Your 1st in Philippine defense

Hermes 450 MALE UAVs arriving soon!

MaxDefense presents the first photo of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 MALE UAV of the Philippine Air Force!

Elbit's Skylark 3 UAV coming soon!

The Philippine Army just made a massive order for several UAV types from Israel.

Philippine Navy and HHI launches BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150)

The Frigate acquisition project reaches a milestone with the launching of BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

The Philippine Navy's first Combat Management System from Saab

The Philippine Navy introduces the first CMS in PN service, the Saab 9LV Combat Management System on PS-35

Spot the difference

The Philippine Army received their first batch of upgraded M113A2 APCs. So which is which?

They KAAV7A1s are finally here!

The Philippine Navy (Marines) will soon be having their own AAVs. No more hitchhiking on USMC AAVs!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project is getting closer to the finish line

With the Light Tank Acquisition Project appearing to be nearing a final selection, MaxDefense would like to discuss the selection for the vehicles based on our analysis of the situation and the information on hand.

The Light Tank Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army is one of those given an "in-principle" approval by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last June 2018 as part of the Php300 billion Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

MaxDefense was informed that the Light Tank Acquisition Project was also among those green-lighted for immediate implementation in the AFP-PNP Joint Command Conference last 07 May 2019. This means the project can be finalized and awarded to whoever the PA TWG and DND believe to have provided the best offer.

For further reading, you may give some time to read our previous blog entry discussing the Light Tank acquisition as well as other acquisitions of the Philippine Army for the Mechanized Infantry Division, which can be accessed below:

Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase" - first posted on 24 March 2018

The General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT) during Eurosatory 2018. Photo taken from Armada International.

The Shortlisted Proponents and Products:

It appears that we now have a final list of which ones were shortlisted by the Philippine Army for their Light Tank Acquisition Project, which is also based on the proponents that submitted a serious offer.

For the Tracked Light Tank, the following were said to have been considered:

1. Hanwha Defense Systems (South Korea): K21-105 Medium Tank;

2. Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems (Israel-Austria): ASCOD 2 MMBT Medium Tank;

3. PT Pindad-FNSS (Indonesia-Turkey): Kaplan (Harimau) Medium Tank

From top to bottom: Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 Medium Tank, Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank, and PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan Medium Tank. Credits to original sources of photos.

For the Wheeled 8x8 Tank Destroyer are the following:

1. Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army (Israel-Czech Republic): Pandur 2 8x8 with 105mm gun;

2. IVECO (Italy): Centauro 2 8x8 with 105mm gun;

3. Otokar Otomotiv (Turkey): Arma 8x8 with 105mm gun

From top to bottom: Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army Pandur II 8x8 105mm, IVECO Centauro II 8x8 105mm, and Otokar Otomotiv Arma 8x8 105mm. Credits to original sources of the photos.

All other perceived potential proponents and products appears to have not been able to participate, or did not submit a serious offer to the Philippine Army despite receiving the Request for Information (RFI) from the PA Technical Working Group.

Perceived Winner by Deduction:

To be able to determine who we believe would win the tender based on the shortlist above, MaxDefense would base what it believes as the possible winning bidder by identifying the possible reasons for being removed from the selection, and taking out any shortlisted proponent and product and reduce the selection.

1. First off, MaxDefense will reduce the shortlist based on which one may not meet Philippine laws based on the Revised Government Procurement Act under RA 9184, and the Revised AFP Modernization Act under RA 10349.

According to these RAs, a product should already be in service with the origin's armed forces, or as an alternative, at least in service with 2 foreign armed forces.

For tracked vehicles:

* The Hanwha K21 armored fighting vehicle is in service active service with the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).

* The GDELS ASCOD armored fighting vehicle is in service with the Spanish Army as the ASCOD Pizarro, the Austrian Army as the ASCOD Ulan. The ASCOD is also being introduced to the British Army as the Ajax. 
* The PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan/Harimau medium tank is not yet in service, but is being introduced to the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD), with deliveries expected to happen in a few years.

While the K21 and ASCOD were used as armored fighting vehicles and were armed with medium caliber guns instead of a tank gun, it appears that the RA9184 and RA10349 allows its selection. Meanwhile, while the Kaplan/Harimau was designed as a medium tank, it is currently not in service with any military even by its origin (Turkey and Indonesia). This means the Kaplan/Harimau could be disqualified.

For the wheeled vehicles:

* The Excalibur Army Pandur 2 is currently in service with the Czech Army, Portuguese Army, Austrian Army, and the Indonesian Army. 

* The IVECO Centuaro is being used by the Italian Army, Spanish Army, plus the Royal Jordanian Army and the Royal Omani Army.
* The Otokar Arma is only in use by the Royal Bahraini Army.

