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, November 22, 2020

Philippine Navy to induct new Insitu ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles provided by US

The Philippine Navy (PN) is scheduled to induct a batch of brand new Insitu ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provided by the United States government. The induction is expected to happen in a matter of days after this blog is posted.

These new UAVs were part of the US government's Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative Strategy (then called Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative), which was started by the Obama administration in 2016, and continued by the Trump administration.

These new ScanEagle UAVs will become the Philippine Navy's first fixed-wing drones that are actually inducted into service, rather than just tested and evaluated. 

One of the ScanEagle 2 UAVs handed-over to the PAF last March 2018. Credits to original source of photo.

US Grants to Philippines and Other Countries:

In 2017, the US government confirmed that another batch of ScanEagle UAVs will be granted to the Philippines, and will be a follow-on after the first batch that were also ordered in 2017 and handed over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in March 2018.

ScanEagle 2 UAVs of the Philippine Air Force. Credits to original source of photo.

It was first thought that the second batch will still be for the PAF, but checking with sources within the Armed Forces of the Philippines, MaxDefense Philippines was told that it would be for the Philippine Navy (PN) as a similar request was also made that would be used primarily for maritime surveillance.

The Philippines will not be the only country to receive ScanEagle UAVs from the US. Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are also earmarked to receive the same UAVs to assist them in improving their maritime surveillance capabilities. The orders for all 4 countries were only processed in 2019.

Malaysia was given priority, and received 6 units early this year. The Philippines is believed to be the second to receive ScanEagles this year, with an expected 8 units based on the reports made in 2019. It remains to be seen if the PN will indeed receive 8 units, since it is possible for the quantity to increase or decrease.

ScanEagle 3?

While the PAF received the ScanEagle 2 UAV in 2018, it remains to be seen if the PN will be receiving the same ScanEagle 2, or the newer ScanEagle 3 variant, which was launched only in 2018 after the PAF received their drones.

So far, there is no confirmation found if the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) received the ScanEagle 2 or ScanEagle 3, as it could be the best basis of what the Philippine Navy could be receiving.

The ScanEagle 3 is the latest variant of the ScanEagle family of small UAVs, with improvements made on payload carrying capacity, said to be almost double compared to earlier models, while retaining its freedom from International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) control.

A CGI of the new ScanEagle 3, which features twin tails siliar to the concept of the PAF's OV-10 Bronco attack aircraft. Credits to original source of photo.

This allows for additional or larger sensors to be carried that previous ScanEagle models are not capable of doing. It also allows for multiple sensors to be carried, improving its surveillance capabilities than ever before.

It also has improved endurance over previous models, using a new purpose-built propulsion system that allows more payload without compromising endurance. The new design allows for the wings to be adjusted and moved to alter the drone's center of gravity for rapid payload integration in the field. 

It has a length of 2.5 meters, a wingspan of 4 meters, and a gross takeoff weight of 36.3 kilograms. It now can carry 9.1 kilograms of payload which may include C2 datalinks, video datalins, Electro-optical turret, dual imager, and Mircowave Radiometer (MWR) that can detect radio or microwave energy emitted by targets.

An actual ScanEagle 3 during its unveiling in 2018. Photo credits to Shephard Media.

71 Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron:

As reported several weeks ago by MaxDefense Philippines and our extension Philippine Defense Resource, the Philippine Navy's Naval Air Wing (NAW) has created a new squadron that will handle the operation of these new ScanEagle UAVs, which is the 71 Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron.

The 71 Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron's logo, which actually incorporates a ScanEagle UAV, albeit the older ScanEagle 1 variant showing the older nose design. As feared by MaxDefense Philippines, this could be a sign that many in the PN do not really know the difference between older and newer variants of the ScanEagle. Photo taken from the PN's publication.

The new squadron is expected to be the first UAV squadron of the PN NAW, as MaxDefense Philippines was told that the PN is interested in acquiring larger maritime surveillance UAVs in the future.
Similar to how the PAF deployed their ScanEagle 2 UAVs, it is expected that the PN would also deploy their ScanEagle UAVs in various locations, most notably facing the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the tri-border with Malaysia and Indonesia.

But we are actually hoping for the Philippine Navy to consider deploying these ScanEagle UAVs on ships, and act as eyes and ears for the surface warfare ships on top of their existing radar and EO/IR systems.

Examples where the ScanEagle UAV can be deployed are the Jose Rizal-class frigates and the Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels, both of which have a helicopter landing decks. Even smaller ships like the Jacinto-class are capable of operating ScanEagles, as already demonstrated by other navies.

Singapore's Victory-class corvettes, which are almost the same size as the Jacinto-class OPV, are equipped with launcher and recovery systems for the ScanEagle UAV. Photo taken from RSN.

In any way, the addition of these ScanEagle UAVs to the Philippine Navy are very much appreciated to allow the force's continuous improvement, thanks again to the assistance of our ally.

It remains to be seen if the PN will receive another batch of ScanEagles, as the US government appears to have prepared for the allocation lof a 3rd batch of ScanEagle UAVs to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Since the Philippine Army is standardizing with Israeli-made UAVs which it bought on its own, additional ScanEagles could either be for the PAF or PN.

This would be dependent on the policies on upcoming US President Joe Biden, who is believed to be on its way to half US military assistance to the Philippines due to Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's poor human rights records.

Several weeks ago, our extension Philippine Defense Resource TV posted a video on the creation of a new unit to receive the new ScanEagle UAVs from the US. This was already a sign of things to come considering the deliveries have already started for the entire order made for the 4 selected Southeast Asian countries.


