Your 1st in Philippine defense

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We discuss the Philippine Army's plan to acquire the BrahMos supersonic missile

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The return of the self propelled howitzer is coming soon!

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Let us welcome BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)!

The Philippine Navy finally welcomes its latest asset, the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)

Hermes 450 MALE UAVs arriving soon!

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

Philippine Navy plans to acquire Shore Based Air Defense Missile System


The Philippine Navy (PN) continues to expand its capabilities as part of the AFP Modernization Program, being the naval warfare component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

With naval warfare and naval defense becoming multi-dimensional, the PN is trying to obtain new capabilities to keep up with the added responsibilities and coverage that has started to overlap with those of the other AFP branch services.

MaxDefense will be discussing one of the most discreet asset acquisition projects of the Philippine Navy, which is actually not part of the Php300 billion Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects that was approved in-principle by President Rodrigo Duterte last June 2018.

As promised to its readers, this is actually one of the 7 projects that reached milestone last October 2019 when the Department of National Defense (DND) Senior Leaders had their roundtable discussions.

Exclusive @ MaxDefense Philippines: may we present the Philippine Navy’s Shore-Based Air Defense Missile System (SBADMS) Acquisition Project.

The Philippine Navy is currently undertaking the acquisition of a Shore Based Air Defense Missile System as part of its 2nd List of Horizon 2 acquisition plans. Photo taken from Kongsberg's website.

The Shore-Based Air Defense Missile System (SBADMS) Project:

Little is actually known on this project if you only rely from printed sources, since this is one of the Philippine Navy’s most secretive project. Since their debacle on the Frigate Acquisition Project, the Philippine Navy leadership has become more secretive on their current acquisition projects to avoid being exposed if another debacle happens, or if scandals arise again during the procurement phase.

The Shore-Based Air Defense Missile System (SBADMS) acquisition project was intended to provide the Philippine Navy with an air defense capability to protect its assets on shore or on port. This includes naval or marine bases, and naval or marine shore-based assets like anti-ship missile batteries and Marine units.

A typical air defense system would include a mobile firing unit, a radar system, and other support systems like command and control, logistics and others. Photo taken from Army Technology website.

The preferred system is a Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile system, mobile/self-propelled preferably on a wheeled platform rather than tracked. The choice on mobility requirements would allow the system to move faster and more efficiently over road networks, with partial off-road capability, without the need for tank transporters.

Range is said to be at least 40 kilometers, although a longer range is expected to have stronger preference.

New comer on the offerings to the AFP in general is the Roketsan HISAR-O which is the medium range version of the HISAR system from Turkey.

Being medium-ranged, the Air Defense Missile System would enable to defend high value assets and units under a larger umbrella, with future short range missile systems possibly added later on to provide better coverage in all range brackets.

An air defense system protecting the Philippine Navy's main base at Sangley Point, Cavite also means partial protection of the southern part of Metro Manila and Manila Bay due to proximity.

MaxDefense’s initial information suggests that the budget allocated for the SBADMS acquisition project is around Php9.8 billion, which is more than the PAF’s own GBADS acquisition project. But this is still subject to changes considering the Philippine Navy is now having problems on getting enough funding for other projects like the Submarine Acquisition Project which is expected to be the most expensive naval project in Philippine history to date.

The PN SBADMS would also be protecting future shore based anti-ship missile systems. Photo above "for reference only", if you know what I mean.

In comparison, the PAF GBADS only has a budget worth Php6.846 billion, or 30% less than that of the

It is highly possible that the PN SBADMS project would involve either more firing units, or more ammunition compared to the PAF's GBADS project to justify the Php3 billion difference in budget.

India's Akash medium range SAM system was also offered by officials from Bharat Dynamics and the Indian government. Photo taken from Economic Times India.


Options for Medium-Range Air Defense Missile System:

The Philippine Navy actually received the same offers made as the Philippine Air Force for their Ground-Based Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project, considering the requirements are almost similar for both the PAF GBADS and the PN’s SBADMS projects.

Among those that made their pitch or were included in the evaluations made by the Philippine Navy were:

* Rafael Advance Defense Systems with the SPyDer Air Defense System from Israel;
* Diehl Defence with the IRIS-T Surface Launched (SL) from Germany;
* LIGNex1 KM-SAM Cheolmae-II from South Korea;
* OKB TSP Buk-MB3K from Belarus;
* Almaz-Antey Buk M3 from Russia;
* Kongsberg Defense – Raytheon NASAMS from Norway;
* Roketsan HISAR-O from Turkey;
* Bharat Dynamics Akash Mk.1 or Mk.2 from India


Apparently both the Buk M3 (top) fron Russia and the Buk MB3K (above) from Belarus were offered for the project. While the Buk M3 is said to be the more advanced system, the Buk MB3K has the advantage of avoiding CAATSA sanctions due to it being from Belarus. Photos credited to original sources.

