcement regarding the new radar (made in December 2012) now seems to indicate that the quantity of air defence radars to be purchased has been increased to three.
Little is known regarding the ground surveillance radars which the PAF currently operate, although it is thought that the force has at its disposal possibly around 20 ITT Gilfillan (now ITT Exelis) AN/TPS-32 long-range surveillance systems. Only a single system based at Wallace Air Station, a former United States Air Force facility located on Luzon Island in the northern Philippines is thought to be continually at work. This radar is believed to provide surveillance of the northern approaches to the archipelago. The AN/TPS-32 has a range of 556km (300 nautical miles) and a 100,000 feet (30,500 metre) ceiling.
Based on the performance of the AN/TPS-32 it is possible that the PAF is seeking a long-range, high-altitude radar which can be integrated into the overall Philippine Air Defence Identification Zone which is commanded by the PAF Air Defence Alert Centre, controlled by the Air Defence Wing based in PampangaProvince in the south of Luzon island.
Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract worth $5.6 million (€4.1 million), as of 15th September, to perform work on the Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) programme orchestrated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The company will construct and test a prototype ViSAR radar as part of the initiative led by L3 Communications’ Electron Devices division.
L-3 was awarded a contract by DARPA worth $2.6 million (€1.9 million) in July to perform the ViSAR design and development programme.
The ViSAR initiative intends to develop a SAR radar which can perform target identification through cloud and other battlefield obscurants to enable United States Air Force AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky-II fixed-wing gunships to engage targets in bad weather or dusty conditions. This would have the added advantage of enabling the gunship to use such conditions to mask the aircraft from ground-to-air fire.
Ultimately, the ViSAR sensor is intended to compensate for shortfalls in the performance of the infra-red sensors which AC-130s routinely carry which can be disrupted by obscurants in the atmosphere. Once developed, the ViSAR sensor could be housed on the aircraft in an external pod mounting.
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The contract, the news of which was announced on 12th September, covers the provision of six radars, spare parts and support to South Korea. The country is purchasing 26 AH-64E Apaches which are expected to be delivered from 2016, with deliveries concluding in 2018.
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