Project Summary:

ScanEagle UAV Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy:

Note: Edited as of 22 November 2020.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Naval Air Wing)

* Quantity: between 6 to 8 units

* Modernization Phase: Special Projects of the AFP

* Project ABC: Not applicable

* Acquisition Mode: US Military Assistance Grant

* Source of Funding: Funded by US government

* SARO Release: N/A

* Winning Proponent: Insitu Pacific Corp.

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 6 to 8 ScanEagle UAVs, still to be determined if ScanEagle 2 or 3 variant, including launching and recovery, and support equipment

* Contract Price: Not applicable

* Residual Price: Not applicable

* First post by MaxDefense: 11 December 2017

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status: US government announced grant of surveillance equipment to select Asia-Pacific countries in 2017. Contract awarded by US government to Insitu Pacific in 2019, for delivery by late November 2020.

First edit and release: 22 November 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Discussing the Philippine Air Force's Heavy Lift Helicopter Project as Russia wins with the Mil Mi-171 Hip

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has embarked on the acquisition of Heavy Lift Helicopters as part of its 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase projects. This project aims to provide the PAF with larger helicopters than what it currently has, to fit certain combat and peacetime requirements in tactical airlift and heliborne operations.

As reported earlier by our extension Philippine Defense Resource, the Notice of Award (NOA) was awarded, although it remains to be seen if it was through SOVTECHNOEXPORT or ROSOBORONEXPORT. In any case, the Russians offered to sell the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171 Hip medium military helicopter.

The Mil Mi-171Sh helicopter. Photo taken from AIN Online.


40 Years of Longing for a Heavy Lift Helicopter:

The Philippine Air Force has been eyeing heavy lift helicopters since the 1970s, with the Boeing CH-47 Chinook already being considered during modernization programs for the last 40 years.

In 1978, the US government actually considered selling the CH-47D Chinook, which was a new variant back then, in lieu of a request for 36 units of DHC-5 Buffalo medium lift aircraft. According to US declassified reports, if contract was signed for the CH-47D Chinook, they were projected to enter service with the PAF by 1981. But this did not push through due to the Philippine economy's poor performance.

The CH-47D Chinook of the Spanish Army. Photo credits to original source.

The 1995 AFP Modernization Program also listed a requirement for Heavy Lift Helicopters, with a total of 4 units requested to enter between 1995 to 2010. The CH-47D Chinook was also eyed by the PAF to meet this requirement. Again, due to the poor performance of the Philippine economy, the entire program did not push through, including the acquisition of  Heavy Lift Helicopters.

A requirement for Heavy Lift Helicopters again surfaced when the AFP Modernization Program was revised and extended to cover years 2013 to 2027. But it was programmed to be included in the Horizon 3 phase of the new project.

Since the AFP and DND have an option to frontload projects depending on requirements, the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project was moved to the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, which is an offshoot of the Horizon 2 phase depending if the government has extra funds available to frontload Horizon 3 projects.

Again, the CH-47 Chinook family was in eyed by the Philippine Air Force, this time a newer variant called the CH-47F being available fresh from the factory. Other helicopters were also considered including the AgustaWestland AW101, as well as Medium Helicopters like the Airbus H225M Caracal, and the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171Sh Hip.

Also considered was the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin. This example is with the Danish Air Force. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Originally, the PAF's Technical Working Group decided that the CH-47F Chinook was the only helicopter that met the PAF's requirements for heavy lift helicopters, which made it closer for the PAF to acquire the CH-47F Chinook.

The CH-47F Chinook, these examples with the Indian Air Force. Photo credits to IAF.

But it appears that this was overturned by the Department of National Defense (DND), which asked the PAF to reconsider its specifications due to political reasons. As we have posted last year in our Facebook community page, the president himself was involved in the decision of the DND to push the PAF to reconsider.

The Russian Connection:

We reported that, according to our sources within the DND and PAF, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was not in favor of the Philippine Air Force and DND's decision to select the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk for its Combat Utility Helicopter requirements, wherein 16 units were ordered for less than Php13 billion. But in the end, the president allowed the deal with Sikorsky to push through under one condition - that the PAF should also order helicopters from Russia, either transport or attack helicopters, or both.

With the PAF in a tight situation, the Heavy Lift Helicopter project was again re-evaluated with changes in the specifications, and it was recommended in the end that the Mil Mi-171 meets the PAF's revised requirements and is the most ideal due to the number of helicopters (quantity) the Russians have agreed to sell based on the Php12.8 billion budget.

While Russia agreed to sell 16 Mil Mi-171 helicopters, with a potential donation of 1 Mi-171 helicopter for VIP requirements, apparently Boeing was only able to offer 4 units under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, or 5 units under Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program.

The Mil Mi-171, this example with the Russian Army. Photo taken from Avia Russia.

Negotiations with Russia's Rosoboronexport commenced in 2018, although issues related to the US' Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was deemed to be an obstacle to a deal being reached between the DND and Rosoboronexport.

It was noted that as of March 2019, a new Russian state shell company SOVTECHNOEXPORT appears to be the one handling the deal between the Philippines DND and Russia on the potential acquisition of the Mil Mi-171 helicopter.

As of 3rd quarter 2020, a Notice of Award (NOA) was awarded in favor of the Russian government, although it remains to be seen if it was through SOVTECHNOEXPORT or ROSOBORONEXPORT.

What's Next?