Rafael SPYDER:

MaxDefense’s sources have mentioned that among the selections, Rafael’s SPYDER ADS was said to be potentially leading due to commonality with the selection made by the Philippine Air Force for its GBADS requirement. The SPYDER-MR, similar to what the PAF was after for their GBADS requirements, is the expected variant to be offered due to range requirements.


(Top): The SPYDER MR uses a larger launcher than the other shorter-ranged variants, which means a larger truck platform.
(Above): the missiles used by the SPYDER ADS including the Python V and I-Derby missiles with boosters (3rd and 4th from left).
Credits to original sources of photos.

The SPYDER-MR is the medium range version of the SPYDER Air Defense System. It has a longer launcher due to the installation of boosters on the standard I-Derby and Python V missiles which makes them longer. Coupled with a longer-ranged IAI Elta ELM-2084 MMR 3D AESA radar that can detect even beyond the range of the missile system, full potential of the missiles can be realized.

A typical set-up of a Spyder ADS battalion with 3 batteries. Photo taken from Rafael's website.

Kongsberg Defense-Raytheon NASAMS:

While Kongsberg Defense’s NASAMS appear to be a favorite, it was said to be the most expensive system in the list above which would be detrimental in the selection process. The current push to acquire US-made weapon systems has made this system more attractive to the Philippine Air Force due to recent increased support from the US for allies to purchase their weapon systems. The larger budget allocated for the project compared to the PAF’s GBADS also is a factor that may allow the acquisition of more expensive systems like NASAMS.

While the NASAMS can be mobile and installed on a truck-based mobile unit, it can also be placed in a semi-permanent position like the unit shown above. Photo taken from Second Line of Defense website.

The NASAMS, or National/Norwegian Advance Surface-to-Air Missile System, uses a ground-launched version of the Raytheon AIM-120 Advance Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) which is more known as the medium range air-to-air missile of US forces and its allies.

Depending on the version of AMRAAM missile used, range of the system can either be below or exceed 40 kilometers. It will also be dependent on the radar supporting the system, which usually is the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel F1 Improved 3D radar that has a maximum effective range of around 80 kilometers. An older version of the Sentinel radar has a short effective range of a little over 40 kilometers.

Finland's NASAMS are mounted on SISU heavy duty offroad trucks as shown above. Credits to original source of photo.

LIGNex1 KM-SAM Cheolmae-II:

Another strong competitor is the LIGNex1 KM-SAM Cheolmae-II (Iron Hawk) from South Korea, which is said to be affordable, and is something being considered in the long term as the Philippine Navy is also looking at the naval version of KM-SAM for deployment to future warships. Despite not being used by other countries, it still meets government procurement law on having the country of origin (South Korea) using the system.


The KM-SAM is to replace the ageing Raytheon Hawk and I-Hawk missile systems. Credits to original sources of photos.

The KM-SAM was developed by South Korea in cooperation with Russia’s Almaz Design Bureau, is said to carry technology derived from Russia’s S-350E and S-400 air defense missile systems. The KM-SAM missile is said to have a maximum range of around 40 kilometers, although proposals were made to further extend the missile’s range.




Despite evaluation said to be still ongoing, these three air defense missile systems are said to be the expected air defense systems that might find its way to the shortlist for different reasons.

Of the three, the Rafael SPYDER-MR has the longest maximum range at 60 kilometers by installing auxiliary boosters on the Python V and I-Derby missiles to extend their flight range.

MaxDefense’s Opinion:

All three air defense missile systems are said to be the best, and most easily interoperable to the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ equipment system. Except for the LIGNex1 KM-SAM, all widely in use: the SPYDER is being used by Singapore, Vietnam, India, and Georgia; while the NASAMS by the US, Finland, Spain, Norway, Chile, and the Netherlands.

All three are mobile and are fitted unto multi-purpose trucks, including the mobile firing units, command posts, sensors and support vehicles. NASAMS is also able to be removed from the mobile unit and installed as a semi-fixed launching unit.

Based on the maximum range alone, the Rafael SPYDER-MR medium range air defense system appears to have the advantage being able to defeat air targets at up to 60 kilometers away using the boosted version of the I-Derby and Python V missiles.

The SPYDER-MR also benefits from being the selected system by the Philippine Air Force for its own air defense requirements, which means commonality and compatibility in terms of operations, interconnectivity to an integrated air defense system, maintenance and support, training and logistics.