Like in the tracked vehicles, the Pandur 2 and Centauro both meet the requirements of RA9184 and RA10349 for being in service with the country of origin or at least 2 foreign users. But Otokar's Arma is only in use by 1 foreign user, and not in use by the country of origin (Turkey). This means the Otokar Arma 8x8 could be disqualified.

The PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan/Harimau medium tank has the most potential among the tracked vehicles shortlisted as the Indonesian Army intends to acquire them by the hundreds. But its development was too late to meet the Philippine requirements of being a proven product. Credits to original source of the photo.

2. Of all the tracked and wheeled vehicle offerings, there were only two suppliers of turrets: either CMI Defence Cockerill from Belgium, or Oto Melara from Italy.

The Hanwha K21-105 and PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan, and the Otokar Arma 8x8 all use turrets made by CMI Defence Cockerill, while the Elbit-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT, Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur 2 8x8, and the IVECO Centauro 2 8x8 all use an Oto Melara-made turret.

As MaxDefense has been saying for more than a year now, Belgium's Walloon regional government has imposed an very tight export control to the Philippines due to their fear that the Philippine government may use Belgian products in Human Rights abuses or Extra-Judicial Killings. This despite the AFP's good record of not participating in HR or EJK issues.

By deduction, it means only the ASCOD 2 MMBT, Pandur 2 8x8 and Centauro 2 8x8 may be feasible for selection due to their non-usage of Belgian-made or sourced turrets and guns. Meanwhile, the Hanwha K21-105 medium tank could be disqualified as the Philippine Army is expected not to select a model that uses a Belgian-made turret and gun.

The use of a turret and gun from Belgium's CMI Defence may have costed Hanwha to be selected in the Light Tank acquisition project of the Philippine Army. Photo taken from Armored Warfare website.

3. By this time, only the Elbit Systems-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT remains as the only tracked vehicle in the shortlist. But for the wheeled vehicles, there are still two: the Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur II, and the IVECO Centauro 2.

With the ASCOD 2 MMBT probably selected, the selection of the wheeled vehicle could be a combination of performance and practicality. Since the Pandur 2 is also being offered by Elbit Systems, it is much simple to award the entire Light Tank Acquisition Project to a single proponent rather than distributing it to two proponents despite having a very small order.

In this case, IVECO's Centauro 2 may be placed in 2nd place for the wheeled vehicle requirement, with both the Elbit-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT and the Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur II 8x8 possibly selected for the project.

4. MaxDefense received information that since this project is being offered as 1 lot, proponents should be able to supply both wheeled and tracked tank variants.

Even if we include those deducted for not meeting the requirements discussed in items 1 to 3, it means that only Elbit Systems-GDELS-Excalibur Army team can compete for the project.

Which means from the start, there should be no more doubt that the ASCOD 2 MMBT and Pandur II 105 should be the only qualified products, unless the PA TWG and DND-BAC make some changes.

MaxDefense's Opinion:

Based on the above deduction, MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Army may select the Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems ASCOD 2 MMBT for the tracked requirements, and the Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army Pandur 2 8x8 for the wheeled requirement.

Aside from the deduction we made, we also believe that recent actions by the Department of National Defense (DND) itself may lead to such selections.

First was the recent visit of DND officials in Excalibur Army's facility in the Czech Republic, wherein the DND was able to view the Pandur 2 8x8. This was in between visits made by Excalibur Army officials to the DND office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City to further discuss their offers

Philippine officials visit the facility of Excalibur Army in Czech Republic. Credits to a community member who wish to remain anonymous for sharing this photo.

Also, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana recently called for the strengthening of defense relations between the Philippines and Spain, and an impending signing by the two countries of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on logistics, defense materiel, armaments and defense industry cooperation agreeement would further strengthen the position of GDELS.

This impending MOU was also discussed in a separate blog entry we made, which can be seen on the link below:

PAF's LRPA Project Expected to Benefit with Improvement of PH-Spain Defense Cooperation" - first posted 03 November 2018

What's Next:

While our opinion above is what we think would happen, it could be wrong as we are not the one making the decisions here.

It is still up to the Philippine Army's Technical Working Group (TWG) and Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT) on the Light Tank Acquisition Project who will make their selection, which in turn would be raised to the Commanding General, Philippine Army (CGPA) for support and recommendation to the DND.

Anything can still happen unless the PA and DND already made a final decision.

Anyway, MaxDefense wishes good luck to all proponents and to the Philippine Army on whatever selection they will make.


Project Summary:

Light Tank Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 16 July 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
* Quantity: 44 units total in 1 lot
* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP
* Project ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00
* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement
* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).
* SARO Release: TBA
* Winning Proponent: TBA
* Product for Delivery: 

    - Tracked Light Tanks with 105mm gun: Quantity and model TBA
    - Wheeled Light Tanks (8x8) with 105mm gun: Quantity and model TBA
* Contract Price: TBA
* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015
* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALightTankAcquisition
* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing. Awaiting DND's decision and Acquisition Decision Memorandum.