Since the Mil Mi-171 is actually a Medium Helicopter rather than a Heavy Lift Helicopter, it remains a question as to why the Philippine Air Force decided to use the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project as it means to acquire the Mil Mi-171, rather than frontload the Medium Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project, which is also slated under Horizon 3 phase, as it is more appropriate for the helicopter being sought after?

Also, since the PAF actually has requirements for helicopters that are larger than the Mil Mi-171, will they be raising a new Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project under the Horizon 3 phase, with specifications closer to than of the CH-47F Chinook rather than medium helicopters like the Mil Mi-171?

Other Possibilities:

Another possibility now is related to the Philippine Army, which was said to also have been offered both the Mil Mi-171 and the Boeing CH-47F Chinook for their own helicopter requirements.

Based on information MaxDefense got from sources from the Philippine Army, the Philippine Army leadership as well as the Army Aviation Regiment was said to be more in favor of the CH-47F Chinook, although it is currently not their priority as they wanted to build up their planned fleet of combat utility, scout, and attack helicopters, before they consider getting larger helicopters.

So it could be similar to the PAF's plan of potentially asking another batch of heavy helicopters under the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP.


Project Summary:

Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 07 November 2020.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (still being determined if 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing or 220th Airlift Wing)

* Quantity: 16 military helicopters + potentially 1 VIP helicopter

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php12,800,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with Russian government (Sovtechnoexport and/or Rosoboronexport)

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

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-20-0018320 worth Php1,919,626,490.00 (15% initial payment) dated 29 October 2020, released 04 November 2020.

* Winning Proponent: Russian Helicopters, through Sovtechnoexport or Rosoboronexport

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 16 Mil Mi-171, exact variant still being confirmed although most like Mi-171Sh
    - unconfirmed report of 1 Mil Mi-171 in VIP configuration, most likely Mi-171A2

* Contract Price: Php12,797,509,932.00

* Residual Price: Php2,490,068.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 28 June 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Russian government through either Sovetechnoexport or Rosoboronexport. SARO for initial 15% funding was released on 04 November 2020, awaiting for contract signing which is expected before end of 2020.

First edit and release: 07 November 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Philippine Air Force to restart acquisition of Maritime Patrol Aircraft under the Long Range Patrol Aircraft Project

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is preparing to re-introduce one of its long-forgotten projects, which it now plans to re-implement under Fiscal Year 2021.

The PAF's Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) Acquisition Project is originally a Horizon 1 phase priority project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). But the project hit several setbacks after a successful start a few years ago.

As part of the proposed procurements submitted by the Department of National Defense (DND) to the Senate during its FY2021 budget hearing, the LRPA project was among those proposed to be included as part of the Php5 billion Unprogrammed Appropriations to the AFP Modernization Program.

The Leonardo ATR-72MP (or P-72A) which is among those offered to the PAF. Photo taken from Defpost.

The Airbus C-295ASW Persuader, the original aircraft that the PAF was almost getting until the tender failed. Photo from Airbus.


The Long Range Patrol Aircraft Acquisition Project was among those that started well when Horizon 1 phase was implemented, but ended miserably and neglected due to changes in priorities.

The intention was for the Philippine Air Force to acquire it's first two (2) new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) that would be used for maritime surveillance, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare (ASuW & ASW), intelligence gathering, and command & control (C2). The aircraft are  to fly further beyond the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), can be armed, and will be the primary manned surveillance asset of the PAF and Armed Forces of the Philippines in general. The allocated budget (ABC) for the project was Php5,976,000,000.00.

The LRPA Acquisition Project was among the first project that was implemented by the PAF due to the expected long acquisition period. It was decided by DND back then that the acquisition will be via Two-Stage Public Bidding, with the procurement process starting as early as 1st quarter of 2014. It was expected that the winning bidder would be able to deliver both aircraft within 34 months after the release of Notice to Proceed (NTP), or opening of Letter of Credit (LOC).

In the first bidding attempt, none of the participating companies were able to pass the 1st first stage of the bidding

Another attempt was made in 2016, and only Airbus Military was able to pass the first stage and considered eligible to proceed to the second stage that was suppose to be held in a couple of months. But after several negotiations in between and conducting the second stage bidding, Airbus Military also failed the 2nd stage bidding, effectively declaring the process a failed bidding

The C-295ASW Persuader, this example with the Chilean Navy. Photo taken from

The failure was due to effects of the poor performance of the Philippine pesos against the US dollar and the Euro, wherein the peso value of the ABC was deemed insufficient to allow Airbus Military to deliver two fully compliant MPAs. Instead, Airbus proposed to deliver 1 fully compliant aircraft, and 1 incomplete aircraft (no Anti-Submarine Warfare capability) with the same bid amount they provided in the 1st stage bidding. But based on the government's procurement rules under RA 9184, this is unacceptable, thus Airbus' submitted bid was considered non-compliant, and they were declared disqualified.

With no other bidder in the project, the LRPA Acquisition project was considered a failed bid as of 2017, after more than a year of process.

A third attempt again happened in 2017 but was also considered another failed bidding, after none of the bidders passed the initial requirements under the first stage bidding.

With the failed biddings, the DND is now allowed by law to proceed to a Limited Sourced Negotiated Procurement, which means it can now go directly to several of its shortlisted suppliers/manufacturers and get their best offer. This means the DND can now go directly and negotiate with Airbus Defense & Space, which appears to be the PAF's preferred supplier for the LRPA with their Airbus-CASA C-295MPA Persuader, similar to those sold to the Chilean Navy.