Another advantage is that the Python V and I-Derby missiles used by the SPYDER ADS are also being considered by the PAF for use by fighter aircraft especially by the KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagle fleet, although the NASAMS may also have a similar advantage once the Philippine Air Force finalizes its acquisition of Multi-Role Fighters since the selected aircraft from an American manufacturer normally uses AMRAAM as its medium-range air-to-air missile.

Both SPYDER-MR and NASAMS are said to be easy to integrate with the PAF and AFP’s upcoming Air Defense Network system despite being a Philippine Navy asset. It remains to be seen though if the same can be said on the KM-SAM Cheolmae-II considering the South Korean military operates in a similar NATO-standard system as the US, Philippines, and other US allies.

MaxDefense believes that the SPYDER-MR, NASAMS and KM-SAM would be great addition to the Philippine Navy and the overall air defense system of the Philippines, although MaxDefense leans more on the SPYDER-MR and NASAMS due to reasons above.

The radat and mobile launching units of the SPYDER MR system. 

The Real Question Though:

It still puzzles MaxDefense though that the Philippine Navy was allocate a budget for a Shore Based Air Defense Missile System, when their Jose Rizal-class frigates are yet to have a proper vertical launch system (VLS) for a longer-range anti-aircraft missile system due to funding issues.


So how come there is priority on a Shore Based Air Defense Missile System, but none on the Vertical Launching System (VLS) and VLS-launched air defense missiles for the Jose Rizal-class frigates? Credits to original sources of photos.


Project Summary:

Shore-Based Air Defense Missile System Acquisition Project


Note: Edited as of 01 December 2019.


* End User: Philippine Navy (unspecified unit/s)

* Quantity: TBA


* Modernization Phase: 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php9,800,000,000.00

     
Acquisition Mode: Most likely Government-to-Government deal.

* Source of Funding: TBA


* SARO Release: TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: 
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense:
TBA


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNSBADMSAcquisition


* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing. Senior Defense Leaders provided approval to proceed. Technical Working Group evaluation and selection process ongoing. 


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First post and edit: 01 December 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Philippine Marines Likely to Acquire SMAW-II under Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon Project


As part of efforts to improve the firepower of infantry units of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), it has earmarked plans to procure man-portable heavy weapons which would allow infantry units to punch above its weight.

While the Philippine Marines already made known its intention to acquire Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers under its Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project which is currently ongoing, another project has not yet been mentioned to the public.

This project has already been posted in MaxDefense's AFP Moderization Projects Portal under the Philippine Navy section for several months now, but has not yet been discussed.

We are talking about the Philippine Navy's (Marines) Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon Acquisition Project, which is a Horizon 2 phase Priority Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.


The Mk. 154 Mod. 2 Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon 2 (SMAW 2), which is an improvement over the original SMAW. Photo taken from The Warzone. 

Overview:

The Philippine Marines has been using 40mm grenade launchers and 90mm recoilless rifles as its mainstay heavy weapons in the squad level and company level, respectively.


The 40mm grenade launchers proved to be ineffective in certain situations, including against armored units, entrenched units, and against enemy troops both in the open and in structures. This is the reason why the Philippine Marines will augment it with the introduction of  RPG-7 type weapons.

Meanwhile the 90mm recoilless rifles are now obsolete, with many alternatives in the market available which have more firepower, more munition options, and are lighter for the small Asian-bodied Filipino solider. This means a replacement for these weapons is being processed.

It is obvious from the start that the Philippine Marines works very closely with its counterparts from the US Marine Corps (USMC), and even pattern many of its capabilities with its US counterpart. While the USMC does not use RPGs, they do use something else with similar or even greater effect.

The Philippine Marines was after a bunker-defeating weapon that is reusable, capable of accurate fire at more than 350 meters range, and can be used for secondary purpose against armored vehicles and others.

This is the reason why the Philippine Marines is not looking at disposable systems like the M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) which is also known as Shounder-Mounted Assault Weapon - Disposable (SMAW-D), and the modern variants of the M72 Light Assault Weapon (LAW).

The PMC also preferred to have a weapon that is compatible to what the US Marine Corps use to allow US assistance in training, or even in munition supply in cases of emergency.

The US Marines has been using the Nammo Defense Mk.153 Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon (SMAW) against structures and bunkers, and against light armored vehicles. And the USMC has brought these weapons to the Philippines several times during joint exercises with the Philippine Marines. It is reusable, with rocket munition being loaded at its rear. 



US Marines giving orientation training on the SMAW during Balikatan Exercises in 2002. Back then, the Philippine Marines have already shown interest in the system although lack of funding has always been an issue. Photo from Getty Images.

Primary Weapon of Choice by PMC: Nammo Mk. 153 Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon (SMAW):

As early as 2014, the Philippine Marines announced its intention to acquire the SMAW based on the USMC's Mk.153 Mod. 0 SMAW weapon, as part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

But the finalized version of Horizon 1 Priority Projects did not include the SMAW, and this was also true when the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase acquisition list was released. No SMAW on both acquisition lists.