First edit and release: 16 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Russian-made RPG-7V2 rocket propelled grenade launchers for delivery to PA soon

The Philippine Army (PA) is expected to receive its shipment of Russian-made RPG-7V2 rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers in the next few days. These RPGs were delivered to the PA by Russia's defense export agency Rosoboronexport under a contract signed between the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) in late 2017.

This is despite the both the Philippine and Russian sides having problems on how to proceed with payments due to the US government's Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) issues.

MaxDefense received this news last week, but needed to check on the matter since there are issues surrounding the deal. Knowing what's happening allows us to provide better information that just reporting its arrival.

The RPG-7V2 handheld rocket propelled grenade launcher on display in an arms expo. Photo taken from the collection of Vitaly V. Kuzmin.


The Philippine Army requested for the delivery of 744 units of Rocket Propelled Grenades under its Rocket Launcher Light (Phase 2) Acquisition Project as part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

This is to replace the remaining M67 90mm recoilless rifles (RR) still being used, while improving the overall firepower of infantry units by having them distributed to smaller units that did not have access to RRs before.

An M67 90mm recoilless rifle used by the Philippine Army against terrorists groups in 2018. Photo taken from's report on a clash between the PA and BIFF terrorists in Maguindanao.

The initial batch bought under Phase 1 of the project was acquired through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program, delivering 250 units of ATGL-L rocket propelled grenades made by Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo. The ATGL-L RPGs started arriving in late 2016 and have all been delivered by 2017, with some of the units used by the Philippine Army against Maute Group ISIS-inspired terrorists in the Battle of Marawi in 2017.

Further discussion on the Phase 1 of the project can be found on our earlier blog entry on the topic, which can be accessed through the link provided below:
"Philippine Army Receives Complete Shipment of ATGL-L RPGs, Immediately Puts into Service" - first posted on 16 July 2017

The ATGL-L rocket propelled grenade launcher from Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo. Photo taken from Arsenal JSCo.'s website.

For the second batch, the Department of National Defense decided to go for a Government-to-Government (G2G) procurement instead of tendering it. MaxDefense reported in the past the several proponents were interested in supplying these RPGs to the Philippine Army, including Arsenal JSCo. of Bulgaria, and several other arms manfuacturers from Europe.

As a G2G project, the DND decided to go with the offer from the Russian government, which promised to supply the required units plus unspecified number and type of RPG ammunition. A report by Russian state media agency TASS confirmed that a contract was signed between the Philippines and Russia by late 2017, with deliveries expected to commence by 2018.

A Philippine Army officer demonstrate the use the ATGL-L (RPG-7) rocket propelled grenade launcher during a training exercise. Photo c/o 33rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

Delays and Issues on CAATSA:

But despite the quick movement from decision making to project awarding to contract signing, the project was stalled on the Opening of Letter of Credit (LOC), which is a requirement to support payment transactions. 

The Letter of Credit is a document from a bank or financial institution which guarantees a buyer's payment to the seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. This gives Rosoboronexport guarantee that the DND or the Philippine government will pay for the products it ordered, in this case, the RPGs.

But due to CAATSA issues, no financial institution or bank based in the Philippines, or even from Russia are willing to transact the deal, which also includes guaranteeing for the payments. These banks and financial institutions fear that the US government may impose sanctions on them, which could be disastrous in a business' point of view.

Since the deal cannot move forward until this issue is settled, the project was stuck and the delivery scheduled was delayed. Considering the contract was for Rosoboronexport to deliver the RPGs by 2018, none arrived up until July 2019.

Different Russian ammunition types for the RPG-7, some of which may be among those included in the delivery for the Philippine Army. Photo taken from IPFS.

Russia's Determination:

With the delays, there are some groups who are already pushing for the cancellation of the contract with Russia as the Philippine Army ends up receiving nothing. And this was taken seriously by the Russian side.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that Russia pressed-on with the production and delivery of the RPGs despite the Philippines not releasing payments for them. This is to make sure that the project proceeds and the Philippine side would not back out of the deal.

And since the amount is not significant (project cost is said to be Php408 million), it appears that Russia has agreed to settle the payment issues later on as both sides continue to find ways. Sources mentioned that both parties are looking at having payments made in Euros or another currency instead of the US dollar, and this would allow a 3rd party financial institution to assist in the payments.

The same is being eyed in case the Philippines pushes through with larger defense acquisitions from Russia including the planned acquisition of 16 to 17 units of Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171Sh medium lift helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Using other means to pay for the goods acquired from Russia are eyed by both Russian and Philippine governments to go around CAATSA issues. This is the same route being made by several countries including India, and may allow the Philippines to fulfil its plans to purchase Russian helicopters like the Mi-171Sh.