Further reading is advised, through our previous blog entries on the LRPA's technical specs:

"PAF'S Long Range Patrol Aircraft - Tech Specs, Post-Bidding Report and Updated Analysis" - first posted 29 May 2015.

Possible LRPA Negotiated Procurement:

According to MaxDefense's earlier blog entries since 2014, despite the PAF's interest on  refurbished Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from either US, Japan or Australia, the PAF is actually more interested in getting new aircraft, although they remain open on the potential acquisition of used P-3C Orions to boost the fleet.

The 3 failed biddings in the past means the DND can now go directly and negotiate with interested proponents as allowed by law. This does not need to be just Airbus Military which almost bagged the project a few years ago with their Airbus-CASA C-295MPA Persuader. It now depends on the revised selection process conducted by the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG), which already changed leadership and membership over the past 6 years. 

The Airbus C-295ASW Persuader of the Chilean Navy, which has an anti-submarine capability including the presence of magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) and munitions firing capability for anti-submarine torpedoes or anti-ship missiles. The PAF's original LRPA requirement also calls for these capabilities.
Photo taken from

But this does not close the door on the chance that the project would still be procured via a Public Bidding. This would now be dependent on the DND, which should issue a new Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) on how to proceed with the project.

At this point in time, MaxDefense has no information yet as we have not receive any info on a new ADM for the project released by the DND for the project, although we expect to know about it once its released.

Among the delays in the LRPA was attributed to the PAF's insistence of sticking to the specs rather than reducing the aircraft's capability to meet the budget. It was actually a good decision by PAF since they know how difficult it is for them to request for additional funding to fill-up systems that were fitted for but not with the aircraft.
Credits to original source of photo. 

New Information as of November 2020:

Due to the long dormancy of the project, there appears to be a lot of changes in the project. 

First of, the head and members of the Technical Working Group has changed. So expect a different mindset on what to expect with the technical specifications. Majority of those who previously were in the group have already moved up in position although some of them are expected to remain.

Because of this, there is a possibility that revisions on the Technical Specifications could be made. Basis could be on what prompted the project to fail back in 2017.

Cost is another factor. Since 2017, it is expected that the cost of the same maritime patrol aircraft offered in 2016-2017 could have already increased by at least 5-15% due to inflation and other reasons.


But one thing has not changed - the budget in pesos. It still remains that same at Php5,976,000,000.00. Back in 2016, the US dollar equivalent of that amount was around US$125.8 million. But in 2017, the US dollar value went down to US$118.5 million, or a difference of US$7.3 million which is a huge amount.

Right now, the US dollar value of Php5,976,000,000.00 is around US$123.4 million. This is close to the 2016 US dollar value, but it does not necessarily mean the PAF can now afford the original offer made by Airbus Military. This now remains on what they would offer with the budget.

MaxDefense also received information a few months ago that should the budget still be an issue, the PAF could be willing to drop the need for a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) which is a feature that would allow the PAF's LRPA to detect submarines, in addition to using disposable sonobuoys dropped from the aircraft.

Aircraft Platform Offers:

There were several offers made again to the PAF as it actually kept the LRPA project open to proponents to provide offers. 

Offers came from actual aircraft manufacturers themselves like Airbus, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, and Leonardo. But the PAF also got offers from system integrators like Elbit Systems, IAI-Elta, PAL Aerospace, and Saab.

As for platforms, the PAF is said to be inclined to use turboprop aircraft models, and among those are the Airbus-CASA C-295, the PTDI-CASA CN-235-220, the Bombardier Q400 Dash-8, and the Leonardo ATR-72.

Airbus-CASA C-295 and PTDI-CASA CN-235-220:

Another concern that the PAF has raised was the use of a platform that is cheaper but can attain similar range and endurance requirements, and cannot be converted to a cargo aircraft if the PAF's current airlift fleet becomes short of assets. This appears to be a lesson learned on its previous maritime patrol aircraft, the Fokker F27-200MPA Enforcer, which back in the early 1990s, were converted to troop carriers when the PAF started to lose its airlift assets. 

One of the Fokker F27-200MPA Enforcer maritime patrol aircraft of the PAF, this example already written-off from an accident in the late 1980s, operating only less than 10 years. Photo taken from

Apparently, the PAF prefers a platform that do not have a modular pallet system, which effectively affects some of the offers including the Airbus-CASA C-295MPA and the PTDI-CASA CN-235-220MPA from Indonesia's PT Dirgantara Indonesia, both of which can be easily converted to transport aircraft due to its modular cabin design. 

But this also becomes an issue in terms of commonality. Logic actually points for the PAF to strongly consider using the Airbus-CASA C-295 platform due to its commonality with existing C-295M transport aircraft that is seen to rise to 7 aircraft once the ongoing Medium Lift Aircraft Phase 2 project moves forward with Airbus' offer.

PTDI's CN-235-220MPA also appears to still be haunted by the same reason of its non-selection a f ew years ago, due to the dimensions and performance of the aircraft not meeting the specified requirements. It also is too short to accommodate 4 operator consoles as required by the PAF's specs.

But compared to most of the offerings, the PTDI CN-235-220MPA has so far confirmed that Magnetic Anomaly Detector can be installed on both aircraft, and there is still enough extra funds to even allow them to provide the PAF with extras.

The proposal to go for platforms that do not have modular systems and a cargo ramp also boosts the chances of the other platforms being offered, the Bombardier's Q400 Dash-8 from Canada, and ATR's ATR-72 platform from Italy.

