Your 1st for Philippine Defense

ATAK vs Viper vs Apache Guardian?

The Philippine Air Force's Attack Helicopter selection is still stuck with the T129 despite engine supply issues.

The Philippine Navy's first Jose Rizal-class frigate arrives!

The Philippine Navy's frigate Jose Rizal arrives, but problems still remain.

The PCG takes in new firearms from Israel!

The Philippine Coast Guard receives thousands of firearms bought from Israel Weapons Industries

The Philippine Army inches closer to having mobile bridging capability!

The Philippine Army will be adding new capabilities with Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge to come soon!

Jordan continues its assistance to the AFP!

The Philippine Army confirms receiving M14 Enhanced Battle Rifles from the Jordanian government!

The Philippine Army finally orders the Elbit ATMOS 155mm SPH?!

At last the Philippine Army finalizes its order for 2 batteries of Elbit ATMOS 155mm Self Propelled Howitzers!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Philippine Air Force to Procure Medium Lift Aircraft under Horizon 2 Modernization Phase


To further improve its airlift capabilities as a follow-on to previous improvements made in the previous years, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is embarking on the acquisition of additional medium tactical transport aircraft for the 220th Airlift Wing.

Under the Horizon 2 priority projects phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), the Philippine Air Force has received approval to pursue the Medium Lift Aircraft Acquisition Project, which eyes the purchase of three (3) new medium lift tactical transport aircraft.

Currently, the PAF already has the Airbus-CASA C-295M medium lift transport aircraft, and its very highly likely that the same aircraft would be acquired under this project. But that is being challenged by several proponents, with Indonesia's PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) being among the most aggressive with their CN-235-220 aircraft.


A PAF C-295M during delivery flight from Europe. Credits to original source of photo.

Overview:

The PAF has received three (3) Airbus-CASA C-295M medium tactical transport aircraft under the Capability Upgrade Project (CUP) projects of the AFP Modernization Program's Medium Lift Fixed-Wing Aircraft Acquisition Project. This was after beating Italy's Alenia Aerospace with the C-27J Spartan.

Based on the old specifications used for the abovementioned project, it is closely based on the Airbus C-295M's specs, although pricewise MaxDefense received info from sources several years ago that the C-295M was also cheaper than the C-27J.



The C-27J Spartan once competed against the Airbus C-295M under the PAF's Medium Lift Fixed-Wing Aircraft Acquisition Project a few years ago. It lost to the C-295M. Photo from Military Machines website.

These aircraft started to replace the Fokker F-27 Friendship which have been in service with the PAF since the late 1950s. The surviving units were relegated to troop transport duties or have undergone major maintenance work. The ability of the C-295M to carry pallets also allowed it to take some of the missions that are usually carried out by the PAF's small fleet of Lockheed C-130 Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft.



More medium lift aircraft means the PAF can relegate the ageing Fokker F-27 Friendship fleet to other roles, or even retire them permanently. Credits to original source of photo.

As the PAF continues to grow in terms on ability to maintain a larger fleet, as well as giving more importance on the ability of the PAF to respond to emergencies, the PAF has requested for the acquisition of additional transport aircraft under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP.


So far MaxDefense has not seen the specifications as of this writing, all those we learned that the Department of National Defense (DND) has already released a Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) with a decision that involves direct negotiation with the preferred proponent.



The C-295 as compared to the C-27J, C-130 and C-130J-30 on cabin length. Photo from Airbus Military.

Competing Proponents:
As of this writing, the proponents vying for the project are Airbus-CASA with the C-295, and PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) with the smaller CN-235-220.


While PTDI's CN-235-220 is smaller than the C-295, it is also cheaper. Sources confirmed that PTDI intends to offset the size difference by including an offer on top of 3 CN-235-220 aircraft. MaxDefense believes that it would be an NC-212i Aviocar small tactical transport aircraft, which is already in service with the PAF.



PTDI's CN-235-220M is also being offered to the PAF for the Medium Lift Aircraft project. Top photo from Asia Pacific Defense Journal, bottom photo from SouthAsia.com.

MaxDefense believes though, that Airbus-CASA may win this project, due to commonality issues with the existing C-295Ms in the PAF's fleet, which is now 4-aircraft strong.

As of early 2020, the PAF's Medium Lift Aircraft Acquisition is among those planned for implementation and initial funding this year. And being an asset that would be useful not just for military operations but also to support the government's Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) capabilities during emergencies, it is highly likely that the government will give priority to it even if funding will become scarce due to the negative economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.



One of the PAF's C-295M aircraft. Photo credits to Miguel Cenon.

The government intends to pay for the project under a Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA), in 3 payments starting 2020. This would enable the DND and AFP to start procuring the project even when they do not have the full project contract amount yet, and maximizing the Philippines' limited budget.