Issues of Overpricing:
In a previous post MaxDefense made in our social media page, we mentioned that it appears that the RPG-7V2s being purchased by Russia seems overpriced.

This is based on the contract price for the Bulgarian-made ATGL-L RPGs bought under the Rocket Launcher Light Phase 1 Acquisition Project wherein 250 launchers and 3,272 rounds of assorted RPG ammunition.

Below photo taken from an DND RAFPMP Status Report used during a Senior Leaders Meeting last year shows that the RPG-7s acquired by DND from Bulgaria's Arsenal JS Co. numbered 250 launchers and 3,272 rounds of assorted HE and HEAT ammunition with a total worth of Php81,726,230.00. 

In simplistic calculation, 

* There are 13 rounds of ammunition for every 1 launcher. This can be made by 3,272 rounds / 250 launchers = 13 rounds. T
he DND paid Php326,905 for each launcher and 13 rounds. These are the same RPGs used by the Philippine Army during the Marawi campaign.

* For the ammunition price, we'll take this from PhilGEPS website which posted a bidding for RPG rounds acquisition for the Philippine Army. Based on the bidding for RPG ammo, the cost of High Explosive (HE) RPG round may cost around Php249,000,000 for 31,150 rounds, or an average of Php8,000 each. For for 13 units of HE rounds, it will cost around Php104,000.

* If the cost of the Bulgarian ATGL-Ls with 13 rounds ammunition averages at Php326,905, it means the launcher's average price is approximately Php222,905 each. This is within the quoted price provided by suppliers to MaxDefense earlier, which is between Php189,000 to Php240,000 each depending on the supplier. Not bad actually.

* Based on the contract price between the DND and Rosoboronexport, the value is worth Php408,000,000.00 for 744 launchers and unspecified number of ammunition rounds, or an average of Php548,387 for each Russian RPG-7 plus unspecified rounds of ammunition.

It now remains to be seen if how much ammunition and what type were provided by the Russians as part of the deal. Initial information MaxDefense received from sources is that there isn't much ammunition included since the Philippine Army already acquired several thousands of rounds of different types, including high explosive anti-tank (HEAT), anti-personnel rounds, and thermobaric (bunker buster) high pressure rounds.


MaxDefense will try to provide the latest news on the arrival of these RPGs from Russia, which we will be making on our community page @ Facebook. Further updates will also be made on our resource page, which MaxDefense will be posting on our AFP & PCG Modernization resource portal soon.

Project Summary:

Rocket Laucher Light (Phase 2) Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 14 July 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)
* Quantity: 744 units total plus unspecified quantity of ammunition
* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP
* Project ABC: Php408,000,000.00
* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement
* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund
* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-18-0013668 dated 13 June 2018
* Winning Proponent: Rosoboronexport (Russia)
* Product for Delivery: 

    - RPG-7V2 rocket propelled grenade launcher
    - Unspecified number and type of RPG ammunition
* Contract Price: Php408,000,000.00
* First post by MaxDefense: 05 November 2016
* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PARLLPhase2Acquisition
* Status: Awaiting delivery from Russia's Rosoboronexport. Reported to MaxDefense as arriving by July 2019.



First edit and release: 14 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Discussing the planned acquisition of 94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard

In this specific blog entry, we invited one of our contributors, who gives special focus on projects of the Philippine Coast Guard, to write on behalf of MaxDefense Philippines. We would like to thank our contributor and MaxDefense community member "Herbie" for making this effort. Herbie has been following the Philippine defense, modernization, and asset acquisition for more than a decade, and has been a MaxDefense community member for almost 6 years.

In our more than 6 years of operation, Herbie would be our third guest writer to have posted an original entry with MaxDefense Philippines, as we continue to widen our base aside from the page's sole editor, Max Montero.


To improve the capability of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in responding to offshore and coastal maritime incidents such as Search and Rescue (SAR), Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN), Maritime Security (MARSEC) operations, the PCG requested the acquisition of two (2) 94 meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) as part of the PCG's Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) Phase II program.

The Japan Coast Guard Kunigami-class patrol vessel Ikema (PL-86).
Photo for reference only, taken from J-Hangarspace website.


The requirement for MRRVs was first published in the document “RA008-02: Formulating a National Transport Plan” that dates back to March 2010. 

It was commissioned by the Philippines – Australia Partnership for Economic Governance Reforms (PEGR) group and was initiated by the Australian Government. It stated that the Philippine Government work for the “Development of maritime disaster response capabilities.” The indicator to achieve this objective is a target of  acquiring twelve (12) “Maritime Disaster Response Vessels”.

Contrary to beliefs that the MRRV project was a Japanese initiative, it was actually the collaboration by the Philippine government and the Australian government that made way to the idea of acquiring such vessels.
Photo taken fro AusAID website.

Also, the same MRRV requirement was stated more clearly in one of the early documents made available to the public, in this case the July 2011 commitment plan of the Philippines to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Counter-Terrorism Action Plan

It stated a ”Need to acquire the following surface assets: two (2) 100-meter high endurance vessels” among other PCG requirements stated. 

By 2013, the former Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) detailed a plan for the “Acquisition of two- 92-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels”.

This report from the former DOTC indicated the requirement for the "Acquisition of two 92-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels. Photo taken from the former DOTC website.

By November 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a Note Verbale transmitting the Government of the Philippines (GOP)’s official request to secure loan financing from the Government of Japan.  

From January to February 2016, JICA’s Feasibility Study Review and Appraisal Mission were dispatched and made a report in the link.

The planned deployment of the 94-meter MRRV as indicated in the Japan MOFA's case study on the request for funding assistance submitted by the Philippine government. Photo taken from Japan MOFA's website.

During a June 2016 NEDA-ICC review, the title, technical specifications, cost and implementation period of the project following the appraisals by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 

Among the changes were:

*  The adjustment of the total length from 92 meters to 94 meters
* Amount of funding required from US$89.73 million to US$142.85 million 

On September 2016, the NEDA Board finally approved the project. And finally on October 2016, the GOP and the GOJ signed a JICA Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan Agreement, specifically a STEP loan during Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Japan. 

The Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) was applied to the project in the agreement that was signed, and it was expected that only Japanese shipbuilding technologies will be utilized. During the October 2016 signing, the project was targeted to be completed on June 2021.

The terms of the STEP loan are first they are required to use the service of Japanese companies. Payable in 40 years, the loan amount is JPY16.455 Billion with an annual interest of 0.1. The bonus is that the loan has a grace period of 10 years.

Project Implementation:

There are two contracts for this project:
First is the Consulting Services for the construction of the vessels which was awarded on 28 September 2018 and the Notice to Proceed (NTP) was issued on 09 November 2018. 

In this project, the Joint Venture of Japan Marine Science and PADECO Co. Ltd. won the contract. This contract was delayed due to the slow procurement process of the Philippine Department of Transportation (DOTr, which replaced the DOTC after the government decided to separate the scope of communications from the agency).  

The second project is the Vessel Construction contract which is due for bidding sometime between June to November 2019. 

As of June 2019, target completion of the two vessels are now March 2020 and June 2020. Japan Marine United Corp, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. are the shortlisted shipbuilding firms for this contract. The latest scheduled Pre-bid meeting is scheduled on 10 July 2019.

Being a Japanese-funded and built class of ships, it is expected that the model will be based on an existing proven design used by the Japan Coast Guard, like the Kunigami-class (above). Credits to original source of the above photo.

Technical Requirements:
Based on the design created for this project, these are some of the basic specifications of the ships:

* Overall Length: about 94 meters
* Length, waterlines: about 87.50 meters
* Breadth, moulded: about 11.5 meters
* Designed load draft, moulded: about 4 meters
* Speed: Not less than 24 knots maximum, 12-18 knots cruising
* Range: Not less than 4,000 nautical miles @ 12 knots
* Endurance: Not less than 15 days
* Crew: 67  
* Survivor capacity: 36
* Engine: 2 x 6,600kW diesel engines, with option to fit slow-speed electric drive for fuel savings
* RHIB/FRP: 2 units 8 meter boats lowered by davit cranes
* Gross tonnage(as per International Tonnage, 1969): about 2,300 tons

Photo taken from Technical Requirements of the 94-meter MRRV project as indicated in the Bid Documents.

To ensure the possibility of day and night helicopter operations, the vessel should be equipped with a helicopter landing deck platform, hangar, landing aids and associated equipment. Vessel and helicopter launching and recovery facilities shall be designed and supplied to allow for helicopter operations up to sea state 4 (WMO sea states) in Philippine sea areas.

The helicopter landing deck platform, associated equipment and landing aids may be designed using Japanese Coast Guard norms and standards similar or equivalent to the standards used for the PCG’s offshore patrol vessel. 

Ship-helicopter interface compatibility must be taken into consideration. Helicopter recovery assist, secure and traverse equipment required for safe and efficient helicopter operations to include equipment for; communications, approach, hover, landing/take-off, traversing and stowing shall be provided.

Helicopter landing deck with hangar shall be arranged aft part of the Vessel. The following helicopters shall be considered for the design of helideck strength, helideck fittings, helicopter stowing, refueling, electrical, firefighting equipment, associated equipment and landing aids, etc. 