While Bombardier itself has not made a pitch for the LRPA project, several companies like Elbit Systems proposed to use the Q400 Dash-8 platform as well as the ATR-72 platform, on top of Leonardo's own offer of the ATR-72MP.

Leonardo ATR-72 and Bombardier Q400 Dash-8:

Based on studies made by the PAF, the ATR-72 platform is more desirable due to its lower operating cost and fuel consumption, and cheaper aircraft platform price. While the Bombardier Q-400 Dash-8 performs better in terms of speed and flight characteristics, the PAF believes that the ATR-72 is already good enough for its requirements.

Leonardo has its own offer using the ATR-72 as the platform, called the ATR-72MP (also called the P-72A), which can also be scalable and upgraded to the ATR-72ASW which can perform anti-submarine warfare missions that the standard ATR-72MP cannot do.

The ATR-72MP, this example with the Italian Air Force. Photo taken from Leonardo's website.

The only problem with the ATR-72MP/ASW is Leonardo itself. Apparently the PAF has been unsatisfied with Leonardo's aftersales support on their fleet of AgustaWestland AW109E Power armed helicopters, and has also received the same feedback from the Philippine Navy with its fleet of AW109E Power and AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters.

The Bombardier Q400 is actually used by Saab for its Swordfish MPA, as well as by Canada's PAL Aerospace for their Maritime Patrol Aircraft offering. The Q400 is also an option aircraft platform for both IAI-Elta and Elbit Systems' own MPA offerings.

Elbit Systems is also open to use the ATR-72 aircraft as a platform in place of the Q400. It is unconfirmed though if Airbus is willing to use the ATR-72 for its MPA system, considering ATR is a joint venture of Airbus and Leonardo.

Final Decision?

So far for now, nothing is final so the race could still be anyone's game. There could also be other reasons that could potentially pop out during the negotiation with the proponents.

For example, results of other projects that involve the same proponents (ie. Leonardo being involved in other helicopter projects, PTDI involved in other transport aircraft projects, etc.).

Contrary to what naysayers believe, MaxDefense Philippines does not back any of the proponents, and normally we just support what the end user selects, like in the case of the Philippine Army's Light Tank Project which was already decided almost a year before the winning proponent was awarded.

We always believe that the end user knows what they need better than anyone else, including the DND.

To summarize the pros and cons of each platform:

1. Airbus C-295MPA  / ASW Persuader:
    Pros: commonality with existing C-295M fleet of the PAF.
    Cons: ASW variant could be too expensive and beyond PAF's budget, slower than ATR-72 and Q400.

2. PTDI CN-235-220MPA:
    Pros: cheapest among the platforms offered, can provide ASW capability.
    Cons: shortest cabin space, slowest speed, 1 less operator space (as per PAF's info)

3. Leonardo ATR-72MPA / ASW:
    Pros: cheaper than C-295MPA, potentially able to provide ASW capability within PAF's budget
    Cons: PAF's poor satisfaction of Leonardo's aftersales support

4. Bombardier Q400 Dash-8 MPA / Saab Swordfish Q400:
    Pros: fastest and best performing platform
    Cons: shortest range, narrowest cabin, most expensive platform to operate and sustain, aircraft manufacturer is not the integrator (Saab, PAL Aerospace, IAI, etc).

MaxDefense believes though, based on details and factors on the requirements as well as information from sources, that the race is most likely between Airbus' C-295MPA or C-295ASW, and Leonardo's P-72A. 

The Saab Swordfish MPA system can also use the Q400 platform aside from the Global 6000 jet. Photo from Saab.

Project Summary:

Long Range Patrol Aircraft Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 03 November 2020.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing)

* Quantity: 2 maritime patrol aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php5,976,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: To be confirmed, awaiting ADM from DND.

* Source of Funding: AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).

* SARO Release: To follow

* Winning Proponent: TBC

* Product for Delivery: TBC

* Contract Price:

* Residual Price: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: 29 May 2015

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFLRPAAcquisition

* Status: Project restarted, initial funding to be provided in 2021.

First edit and release: 04 November 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Friday, October 23, 2020

Philippine Army's Light Tank and Wheeled APC projects awarded to Israel's Elbit Systems

With the Philippines looking at reopening itself to business despite COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, it looks like the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP are doing the same now.

As the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) confirming the release of funding for the initial 15% of the total project costs of the Light Tank and Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) Acquisition Projects of the Philippine Army (PA), we now believe its time to announce the results of both projects.

The Sabrah light tank using the GDELS ASCOD 2 tracked armored vehicle platform. Photo from Elbit Systems.

And the Winner is:

To those following MaxDefense for a long time, they already know our style of doing things, of how we drop bits and pieces of information everywhere, bring in related information as clues, give info on what's happening around the world that may affect certain projects, and push our community members to look for them and think for themselves.

And so far, MaxDefense is happy that more people are understanding our way of bringing in information. 

Not surprising, many of our community members guessed who the winners are for both the Light Tank and Wheeled APC APC Acquisition Projects.

And yes, MaxDefense Philippines can finally confirm that the winner for both projects is none other than Elbit Systems Land & C4I of Israel, working closely with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which received the Notice of Award (NOA) for the projects a few months ago.

Elbit Systems was working with General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) and Excalibur Army/Czechoslovak Group to offer the Sabrah Light Tank family using the ASCOD 2 tracked armored vehicle and the Pandur II 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle are platforms.

Also, Elbit Systems was working with IVECO Defense Vehicles for the Wheeled APC project, which offered to use the Guarani 6x6 wheeled APC. 

