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Military Assets’ ‘Game Changer’ 155 Howitzers arrives in GenSan; 8 for JTFC

CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, DOS, Maguindanao – Eight ( 8 ) of the newest self-propelled 155mm Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS 2000) arrived in Makar Port, General Santos City on September 29, 2022.

According to 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division and Joint Task Force Commander Major General Roy M Galido, eight ( 8 ) 155mm howitzers will be given to Joint Task Force Central to support counter-terrorist operations. “This new capability will be utilized against the terrorist groups who are now on the run because of our relentless focus military operations” Maj. Gen. Galido stated.

Such military assets sailed from Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City on Saturday morning, September 24, 2022 after the send-off ceremony led by the Department of National Defense (DND) Officer-in-Charge Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino, Jr.
USec Faustino Jr. called these military assets and latest military war equipment as a ‘game-changer’ that will surely strengthen the forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines especially in internal security operations in suppressing the enemies of the state.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Galido said “ATMOS is the biggest gun in the Army Arsenal today. With automatic loading and a digital fire control, it can deliver accurate fires to a range of up to 41 kilometers, this can definitely be a ‘game-changer’ in supporting and intensifying even further our focused military operations particularly in Central and South-Central Mindanao”.

He also emphasized that this will be an advantage in the suppression of insurgency and terrorism. “An advantage of ATMOS is that it offers high accuracy and “shoot and scoot” operation yet can operate on the existing road network and bridges found in the country. They are able to deploy even in rugged terrain while being able to respond to mission demands more quickly than towed howitzers” Maj. Gen. Galido added.

The ATMOS artillery pieces were procured under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Plan. These were acquired from Israel’s Elbit Systems in a US$47 million contract signed in 2020. Thus, the Army is continuously modernizing in order to be more effective in protecting the people and securing the state. The guns are organized into three batteries of four guns each. It was assigned to the 10th Field Artillery Battalion “Rolling Thunder” which was activated in June 2022.


DTI: Australia’s Sacgasco keen on PHL offshore oil
September 22, 2022 | 12:09 am

AUSTRALIAN energy firm Sacgasco Ltd. is targeting more offshore oil developments in the Philippines, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI said that Sacgasco, which is locally operating as Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty. Ltd., is aiming to get a drilling rig in early 2023 to perform an extended well test on the revitalization of the Cadlao oilfield, which is covered by Service Contract (SC) 6B in the Palawan basin.

“This project will be followed with a plan to drill the exciting Nandino Prospect, through SC 54A, also offshore Palawan and to conduct an extended well test as the basis for more to fully developing a discovery at Nandino,” the DTI said in a statement on Wednesday.

Further, the DTI said that Sacgasco’s initial investments for the oil projects in SC 6B and SC 54A are $15 million each for the drilling and testing of oil production with a follow-up investment ranging from $10 to $50 million for each project.

It added that Sacgasco is also involved in SC 14C2, which covers the potential redevelopment of the West Linapacan oilfield.

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DOTr: Philippines still pursuing China loans for railway projects
Published September 30, 2022 5:29pm

The Philippine government is still pursuing loan agreements with China for three major railway projects, an official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Friday.

Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan so confirmed after senators asked how the DOTr would achieve the completion of the Mindanao Railway Project’s Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, the Philippine National Railways Calamba to Bicol line, and the Subic-Clark Railway Project.

In the DOTr’s presentation before the Senate panel, Batan said the Mindanao Railway Phase 1 is set to start its partial operations by the first quarter of 2027 and full operations by second quarter 2028; the PNR South Long Haul Project is expected to be fully operational by the third quarter of 2026, and the Subic-Clark Railway Project by the third quarter of 2026.

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Senator Grace Poe, who presided over the hearing, then asked why the Philippines is still pursuing these China loans when there are other countries, such as Japan, who can lend the government with "better terms."

On the issue of interest rates, Batan said the difference between the interest rates offered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and China Exim Bank was not that big.

He said the JICA's 0.1 percent interest rate per annum is a Japanese Yen denominated loan while the China Exim Bank's 2 percent interest rate per annum is a US Dollar denominated loan.

"If we apply a currency parity conversion to our JICA Japanese Yen denominated loan agreements, then roughly from an interest rate perspective, they will not be very far apart," he said.

Further, Batan said the country's bilateral partners also set a lending ceiling and Japan's lending ceiling to the Philippines is "almost depleted."