As a minimum, design load of helideck platform and hangar should be able to accommodate the maximum-take-off weight of the heavier helicopter listed below with a margin for heavy landing conditions/ factor of safety:

1) Airbus EC145 T2
2) Sikorsky S-76C
3) AgustaWestland AW139
4) Bell 412EP

Helicopter hangar shall be designed as to safely store and lash the one EC145 Eurocopter through manual operations, with applicable safety regulations.

The PCG has an order for two (2) Airbus Helicopters EC145 T2 (H125) twin-engine helicopters and are scheduled to arrive soon. The PCG is also eyeing the acquisition of larger helicopters and is said to looking at the AgustaWestland AW139. Credits to original source of the photo.

The vessel shall be so designed and equipped to be able to safely tow another vessel of at least similar size or weight. Towing capacity shall be modeled after the existing similar-type JCG vessels.

The vessel will have:
* Anti-Rolling Devices: Anti-Rolling Tank-Passive type Anti-Rolling tank shall be provided. 

* Fin Stabilizer- A fixed type (non-retractable) fin stabilizer shall be provided at engine room.

A Fixed diving platform shall be provided at stern above full load line. An ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) system shall be provided.

Updated Specifications:

Based on the latest bid documents for the Vessel Construction Project, the latest 94-Meter MRRV Technical Specifications are:

It now specifically mentioned the Kunigami model, which is the Japan Coast Guard's Kunigami-class large patrol vessel. The JCG has eighteen (18) such ships and is considered a proven design.
It now remains to be seen who will be selected to build the ships for the PCG. It is also worth noting that all three interested proponents Japan Marine United, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipbuilding and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding all had experience in building the Kunigami-class for the JCG between 2011 to 2017.

Some photos of Kunigami-class large patrol vessels of the JCG. Credits to original sources of the photos.

Project Summary:

94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessel Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 06 July 2019:

* End User: Philippine Coast Guard

* Quantity: 2 nos.

* Project ABC: TBA

* Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: Official Development Assistance (ODA) by Japan JICA

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery: 2 nos. Kunigami-class 94-meter patrol vessel

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* Searching Hashtag: #PCG94mMRRV

* Status: pre-bidding process ongoing, limited source bidding expected to start sometime between July to November 2019.

This project will be updated later on thorough our MaxDefense AFP & PCG Modernization Resource Portal, considering that this project is now moving is just awaiting for the Bidding process to be completed on or before November 2019.


First edit and release: 06 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines & "Herbie"

Monday, July 1, 2019

First photo: Hermes 450 UAV in Philippine Air Force markings

MaxDefense has some updates on the Philippine Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Acquisition Project, which is a Horizon 2 Phase Priority Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

It would be noted that the project was awarded to Israel's Elbit Systems to supply and deliver the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs to the PAF.

The photo below was shared to us, showing the first Elbit Hermes 450 UAV of the Philippine Air Force, probably taken in Israel.

The PAF's first Hermes 450 MALE UAV from Elbit Systems. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.

Apparently, a source told us that its been sitting in crates in Israel waiting for the Philippine government to release funds before it gets shipped. 

It was also said that this unit is the freebie unit which will be used by the PAF to train in UAV ops in the Philippines while the rest of the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 are being prepared for delivery between now and late 2020.

MaxDefense was informed that 2 UAVs will be arriving as first batch of Hermes 450. The rest will arrive at a later date, most likely before the end of 2019.

Previously MaxDefense posted a photo of the same UAV without the PAF markings yet, and taken in Israel by a source.

The same Hermes 450 UAV in 2018 without the PAF markings. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.


First edit and release: 01 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Purchase of T129 ATAK Falls Through, What's Next for the Attack Helicopter project of PAF?

In previous MaxDefense reports made through our blog entries, and social media posts, and later corroborated by reports by local and international media and defense outlets, it was reported that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Technical Working Group (TWG) has selected the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK attack helicopter for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects of the RAFPMP.

The TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter during an airshow. Credits to original source of the photo.

The Department of National Defense (DND) through Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana also supported this decision, and was the submitted request to Malacanang for approval by the President Rodrigo Duterte. Despite Pres. Duterte's preference on Russian attack helicopters, he approved the request of the DND and PAF for implementation, allowing the DND to finalize negotiations with TAI and the Turkish Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Trade.

For further reading, you may refer to a previous blog entry regarding the decision to acquire the T129 ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey, which can be accessed from the link provided below:

"Philippine Air Force Technical Group Picks TAI's T129 ATAK as its Future Attack Helicopter" - first posted on 28 November 28 2018.

The PAF, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Filipino people were all expecting the release of Notice of Award (NOA) in favor of Turkish Aerospace Industries, and eventually a Contract Signing between them and the DND, which was planned to be made sometime between March and May 2019.

A scale model of the T129 during the Philippines-Turkey Defense MOU Signing last December 2018 in Manila. Photo taken from CNN Turk.