The Sabrah Light Tanks using the GDELS ASOCD 2 tracked, and GDELS-Excalibur Army Pandur II 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles as platforms (top), and the IVECO Guarani, all offered by Elbit Systems Land & C4I to the Philippine Army. Top photo from Elbit Systems, above photo from IVECO.

What Happened in the past few months:

MaxDefense previously mentioned in past posts and blogs, as well as in our extension Philippine Defense Resource, that as as October 2019, the Department of National Defense (DND) already released a Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) that points to the Light Tank and Wheeled APC Projects to be acquired through Government-to-Government (G2G) process.

This was later affirmed in April 2020 with the PA and DND finally confirming that the project would be undertaken with the Israeli Ministry of Defense's International Defense Cooperation Directorate (MOD-SIBAT). So far, IMOD-SIBAT has assigned only Elbit Systems as their proponent.

The DND was already preparing the details and terms for the project's contract when the Philippine government decided to stop international travel and close the country due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

This delayed the entire process since both the Light Tank and Wheeled APC projects were among those affected by the realignment and diversion of funding as covered by Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal and One Act.

The Light Tank's 1st MYCA allocation worth Php1,422,649,800.00 provided under GAA FY2019, and the Wheeled APC's 1st and 2nd MYCA allocations worth Php339,780,000.00 and Php792,820,000.00 as provided by GAA FY2019 and FY2020, respectively were among those included in the fund diversions/

But not all was lost. Due to the realignment, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the DND revised its funding plan for FY2020, by identifying which projects from the original GAA FY2019 and FY2020 are the most important. Among those considered important were the Light Tank and Wheeled APC projects. This allowed both projects to be re-assigned with funding of what remained of the GAA FY2019 and FY2020 funds.

Thus, the 1st MYCA for the Light Tank worth Php1,422,649,800.00 and the 1st MYCA for the Wheeled APC worth Php339,780,000.00 were restored. They only adjusted the project's delivery schedule which is now to be completed by 2022 instead of 2021. The 3rd and final MYCA allocations for both projects were also moved to be funded under FY2022. This revision was approved by the DND and national government on May 2020, and paved the way to continue with the finalization of both projects.

As early as August 2020, MaxDefense already received confirmation that the DND has released Notices of Awards (NOA) for both projects to Elbit Systems Land & C4I, which also represented their partners in the project.

When Elbit Systems formally included the Sabrah Light Tank family into their portfolio as posted on their website since last August 2020, it was actually a heads-up that something positive already happened. The information was also confirmed by MaxDefense sources who were familiar with the project.

And since the Wheeled APC would be closely tied to the Light Tank Project, it was expected that it would also be reaching the same milestone.

With the funding allocation for both projects already released, its only a matter of time for both project to proceed further.

How the Projects were Won?

Honestly, these 2 projects are one of the tightest competitions in the AFP Modernization Program due to it not undergoing public tender, which means decision making from the Philippine Army and DND are based on other factors aside from price.

In this case, Elbit Systems' best selling point was the inclusion of Battlefield Management System, Command & Control, Fire Control, and Communication systems that are common and compatible, or to be compatible with existing and future networked systems that the PA and the AFP are introducing. And obviously, Elbit's competitors in both projects cannot offer subsystems that are compatible to what the AFP will be using.

The installation of the Elbit Torch-X battlefield management system, the Combat NG command and control system, and the E-LynX software defined radios on the Sabrah ASCOD 2, Sabrah Pandur II, and the Guarani vehicles would allow seamless networked connectivity to each other and to other units using the same systems.

While Hanwha Defense did offer to install a Korean-made BMS into its Light Tank and Wheeled APC offers, it does not work with the Israeli BMS and communications system already in use or ordered by the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Both the Torch-X battlefield management system (top) and the E-LynX software defined MANET radio (above) would be installed on the Sabrah tanks and Guarani wheeled APCs.

Another selling point is the non-usage of Belgian-made turrets and guns, due to the ongoing arms export restrictions made by the Wallonia regional government of Belgium against the Philippines. Since Elbit's competitors on the Light Tank  Project, Hanwha Defense-Otokar JV and PT Pindad, using John Cockerill's C3105 turret and 105mm guns made in Belgium, it is expected that there are chances of delays or problems that may happen should the Light Tank project be awarded to the losing proponents.

Sabrah's turret was made by Elbit Systems with assistance from the Israel Defense Force's Ordnance Corps MANTAK (the same designer of the Merkava tank's turret), replacing an earlier proposal that used the Oto Melara Hitfact turret. The changes were made due to the requirement for an autoloading system, a better firing arc for the gun, and lower cost.

The Sabrah's turret was made by Elbit Systems with assistance from the Israel Defense Force's Ordnance Corps MANTAK, the same team that designed and built the Merkava tank's turret. Photo taken from Elbit Systems.

Other factors also were considered, including the lack of users of PT Pindad's Harimau tank, and better performance by the winning products over their competitors, although those mentioned above are said to be the main reasons.

Why Guarani 6x6 for Wheeled APC, and not Pandur II 6x6?

Another main point that many of our readers have been asking, is why did Elbit Systems offered to use the IVECO Guarani 6x6 for its Wheeled APC offer, rather than use the GDELS/Excalibur Army Pandur II 6x6?

Commonality should have been a factor in deciding to go with Pandur II 6x6 since it shares a lot of parts and traits as the Pandur II 8x8 that Elbit offered for the Wheeled Tank component of the Light Tank project.