Project Summary:

Medium Lift Aircraft Acquisition Project

Note: edit as of 10 June 2020

* End User: Philippine Air Force (220th Airlift Wing)

Quantity: 3 aircraft


* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php5,288,609,984.00

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) with still unidentified country.

* 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: TBA


* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag/s: #PAFMediumLiftAircraftAcqisition 



Status: Scheduled for negotiations by 2020. Initial funding for project allocated under AFP Modernization Funding for 2020. Currently Airbus-CASA's C-295 and PTDI's CN-235-220 under consideration.

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First post and edit: 10 June 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Philippine Navy Plans to Acquire Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System from India


Several news reports from both the Philippines and India have been made on the planned acquisition of BrahMos land-based anti-ship cruise missiles for the Philippine Army, as the Philippine Army also confirmed their plans based on the press releases and infographics they have shown to the public during internal occasions since late 2019.

In the last report from an Indian news outlet, Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar confirmed that the Philippine and Indian sides will continue discussion and finalize the deal for the export of Brahmos land-based missiles systems to the Philippines once the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are eased, with the hope of closing the deal within 2020.

But it appears that the Philippine Army is not the only interested party in acquiring the Brahmos missile system. In fact, another branch of service has moved far closer to making that happen than the Philippine Navy, based on information MaxDefense received from Indian and Philippine sources.

As our headline says, yes, the Philippine Navy, on behalf of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), is also set to acquire Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile Systems from India. And they might get it first before the Philippine Army.


This has been in our draft section for more than 6 months now, and it looks like now is the best time to report this development.




The 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase Requests for Land Based Missiles:

The 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP) actually included 2 similar projects requested by 2 different branch of services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

One is the Land-Based Missile System (LBMS) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army with a requested budget of Php10 billion, and the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy with a requested budget of Php18.9 billion.

After separate evaluations made by the 2 service branches, it appears that both got into a conclusion that India's BrahMos land-based missile system is the best option they have.

While the Philippine Army is looking at having a missile system that can be used to attack naval targets and possibly land targets, the Philippine Navy appears to be looking more on hitting enemy ships from great distances.

According to MaxDefense's sources from defense and industry sources, the Philippine Navy was able to make the request for such system earlier than the Philippine Army. But after the Frigate Acquisition Project fiasco, the Philippine Navy's previous leadership under former Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad decided to keep the project under wraps to avoid attention. 


So far, MaxDefense has not heard or observe anything irregular on the project.


The Philippine Army previously disclosed its interest on the Brahmos missile system for its Land Based Missile System (LBMS) Project. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.


The Philippine Navy's Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Project - A Background:


The Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy was actually raised due to the Philippine Navy's disappointment on the decision by the Philippine Army to shelve an old project, the Shore-Based Missile System(SBMS) which was cancelled back in 2015 by the Philippine Army leadership led by then Philippine Army Command General Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who decided that the Philippine Army would rather spend the Php6.5 billion budget of the project for other essential projects.

One of the main purposes of the SBMS project was to assist the Philippine Navy in providing limited Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the West Philippine Sea including the Kalayaan Island Group, despite its limited range if deployed in Palawan.

The idea was to help give the Marines (which are under the Philippine Navy) a better chance to fight off a potential naval invasion of the KIG by Chinese or any other potential enemy force.

Back then, the Philippine Army has selected the IMI Systems Coast & Island Defense System (CIDS) which is essentially 2 batteries of land-based rocket launcher systems based on the IMI Lynx rocket-missile launching system, and the IMI Extended Range Artillery (EXTRA) guided rocket munition.

The IMI EXTRA is capable of delivering a 120 kilogram warhead with a maximum range of around 150 kilometers. MaxDefense sources from IMI Systems later on confirmed that it can actually go beyond 150 kilometers. The system was also capable of launching other munitions including the Delilah cruise missile which was among the future capabilities offered to the Philippine Arm should it have proceeded with the SBMS project.



The IMI CIDS based on IMI Lynx launcher and IMI EXTRA guided munitions. Photo credits to original source.

Fast forward to 2016, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically then AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) BGen. Noel Clement submitted a "wish list" to the AFP leadership that includes "a singular shore-based capability (eg. Brahmos) to provide strategic-level firepower to defend the country".

From the statement made by J3, who eventually became AFP Chief of Staff from September 2019 to January 2020, it already appears that there was already sentiments from the military leadership on acquiring a more capable missile system than what the IMI CIDS can offer, with the Brahmos even cited as an example.

With the Philippine Navy left out by the cancellation of the Philippine Army's SBMS Project, the service then made a commitment to make sure that they will have their own shore based missile system, and won't be reliant on the Philippine Army.