But it's already almost July 2019. No NOA has been released in favor of TAI. No contract signed.

Another helicopter acquisition project running parallel and done separately with the Attack Helicopter acquisition project went through smoothly and has completed contract signing a few months ago.

So what happened?

The Turkish S400 Triumf deal and its Implications:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to acquire the Russian-made S400 Triumf long range air defense system has placed Turkey at odds with its allies with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led by the United States of America.

NATO and the US government has been asking Turkey to re-consider its acquisition of the Russian S-400 system since it would expose vulnerabilities on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which Turkey also plans to buy as their next generation fighter aircraft.

Russia's S-400 Triumf long range air defense system, said to be among the best in the world, and Turkey wants it. Credits to original source of the photo.

The US believes that the considerable exposure of the F-35 to the S-400's radars and targeting system could transmit data to the Russian manufacturers of the system, and ultimately to the Russian military and government, which would enable them to get valuable information on the aircraft and probably create ways to counter it.

Also, the US insists that buying from Russia, specifically the state-run arms export agency Rosoboronexport is in the US government's blacklist, and dealing with them can be a reason to receive sanctions through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

But Turkey insisted on pushing through with the deal despite the US giving them a deadline of up to the end of July 2019 to cancel the deal with Russia. This is because they do not agree with the US' assessment on the S-400 affecting the F-35 aircraft, while also believing that the S-400 is a better performing product than what its western allies have or are willing to sell to Turkey.

The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter - unknowingly the Philippines was indirectly affected by issues regarding this aircraft. Photo taken from the National Interest website.

The US threatened sanctions to Turkey if the deal proceeds, including cancellation of sale of the F-35 JSF, as well as economic and trade sanctions through CAATSA including elimination of Turkish suppliers and manufacturers from the F-35 supply chain.

This sanction may also include export of technology, equipment and components, spare parts, weapons and munitions by the US and its allies who support the program against the Turkish government and industrial sector.

Turkey's TAI would be greatly affected by any sanctions triggered by the government's decision to buy the Russian S-400 Triumf air defense system. And it will affect not just the production of the T129 ATAK but also almost all of TAI's aircraft products until new sources of components and new certifications can be received. Credits to original source of the photo.

The Philippines' planned T129 ATAK acquisition:

While these political events are happening in Turkey, the Philippines selected the Turkish made TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter for its own requirements.

The T129 ATAK is the result of Turkey's program to create an indigenous attack helicopter that they could manufacture and use for their armed forces, as well as for export to other countries. Technology was based mostly from the Agusta (later AgustaWestland) A129 Mangusta attack helicopter from Italy, which uses several components from the US and other allies.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana in the background of a  TAI T129 ATAK scale model during the Defense MOU signing last December 2018 in Manila. Photo taken from CNN Turk.

The T129 ATAK is an improvement over the original A129 Mangusta, replacing minor Italian or foreign-made components with equivalent Turkish made ones while continuing the use of foreign made components that are not yet available in Turkey's own facilities. This is while also increasing performance values including the use of more powerful engines to support the new aircraft.

While Turkey is very much willing to sell the TAI T129 ATAK to the Philippines, the problem now lies on the effects of CAATSA to the ability of TAI to secure the components needed to build new T129 ATAK attack helicopters and other products, as well as providing spare parts and support once these aircraft are delivered.

The T129 ATAK attack helicopter of the Turkish Army. Credits to original source and owners of the photo.

Based on information gathered by MaxDefense for the last several months through sources from the DND, PAF, and friends from local and international defense industry and aviation industry, it turns out that everything looks gloomy for the DND's deal with TAI and its Turkish counterparts.

Due to TAI and the Turkish government's inability to provide assurances that US-made component including the LHTEC CTS800-4A turboshaft engines and many other components, it was decided by the DND and the PAF TWG and leaders to STOP the deal with TAI and the Turkish government.

The LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engine, the same engine powering the T129 ATAK and the AW159 Wildcat helicopters.
Photo taken from Honeywell Aerospace's website.

It was also decided that since TAI may be unable to deliver the T129 ATAK to the Philippines, the PAF TWG was requested to re-open its evaluation and selection process for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project.

In short, it could be safe to say that the acquisition of TAI T129 ATAK is practically dead.

It is probably also safe to say now that the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project is rebooted, or may even be put on-hold for now.


While the PAF TWG was asked to start re-evaluating the products previously offered to them, the process may take some time before a new model gets selected.

This also means re-opening the door to previous offers made to the PAF which may include the Bell AH-1Z Viper, the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-28 Havoc and Mil Mi-35 Hind, and other helicopter models.