According to Army sources, it was the Philippine Army's Technical Working Group who actually decided to go for the IVECO Guarani, as Elbit Systems offered both the Guarani 6x6 and Pandur II 6x6 for the project. But it appears that Pandur II was more expensive than the Guarani, since Guarani benefits from cheaper Brazilian labour and steel compared to the Pandur II which is produced in the Czech Republic.

The Pandur II 6x6 wheeled armored vehicle, which is also among those offered to the Philippine Army. Credits to original source of the photo.

Also, if Elbit Systems offered to use IVECO's Italian-made SuperAV 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle for the Wheeled Tank component of the Light Tank project, it would also be more expensive than the Pandur II 8x8, thus the decision to stick with Pandur II 8x8.

Honestly, this is one of the flaws in the Philippine defense procurement, as it makes more sense for the Philippine Army to have chosen the Pandur II 6x6 if cost is the only issue.

The Guarani's 8x8 variant, called the SuperAV, was said to be more expensive than the Pandur II 8x8 as it was built in Italy by IVECO's main production line rather than in Brazil. 

The Future:

It remains to be seen if a Contract was already signed between Elbit Systems Land & C4I and the Department of National Defense, but the recent release of funding for both projects only means that this could be coming, or might have already been done since a contract can be signed with or without the funding allocation released by the DBM in favor of the DND. What MaxDefense can confirm through, is that there is no Notice to Proceed (NTP) yet, since the funds were only released last 21 October 2020.

The release of NOA favoring Elbit Systems is another milestone reached by the DND and the Philippine Army in implementing the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. This also means that the only project meant for the Philippine Army's Armor Division is the M113 Firepower Upgrade Project, which MaxDefense Philippines discussed in a blog entry back in April 2019.

Since the Philippine Army originally requested for 144 Light Tanks and 114 Wheeled APCs in its original Horizon 2 Phase Proposal submitted in 2017, it remains to be seen if the Philippine Army will pursue the acquisition of 116 more light tanks and 86 more wheeled APCs under the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP, which runs from 2023 to 2027.

Anyway, MaxDefense Philippines would like to congratulate the Philippine Army, the Department of National Defense, Elbit Systems, General Dynamics European Land Systems, Excalibur Army / Czechoslovak Group, IVECO Defense Vehicles, and their local agents for pushing these 2 projects forward.

Project Summary:

Light Tank Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 23 October 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army (Armor Division)

* Quantity: 18 tracked and 10 wheeled tanks, 1 armored command vehicle, 1 armored recovery vehicle.

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with Israeli government

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

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-20-0017126 dated 15 October 2020, released 21 October 2020, worth Php1,422,649,800.00 for 15% initial payment.

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 18 Sabrah ASCOD 2 tracked tanks
    - 10 Sabrah Pandur II 8x8 wheeled tanks
    - 1 ASCOD 2 Armored Command Vehicle 
    - 1 ASCOD 2 Armored Recovery Vehicle
    - All tanks to be equipped with Elbit turret and 105mm gun, E-LynX SDR, Torch-X BMS
    - Unspecified amount of 105mm tank gun ammunition

* Contract Price: US$172,220,000.00 (approx. Php9,484,332,000.00), excluding exchange rate differentials.

* Residual Price: Php930,831,000.00, to be used to cover for any exchange rate differential.

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALightTankAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Elbit Systems Land & C4I on 3rd quarter 2020. Contract and Notice to Proceed (NTP) pending, expected to be released before end of 2020.

Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 23 October 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army (Armor Division)

* Quantity: 28 units

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php2,265,200,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with Israeli Ministry of Defense.

* Source of Funding: General Appropriations Act (GAA) starting FY2020

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-20-0017340 worth Php339,780,000.00 (15% initial payment) dated 19 October 2020, released 21 October 2020.

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 28 units of IVECO Guarani wheeled 6x6 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) 
    - Mounted with a manned turret armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and 40mm automatic grenade launcher
    - Options to alternatively equip with remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS) with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun.
    - Equipped with Elbit Torch-X BMS, E-LynX SDR

* Contract Price: Php2,265,200,000.00

* Residual Price: Php0.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Elbit Systems Land on 3rd quarter 2020. Contract and Notice to Proceed (NTP) pending, expected to be released before end of 2020.

First edit and release: 23 October 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Philippine Air Force to start receiving its Rafael Spyder Ground-Based Air Defense System in 2021

It has been a while since our last blog entry on the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project. Our last blog entry on the project, which was posted on 26 December 2018, talks about the selection of the Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System (ADS) for the project.

The Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System, which was selected for the PAF's GBADS Acquisition Project. Photo credits to Rafael.

What Happened Since December 2018:

Back in December 2018, MaxDefense announced that the Philippine Air Force has selected the Rafael SPYDER ADS for its GBADS requirement, beating out other competitors including offerings from Germany, South Korea, Russia, India, and other countries.

Despite the selection in December 2018, a Notice of Award (NOA) was only provided to Rafael in June 2019, and a contract was only signed between Rafael and the DND by 3rd quarter 2019.

3 batteries of SPYDER Air Defense System are covered in the contract, with each battery having a classified number of Missile Firing Units (MFU), a Command and Control Unit (CCU), and other support vehicles and systems.

As part of the contract, an initial 15% of the contract worth Php1.027 billion was released in June 2019, which constitutes the 1st of 3 Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA) for the project. The Philippine government is expected to release the 2nd and 3rd repayments by 2020 and 2021.