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Space / Firefly co-founder Markusic to step down as CEO
« on: September 30, 2022, 02:24:52 PM »
Firefly co-founder Markusic to step down as CEO
by Jeff Foust — June 16, 2022

PASADENA, Calif. — Firefly Aerospace announced June 15 that Tom Markusic, co-founder of the launch vehicle and spacecraft developer, will step down as its chief executive but remain with the company as it prepares for its second launch.

The company said that Markusic would shift from chief executive to a new role of chief technical advisor, effective June 16. He will remain a member of the company’s board and a “significant minority investor” in the company.

The move comes four months after AE Industrial Partners (AEI), a private equity firm, agreed to acquire a “significant stake” in Firefly from Noosphere Venture Partners, which sold its interest in Firefly at the request of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Noopshere is a fund run by Ukrainian-born investor Max Polyakov. In March, AEI said it was leading Firefly’s $75 million Series B round.

The statement suggested that Firefly’s new owners wanted new leadership for the company as it prepares a second launch of its Alpha rocket. That launch is expected no earlier than mid-July from Vandenberg Space Force Base, nearly a year after the first Alpha launch failed.

Firefly is also working on an orbital transfer vehicle and its Blue Ghost lunar lander, which will fly a mission for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program in 2024. Firefly has started design work on a larger launch vehicle, Beta, whose first launch would be around the middle of the decade.

“With new ownership and funding, Firefly has been reinvigorated. The company is entering a new phase of growth,” Kirk Konert, partner at AEI, said in the statement. “We are confident that we will soon find the right person to build upon this momentum and collaborate with the talented Firefly team to help the company continue its success.”

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PH, US defense chiefs highlight strong ties in Hawaii meet
By Priam Nepomuceno
 September 30, 2022, 1:27 pm

MANILA – The meeting between ranking Philippine and United States defense officials highlights the strong bilateral defense relations between the two nations.

"Our meeting highlighted the importance of the bilateral defense relations between the Philippines and the US, and we were able to discuss forward-looking, practical, and tangible ways on how to empower our partnership through improving defense cooperation across various lines of efforts," Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. said in a statement Friday.

He also added that his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III at the US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday (US time) also discussed "increasing interoperability" between the two armed forces.

Faustino also said this includes information sharing between the two militaries "with the end view of further enhancing the credibility of our alliance."

"The Philippines and the US have a shared history, spanning more than 70 years as friends, partners, and allies. In those years, our cooperation in political, economic, and socio-cultural relations has expanded, and our ties, including that between our defense establishments, have continued to grow stronger," he added.

Faustino also said the Philippines’ defense and security engagement with the US remains a key pillar of the two nations' bilateral relations.

"And we appreciate the US government’s willingness to work with the Philippine government as an equal, sovereign partner. Our two countries are working together to reach a common understanding of the importance of our defense alliance and what it means to recognize each other as equal partners in advancing our respective countries’ interests and in promoting peace and prosperity in the region," he added.

Faustino and Austin's meeting comes at the culmination of the planning cycle of the Philippines and the US' bilateral defense activities for next year.

"The bilateral meeting we held this afternoon was a welcome opportunity to discuss the way ahead for the Philippines-US alliance, based on the current priorities of our respective administrations, as discussed during the recent meeting between Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and US President Joseph R. Biden in New York," the DND chief stressed. (PNA)

Sumitomo bags P27-B Manila subway project
September 30, 2022 | 12:32 am

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

THE PHILIPPINE Transportation department has awarded contracts for the Metro Manila Subway Phase 1 and South Commuter Railway projects.

A notice of award was issued on Sept. 23 to Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. Ltd. for the contract to build the Anonas and Katipunan stations as well as tunnels of the country’s first underground rail system.

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General Discussion / South Korea-donated rocket system expected this June
« on: September 30, 2022, 08:44:25 AM »
South Korea-donated rocket system expected this June
By Priam Nepomuceno
 April 27, 2022, 3:45 pm

MANILA – The South Korean-donated K-136 "Kooryong" multi-launch rocket system (MLRS), which is intended for the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), is expected to be delivered as early as June this year.

This was divulged by Army spokesperson, Col. Xerxes Trinidad, when sought for an update on the project on Wednesday.

"The Philippines will be providing the logistics for its shipment to our country. It is expected to be shipped within this year and has no specific timetable yet, although, it was earlier posted that by June 2022 ang dating nito sa bansa (will be arriving in the country)," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Also, he said that bidding for the MLRS' shipment or transport to the Philippines is now ongoing at the Department of National Defense (DND).

"The MLRS for the Army is donated by the (South) Korean government and it is still ongoing bidding at the DND (Department of National Defense) level for the shipment. The budget released (Special Allotment Release Order [SARO]) is dedicated for the shipment," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Trinidad said the SARO he was referring to was issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last April 22. It is worth PHP20,933,680 and is intended to "cover the funding requirement for the transfer and acceptance of the donations to the PA and PMC of the 130mm MLRS under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program."

The South Korean MLRS donation was announced sometime in 2019. Around 22 MLRS are earmarked for the Philippines.

The "Kooryong" has a range of 48 kilometers to 80 kilometers and can be used for internal and external defense.

PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. earlier said that MLRS will be delivered this June and the weapon will be the "showcase" of the Army.

"These assets will be the 'showcase of the Army and all of these will be under the stewardship of the Army Artillery Regiment," he said. (PNA)

NASA, SpaceX to Study Hubble Telescope Reboost Possibility

NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement Thursday, Sept. 22, to study the feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program idea to boost the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government.

There are no plans for NASA to conduct or fund a servicing mission or compete this opportunity; the study is designed to help the agency understand the commercial possibilities.

SpaceX – in partnership with the Polaris Program – proposed this study to better understand the technical challenges associated with servicing missions. This study is non-exclusive, and other companies may propose similar studies with different rockets or spacecraft as their model.

Teams expect the study to take up to six months, collecting technical data from both Hubble and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This data will help determine whether it would be possible to safely rendezvous, dock, and move the telescope into a more stable orbit.

“This study is an exciting example of the innovative approaches NASA is exploring through private-public partnerships,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “As our fleet grows, we want to explore a wide range of opportunities to support the most robust, superlative science missions possible.”

While Hubble and Dragon will serve as test models for this study, portions of the mission concept may be applicable to other spacecraft, particularly those in near-Earth orbit like Hubble.

Hubble has been operating since 1990, about 335 miles above Earth in an orbit that is slowly decaying over time. Reboosting Hubble into a higher, more stable orbit could add multiple years of operations to its life.

At the end of its lifetime, NASA plans to safely de-orbit or dispose of Hubble.

“SpaceX and the Polaris Program want to expand the boundaries of current technology and explore how commercial partnerships can creatively solve challenging, complex problems,” said Jessica Jensen, vice president of Customer Operations & Integration at SpaceX. “Missions such as servicing Hubble would help us expand space capabilities to ultimately help all of us achieve our goals of becoming a space-faring, multiplanetary civilization.”


Live now: NASA and @SpaceX  leaders discuss the possibility of working together to boost @NASAHubble into a more stable orbit.

Space / NASA Invites Media to Discuss New Science, Commercial Study Today
« on: September 30, 2022, 04:13:14 AM »
NASA Invites Media to Discuss New Science, Commercial Study Today
Sep 29, 2022

NASA will hold a media teleconference today at 4:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 29, to discuss a new study exploring potential commercial space opportunities for NASA science missions. The agency will livestream audio of the teleconference on its website.

Participants include:

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate
Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
Jared Isaacman, commercial astronaut and commander of Polaris Dawn
Patrick Crouse, Hubble Space Telescope project manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Dragon Economy / Re: Road re-designed to bypass a "nail house"
« on: September 30, 2022, 01:20:21 AM »
Another "nail house" @ time index 6:41

Dragon Economy / DW: Homebuyers pay price for China's property meltdown
« on: September 30, 2022, 01:12:02 AM »
Homebuyers pay price for China's property meltdown | DW News
Sep 28, 2022

Many in China have no other option than to move into unfinished homes. Yet, there are others who don't want to leave their old homes. A look at China's uncertain property market.

Filipino Potential / WB upgrades PHL growth outlook
« on: September 28, 2022, 09:42:41 AM »
WB upgrades PHL growth outlook
September 28, 2022 | 12:34 am
By Diego Gabriel C. Robles

THE WORLD BANK (WB) upgraded its growth forecast for the Philippines for this year and 2023, citing an “accommodative” fiscal policy conducive to recovering domestic demand despite a hawkish central bank and a pessimistic global economic outlook.

In its East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update report for October released on Tuesday, the Washington-based lender raised the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) outlook to 6.5%, from the 5.7% given in April. This is at the lower end of the government’s 6.5-7.5% goal this year.

The World Bank projects the economy to grow by 5.8% in 2023, from 5.6% previously, but still below the government’s 6.5-8% assumption for next year.

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IMPACT SUCCESS! Watch from #DARTMIssion’s DRACO Camera, as the vending machine-sized spacecraft successfully collides with asteroid Dimorphos, which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth.

@NASA Sep 26


Congratulations on successfully crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid!

4:30 PM · Sep 26, 2022

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