This time, instead of a guided rocket system, both services are after an actual surface-to-surface missile system, which can do sea-skimming flight and course changes while flying to its target - something the guided rockets like the IMI EXTRA cannot do.


The Brahmos, like most anti-ship cruise missiles, fly at low levels of less than 15 meters from sea level. Photo taken from Pakistan Defence forum.

Advantages on Selecting the Brahmos Missile System:


According to our sources, several models were considered by the Philippine Navy and Philippine Army, including Russian, Indian, Korean, and European solutions. In the end, both services agreed on acquiring India's Brahmos land-based missile system for the following reasons:

1. The Philippine government has been actively promoting an "Independent Foreign Policy" that is "Friends with all, Enemies of none". This includes expanding its sources of weapon systems, which includes considering products from India in which the Philippines has a growing relationship with. So far, India has failed to supply a more relevant weapon system to the Philippines aside from Force Protection Equipment (body armor, helmets) from MKU Ltd., and Thermal Imagers from Tonbo Imaging. Awarding this project to India gives the Philippines a good opportunity to expand relations with India.

2. Both services agreed to have a supersonic missile for consideration, rather than the usual subsonic missile used by most Western countries. A supersonic missile would be more difficult to intercept by hard kill solutions like gun and missile-based Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) due to its speed and ability to close the gap faster.


The missile also does an S-manoeuvre just before reaching its target, which makes interception even more difficult considering it is doing so while flying at supersonic speeds.



Gun-based CIWS like the Chinese Type 818 as shown above could be useless against supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles like the Brahmos. Credits to original source of photo.

3. Having a supersonic missile means having a bigger kinetic energy upon impact. It means that a single missile could have devastating effects even to ships as large as a destroyer or cruiser, not just because of the warhead it carries, but also the force it bring at such speed.

4. Supersonic missiles also cover distances at a shorter time than subsonic missiles, which gives the target a smaller reaction time. 


5. The Brahmos missile carries a 300-kilogram semi-armor piercing warhead, which can penetrate and damage even the toughest ship hull armor plating.




6. While Russia can also offer supersonic missiles, CAATSA issues remain a problem. Going with India means buying something comparable without the CAATSA issues with it.


7. Pricing is very competitive for the Brahmos missile system. Apparently comparable Western products are far more expensive and more difficult to obtain due to the system's tactical and strategic value. 


A subsonic anti-ship missile like the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile can do this damage on a frigate-sized warship. The Brahmos carries a larger warhead, and approaches its target at a faster speed, enabling more damage due to its warhead and kinetic energy. Credits to original source of photo.

Disadvantages:

While the Brahmos missile is a potent weapon, it also has disadvantages.

1. One cannot just fire anti-ship missiles at anyone anytime, unless fired upon. Should the Philippines be the first to fire in anger using this weapon without using other means to push away a naval threat, it could be a reason for a war to happen, and for world opinion to be against the Philippines.

2. The SBASMS has no other use other than to fire against enemy ships, or if the land attack missile is used, it can fire against enemy land targets. But that may not even happen during the entire serviceable life of the weapon system unless a real conflict between the Philippines and other countries happen. Thus, the weapon is more of a deterrent against other countries, which is exactly one of the main purpose of the Area Access / Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy.





Unlike ships and aircraft, like the Jose Rizal-class frigate above and the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter on top, truck based systems cannot really move in a huge area, and has no other use rather than to launch missiles. Ships and aircraft on the other hand can move and be made available at certain areas of the country, while can also be used for other missions aside from being a missile launch platform. Credits to original source for the top photo, while above photo originally from Bemil Korean defense page.

3. Being land based means it is only bound within the land areas of the Philippine mainland. It is unsafe to send the system in the Kalayaan Island Group due to it being easy to be targeted by ship, land or submarine launched missiles, or by missiles launched by combat aircraft. Truck based means its mobility is also limited unlike ships or aircraft that carry anti-ship missiles which can move around a wider area and the platforms can be used for other purposes.

4. Related to the third reason, the Philippines being an archipelago means that it would not be easy to move around the truck-based weapon system without using ships or aircraft. For example, if it is deployed in Palawan, it would be dependent on the availability of roads to move around. Without transport ships or aircraft, it would be stuck within Palawan Island only.


5. It remains to be seen if India could export the newer version of the Brahmos land-based surface-to-surface missile variant, which increased the range from 290-300 kilometers to 500 kilometers. If the Philippines still get the older, shorter-ranged variant, the missile might not be able to cover the entire Kalayaan Island Group and West Philippine Sea/Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone even from the fringes of the Philippine Mainland.


Infographic above shows an example of how the coverage of a standard Brahmos shore-based missile system would be like, if deployed in Batanes, Zambales, Palawan, and Tawi Tawi. Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal would be covered but will be very limited, while not the entire KIG will be covered too. This is based on the original 290-300km range of the Brahmos missile. Infographic by MaxDefense Philippines.

MaxDefense is still trying to get confirmation from sources if the Philippine Navy, as well as the Philippine Army's Brahmos missile systems would be the newer variant which now has a 500 kilometer maximum range.

Despite the range, it might not be covered by Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) restrictions since the warhead is less than 500 kilograms, which is within the MTCR allowances.



To compare with the earlier infographic, this time we considered that the maximum range of the Brahmos missile system that both the PA and PN will be acquiring is 500 kilometers. Notice the huge difference in terms of coverage. Not only can they cover a huge portion of the country's EEZ with less deployments, it can also cover the entire Kalayaan Island Group, Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, and could even reach friendly neighbours in case relations become sour in the future for some unexpected reasons. Infographic by MaxDefense Philippines.

While the Philippine Army is only after 2 batteries, the Philippine Navy is after 3 batteries of Brahmos anti-ship missile systems. Combined, this will give the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines with a total of 5 Brahmos anti-ship missile batteries which it could deploy in several locations, mostly facing the West Philippine Sea and to the northern end of Luzon facing the Luzon Strait and Babuyan Channel.

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With the COVID-19 crisis still hitting the Philippine economy hard, it remains to be seen though if this project will be given priority once everything goes back to normal. 

But MaxDefense already received confirmation that, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, online training has began for select Philippine Navy, or more specifically, Philippine Marine Corps personnel. This includes theories and basic knowledge on missile systems, and on operating and maintaining the Brahmos missile system specifically.

This could be a good sign that the project would most likely be pushing thorough, despite the hefty price tag.

Stay tuned to MaxDefense Philippines for more updates regarding the Philippine Navy's Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS) Acquisition Project, as well as the Philippine Army's Land-Based Missile System (LBMS) Acquisition Project.



Typical connectivity of Brahmos missile system in coastal defense, this example as employed by the Indian armed forces. Credits to original source of photo.

Project Summary:

Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Project


Note: Edited as of 31 May 2020.


* End User: Philippine Navy (unspecified unit, most likely the Philippine Marine Corps)

* Quantity: 3 batteries on Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile Systems


* Modernization Phase: 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase


* Project ABC:
 Php18 billion

     
Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal with India

* Source of Funding: AFP Modernization Trust Fund


* SARO Release: TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery:
      - 3 batteries of BrahMos land-based supersonic anti-ship missile systems, including supporting vehicles and subsystems, spare parts and ammunition, and ILS. 


* Contract Price: 
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense:
TBA 


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNSBASMSAcquisition


* Status: Senior Defense and Military Leaders approval done, approval from DBM and Office of the President still pending. Final negotiations on hold due to Covid-19 travel and business restrictions, as well as potential funding issues due to funding diversion.

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First post and edit: 31 May 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Why the Philippine Navy may accept the Jose Rizal-class frigates, with or without TDLink 16 compatibility


The Philippine Navy, through its Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo, announced on 15 May 2020 that the first of the Jose Rizal-class frigates built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) will be leaving the shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on 18 May 2020, and arriving in Subic Bay in the Philippines by 23 May 2020.

The announcement mentioned that frigate, the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150). would sail with 60 Philippine Navy crewmen, and 40 Korean personnel, and the ship would undergo Technical and Acceptance Inspections once it arrives in Subic Bay.

While this appears to be good news for the Philippine Navy as the arrival marks a new milestone to their history as it becomes closer to becoming a modern navy, there are still several issues that are needing for clarity.



The first ship of the Jose Rizal-class, the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150). Photo taken from and credited to Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Quick Background:


MaxDefense previously posted in our blogs and Facebook page that Hyundai Heavy Industries appears to have not fully met the project requirements of the Frigate Acquisition Project, which eventually became the Jose Rizal-class frigates.


While there were some minor issues that we believe can be settled later on, one major issue that hounds the project is the requirement for compatibility of the Combat Management System (CMS) with the US-NATO Tactical Data Link 16 (Link 16).

This requirement was among those agreed upon and included in the project's Contract between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Hyundai Heavy Industries that was signed on 24 October 2016 bt Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, and HHI Executive Vice President Kisun Chung

HHI and its subcontractor Hanwha Systems previously confirmed in Senate hearings conducted in 2017 that the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System, which is the CMS installed on the new frigates, are not yet compatible to Link 16 as of then, although they are expecting it would be certified as compatible with Link 16 by 2019. 


By 2019, Hanwha Systems was not able to get the Naval Shield ICMS to be compatible with Link 16 due to reasons beyond its control. MaxDefense reiterated that the risk from 2016 was not mitigated, and has now become an actual problem. HHI and Hanwha Systems promised that the ship would be delivered with Link 16 compatibility in 2020.