Not much have happened after, since the contract was already signed and all the PAF needs to do is wait and do inspections as the units bound for the Philippines are manufactured, while the Philippine government allocates the multi-year funding for it until 2021.

A SPYDER SR/ER ADS missile firing unit. Photo credits to original source.

The Good News:

Let's start with the good news.

Based on the project's contract between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Rafael Advance Defense Systems (Rafael), the delivery of the 3 batteries of Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System for the Philippine Air Force would be in 2021.

Also, Rafael could be delivering, or may have already delivered the initial deliverable as part of the project, including equipment for training, testing and support equipment, and spare parts for the PAF's SPYDER Air Defense System within 2020.

These development means the Philippine Air Force is getting closer in having a ground based air defense missile system to defend critical air bases and other interests.

Rafael Python V and Derby missiles. Credits to original source of photo.

The Bad News:

Now for the not so happy news.

Previously MaxDefense reported that the SPYDER ADS that the Philippine Air Force could be getting could be the SPYDER-MR (Medium Range) version, since the PAF's pre-procurement evaluations, PAF and DND documents about the project, and information from sources all pointed out to a medium-range system to be procured under the GBADS Acquisition Project.

Back then there were only 2 options available for the SPYDER ADS: the SPYDER SR (Short Range) which has a maximum engagement range of 20 kilometers, and the SPYDER MR (Medium Range) with a maximum engagement range of 60 kilometers.

The infographic above shows the difference between the SPYDER SR and SPYDER MR. The PAF appears to have ordered the SPYDER ER which is essentially a SPYDER SR but using I-Derby ER extended range missiles.

This was further reinforced by the fact that a separate requirement was planned for a short-range system, which was supposed to be part of the Horizon 2 phase, but was moved to the Horizon 3 phase from 2023 to 2028 due to funding shortage. Originally the PAF was planning to acquire 3 Medium Range and 4 Short Range GBADS Batteries as part of Horizon 2.

The PAF was interested in the Thales Force Shield Short Range GBADS before it was decided to move the SHORAD section of the GBADS Project to Horizon 3 phase. Photo taken from Thales.

But based on recent documents from the government, and information provided by defense sources and contributors, the Philippine Air Force appears to be only getting the SPYDER ER (Extended Range), which is essentially a SPYDER SR including the use of the SR's shorter-ranged radar system, but will be capable of using the Rafael I-Derby ER extended range missiles that allows a maximum engagement range of 35-40 kilometers on a clear day.

SPYDER ER ADS uses the same IAI Elta EL/M-2016 ATAR radar used by the SPYDER SR ADS. The PAF already has one EL/M-2016NG radar in service.

This means that the fire control radar of the PAF's GBADS will also be the less-capable IAI Elta EL/M-2016 ATAR radar similar to the one donated by IAI Elta to the PAF as part of the Air Surveillance Radar Phase 1 project. This is instead of the longer ranged, more capable IAI Elta EL/M-2084 3D AESA radar that has better detection ranges and is the same radar used in the Iron Dome system.

Aside from using the SPYDER ER, it also turns out that the PAF will be getting the minimum configuration for a typical SPYDER ADS battery, in terms of number of launchers and support system. This means less teeth than expected to defend air bases from airborne threats.

Saving Grace:

Despite the bad news, there is still some saving grace that can still save this project in the years to come.

Since the SPYDER Air Defense System can be configured and re-configured depending on the end user's requirements, the Philippine Air Force can still improve the system once it is in service.

Additional firing units and supporting systems can be ordered later on and added to the existing SPYDER ER batteries. This can be done either as part of another phase of the AFP Modernization Program, or a gradual improvement that can be done by the PAF without relying on the AFP Modernization Program.

Also, it appears that the Philippine Air Force will be acquiring additional GBADS as part of the Horizon 3 phase covering fiscal years 2023 to 2028, as it plans to increase coverage of air defense systems to more location in the country.

And hopefully, this time the PAF may include longer-ranged systems including medium range (beyond 50 kilometer range), and long range systems.

With the South Koreans becoming more active in the AFP Modernization Program, MaxDefense won't be surprised if the KM-SAM could be selected for the PAF's GBADS requirements in the future, if not additional and more advanced versions of the SPYDER ADS. Photo credits to original source.

Until then, all we can do now is to wait for the deliveries to start coming in. MaxDefense would provide up-to-date information about this project, which will be covered by our extension page exclusively handling modernization projects, the Philippine Defense Resource.

"Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force"

Project Summary:

Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 03 October 2020

* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)

* Quantity: 3 batteries

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with the Israeli government

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

* SARO Release: 
      - 1st Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-19-004325 dated 04 June 2019 worth Php1,027,012,500.00 (15% Downpayment), released 06 June 2019
      - 2nd Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-20-0011482 dated 09 June 2019 worth Php2,396,362,500.00, released 11 June 2020.
* Winning Proponent: Rafael Advance Systems Ltd. (Israel)

Product for Delivery:
     - 3 batteries of Rafael SPYDER Air Defense System
     - Associated radar systems, command and control systems, support vehicles, and ammunition (Python 5 and Derby missiles)

* Contract Price: Php6,846,750,000.00

* Residual Price: Php0.00

First post by MaxDefense: 18 June 2013

* Searching Hashtag: #PAFGBADSAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Rafael Advance Systems Ltd.
 Delivery of initial batch expected to start early-mid 2021. 1st tranche payment released in June 2019, 2nd tranche payment released in June 2020. 

First edit and release: 03 October 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects