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!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

How the Philippine Air Force plans to acquire additional Black Hawk helicopters to replace its ageing Huey fleet

The recent announcement made by Malacañang on the approval to acquire 15 new combat utility helicopters based on the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter, as well as Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana's announcement that 32 helicopters were actually being pushed for acquisition, have been good news for the AFP Modernization Program.

Both announcements were made in relation to the planned retirement of the Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter family of the Philippine Air Force, which has been in service since 1969 and needs to be replaced soon after being involved in several deadly accidents since July 2020.

But questions arise on where the funds would be coming from considering there has been no allocation for additional combat utility helicopters under the FY2021 defense budget, as well as on what the project is really about.

This blog entry discusses the Philippine Air Force's plans to acquire additional Black Hawk combat utility helicopters, including details about the project.

PAF pilots and crew show their approval on the acquisition of S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters. Photo credits to Frances Mangosing.

Dissecting the Plan to Acquire Additional Black Hawk Helicopters:

Prior to the announcement made by Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles on Pres. Duterte's approval to acquire 15 new S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was already in discussion with US defense giant Lockheed Martin on the supply of additional Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters.

This move was meant to get replacements for the ageing Bell UH-1D/H Huey which have been in service with the PAF since 1969.

A mix fleet of Bell UH-1H and Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters during relief operations in Cagayan province this year. Photo credits to PAF.

It turns out that the US government has already made a proposal to supply more S-70i Black Hawks as early as 2020 when Lockheed Martin became more active in the Philippines due to its other proposals to the PAF including the F-16 Block 70 Viper fighter aircraft and the C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft, as well as the Sikorsky S-92 medium helicopter for the PAF and Philippine Navy, and S-70i Black Hawk for the Philippine Army.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana mentioned in an interview lately that Pres. Duterte actually approved 32 additional Black Hawks and that they are planning to sign a contract with Sikorsky this year, although he did not give any timeframe on the plan. It is assumed though that it would happen between 2021 and 2022 since that is the only remaining time the Duterte administration is in power.

32 helicopters also match the information received by MaxDefense Philippines from industry and PAF sources, citing documents from the PAF and Lockheed Martin's official offer.

The question now are, why did Sec. Nograles say that only 15 helicopters were approved for acquisition, when Sec. Lorenzana claims it is actually 32 helicopters? Who has the correct information?

It turns out, both cabinet members were correct. It just happen that Sec. Nograles' info was not complete, while Sec. Lorenzana's information was more general.

Remember during the induction of the first 6 new S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters last December 2020, Sec. Lorenzana mentioned that they have ways to fund another 16 helicopters, which he did not explain how or where it would be coming from.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana with one of the PAF's new S-70i Black Hawk during their induction last December 2020. Photo credits to Sec. Delfin Lorenzana's Facebook page.

The 15 helicopters Sec. Nograles mentioned in his recent press conference was actually a different batch from what Sec. Lorenzana was saying. Adding them together puts it at around 31-32 new helicopters in total.

Funding Problem - Where is the Money?

We at MaxDefense Philippines have always been watching closely on funding of projects for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

And based on the approved Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Budget, there is nothing for the acquisition of even a single Combat Utility Helicopter.

So far, no budget for additional Black Hawks or combat utility helicopters for FY 2021 AFP Modernization Program. This version is the publicly-available one, although MaxDefense Philippines has a more detailed copy which we cannot post publicly. 

So where will the money be coming from to acquire the additional Black Hawks?

According to our sources from the DND, the 15 or so helicopters Sec. Nograles mentioned will be funded through the AFP Modernization Program Fund as part of Fiscal Year 2022 GAA allocation. But the DND is looking for ways to make funds available earlier, either through Unprogrammed Fundings or with assistance from Malacañang and DBM.

Meanwhile, the 16 or so helicopters Sec. Lorenzana mentioned back in December 2020 will be coming in from a separate funding source.

The DND was already in advanced stages with its Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project, which the DND selection already fixed with the Mil Mi-171 Hip, and plans to award the project to the Russian government soon considering the initial funding was already released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) back in November 2020. 

But according to our sources from the DND and PAF, the Philippine government has not overcome the problem on Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) last year, or even up until this blog entry's writing. And the funds need to be used ASAP or it will be returned to the DBM.

And because of this, the DND is planning to use the funding for the Mil Mi-171 acquisition to fund the acquisition of additional Black Hawk helicopters. It is highly possible that the DND would defer the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project until the CAATSA issue especially transferring payment from the Philippines to Russia can be settled by both sides.

The acquisition of Russian-made Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopters are said to still have issues regarding CAATSA, especially with regards to funds transfer from the Philippines to Russia. Photo credits to Aviation Times.

In short, the Mil Mi-171 would be probably be sacrificed for now in favour of additional Black Hawks, although Russia might continue deliveries of the helicopters even without the Philippines paying them immediately.

Based on the information we received from several sources, the DND could order less than 10 new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) Program, including all necessary accessories, spares, training and logistics support.

Apparently, Malacañang is keen to find ways to provide funding to increase the total to 16 units by adding more funds taken from other sources.

This is the reason why Defense Sec. Lorenzana was hopeful that a contract may be signed this year.

US Foreign Military Sales:

Contrary to what most defense and mainstream press reported over the last month, the US government was said to have offered US-made Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, not Polish-built S-70i from Sikorsky's subsidiary PZL Mielec.

The American-made S-70i are the basis of the current UH-60M Black Hawk delivered to the US Army, although it does not have the same subsystems installed by the Americans on their UH-60M.

A US Army UH-60M Black Hawk. Photo credits to Defence Blog.

This, as well as being a US FMS program, are the reasons why the current Black Hawk offering to the PAF are more expensive than the 16 S-70i ordered by the DND in 2019, which were made through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program.