The future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during its launching in 2019 at HHI's naval shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. Photo from Inquirer.net.

By March 2020, the PN FOIC Vice Adm. Bacordo confirmed that they are just awaiting for certification from the US on the compatibility of Naval Shield ICMS with Link 16, since only the US Link 16 Office and US DOD's Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) can provide certification. It was later confirmed that Hanwha Systems tested the Naval Shield ICMS using the Ultra Electronics Air Defense System Integrator (ADSI) simulator, although Hanwha Systems and HHI failed to get actual certification from US certifiers.




Hanwha presented their Naval Shield ICMS to Philippine media during the launch of BRP Jose Rizal in 2019. Photo from Inquirer.net.

MaxDefense received information from officials familiar with the Link 16 issues that a simulation test using the Ultra Electronics ADSI, as what Hanwha Systems did, may not be sufficient reason enough for the US JITC and Link 16 office to provide certification.

If the US Link 16 Office and JITC doesn't provide any certification, the Philippine Navy risks accepting the ship that in the end, the US will not accept for installation of the Tactical Data Link 16.



The two ships of the Jose Rizal-class docked in HHI's yard in Ulsan, South Korea. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.


Accepting the Frigate or Not:

It remains to be seen now if the Philippine Navy's Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) will accept the ship or not.

Of course it would be good news for everyone, including MaxDefense, if HHI and Hanwha Systems could REALLY provide the certification from US certifying agencies like JITC, because this means that finally, we can say that the ship is fully compliant to the requirements.

MaxDefense would even be happy for the Philippine Navy to continue with its planned Corvette Acquisition Project with HHI and Hanwha if they can prove that the Naval Shield ICMS is TDL16 compatible.

But as our last check just a few days ago, there is still no sign that a US certification was obtained by HHI and Hanwha Systems to support their claim that the Naval Shield ICMS is TDL16 compatible.


But MaxDefense believes that, despite the issues surrounding the frigates and its Combat Management System, the Philippine Navy will accept the ships.
Why the PN Would Accept the Ships, TDL16 Compatible or Not:

MaxDefense believes that despite the warnings made since 2016, and despite the Philippine Navy knowing the issues very well, the Philippine Navy would still accept the frigates, with or without the Link 16 compatibility with the Naval Shield ICMS.

There are several reasons that we believe are in the heads of the Philippine Navy's leadership, which we believe include the following:

1. RIMPAC 2020:

RIMPAC 2020 is happening in August 2020, and the Philippine Navy is said to be joining once again with the FF-150. Photo of RIMPAC 2020 logo from RIMPAC's official FB page.

One of our community members commented in our last Facebook post that the ship's "going to a party, but isn't well dressed enough". While MaxDefense believes that being "well dressed" is needed, the ship is indeed going to a party.

MaxDefense has received confirmation that the Philippine Navy is joining the Rim of the Pacific Exercises 2020, which is scheduled in August 2020 in Hawaii, USA. And guess which ship is the Philippine Navy sending?

Yes, its no other than the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), which is expected to be commissioned with the Philippine Navy by then. MaxDefense is expected that a shipboard helicopter will accompany the frigate, but it still remains to be seen if the PN will send the new AgustaWestland AW159 Mk220 Wildcat, or the older and less capable AgustaWestland AW109E Power naval helicopter.

The exercises is expected to only have the At Sea Phase due to the COVID-19 pandemic still expected to be ongoing. So the PN is only sending a combat ship, unlike in 2018 when it sent a Marine Battalion Landing Team and a Landing Platform Dock. 



RIMPAC 2020 is happpening. Photo from US Navy.

2. Pressure from Greased Public Officials:

It would be remembered that as early as April 2020, MaxDefense already received word that Hyundai Heavy Industries is already pushing for the delivery of the frigate, and has already sent their people to meet "people with influence" within the Philippine government.

Despite the issues on the frigate being very obvious, the deal still pushed through according to HHI's wishes despite not legally questionable. This means that there are questionable activities happening in the backstage of the show.

If the frigate's acceptance is delayed, it means more expenses for HHI since the Philippine government cannot release the milestone payments for the ship's delivery. Based on the project's payment terms and delivery schedule included in the contract, HHI will be paid 10% of the contract price and reach a total of 80% of the contract price by the time the 1st frigate is accepted and delivered to the Philippine Navy.


It would be favorable for HHI to spend a little more just to get this project moving forward. And that "little more" may include "grease" for our officials.


3. Philippine Navy's Desperation for Additional Hulls:


Just a few weeks ago, the Philippine Navy just had one of its major surface combat asset, the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) in a minor accident off the coast of India. While the damage appears to be minimal, MaxDefense received information from Navy sources that it might taken several months for a complete repair to be made, that is even with assistance from the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command.