It was only during the formulation of the Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects that the acquisition of weapons similar to or equal to SMAW was again raised up under the Philippine Navy's Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon Acquisition Project.




US Marines giving basic training on the Mk. 153 Mod.0 SMAW, this time during the 2016 iteration of Exercise BALIKATAN. Photo taken from DVIDS.
The Mk. 153 SMAW was developed originally by McDonnel Douglas Aeronautics Company, later on by Talley Defense, now known as Nammo Talley based on the Israeli-made B-300 rocket launcher from Israel Weapons Industries. The US Marines first introduced the SMAW in 1984.

The original Mk.153 Mod.0 SMAW launcher weighs around 7.54 kilograms, and 13.39 kilograms when loaded with rocket ammunition. While it has a maximum range of 1,800 meters, its effective range is placed between 250 to 500 meters.

Among the munitions it can fire are the Mk 3 Mod 0 Encased High-Explosive, Dual-Purpose (HEDP) Rocket, the Mk 6 Mod 0 Encased High-Explosive, Anti-Armor (HEAA) Rocket, the Mk 7 Mod 0 Common Encased Practice Rocket, the Mk 80 Mod 0 Encased Novel Explosive (NE) Rocket, and the Mk 217 Mod 0 spotting rifle cartridge. Plus the Novell Explosive (NE).

A newer version called the Mk. 153 Mod. 2 SMAW-II "Serpent" was introduced to the US Marine Corps in 2018, and replaced the 9mm spotting rifle and optics with a more modern electronic modular ballistic sight (MBS) made by Raytheon. This decreased the weight of the SMAW-II over the original SMAW to just 5.3 kilograms.


SMAW-II's improved sighting system which allowed the new version to remove the 9mm targeting gun and reduce weight while improving ease of use of the weapon. Photo taken from The Warzone.
The US Marines is scheduled to receive more than 1,200 units, which would probably replace all existing Mk. 151 Mod. 0 SMAW in its inventory.

The new SMAW-II also introduced new ammunition variants compared to original SMAW.



Redundancy with RPG-7?

With the Philippine Marines already on its way to procure RPG-7-type weapons and even assign it to Marine rifle squads, would the acquisition of Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapons like the SMAW be made redundant?

This is considering the RPG-7 to be used by the Philippine Marines will have Thermobaric munitions, which is similar to the SMAW's Novell Explosive (NE) or the M3E1's  round which destroys bunkers and structures using explosive heat and pressure.

Here's a video below on the SMAW's NE munition.



It would also be noted that while the US Marines do not have an RPG-7s, the Philippine Marines are slated to have them soon as it embarks on the Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project. Thus it makes sense for the US Marines to have SMAW.


But according to sources from the Philippine Marines, the SMAW or the Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon is said to have been specified to be more accurate especially over longer distances compared to the RPG-7, and the NE round is said to have destructive power than the RPG's thermobaric round.


The Philippine Marines is set to receive RPG-7 type weapons under its Squad Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project. Credits to original source of photo.

Option 2: Saab Bofors M3E1 Carl Gustaf 84mm recoilless rifle:

While it appears that the Philippine Navy and Philippine Marine Corps are already fixed on the Mk. 153 SMAW, MaxDefense believes that they should also consider looking at the new Saab Bofors M3E1 (aka M4) Carl Gustaf Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Tank Weapon System (MAAWS) which is being introduced to the US Marine Corps as a replacement to the Mk. 153 SMAW, and is seen as being favored more by the US Marines over the latest Mk. 153 Mod. 2 SMAW-II Serpent.

Top: the M3E1 up close. Photo taken from Wikipedia.
Above: a Hungarian soldier with an M4 Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

The M3E1/M4 is a lighter, shorter variant of the M3 MAAWS, which was what the Philippine Army and Philippines Marines evaluated in the past. It would be remembered that the both services found the older M3 MAAWS to be far heavier than the RPG-7 or the SMAW, not to mention being a more expensive weapon system (both launcher and munition) which led to both services favoring the RPG-7 family.

the M3E1/M4 is 6.6 kilograms, has an effective range of 350-500 meters using standard ammunition against moving and fixed targets, and up to 1,300 meters for air burst and high explosive anti-personnel rounds. This is way beyond the maximum effective range of most of SMAW and SMAW-II munitions which is maxed at 500 meters. The M3E1's barrel is good up to 1,000 rounds fired.

The slightly heavier weight of the M3E1 or M4 versus the SMAW-II or even the original SMAW remains the biggest concern especially for the smaller-bodied troops of the Philippine Marines.

MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Marines has not yet evaluated the new M3E1 MAAWS which was said to be 3.4 kilograms lighter than the M3 although still 1.1 kilograms heavier than SMAW, and is a 2.5 inches shorter to allow easier use during Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) like those the AFP experienced in Marawi in 2017.


The M3E1 also has more munition options which includes anti-tank, bunker busting, anti-personnel, illumination and smoke rounds. It also has ammunition that can pierce through thick reinforced concrete bunker walls.


Above is a diagram showing the available munitions for the M3E1 / M4 Carl Gustaf MAAWS. Photo taken from Saab Bofors website.

Saab Bofors is also developing a a new rocket-boosted guided munition with Raytheon which effectively makes the M3E1/M4 similar but cheaper alternative to an anti-tank missile system. It is said to have an effective range of 2,000 meters (2 kilometers).





Final Choice:
It will depend now on the Philippine Marine Corps since they are the end-user for this weapon system. While MaxDefense favors the Saab Bofors M3E1 Carl Gustaf MAAWS due to practicality as it appears to the weapon that may outlast the SMAW-II in the US Marines, the Philippine Marines will still have the last say.

It is also possible thought, that should the US Marines replace the SMAW-II with the M3E1, there will be a large stock of SMAW-II launchers and ammunition that the Philippine Marines could request its American counterpart to sell or transfer. Weight-wise, the SMAW-II is friendlier to Filipino physique than the slightly heavier M3E1 Carl Gustaf.

Meanwhile, if the Philippine Marines select the M3E1 or M4 Carl Gustaf, it allows continuous seamless interoperability with the US Marines as they could provide assistance in terms of training, sustainment, and munition supply especially during emergencies. Not to mention munitions that have longer range and is said to be easier to acquire than those of the SMAW or SMAW-II.

So in the end, it really depends on how the Philippine Marines would be looking at these risks and opportunities. Nonetheless, both weapon systems are effective systems that would really provide the Philippine Marine Corps with added firepower especially 



Project Summary:

Multi-Purpose Bunker Defeat Weapon Acquisition Project


Note: Edited as of 03 November 2019.


* End User: Philippine Marine Corps (unspecified unit/s)

* Quantity: 70 units launchers plus ammunition


* Modernization Phase: 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php175,000,000.00

     
Acquisition Mode: Most likely Government-to-Government deal.

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded through the Horizon 2 AFP Modernization Trust Fund


* SARO Release: TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: 
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense: 
27 December 2014


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNMPBDWAcquisition #PMCMPBDWAcquisition


* Status: Senior Defense Leaders approved the implementation of the project on 30 October 2019.


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First post and edit: 09 November 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The BrahMos Supersonic Missile System and the Philippine Army's Land Based Missile System Project


The last time MaxDefense discussed about the Philippine Army's Land Based Missile System (LBMS) Acquisition Project was in July 2016. Back then, our article already confirmed the existence of the LBMS Acquisition Project as a replacement to the then defunct-ed Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) project. Back in 2016, it was still in the planning stage and was still considering the offer from Israel Military Industries (now part of Elbit Systems) using the IMI Lynx multiple-launch rocket system using IMI's EXTRA precision guided rocket to hit naval and land targets.

MaxDefense readers are adviced to read the old blog entry, to have a foothold on our discussions and updates on the LBMS project. The old blog can be accessed on the link below:

"Re-Offering the SBMS for Use Against Internal Security Threats as a Precision Land Attack Weapon" - first posted on 26 July 2016.

Now we update our discussions based on the current offering made for the project using India's BrahMos supersonic tactical surface-to-surface missile.


The BrahMos mobile missile launcher, each carrying three Brahmos missiles. Photo taken from Brahmos Aerospace website.

The Land Based Missile System Acquisition Project - A Background:
From SBMS to LBMS:
When the Philippine Army brought up the acquisition of Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) project in 2013, the plan was to go with IMI's Coastal and Island Defense System which consists of fixed and mobile firing stations and support systems like the Lynx MLRS system, firing IMI's family of guided rockets led by the EXTRA guided rocket with a maximum effective range of 150 kilometers. The project was meant for the Philippine Army to hit naval and land targets from the shore.

Being able to hit land targets, it was then obvious that it can also be used beyond naval applications, like a precision artillery system for long range engagements. The compatibility to use other guided rocket munitions from IMI like the Accular rocket, as well as the Delilah short range cruise missile made it an obvious choice for any land attack application.


The first SBMS project was supposed to be based on IMI's Coastal and Island Defense System using fixed and mobile launchers like the IMI Lynx MLRS system above. Credits to original source of photo.
The Coastal and Island Defense System as marketed by IMI was the basis of the PA's original SBMS project. Photo taken from IMI's website.