As discussed previously in MaxDefense articles and social media posts, US FMS are more comprehensive in nature as it is a deal sanctioned and involving the US Department of Defense itself. The US DOD makes sure that the helicopters would be well supported through its life cycle, and would include a compete support package as part of its package.

This increases the unit cost of the helicopters as the Philippines is required to acquire more spare parts than usual, and would also pay for US DOD administrative charges for their involvement in the project.

The current US FMS program offer for the Black Hawk helicopters were confirmed by DND and PAF sources to be a total of 32 helicopters, which is in line with Sec. Lorenzana's statements. We were asked not to mention the total cost of the offer as negotiations are still ongoing.

Why Go for More Expensive US FMS Program?

So if the S-70i Black Hawk helicopters cost more under US FMS Program, why is the DND keen on going to that direction rather than doing another DCS Program with Sikorsky-PZL Mielec?

According to DND and industry sources, Lockheed Martin is open to go through DCS Program with the next batch of Black Hawks, but the DND prefers to go with US FMS Program as the Philippine government's way of political manoeuvring with the new Biden administration.

The US was said to have offered US-made S-70i Black Hawks, similar baseline model to those used by the US Army's latest UH-60M Black Hawks.

It would also be remembered that the US has several FMS Program negotiations with the Philippines involving Lockheed Martin, including the C-130J Super Hercules and F-16 Block 70 Viper aircraft projects.

But in addition, the Polish government has also been lobbying the acquisition of Polish-made S-70i Black Hawks which are said to remain the cheapest option should PAF decide to go with Black Hawks.

Other Helicopters Aside from Sikorsky Black Hawk:

We also received confirmation that aside from Lockheed Martin  - Sikorsky, other companies are still trying to get the Combat Utility Helicopter Acquisition Project.

These include AgustaWestland (Leonardo) and Bell Helicopters.

Just to update, AgustaWestland is now being represented by a different group in the Philippines. Its previous local representative was already replaced by Italy's Leonardo after several failures in its dealings in the Philippines involving the support of the AW109E and AW159 helicopters acquired by the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy.

Leonardo promised to provide better sales and aftersales support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines with this move to have Leonardo's Southeast Asian office handle the Philippine market. But it appears that they are not promising to open facilities in the Philippines should the PAF decide to go with the AW139M.

AgustaWestland is said to be offering the AW139M helicopter as an alternative to the S-70i Black Hawk. According to our sources, the AW139M is being offered for less the price of the American-made S-70i Black Hawk, but is a little more expensive than the Polish-made PZL Mielec S-70i.

The AgustaWestland AW139M from Italy's Leonardo. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

The AW139 is also being offered to the PAF to meet its requirement for new "Command and Control" helicopters to replace its fleet of Bell 412HP and 412EP helicopters that are planned for conversion to Combat Utility Helicopters and transferred to the 250th Tactical Helicopter Wing.

Meanwhile, Bell Helicopters is still offering their Bell 412 helicopter, this time using the latest Bell 412EPX variant. 

To avoid the issues surrounding the involvement of the Canadian government like what happened in 2019, Bell Helicopters have offered to either go for US FMS Program as well with the US DOD being the middleman, or involving Subaru of Japan, which is Bell's partner in the development of the Bell 412EPX to meet the Japan Ground Defense Force's requirement under its UH-X program.

The Subaru Bell 412EPX during demonstrations in Singapore. Photo credits to Sebastian Ng through V1 Images.

The Bell 412EPX is said to cost less to procure, and also costs 40% less to operate than the S-70i Black Hawk due to its smaller airframe and smaller engine. The smaller airframe also allows it to be an alternative for missions that do not require larger-sized helicopters like the S-70i. 

Selecting the Bell 412EPX also allows the PAF to have 2 combat utility helicopter models which would allow the PAF to avoid grounding the entire fleet should an accident happen.

The Bell 412EPX which will replace the Bell UH-1J Huey with the JGSDF under the UH-X Program. Photo credits to Andrei Shmatko through

The PAF already uses the Bell 412EP and 412HP, and is planning to consolidate all as Combat Utility Helicopters once the PAF's 250th Presidential Airlift Wing receive new helicopters.

More Helicopters is always Better:

Whatever the decision is, MaxDefense Philippines welcomes plans to replace the UH-1 Huey helicopter as they are really in need of replacement. We hope that the Duterte administration would be serious in hastening the acquisition of new helicopters to allow the PAF to quickly have a replacement for its ageing Hueys.

Personally, MaxDefense Philippines believe that a mix fleet of S-70i Black Hawks and smaller Bell 412EP/EPX would be a better combination as it would allow the PAF to have a mix fleet that could complement its requirements. This is since the PAF already has the Bell 412HP/EP in its fleet, and are not expected to be removed from service anytime soon.

Should a Bell 412 or Sikorsky S-70i get involved in an accident, ground one model would not ground the PAF's entire CUH fleet.

But it would be best if the DND and the Philippine government could have a 1:1 replacement of the UH-1D/H Huey fleet, and even have more helicopters to meet the AFP's total needs for at least 100 available utility & transport helicopters at any given time.

Project Summary:

Combat Utility Helicopter Phase 4 Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 14 February 2021.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (205th Tactical Helicopter Wing)

Quantity: between 15 to 32 units, depending on funding availability

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

* Project ABC:
 TBC, at least Php32 billion

Acquisition Mode: TBC, but US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) Program is said to be preferred if going with Lockheed Martin.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for still unconfirmed number of years

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: TBC

* Product for Delivery: assumed to be Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk but still depends on final decision

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 10 December 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFCUHPhase4Acquisition 

* Status: 
Project still being negotiated between the DND/PAF and Lockheed Martin and the US government. DND hopeful to sign a contract within 2021.

First release: 14 February 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Philippine Army will have new mine detection and emergency bridging capabilities soon

The Philippine Army (PA) is expected to gain a new capability soon as it acquires new assets as part of its modernization program.