If true, this means the BRP Ramon Alcaraz may not be available for service for almost the entire remaining months of 2020.

This is not a good timing for the Philippine Navy, since it is in the process of retiring three (3) more World War 2-era warships within 2020, while its sistership BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) is still under repair and is not expected to return to service until mid to late 2021 as it will proceed with upgrade works in late 2020 or early 2021 even after repairs on the ship are done.



The BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) has not yet recovered from the damages it took in 2018. It is expected that repairs would be completed by 2020, although the ship is lined for upgrade works in early 2021. Photo from Inquirer.net.

This means that only the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) and the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) remain as the only available major surface combatants of the Philippine Navy as of this writing. The addition of the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) would boost the Philippine Navy's hull availability



The PN only has the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) and the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) as its main surface combatants at the moment. Photo from PN.

4.  Obtaining Assistance from South Korean Government:

The acceptance of the future BRP Jose Rizal may also be tied to other projects that the Philippine Navy is trying to close with the South Korean government. 


One is obtaining soft loans to support the Corvette Acquisition Project which the DND and PN are pushing to be awarded to a Korean shipbuilder (most likely HHI).


The Philippine Navy plans to acquire 2 new corvettes, which is said to be based on an improved version of the Jose Rizal-class frigates, and would be built again by HHI. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.

The other is obtaining excess defense articles from the South Korean Ministry of Defense, which may include a second or even a third decommissioned Pohang-class corvette formerly used by the Republic of Korea Navy.


Allowing the frigate to be accepted without too much question will give the DND and PN more bargaining power with the South Korean government for both proposed projects. 


The Philippine Navy is after the acquisition of additional decommissioned Pohang-class corvettes from the South Korean government.

5. Liquidated Damages:

If the frigates remain undelivered, HHI is expected to get penalized and could be paying for Liquidated Damages (LD) as stipulated in the contract annexes. It would be remembered that HHI promised to deliver the ship in April 2020, although the COVID-19 pandemic may be a valid reason for the delays. But further delays may not be acceptable enough to be considered as an aftereffect of COVID-19 issues.

HHI will try its best to push the DND and PN to accept the ships, so that HHI won't be paying for the LD and lose more money in the process.

For those who are not familiar with commercial contracts, paying Liquidated Damages is a damning thing for a company to do because it is considered a loss for any company to do so.


6. Protecting HHI and the South Korean Defense Industry's Image and Credibility:

For HHI to unable to deliver the frigates on time or for the wrong reasons would hit the company's credibility and image globally. The Philippine Navy's frigate is not a complicated project compared to many of its previous accomplishments, and HHI is expected to complete the deal with ease.

Not only HHI's credibility will be affected, but also by Hanwha Systems and the entire South Korean defense industry too, which is aiming to be one of the largest in the world in terms of export sales.

It is expected that the South Korean government, and by extension HHI and Hanwha Systems, would do everything to keep their save the reputation of their defense industry, considering Koreans are known to be very sensitive in issues that will damage their credibility, image, reputation, and pride in the global market scene.




More Issues than the Link 16 Compatibility?

Prior to finishing this blog entry, MaxDefense received more information from Philippine Navy sources that the Link 16 compatibility issue with the Combat Management System appears to be just a minor issue now. Not much was provided to us, but it only means that there are other pressing issues on the project. But we'll probably leave that for now as we would need more time to gather more information.



An infographic of the subsystems of the  Jose Rizal-class frigate. So what else could be experiencing problems here aside from the CMS? Photo from Inquirer.net.

MaxDefense and its entire defense community hopes that the Philippine Navy, especially its leadership and the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) and Project Management Team (PMT) would do its job well for the sake of the Philippine Navy's and the Philippines' interests.

Project Summary:
Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 1 - Frigate Platform with Launchers

Note: Edited as of 17 May 2020:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 2 units

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php16,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: 2-Stage Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: TBA

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea

* Product for Delivery: 
HDF-2600 frigate (Jose Rizal-class)

* Contract Price: Php15,744,571,584.00

* Residual Amount: Php255,428,416.00

* Expected Delivery: PN expects first ship by May 2020, second by September/October 2020.



* First post by MaxDefense: 02 May 2013

* Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateAcquisition #PNFAP

* Status: First ship, future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) scheduled for delivery and arriving in the Philippines by 23 May 2020. Second ship, future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) undergoing dockside completion works, in preparation for sea trials.


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First edit and release: 17 May 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Philippine Coast Guard receives cache of assorted firearms from Israel

The PCG was interested in acquiring firearms since early 2017, and has been looking at options as it preferred to do the acquisition as a package rather than for individual types.