Previously, the PAF TWG's findings on not selecting these helicopters were attributed to different things: the AH-1Z and AH-64E were both too expensive, and may take a considerable time to deliver due to the long process of getting approvals for buying American products. While the Mi-28 Havoc and Mi-35 has inter-operability, compatibility, and support issues, not to mention CAATSA issues on both helicopters, and size and performance issues on the Mi-35.

Other new offers were made to the PAF, including that from Sikorsky with their S-70i Battlehawk proposal, which is strongly being considered due to its commonality in parts, logistics, training and everything else with the S-70i Black Hawk Combat Utility Helicopters ordered by the PAF a few months ago.

The Sikorsky S-70i Battlehawk armed helicopter was also offered to the PAF when the deal for the T129 ATAK fell through. Photo credits to original source.

Currently, the only solution that is coming the PAF's way is the delivery of two (2) AH-1S Cobra helicopters from the Kingdom of Jordan, which were donated to the PAF although requires some work that the PAF and DND needed to shoulder.

The AH-1 Band-Air Solution?

 The incoming AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters donated by Jordan are the only thing that is closest to the Attack Helicopter or T129 ATAK that is arriving for the PAF. Despite previous posts by MaxDefense naming these helicopters as AH-1F (Foxtrot), it appears that they are actually older AH-1S (Sierra). But it does not matter since these AH-1S have the same performance as the newer AH-1F.

An info-graphic of the upcoming AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters of the PAF. And it turns out they are actually ex-IDF AH-1 Tzefas! Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source.

According to MaxDefense's sources, these helicopters are actually former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft that were among the 14 units donated by Israel to Jordan. In short, we are getting 3rd hand helicopters. But its not bad after all.

These helicopters are actually ex-IDF AH-1 Tzefa attack helicopters, which are either AH-1S or AH-1F Cobra helicopters but brought to a common standard by the Israelis to simplify things by having commonality along the entire fleet. The only way to know the difference between a Foxtrot and Sierra Tzefas was looking at the body serials plate.

Ever wonder why the ex-Jordanian AH-1 Cobras can fire Spike-ER missiles as mentioned in the info-graphic above? Because these are Tzefas!!!

An Israel Defense Force AH-1S/F Tzefa attack helicopter, which were among those donated by Israel to Jordan, and now being donated by Jordan to the Philippines. Credits to original source of photo.

With only two (2) units arriving, these helicopters are obviously not enough to cover the delays in the Attack Helicopter acquisition project. And this could be a good reason for the PAF to consider the acquisition of more AH-1S/F Cobra attack helicopters from either Jordan, Israel, or other friendly countries as a temporary solution, and to give meaning to the introduction of Cobra attack helicopters into the PAF's fleet.

Having 2 AH-1S Tzefa Cobra attack helicopters isn't enough. How to solve this? By getting more of the same helicopters to make the earlier decision to accept 2 helicopters become relevant and reasonable.
Credits to original source of photo.

For further reading regarding the discussions, you may refer to our previous blog entry discussing the Jordanian donation of AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippines, you may refer to an old blog entry discussing this, which can be accessed on the link provided below:

"Is the Philippine Air Force Getting Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan?" - first posted on 21 August 21, 2017

What's Next for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project?

And if our sources is correct, it appears that the PAF TWG may wait until the 2 AH-1S Tzefa Cobra helicopters arrive late this year before they make a new decision. This is for the PAF, specifically the 15th Strike Wing, to evaluate the helicopters to decide if they really would go for a purpose-built attack helicopter, or re-consider the Battle Taxi option like the S-70i Battlehawk offer.

But the PAF TWG should decide quickly. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already released the funds for the PAF's Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project for 2019. And if the DND and PAF do not make use of the funds for the project by the end of 2019, the funds will have to be transmitted back to the DBM, with the PAF and DND again requesting for its release. And everyone following the defense modernization knows how lengthy this process is.

So the only way to go now for the PAF and DND is forward - make a new selection soon, award the project and complete the procurement phase within the year.

MaxDefense's only concern is that this also opens a new door for Pres. Duterte and his friends to push again their preferences, like those from Russia.

Its sad that the Philippines lost an opportunity to have a promising attack helicopter, but in this case, its not our fault but the fault of others - Turkey to be exact.

Any updates regarding the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project will now be posted also in our MaxDefense Resource Page portal under the Philippine Air Force Modernization Program Projects.

This could be accessed through the link provided below:

"Attack Helicopter (Horizon 2) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force" - to be updated continuously.

Project Summary:

Attack Helicopter (Horizon 2)Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 29 June 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)

Quantity: no specific quantity, cost dependent

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal, originally with Turkish Ministry of Defense (cancelled)

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) process.

* SARO Release/s:

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFAHAcquisition 

* Status: for re-evaluation by PAF TWG after deal with Turkish Ministry of Defense and TAI fell through.


First post, edit and release: 29 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Philippine Coast Guard Modernization Projects