Mine Clearing Operations have been part of the Philippine Army's capabilities for decades, but has been limited in terms of  scale, complexity, and scope. It has not been given enough focus due to the limited cases on uses of mines in the Philippines after World War 2.

With the experience in the Battle of Marawi in 2017 against ISIS-inspired terrorists that used IEDs and mines in urban combat operations, the Philippine Army may have realized the importance of having improved battlefield mine clearing capabilities to protect its troops in combat and non-combat / post-combat, and peacetime support operations.

Major emergency bridging capabilities is another non-existent capability within the Philippine Army.

This was also evident during the Battle of Marawi where the Philippine Army was pinned down in crossing a river as terrorist snipers and machine gunners were position near an existing major concrete bridge, when the Philippine Army could have crossed the river somewhere else and create another front.

A WFEL Dry Support Bridge launcher using an Iveco-made platform, with a simplified demonstration unit for the system. Photo credits to original source.

Mine Detection Capabilities:

The intention  to improve mine detection capabilities, as well as emergency bridging capabilities were evident in the acquisition plans the Philippine Army has forwarded for priority implementation under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covering years 2018 to 2022.

It was included in the Combat Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project, which includes 2 lots for mine detection capabilities, and 3 lots for bridging capabilities.

1. First is the Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detector (MMD) Acquisition Project which will provide handheld mine detection systems for small scale and space-restrained environments. The project is currently in the procurement phase but has encountered delays. This project has been discussed in our extension's resource page which can be accessed on the link below:

"Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detectors Acquisition Project" - first posted at Philippine Defense Resource on 25 October 2019.

2. The second one, which is one of the main topics of this blog entry, is the Lot 6 - Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector (VMMD) Acquisition Project, which intends to bring in a mine detection capability to cover larger areas to protect operators.

Four (4) vehicle systems are planned, including all necessary accessories, integrated logistics support (ILS), and support for the vehicles, 
with a budget of Php138 million. This is very important since the PA does not have experience operating similar or same vehicles or equipment in the past.

According to MaxDefense Philippines sources from the Philippine Army, the Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded the project last month to UK-based Armtrac Ltd under a Philippines - United Kingdom Government-to-Government (G2G) deal supported by the UK's Ministry of Defence.

While no specific model was mentioned by our sources, Armtrac actually has four mine detection vehicles in its product offerings, only different from each other in terms of size and overall capability.

But based on the technical specifications from the DND and Philippine Army, we believe that the closest product to it is the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 vehicle mounted mine detector.

The Armtrac 100-350 Mk.2 (above) is the closest to the specs of the specs of the project provided by PA sources to MaxDefense Philippines. Photo taken from Armtrac's website.

According to the product information of both equipment, the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 is armored and have protected cabins, can be operated manually or via remote controlled system. It uses a Ground Probing Radar (GPR) for search and detection of IED, mines, and bombs. The GPR is used with a robotic arms, and also includes a vegetation cutter.

An example of how the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 is utilized for mine detection using 2 robotic arms. Photo taken from Armtrac's website.

Aside from mine detection, the vehicle can actually be used also for route proving and clearing against mines, IEDs and bombs, and create safe passage ways for combat troops and vehicles. This can be done by installing the system's 3-meter Tiller and Flail header, as well as the Armtrac C-IED mine roller system.

Emergency Bridging Capabilities:

1. For emergency bridging capabilities, one of the projects that was previously discussed in our blogs and social media post was the Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB) Acquisition Project, which was awarded to the Joint Venture of Elbit Systems and IMI Systems Ltd on 26 December 2019. This project has been discussed in our extension's resource page which can be accessed on the link below:

"Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge Acquisition Project" - first posted at Philippine Defense Resource on 24 October 2019.

An example of an AVLB using a Leopard 2 chassis. Photo taken from

The project aims to provide a quick-deployment steel bridge capable of carrying loads up to Military Load Classification MLC 50 (50 tons) and a span of at least 18 meters long. 

But the product to be delivered by the winning bidder, which is based on the Leonardo DRS-IMI Joint Assault Bridge, would be providing is said to be capable of loads up to MLC 85 (85 tons), which includes main battle tanks and other heavy combat vehicles.

The AVLB would be suitable for rapid crossing of rivers and obstacles due to its short deployment and recovery times.

The Joint Assault Bridge being deployed across a wide trench during demonstrations. Photo taken from Leonardo DSI's website.

2. The second bridging capability equipment being acquired is the Lot 2 - Floating Support Bridge (FSB) Acquisition Project, which is still in procurement phase and has not been awarded yet. The system involves a bridging system that can float over water and can also be used like a raft to cross equipment over wider bodies of water.

These are capable of carrying main battle tanks and other heavy equipment, although its more suitable for calm bodies of water like rivers or lakes.

MaxDefense Philippines believes that the project is being negotiated with the UK Ministry of Defence as it is also planned to be acquired via G2G with the UK government, although there were also indications that DND officials close to the so-called Davao Group composed of close people to Pres. Duterte, are pushing for a Chinese solution which the Philippine Army is said to be against of.

According to sources from the Philippine Army who are involved in the project, the Chinese offering is far cheaper, but is believed to be less robust and have issues regarding longevity and quality.

A Ribbon Bridge, this example from General Dynamics European Land Systems, is an example of a floating support bridge. Photo taken from Contact Air Land Sea's webiste.

3. The third project, which is also one of the main topics of this entry is the Lot 3 - Dry Support Bridge (DSB), a tactical military bridging system that allows for use on longer spans, usually at least 45 meters long, at a very short period of time.

According to MaxDefense Philippines sources from the Philippine Army, the Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded the project last month to UK-based WFEL Ltd. under a Philippines - United Kingdom Government-to-Government (G2G) deal supported by the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Two sets of Dry Support Bridges, complete with the transport trucks, handling systems and all other accessories plus the Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) are part of the deal, which is estimated to be worth Php1.25 billion.