With the issue of the US government’s rejection of exporting rifles and pistols to the Philippine National Police (PNP) still a hot issue, the PCG as well as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) which is the mother agency of the PCG, decided to avoid the American route to avoid backlash from the president.


Clockwise from top left: IWI  Negev, IWI Galil ACE, IWI Galil Sniper, and IWI Micro Tavor X95. Photo from IWI website, edited by MaxDefense.

Russian Firearms Considered:

Among those considered for the PCG were Russian-made firearms, which were offered to the PCG due to the closer relations between Russia and the Philippines. Some officials of the PCG, as well as certain officials from the Duterte administration and the DOTr, were keen on arming the PCG with Russian firearms and make use of Russia’s enthusiasm to supply the requirements.

MaxDefense reported in June 2018 that Russia made an offer, which we described back then as “7.62x39mm assault rifles, 7.62x54R sniper rifles and machine guns, and 9mm submachine guns”, with an estimated worth of “around US$9-10 million”.

While we did not identify the firearms involved as requested by sources, it would be fine to identify them now. The firearms consisted of:

Assault Rifles:
* 4,000 units of 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AK103 (Index 6P45) assault rifles with Picatinny rails
* 8,000 units of plastic magazines for AK103
* 5,230 units of Charging Handle RP, Sb
* 4,000 units PKY-2 Red Dot Sights


The Kalashnikov AK103 7.62x39mm assault rifle. Credits to original source of photo.

Sniper Rifles:
* 50 units 7.62x54mmR Dragunov sniper rifle SVD (Index 6B1)
* 50 units 1PN93-4 night optics


The Dragunov SVD 7.62x54mmR semi-automatic sniper rifle. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Machine Guns:
* 100 units 7.62x54mmR Kalashnikov 6P41H Pecheneg infantry machine gun with night sight leaf
* 30 units 1PN93-3 night optics


The Pecheneg 7.62x54mmR light machine gun. Photo credited to Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

Sub-Machine Guns:
* 1,230 units 9x19mm Vityaz-SN submachine guns
* 1,230 units PKY-2 Red Dot Sights


The Vityaz SN 9mm submachine gun. Photo credited to Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

Ammunition:
* 100,000 rounds 7.62mm sniper rifle cartridge (Index 7N1)
* 200,000 rounds 7.62mm cartridge with steel core bullet (Index 57-N-323S)

Interesting though is that, despite Russia capable of manufacturing variants of these firearms using NATO-standard munitions (in 7.62x51mm instead of 7.62x39 or 7.62x54mmR), the Russian-standard calibre variant were offered for sale.

The situation is different between this and when the Russian government decided to donate 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AKM rifles to the Philippine Army, since those AKMs were taken from Russian Army strategic reserves rather than new-manufactured models.

This could also be one of the reasons why the Russian offer was not approved by the PCG. According to sources, the PCG was not in favour of using Russian calibre size since it would be more difficult for them to acquire ammunition for them. Only the Vityaz-SN SMG used a calibre size that is common in the Philippines.

With this, the PCG decided to go for other offers, specifically with the Israeli government’s submitted proposal.


Israeli Firearms Offer Approved:

The Israeli government made its own offer based on firearms made by Israel Weapons Industries (IWI).

Among the reasons why the PCG was open to this proposal as because the firearms offered are already in service with Philippine security agencies, especially by the Philippine National Police (PNP) which has ordered thousands of firearms from IWI after winning several public biddings.

In the end after several negotiations, an agreement was reached between the Israeli government and the Philippines DOTr and PCG, as a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal was approved and a contract reached in 2019.

While MaxDefense does not have an exact figure of the contract amount, our estimate puts it at around US$15 to 17 million, although it appears that the PCG made adjustments on their requirements and the quantity of firearm types.

Below are the inclusions of the PCG’s Firearms Acquisition Project:

Assault Rifles:
* 4,357 units of IWI Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm assault rifles with 8.5” barrels and foldable buttstock
* 2,500 units of Meprolight M21 battery-less Reflex Sights


An infographic on the Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm carbine with the Mepro M21 reflex sight. Photo taken from Pinterest.

Sniper Rifles:
* 48 units IWI Galil Tzalafim “Galatz” 7.62x51mm semi-automatic sniper rifle with x10 Day Optics
* 2 units Meprolight NOA NYX Thermal Combat System Sight, with X7 magnification and video capability, includes Spotter Computers




Machine Guns:
* 350 units IWI Negev NG-7 7.62x51mm light machine guns
* 350 units Meprolight X4 Day Scopes
* 350 units Meprolight Sting Laser Pointers (Visible & IR)


The IWI Negev NG7 7.62x51mm light machine gun. Photo taken from Pinterest.