But the Philippine Army through its then Commanding General Lt. Gen. Hernando Irriberi, cancelled the SBMS project in 2015 in favor of using the funds to acquire other assets that will be useful for internal security operations.

Thus, with the SBMS gone, the Philippine Army tried to return it in the procurement list as the Land Based Missile System (LBMS) Acquisition Project in 2016 under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte. During the start of his term, Pres. Duterte's emphasis was more on the fight against terrorist groups like the New People's Army (NPA), thus focus of the AFP shifted back to internal security rather than external defense.

The LBMS was among those originally included in then Php650+ billion Horizon 2 Phase Proposal to Pres. Duterte. Back then, the new Technical Working Group was re-looking at the SBMS project and saw the possibility of reusing IMI's offer for a system that can be used for both land and naval targets. IMI quickly revised their offering, now using the Lynx MLRS, EXTRA and Accular guided rockets but now more intended against land targets, with secondary use against sea targets.

MaxDefense was able to get hold of some of  the documents for the Philippine Army LBMS, which showed its purpose was focused on precision strikes in highly populated areas like specific buildings within an urban setting, or against hideout camps in the jungle.

Aside from the IMI proposal, the Philippine Army was also looking at other proposals made to them which includes the BrahMos supersonic missile system, which was offered to the AFP as early as 2016, as well as other land based missile and rocket artillery systems.

Sadly, when Pres. Duterte made the in-principle approval of the Horizon 2 phase, the LBMS was not among those in the list due to cuts in the original proposal resulted to LBMS being among those removed. But like all other projects removed from the list, the LBMS was placed in the so-called potential 2nd List of Horizon 2 shopping list.

Resurgence:
With Horizon 2 already on its way, the Department of National Defense (DND) has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to look at formulating a shopping list under the 2nd List of Horizon 2, which they will try to process if additional or extra funds are available on top of the Php300 billion Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects approved by Pres. Duterte in June 2018.

During the visit of Pres. Duterte to India in 2018, the AFP has already been looking at the BrahMos as a possible acquisition for land-based anti-ship missile batteries as it started formulating its Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. Pres. Duterte also stressed to the DND that he wanted to have an acquisition from the Indians as a gesture of friendship under his so-called Independent Foreign Policy drive.

Among those selected as a project most suitable to award under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with India is the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile as a land-based system.

Surprisingly, both the Philippine Army and Philippine Navy saw purpose of having the Brahmos missile into their requirements. Thus two projects were born to fulfil an overlapping requirement. The Philippine Army re-used the Land-Based Missile System (LBMS) project, while the Philippine Navy called theirs the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS) project.


The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as displayed by India. Credits to original source of photo.

Why Need for an LBMS?
When the Philippine Army cancelled the SBMS acquisition project in 2015, the most affected by the decision was not the Philippine Army, but actually the Philippine Navy. They believe that such system would help defend the country against ships and naval targets, and can also be used against an amphibious assault force against Philippine islands or territories.

With the SBMS gone, the Philippine Navy believed that their marine forces in the Kalayaan Island Group becomes vulnerable, and the PN's ability to fight foreign warships becomes even more difficult. Should the PN be defeated in the high seas, no other defense capability is available until the enemy forces land in Philippine shores and be met by the Philippine Army.

The Philippine Navy decided that any anti-ship A2/AD capability should actually be under their control. This will allow them to coordinate its use with the naval and marine forces in defense against enemy ships or amphibious forces.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army still believed that an anti-ship missile system is relevant to their requirements since these are based on land, which means falling into the control of land forces like the Philippine Army. Also, the PA believe that it can also be used against land targets including enemy forces within Philippine soil, and also against enemy targets outside its own boundaries, creating an offensive deterrence capability. MaxDefense believes that the focus is more on hitting Chinese or foreign facilities and targets in the Spratly Islands, while also being able to be used to fire against naval warships under the A2/AD requirement.

Surprisingly, Pres. Duterte gave an in-principle approval for the acquisition of both the Philippine Army's LBMS and the Philippine Navy's SBASMS during the joint command conference held on May 2019, with a combined budget for both exceeding Php30 billion. Both projects will be acquired under the G2G process with the Indian government.


A typical BrahMos coastal defense layout. Credits to original source of photo.

Signs of the times:
The plan to acquire the Brahmos supersonic missile was further known when the Philippine Army announced its plans to the mainstream media some weeks ago, wherein they mentioned the need for strike capability against enemy naval ships.

This was further empasized with the Philippine Army's social media page posting photos of Philippine Army officials visiting the Indian Navy frigate INS Sahyadri on 24 October 2019 while it was docked in Manila to receive briefing from Indian Navy officers on the Brahmos missile system.


Philippine Army officials being briefed by the officers of the Indian Navy frigate INS Sahyadri on naval systems supporting the BrahMos anti-ship missile system. Photo taken from the PA's social media page.
So far, the Philippine Army was more vocal about the plan to acquire the LBMS compared to their naval counterparts. But what is certain though as confirmed by sources who are involved in the project, it is only a matter of time before the DND pushes through with the actual procurement phase for the Philippine Army's LBMS project.

The Philippine Army Technical Requirements:

So how did the Philippine Army come up with going for India's BrahMos missile system, when there are several other countries and companies offering similar systems?

Apparently the main requirement of the Philippine Army was for the missile to be supersonic in flight.

Western examples like the RBS-15, Naval Strike, and others are subsonic missiles, meaning they only fly below the speed of sound towards their target. Meanwhile the BrahMos is supersonic, which means it flies over or twice the speed of sound.

While Russia also have supersonic land-based missile systems, it appears that Malacanang itself was more interested in giving the land based missile projects to India, while Russia will be able to get a contract with the DND for something else like helicopters.

Also, the DND and the Philippine Army are also weary of possible effects of buying kinetic Russian weapons, like CAATSA sanctions, and they believe going to India for a similar product (BrahMos was developed using Russian technology, afterall), it would be safer to go with India's product.


While Russian missile systems like the Club-M land-based missile system can be an option, more reasonable heads in the DND and Philippine Army were able to steer clear. 

The Brahmos Land-Based Surface-to-Surface Supersonic Cruise Missile System:

According to Brahmos Aerospace, the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile "features Indian propulsion system, airframe, power supply and other major indigenous components successfully test fired from ITR, Chandipur in Odisha, India."

It was developed as a join venture between the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia's Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) under the BrahMos Aerospace via an inter-government agreement.

The missiles are made by the Indian Ordnance Factories.

The surface-launched variant of the missile has the following attributes:
 * Mass: 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds)
 * Length: 8.4 meters (28 feet)
 * Diameter: 0.6 meters (2 feet)
 * Warhead: 200 to 300 kilograms (440 to 660 pounds) using conventional, and semi-armor piercing. A nuclear-tipped option is available but will only be for Indian use.

Guidance System:
 * Mid-course guidance by INS
 * Terminal Guidance by active radar homing
 * GPS / GLONASS / GAGAN satellite guidance

This enables the missile to achieve an accuracy of 1 meter circular error probable.


Photo shared to MaxDefense, originally posted by DD News India.

The missile has two engines:
 * First Stage using solid fuel rocket booster,
 * Second Stage using liquid-fueled ramjet allowing supersonic flight

Range: 500 kilometers (310 miles or 270 nautical miles), although it would probably reduced on the Philippine or export variant to just 290 kilometers

Flight Ceiling: 15 kilometers (49,000 feet) maximum (during cruise phase)
Flight Altitude: Sea skimming as low as 3 meters, which happens during the final approach to the target (terminal phase).




The missile goes to a cruise phase at a height of 14,000 meters from sea level, then drops to 15 meters in the terminal phase of the flight. It goes even lower to as low as 3 meters above sea level during the final attack phase to make it difficult to intercept.

Maximum Speed: Mach 3 (3,700 kilometers per hour, or 1 kilometer per second).

Compared to most anti-ship missiles especially from Western countries, the BrahMos flies at least 3 times faster, which enables it to pack a huge amount of kinetic energy that makes impact more devastating even without a warhead. Ship armor or concrete structures would have difficulty reducing the damage due to that massive force of impact alone.

Among the advantages of the Bramos missile are the following

* High lethality with greater effectiveness,
* Land Attack and Anti-Ship capabilities,
* Fire and Forget Principle of operations,
* Multiple trajectories,
* Large engagement envelope,
* Way Point capability,
* Transport also as Launching cannister,
* Minimum deployment time,
* High rate salvo,
* Network-centric architecture,
* Maximum shelf life,
* Comprehensive Lifetime Maintenance Support,
* Low life-cycle cost
* Brahmos Aerospace being a 1-point Total Solutions provider

Compared to most Western-made surface-to-surface missiles, BrahMos Aerospace believes that their BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is:
* 3 times high velocity,
* 2.5 to 3 times longer flight range,
* 3 to 4 times longer seeker range,
* and 9 times greater kill energy due to its speed and size


Western equivalents like the Swedish RBS-15 above travels at subsonic speed, which results to lesser kinetic kil energy, travels slower to the target, and is easier targetted by hard kill CIWS.

The high kill energy is ideal against large warships like aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and auxiliary support ships.

The Philippine Army Requirement:

Based on MaxDefense's gathered information from sources and documents obtained, the Philippine Army is looking to have at least 2 batteries of BrahMos missile systems.

a. The main part of the system are the Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL) which carries and launches the Brahmos surface-to-surface missiles. Each MAL carries three ready-to-fire missiles housed in containers, and can be reloaded with additional rounds.