The WFEL Dry Support Bridge is an interesting system, which includes a launching system usually using a 10x10 military truck that builds a gantry that would allow the support and slinging of the bridge to the other end of the river or obstacle. It spans at around 49 meters, has a Military Load Classification of MLC 120 (around 120 tons), and can be completely deployed in less than 90 minutes.

The launching vehicle is being prepared to build the gantry, which is being assembled before expanding. Photo taken from Australian Defence Magazine.

The gantry has been assembled and extended over the obstacle. Once the gantry is extended, it would be deployed to support and sling the bridge. Photo taken from Australian Army's Twitter account.

The bridge components are slinged while supported by the extended gantry. Photo credits to original source.

Status of Projects:

The Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector and Dry Support Bridge Acquisition Projects were said to have the Notice of Award (NOA) released only in early January 2021, and it remains to be seen when the contract would be signed and the Notice to Proceed (NTP) released. But it is expected that partial deliveries would be made by 2022, and full delivery can be done by 2023.

As for the Floating Support Bridge Acquisition Project, we are expecting the procurement process to proceed this year, although it remains to be seen if it would be acquired through public bidding or negotiated procurement / Government-to-Government process.

The Mini Mine Detector Acquisition Project is already in procurement stage, and is expected to restart the bidding process in 2021.

So far, the Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge Acquisition Project is the only Combat Engineering Equipment project that has moved beyond NTP release and contract signing, which was made in 2020. 

Nonetheless, all these new acquisitions would provide the Philippine Army with expanded Combat Engineering capabilities, many of which are capabilities and assets they would be having for the first time.

As proven in several cases, these new assets would not just be helpful to support combat operations, but also provide support during emergencies and natural disasters, and in HADR operations during peacetime.

Project Summaries:

Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 February 2021.

* End User: Philippine Army (Combat Engineering units)

Quantity: 4 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between Philippine DND and UK Ministry of Defence.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA) from FY2020 to FY2022.

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: Armtrac Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: assumed to be the Armtrac 100-350 Mk.2 VMMD

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PACEEVMMDAcquisition 

* Status: Project was implemented through G2G with UK government. Armtrac Ltd. received NOA on January 2021, contract and NTP release expected by February or March 2021.


Dry Support Bridge Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 February 2021.

* End User: Philippine Army (Combat Engineering units)

Quantity: 2 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between Philippine DND and UK Ministry of Defence.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA) from FY2020 to FY2022.

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: WFEL Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: WFEL Dry Support Bridge

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PACEEDSVAcquisition 

* Status: Project was implemented through G2G with UK government. WFEL Ltd. received NOA on January 2021, contract and NTP release expected by February or March 2021.

First release: 06 February 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Philippine Navy starts procurement of torpedoes and countermeasures for Jose Rizal-class frigates

The Philippine Navy (PN) has finally started the acquisition process of torpedoes and countermeasures that will be for use on the service's new Jose Rizal-class frigates that were introduced starting mid 2020.

This has been highly anticipated, considering the first frigate of the class, the lead ship BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) has already entered service with the Philippine Navy since June 2020, while the second ship of the class, the Antonio Luna (FF-151) is on its way for delivery in early 2021.

These acquisition would allow the new frigates to gain offensive capabilities against submarines, and defensive capabilities against torpedoes and missiles.

A torpedo launched from a US Navy destroyer. Photo credits to US Navy.

Frigate Equipment:

The Jose Rizal-class frigates are equipped with two triple trainable 324mm lightweight anti-submarine torpedo tubes from UK's SEA. , as well as two C-Guard DL-6T chaff dispensers from Denmark's Terma A/S.

The SEA triple torpedo tubes (top) and C-Guard countermeasures dispenser (above). Photo credits to original sources.

The torpedo tubes are meant as the offensive weapon of the frigate against submarines, with three ready to fire tubes located on each side of the frigate. Western frigate designs usually use the lightweight 324mm torpedoes for surface ships, which work as part of the ship's anti-submarine warfare suite.

Among common examples of torpedoes that can be used in this tube caliber are the Franco-Italian EuroTorp MU90 Impact, the American Mark 54 from Raytheon, the Italian WASS A244S, the British Stingray from BAE Systems, and the Korean K745 Blue Shark from LIGNex1.

Most of these torpedoes have a typical range of less than 15 kilometers, and are guided to their targets with a combination of active and passive acoustic homing systems.

The torpedo tubes found on the BRP Jose Rizal.

Also, the Jose Rizal-class frigates are equipped with  two C-Guard DL-6T chaff dispensers from Denmark's Terma A/S.

The C-Guard was designed to provide coverage against threats like small range gate Radio Frequency (RF) guided missiles, imaging infra-red (IR) seeker missiles, and torpedoes. It utilizes the standard 130mm NATO decoys.

Chaffs were fired from naval ships during an exercise by the Republic of China Navy (ROCN). Photo credits to ABC News.

The decoy launcher is part of a system that includes integration with the ship's combat management system (CMS), which are also interfaced with the ship's radar, electronic support measures (ESM), and other sensors.

Procurement of Torpedoes and Countermeasures:

Currently, these systems are unused due to lack of munitions and countermeasures, respectively. And this is what the Philippine Navy is trying to cover with their Frigate Lot 3 Acquisition Project. 

While the Frigates Lot 1 for the platform, and Lot 2 for the gun and missile ammunitions were procured under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, this Lot 3 is actually part of the 2nd List of Horizon 2.

It was among those proposed in the original Php650 billion 2017 Horizon 2 Phase Shopping List, but was among those that were taken out of the finalized Php300 billion Horizon 2 Phase priority list approved in principle by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

But due to its urgency and the reliance on Multi-Year Contracting Authority (MYCA) procurement process which did not require the full amount of the project to be paid within the year, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Navy were able to squeeze this project in as part of its 2nd List.