Sub-Machine Guns:
* 1,124 units IWI Micro Tavor X95 9x19mm submachine guns
* 1,124 units Meprolight M21 battery-less Reflex Sights


The IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm SMG equipped with an optical sighting system. The PCG received the X95 9mm SMG with the Meprolight M21 reflex sights. Photo credited to GunsWeek.com.

Pistols:
* 7,743 units of IWI Masada 9x19mm Parabellum Striker-Fired pistols 
* 6,743 nos. Pistol Holsters
* 1,000 nos. Pistol Leg Rig Holster
* 10 units CornerShot System


The Cornershot system for pistols. Photo taken from Pinterest.

The Galil ACE 21N rifle is the "shorty" version of the Galil ACE family. It has an 8.5" long barrel, which is far shorter than standard M4 rifles used by most Philippine government security agencies. "N" in 21N corresponds to the use of NATO-standard 30-round magazines instead of Galil-standard 35-round magazines. The Galil ACE N-series is already in service with the Philippine National Police (PNP).


Photo from IWI website.

The compact size allows for use in close quarter battle (CQB) including shipboarding, although it could be insufficient as secondary weapons for PCG boats.

The Galil Sniper S.A, also known as the Galil Tzalafim or "Galatz" sniper rifle, is based on the 7.62x51mm variant of the Galil assault rifle, with a 23" barrel length and long range optics. The sniper rifle is in service with the PNP, although older versions have already been in service with AFP units especially the Philippine Army's Scout Range Regiment.

Among the ones delivered, the IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm submachine gun is the most familiar to the PCG, as it already operates the type since 2018. It is based on the Tavor TAR-21 5.56x45mm bullpop assault rifle, but has been modified to fit a reduced body size, smaller caliber and shorter barrel.

The IWI Negev NG7 light machine gun is the next generation version of the Negev machine gun, using 7.62x51mm ammunition. It is said to be the only machine gun with semi-automatic mode, and is one the lightest in its class. It has a 20" barrel length and a rate of fire of around 600 to 750 rounds per minute.

The PNP also uses the IWI Negev NG7 and its 5.56x45mm variant called the Negev NG5.


Photo taken from IWI website.

The IWI Masada 9x19mm Parabellum striker fired pistol is their version of the polymer-construction 9mm pistol, featuring a 17+1 rounds capacity, and features a fully ambidextrous control and enhanced ergonomics. It is another firearm that is already common with the PNP.


Cresits to original source of photo.

Then there's the CornerShot System. This is one of those items that some AFP units do not want to confirm nor deny having, so it remains a mystery if the AFP has it. But MaxDefense can confirm that the PCG definitely has them now and are with the PCG Special Operations Group.

An Israeli invention by Lt. Col. Amos Golan, and mounts a standard semi automatic pistol linked to a mechanism that allows the weapon to be used from tight corners and with a camera guiding the shooter to its target, much like a periscope.




Some examples on the use of CornerShot system during CQB in tight spaces and high risk. Photos credited to original owners.

The decision to go with conducting the deal with Israel appears to have been due to several factors, although it appears that it was also the best proposal and the most practical for the PCG, compared to the proposals made to buy the firearms from other countries like Russia.


Deliveries Completed as of April 2020:

Most of the firearms will be given to the PCG’s Special Operations Group (PCG SOG), which still use mostly older M16-type firearms, although the delivery of CZ Scorpion Evo 3 9mm submachine guns a few years ago, and IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm submachine guns in 2018 helped in improving their firepower.




MaxDefense received confirmation from several sources that deliveries has been made last March 2020, and the PCG has started to distribute the firearms to its units.


Some PCG members with the new IWI Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm rifle during relief operations related to COVID-19. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a contributor.

MaxDefense was informed that some of the Negev NG7 light machine guns and Galatz sniper rifles are to be assigned to PCG sea ssets are secondary weapons, as additional firepower and for use during shipboardings.


The absence of a medium caliber weapon system onboard several PCG assets like the Boracay-class fast patrol boat (above) has pushed the PCG to temporarily arm them with light machine guns like the Negev NG7, or even the Galil Sniper SA rifle. Photo from PCG.

Overall, this acquisition is expected to give the PCG a needed boost to improve their capabilities in conducting law enforcement, counter terrorism at sea, and even on protecting themselves.

Aside from this Firearms Acquisition Project, the PCG has also had several projects with the Israeli government, some of which will be discussed here @ MaxDefense Philippines soon.

MaxDefense also expects more firearms to be acquired by the PCG as the service increase its size, being now the fastest growing security agency in the country.

We just hope that the PCG would train its personnel well in properly using and caring for these assets including firearms safety considering many of irs new personnel may not have experience in handling firearms before.

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First published: 13 May 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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