A Brahmos Mobile Autonomous Launcher. 

Each Philippine-spec Land Based Missile System Battery will have at least three MALs.

The MALs also have modern communications to receive data, information and instructions from command posts, Radar Receivers for target information, and advanced Fire Control Systems (FCS) for coordinating the missile firing.


Each Mobile Autonomous Launcher has its own  communications and data processing equipment that is connected to a Mobile Command Post.

Normally Indian-spec MALs are built on an all-terrain high mobility truck from Czech Republic’s TATRA trucks. MaxDefense still need confirmation if Philippine-spec launchers will use the same trucks, or will be using different truck models since TATRA is not really available in the Philippines.

Missiles can be fired in single round, or salvo in every two to three seconds interval, within four minutes from receiving command. Salvo firing can also be made towards up to three different targets, or against 1 or two targets depending on command’s distribution of fire.

Each missile container has thermal condition to ensure their interface with the launch beam. The MAL alsohas a 40kVA diesel generator to maintain power supply, while also carrying back-up with a single-phase UPS with battery backup good for 15 minutes fitted to the truck.


An example of a Mobile Autonomous Launcher deployed and ready to fire missiles.

b. The missile firing units will be supported by a Mobile Command Post (MCP) per battery, which will control the Mobile Autonomous Launchers and will provide telemetry and target data. The MCP has the ability to distribute engagement of specific targets, or if to focus only on one target.


A Brahmos Battery Mobile Command Post vehicle.

It is also the MCP that assists in integrating the MALs into the network-centric C4ISTAR system of the Philippine Army and of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in general, as it is equipped with modern communications systems, computers and data sharing equipment.

The MCP will be composed of the Commander providing the instructions, the control consoles, and will be equipped with VSAT and INMARSAT satellite communications, High Frequency (HF), Very High Frequency (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communications systems, GPS and other navigation equipment.

Other support equipment includes Missile Replenishment Vehicles which carries spare rounds of helps in reloading the Mobile Autonomous Launchers, as well as Workshop Vehicles which has supporting engineering and maintenance equipment for the battery.


An example of a Missile Replenishment Vehicle.

Area Access / Area Denial Capability:

With the Philippine Army fielding land-based anti-ship missile systems, it will have capability to create Area Access / Area Denial (A2/AD) zones where enemy or aggressor naval assets and even civilian shipping would have to be careful in using for access.

This many include areas along the Northern Corridor between Formosa (Taiwan) and Luzon Islands, areas around Scarborough / Panatag Shoal, and areas along the Kalayaan Island Group / Spratly Islands, as well as the southern corridors with the boundaries with Sabah and Indonesia.

While having 2 mobile batteries seems not enough, take note that this is just the start for the Philippine Army. In conjunction to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ plan to have a network-centric system connecting all major surveillance and fighting assets of the country to have a greater common picture, the PA’s BrahMos-based LBMS would be working together with other kinetic assets like missile-armed warships and combat aircraft, and other land-based systems from other branch services.

Apparently the Indians (not just necessarily BrahMos Aerospace) promised to work on making the BrahMos LBMS work with NATO-standard C4ISTAR systems like the one being set-up by the AFP.



Horizon 3:

We must consider that the Philippine Army may acquire additional batteries, or even added capabilities and upgrades to the BrahMos land-based surface-to-surface missile system as part of the Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Among possibilities may include increasing the number of Mobile Autonomous Launchers per battery (from 3 to 4), adding more batteries, or even including its own detection system in addition to the planned network where the system will be connected in.

Then BrahMos Aerospace is also developing more advanced versions of the missile, which may include longer range capability, better countermeasures, or even higher speed (ex. Hypersonic).


India has started looking at improving the BrahMos with hypersonic designs that would make it more difficult to kill. Photos from Defense Update India.

That will all be dependent on the next set of military and political leaders of the country, and its ability to provide funds and political will to such program.

Everything is still fluid at this stage, so MaxDefense cannot really say what to expect between 2023-2028.

Project Summary:

Land Based Missile System (LBMS) Acquisition Project


Note: Edited as of 30 October 2019.


* End User: Philippine Army (Army Artillery Regiment)

* Quantity: 2 batteries


* Modernization Phase: 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php10,000,000,000.00

     
Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal, eyed with Indian government

* Source of Funding: TBA, possibly soft loan


* SARO Release: TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: 
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense:
30 September 2016


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALBMSAcquisition


* Status: negotiations ongoing with BrahMos Aerospace and Indian government, considered under pre-procurement phase.


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First post and edit: 30 October 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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