With a total of Php1,700,000,000.00 as its Approved Budget for Contracting (ABC), the Frigate Lot 3 Acquisition Project was divided into 3 sub-lots: the Lot 3A for Torpedoes with a budget of Php900 million, Lot 3B for Chaffs with a budget of Php350 million, and Lot 3C for Acoustic Decoys with a budget of Php450 million.

Lot 3A for Torpedoes will be acquired through Negotiated Procurement, which MaxDefense believes is with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (ROK MND). This means that the procurement would be for the K745 Blue Shark torpedoes from LIGNex1, which is the only Korean-made lightweight torpedo model.

The K745 Blue Shark torpedo. Photo credits to LIGNex1 website.

This could be a practical approach for the Philippine Navy, which already has the K745 Blue Shark torpedoes in its inventory, but are actually air-launched variants that arms its AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopters. These helicopters are to be deployed on the same frigates, which means commonality between the ship and its complementing helicopter's munitions.

MaxDefense PH is still trying to find out what stage of procurement is the Frigate Lot 3A already in, but our sources mentioned that so far, no contract has been signed yet as of this writing.

The PN's AW159 Wildcat are also armed with the air-dropped K745 Blue Shark torpedoes from LIGNex1. Photo credits to original source.

For Lot 3B and Lot 3C, both will be procured through Limited Source Bidding. In fact, the DND already posted the Invitation to Bid and Bid Documents at PhilGEPS Government Procurement Website on December 2020, and at the DND website on January 2021.

This means it still remains to be seen what brand and model of chaffs and acoustic decoys will be used as this would be dependent on the result of the bidding.

A US Navy serviceman loading chaffs on a countermeasures dispenser. Photo credits to US Navy.

MaxDefense is still trying to find out who are the invited bidders for the project, but based on the Supplemental Bid Bulletins released by the DND, South Africa's Rhinemetall Denel Munitions is one of the participants on the Lot 3B tender, while France's Naval Group is also participating on the Lot 3C tender.

We also found that Chemring Group was also invited to the Lot 3B, while unnamed companies from the US, Israel, and UK were also invited aside from Naval Group for Lot 3C.

Naval Group has recently been offering the CANTO acoustic torpedo decoy to regional navies like the Royal Australian Navy, which is compatible with the Terma C-Guard, as shown on the photo below.

The Naval Group's CANTO 130mm torpedo countermeasures as fitted on a Terma C-Guard decoy launcher. Photo credits to Naval Group.

Bid submission deadline for the Lot 3B Chaffs tender will be on 12 January 2021, while the Lot 3C Acoustic Decoy will be on 16 February 2021.

Due to the project being a limited source bidding, tender documents are only provided to invited tenderers, so it is expected that it won't be made available to the public. So far, the PhilGEPS and DND websites has not posted the Bid Documents that includes the technical requirements and specifications.

But what we know so far on the Chaffs and Acoustic Decoys is that they are suppose to fit into the Terma C-Guard's mortar launcher which is around 130mm diameter, standard NATO size. 

For now, all we can do is wait for the tender results, and see which company will win so we can try to find out what will potentially be ordered for the Philippine Navy.

Project Summaries:

Frigate Lot 3A - Torpedo Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified

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

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal with South Korean Ministry of National Defense.

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: LIGNex1 (South Korea) (not yet awarded)

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3ATorpedoAcquisition 

* Status: Project is being undertaken through G2G with South Korean MND. Product of interest is K745 Blue Shark lightweight torpedo from LIGNex1. No contract has been signed although it is expected to be done before mid 2021.


Frigate Lot 3B - Chaff Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified

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

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3BChaffAcquisition 

* Status: Project is being undertaken through Limited Source Bidding. Bid submission and opening scheduled on 12 January 2021.


Frigate Lot 3C - Acoustic Decoy Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified

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

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3CAcousticDecoyAcquisition 

* Status: Project is being undertaken through Limited Source Bidding. Bid submission and opening scheduled on 16 February 2021 after requested to be moved by Naval Group.

First release: 06 January 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, December 31, 2020

MaxDefense PH's Year-ender for 2020 - A Summary of Project Updates on the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program

As part of our year ender for 2020, MaxDefense Philippines has summarized the modernization projects of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force that have made significant positive AND negative movements in 2020.

Another year has passed, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has affected a lot of our expectations for the year, including the accomplishments of the Revised AFP Modernization Program for 2020.

But despite this, we still push through forward, including the improvement of the overall defense capability of the country, and provide our military and its men and women with the equipment they need and the state can afford.

PN and PAF assets during the 85th Anniversary of the AFP.

We'll try to make this as simple as possible, as many of them have resource pages that our readers can access in case of need for more information, background and updates.

Take note that phrases in BOLD BLUE letters can be clicked for links to the resource pages supporting the project.

Philippine Army:

For projects covered under the Horizon 1 Phase of the RAFPMP, the following projects were among those that were updated in 2020:

1. Rocket Launcher Light Phase 2
Deliveries of RPG launchers and ammunition from Russia, the RPG-7V made by NPO Bazalt, were reported to have been made in 2019 and 2020, although exact figures on completion of delivery is still pending. Payment remains an issue due to the Philippine government avoiding getting sanctioned under CAATSA.

An ATGL-L RPG-7 from Arsenal JSco as displayed on ADAS 2019. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

2. Tactical Engagement Simulation System
While the V-TESS portion was already delivered by South Korea's SD Systems back in 2018, the I-TESS portion of the system was delivered by an American supplier only in 2020, with the system said to be completed this year.

3. Force Protection Equipment - Body Armor
Deliveries are said to still be ongoing as of 2020, with 37,744 units of body armor are to be supplied by South Korea's Dae-sung Tech Co. Ltd. We expect completion of the project by 2021.

4. Designated Marksman Rifle 7.62mm
While the SIG Sauer SIG716G2 designated marksman rifles were delivered in 2019, the rifles were only distributed to Army units in 2020, and are meant to replace the M14 DMRs used by the units receiving the new rifles.

A SIG716G2 DMR in the hands of a soldier from the 94th Infantry Battalion. Photo credits to 94th IB, PA.

5. Forward Support Equipment Phase 1:
The SARO for the acquisition of 2.5-ton and 5-ton forklifts were only renewed this year, and it remains to be seen if an award was made to any supplier.

6. Long Range Sniper Rifle Weapon System
The project has been awarded to American gunmaker Harris Gunworks through their local representative Armscor Global Defense back in 2018, but deliveries are said to still be pending. The rifles are .50 caliber anti-materiel model used for long range engagements.

7. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment Lot 2:
Funding has been provided for the acquisition of CBRN equipment in November 2019, with the project expected to be tendered in 2020. So far, no known tenders have been made that is related to the project, although MaxDefense PH is still on the lookout for any new updates on this project.

For Horizon 2 and 2nd List of Horizon 2 projects, below are the status of projects that moved in 2020:

1. Light Tanks
The project was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I in 2020, although it remains to be seen if a contract was signed within the year. Elbit will supply the Sabrah Light Tank System, which utilizes the GDELS ASCOD 2 tracked and Excalibur Army Pandur 2 wheeled armored vehicles.

The Sabrah light tank using the GDELS ASCOD 2 platform. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

2. Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers:
Another project that was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I within 2020, but the contract appears to be also pending as of end of 2020. Elbit is supplying the Iveco Guarani 6x6 APC with Israeli-made subsystems.

The Guarani 6x6 APC of the Brazilian Army. Credits to original source of photo.

3. 155mm Howitzer, Self Propelled System
This project had its contract signed with Elbit Systems Land & C4I on January 2020 for the delivery of 2 batteries of Soltam ATMOS 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer System, with production already started and the system scheduled for delivery starting 2021.

4. Riverine Assault Boats Lot 1 - Light Boats
The Philippine Army received the first batches of the FRP-hulled Riverine Light Boats made by local company Stoneworks Specialists in 2020. More will be delivered in 2021.

A Riverine Light Boat from Stoneworks Specialists. Photo credits to PA.

5. 40mm Revolving Grenade Launchers
The project was awarded to Rippel Effect in 2019 for the supply of the XRGL40 multi-shot 40mm grenade launchers, although the contract was signed in 2020. Deliveries are expected to proceed within 2020, but apparently there are some issues regarding this project.

6. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launched-Bridge
Delays have been encountered in this project, which was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I in early 2020. Elbit was said to have offered a variant of the Leonardo-IMI Joint Assault Bridge, and would be using a Leopard 2 platform. Delivery is expected in either 2021 or 2022.

7. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 4 - Amrored Combat Engineering Vehicle
The project was awarded to Turkey's FNSS for their Kunduz Amphibious Armored Combat Engineer vehicle in 2020. While contract signing confirmation is still pending, we are expecting funding delays that will affect the positive movement of this project.

The Kunduz AACE from FNSS. Photo credits to Shephard Media.

8. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detectors
Another project that has been delayed due to bidding failures. The project was re-tendered in 2020 although it remains to be seen if the tender was successful.

9. Tank Gunnery Simulator
The project was awarded to Singapore's Wolfberry Asia on December 2019, but it appears that no contract has been signed with the DND. This remains a pending project, as MaxDefense previously reported that there were indications the award to Wolfberry Asia was cancelled, and the tender decalred as a failure as of February 2020. 

10. All-Terrain Vehicles:
The Philippine Army received the delivery of 15 Can-Am Commander Max all-terrain vehicles on October 2020. So far this is one of the projects of the Philippine Army that was completed this year.

11. Army C4ISTAR Lots 1 to 7
7 lots of projects related to the Army's C4ISTAR system, including the acquisition of Unmanned Aerial Systems, ground jammers, thermal imagers, radio direction finder systems, combat net MANET radios, and unmanned ground vehicles were contracted to Israeli companies in 2020 under a Government-to-Government deal with the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Production of equipment are all ongoing and for delivery between 2021 and 2022.

So far, only 2 projects can be considered completed within year 2020, and these are the Designated Marksman Rifle 7.62mm with the SIG Sauer SIG716G2 which are currently in service with several Philippine Army units; and the All-Terrain Vehicles project with the Can-Am Commander Max ATVs that were already delivered to the Philippine Army for use by special operations units, most likely the Light Reaction Regiment.

Other projects that have been continuing negotiations include:
M113 APC Firepower Upgrade, which is said to be potentially awarded to Turkey's FNSS; 
Combat Engineering Equipment Lots 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 which are almost ready for awarding pending funding allocation; 
Land Based Missile System which is for final negotiations with India's Brahmos Aerospace, 
* the still pending Multi-Launch Rocket System donation of K136 Kooryong MLRS from South Korea which the Philippine Army is still trying to comply the conditions set by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.
* Forward Support Equipment Phase 2 Lot 1, which covers the acquisition of two dozens of 10-ton Medium Wrecker Trucks, which the DND confirmed during the Senate hearing on Defense budget for 2021 as planned for inclusion under the Php5 billion Unprogrammed Appropriations.
* Negotiations with the US government and some US boat manufacturers are ongoing for the acquisition of Riverine Assault Boats, Scout Boats and Support Boats, which would be acquired through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS). The US government submitted a proposed sale approval to the US Congress in 2020.

Philippine Air Force:

For Horizon 1, the following projects have some significant movement within 2020:

1. Close Air Support Aircraft
One of the biggest projects completed in 2020, the delivery of 6 Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft was completed in late 2020. While the contract includes training of PAF personnel in the Philippines remains to be complied, the delivery is the most important part of the contract.

Three of the six A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft delivered to the PAF in 2020. Photo credits to PAF.

2. Radar Basing Support System
This project is in support of the radars acquired from Israel under the Air Surveillance Radar Phase 1 project. As of 2020, works related to the project are still ongoing, although it is expected to be completed by 2021. The radar stations are located in Gozar Air Station in Lubang Island, the Paredes Air Station in Ilocos Norte, and Mt. Salacot Station in Palawan.

3. Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer Munitions Lots 1 to 3
So far, Lots 1 to 3 appear to still be ongoing, with Lot 1 to supply the AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile and Lot 2 to supply the AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missiles are still pending complete delivery, while Lot 3 to supply countermeasures is still unresolved. Lot 4 involving the supply of 20mm ammunition were already completed at an earlier date.

4. Flight Simulator for Bell 412 and AW109
After a massive delay on the project due to the cancellation of contract with an American company a few years ago, the PAF and DND decided to give the project another go, with modifications on the project's requirements. But still, the tender was declared a failure as of October 2020, and no further plan was made for 2020.

For Horizon 2 projects:

1. Air Surveillance Radar Phase 2:
The project has been given to Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp. in August 2020  as part of a Government-to-Government deal with the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Delivery is expected to proceed only in late 2021 or 2022. MELCO is expected to deliver the J/FPS-3ME fixed and J/TPS-14ME mobile radars.

2. Attack Helicopter Phase 2:
After a long drama due to issues not directly related to the Philippines, the DND has signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries through a Government-to-Government deal with the Turkish government in late 2020. The PAF is still pushing for the delivery of the first batch of helicopters by 2021, although this seems to be a difficult task for TAI considering the political issues and timeframe.

The T129B ATAK attack helicopter. Photo credits to original source.

3. Combat Utility Helicopter Phase 3:
The delivery of 6 new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters on November 2020 is also another major milestone for the PAF, although this is just a partial delivery considering 10 more are expected for delivery in 2021.

Some of the S-70i Black Hawk CUH delivered to PAF in 2020. Photo credits to

The PAF saw the delivery of a Gulfstream G280 business jet, which is said to be for use as a "Command and Control" aircraft despite its obvious use as a VIP jet due to lack of C2 subsystems. The aircraft was delivered on September 2020, which makes this another completed project for 2020.

5. Unmanned Aerial Systems Level 3:
The project involves the delivery of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAVs to the PAF, which were completed as of mid-2020. This is another project which can be considered completed as of 2020.

6. C-130 Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS
A project involving US Foreign Military Financing (US FMF) and US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) programs, the PAF was suppose to receive 2 refurbished C-130 Hercules from the US, with one of them for delivery by December 2020. So far, no delivery has been reported as of the last day of 2020.

7. PAF Aviation Engineering Equipment
This project comprises 32 individual lots of construction-related equipment and services, with majority of the lots already awarded to respective contractors as of 2020. Several lots were already delivered in 2020 although there are still some that are still unresolved, and other lots are still for delivery by 2021.

8. Kia KM-250 6x6 Trucks
Another project completed in 2020, the PAF received 50 new Kia KM-250 trucks from South Korea and inducted into service on October 2020. These trucks will help improve logistics support of the PAF.

9. Basing Support System Phases 2 to 4 at Pag-Asa Island:
This project is dependent on the completion of the beaching ramp and pier at Pag-asa Island. With both projects completed by the civilian government agencies in 2020, the military-side of the project is expected to proceed only in 2021.

10. Heavy Lift Helicopters:
An award was said to have been provided to Russia for the supply of Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopters. But we received confirmation that CAATSA remains to be an issue, and could even be the reason for the PAF and DND to potentially cancel this in favor of additional S-70i Black Hawk helicopters.

The Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopter.

11. Brand New Additional Transport Aircraft:

In case you are all wondering, this is the OFFICIAL name of the project involving the acquisition of brand new C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft. So far, negotiations are ongoing with Lockheed Martin as of 2020, and budget for the initial payment is expected to be released only by 2021.

To summarize, the PAF completed 4 projects in 2020, namely the Close Air Support Aircraft, the Command and Control Jet Aircraft, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Level 3 and the Kia KM-250 6x6 Trucks Acquisition Projects. While significant due to the introduction of several new air assets, the number of projects completed remain dismal considering the number of projects ongoing.

Other projects that have been in the negotiation stages include:
Multi-Role Fighter and Munition System, which has been going through a lot due to conflicts in decision between the PAF and DND, and other factors including price changes and political issues; 
Medium Lift Aircraft which is under negotiations with Airbus-CASA for additional C-295 aircraft;
* Trainer Aircraft which is the pre-planning stages and negotiations ongoing with several aircraft manufacturers including KAI, TAI, Aero Vodochody, and others; 
PAF C4ISTAR Lots 1 to 4 which are in different stages of delivery phase; 
Kia KM-450 4x4 Trucks which are expected for delivery to the PAF soon;
Additional Light Lift Aircraft project which is being negotiated with Indonesia's PT Dirgantara Indonesia for the potential sale of 6 NC-212i aircraft.
* While negotiations were already completed, the PAF is awaiting the delivery of the Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS), which includes 3 batteries of the Rafael SPYDER-ER short-mid range air defense missile system, which are scheduled for delivery in 2021. Funding for its Multi-Year allocations have been continuous for 2020, and is already approved for its last funding allocation in 2021.

An F-16 fighter of the USAF. Photo credits to

Philippine Navy (including Philippine Marine Corps):

For Horizon 1, the following projects have some significant movement within 2020:

1. Frigates Lot 1 - Platform
The Philippine Navy received its first Jose Rizal-class frigate on May 2020, and was commissioned as BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) on June 2020. Delays were encountered on the delivery of the 2nd ship, which was suppose to be for delivery by 4th quarter of 2020, but was moved to 1st quarter of 2021.

The PN frigate BRP Jose Rizal with three of the recently delivered S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters of the PAF. Credits to original source of photo.

2. Frigates Lot 2 - Munitions:
The partial delivery of Mistral short range surface-to-air missiles were made in 2020, and these already equip the BRP Jose Rizal, although full delivery is expected to be completed only by October 2021. The contract for the supply of SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missiles was made in 2020, and delivery is expected only by 2022. We received confirmation as well that the 76mm ammunition were already delivered to the PN in 2020, and the same is true for the 30mm ammunition for the ship's guns.

3. Base Support and Logistics Phase 1 for Naval Base Rafael Ramos (Cebu):
Works appear to be ongoing on the construction of Phase 1 at Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Cebu, although we are not familiar with the percentage completion of the construction project works.

4. Fast Boats for NAVSOCOM:
The Philippine Navy received a partial delivery of 7 new RHIBs as part of the project in 2020, with 3 other units expected to be delivered by 2021. These boats are to be used by the Boat Unit of the Naval Special Operations Command.

For Horizon 2 Phase:

1. Landing Docks:
The project has been tendered in 2019, and although post-qualification inspections were made in 2020, the DND and PN has not made a decision yet to award the project to Indonesia's PT PAL (Persero), which offered a revised and improved version of the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock. Two ships are for acquisition under this project.

2. Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade:
Despite Hanwha Systems bagging the project in 2019, nothing much has been made in 2020. Hanwha is scheduled to inspect all 3 ships of the class by early 2021, with inspection dates already marked and provided to MaxDefense. The upgrades only involves sensors and combat systems, but no weapon upgrades.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), a Del Pilar-class ship of the PN. Photo credits to PN.

3. Marine Engineering Upgrades for BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37):
Another long delayed project that has been passed to the Horizon 2 phase after failing to start during the Horizon 1 phase. So far, drydocking works has been awarded to Herma Shipyard on January 2020, although it remains to be seen if the actual repowering works are included in their contract.

4. MPAC (Batch 4) Combat Systems and Capability Upgrade:
This project, which comprises 2 lots for the supply of weapon systems by Rafael Advance Systems and installation works by Propmech Corporation, has been delayed for a year, considering the original schedule of delivery and installation of these weapon systems and upgrades were suppose to have been done by 2020. The delivery of weapon systems were moved to 2021.

5. Squad Rocket Launcher Light:
A requirement for 702 units of RPG-7s from Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo has been finalized in 2020, although delivery is only expected to be made by 2021. These RPGs will be used by the Philippine Marines, as they start improving squad firepower and replacing older recoilless rifles.

6. Force Protection Equipment (Helmets and Body Armor):
Israel's Marom Dolphin Tactical Equipment bagged the project, and was awarded the project on August 2020. So far, no indication was found on a contract signed with DND, which means this is still potentially another pending project. The project involves the supply of 8,860 sets of body armor vests and helmets for the Philippine Marine Corps.

7. Mortars Lot 2 - 81mm Mortars:
Another project that seems to be pending, we expected a contract to be signed with EXPAL Systems by early 2020, but this remains to be confirmed. The project was awarded to EXPAL in late 2019, which aims to supply 

8. Fast Attack Interdiction Craft with Missiles:
The project is also considered a delayed one, with the funding for the project only released on December 2020. This means an award for the project, which is expected to be for Israeli Shipyards Ltd, is only expected to happen in 2021. The PN hopes to receive the first Shaldag Mk. V fast attack craft by 2022.
A CGI of the Shaldag Mk. V FAC which the PN is currently negotiating. Photo credits to Israel Shipyards.

To summarize, the PN has not completed any RAFPMP project in 2020, despite several projects reaching major milestones and partial delivery and completion. This is dismal considering the number of projects ongoing, even if many projects take years to complete.

But to give credit, the PN received 8 new ScanEagle 2 UAVs from the US government, which is a major milestone for the service as it received its first fixed wing tactical UAV. Despite not being part of the PN's own modernization program, this is still an important accomplishment in 2020.

A ScanEagle 2 UAV of the PN. Photo credits to PN.

Other projects that have been in the negotiation stages include:
Corvette project which is said to be undergoing final negotiations with South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries for a potential Jose Rizal-class Flight II;
Offshore Patrol Vessel project, which is still under negotiations with other shipbuilders from South Korea and Thailand despite an earlier selection of Australia's Austal, specifically its local shipyard in Cebu, to be the shipbuilder and supplier for the project.
Submarine project which is under intense negotiations with France's Naval Group and South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering;
Shore Based Anti-Ship Missile System, which is also being negotiated with India's Brahmos Aerospace, although other offers from other countries are still being pushed;
Shore Based Air Defense Missile System, which is still in advanced pre-procurement and negotiation stage with several suppliers from South Korea, India, Norway, and others.
Frigate Project Lot 3, which involves the supply of torpedoes, chaffs, and acoustic decoy for the Jose Rizal-class frigates. The chaffs and acoustic decoys are currently in the procurement phase through public bidding, which is expected to be opened on January 2021, while the torpedoes are to be acquired through direct negotiation with South Korea's LIGNex1 for their Blue Shark torpedoes.

The OPV design for the PN from Austal. Photo credits to Austal.

Our Hopes for 2021:

With the list above, we can say that 2021 appears to be a busy year for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its modernization programs. Even as early as January 2021, we can already see some new deliveries and project finalizations to happen.

We at MaxDefense Philippines and Philippine Defense Resource are hopeful that the government under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte will do its best to make sure the AFP's modernization goes on smoothly, cleanly, and without interference from questionable personalities from the administration.

We hope that they come to their senses and put the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people first before their own personal interests.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers, contributors, supporters and friends! We hope to have your continuous and strong support for 2021!!

First release: 31 December 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects