Not your typical defense page...

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

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

The Philippine Navy's first Combat Management System from Saab

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

Spot the difference

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

They KAAV7A1s are finally here!

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

Wildcats arriving soon!

The Philippine Navy's will soon be getting their AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat naval combat helicopters!

Coming soon!

MaxDefense continues to monitor the impending launch of the PN's new frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Philippine Army orders Several Levels of Unmanned Aerial Systems from Israel for C4ISTAR Requirements

Recently, Israeli business media outlet Globes reported that the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems Ltd. Is nearing a US$180 million deal with the Philippine Army to supply various types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and that a deal would be signed in the coming weeks.

Also mentioned that the UAVs to be supplied are Elbit’s Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 large UAVs, and Skylark 1 and Skylark 3 tactical UAVs.

The Elbit Systems Skylark 3 fixed wing tactical mini UAV, among those offered to the Philippine Army.
Photo taken from Elbit Systems' website.

The Philippine Army’s Proposed Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisitions:

The Philippine Army has always included the need acquire Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) as part of its proposed acquisitions under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). In all instances that such proposal were submitted or presented by the Philippine Army to the higher ups, the PA UAS Project was always packaged as an integral part of the Philippine Army C4ISTAR System Project, and included in as part of several lots intended to provide the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) part of the network.

The Philippine Army categorized the Unmanned Aerial Systems of different sizes into Tiers or Levels, which are divided into the following:

Tier I / Level 1 Multirotor UAS: uses mini vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) multirotor mini unmanned aerial vehicles. These could be issued to company or battalion level units and would be acquired by the plentiful. It would have a range of more than 5 kilometres and endurance of at least 30 minutes.

Tier I / Level 1 Fixed Wing UAS: Tactical Mini UAS, which could be using vertical take-off and landing multirotor or hand-launched winged mini unmanned aerial vehicles. These could be issued to brigade level units. It would have a range of up to 30-40 kilometres and an endurance of more than 1 hour.

Tier II / Level 2 Fixed Wing UAS: Tactical Small UAS, using catapult-launched winged unmanned aerial vehicles. These are large enough to be supported by vehicle-mounted systems and would be used by division level units. It could have a range of around 100 kilometres and endurance of up to 6 hours. These UAVs also have a sizeable payload of cameras, infrared targeting systems and a variety of sensors, and would be great platforms for use for targeting for artillery or air strikes.

Tier III / Level 3: Large Tactical Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAS: these types utilizes large fixed wing long distance UAVs that fly for hundreds of kilometres and are most likely operated by specialized surveillance or aviation units. They are also capable of carrying a significant load of sensors and cameras, and are to be utilized to stay aloft for a long period of time over a theatre of operation, or for surveillance over large areas.

As early as 2015, the Philippine Army was already preparing the program to acquire multi-tier Unmanned Aerial Systems, and has actually identified its requirements early on, with minor changes only made over the years. A program to acquire three tiers of UAS was proposed to be allocated a budget of less than Php4 billion.

The Proponents and their Product Offerings:

From the start, it already appears that the plan was to designate the project for procurement under a Government-to-Government (G2G) mode with the Israeli government. This can be seen on the options the Philippine Army chose from during the project’s evaluation phase.

Three (3) Israeli companies competed for the selection process. Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd., Elbit Systems Ltd., and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) MALAT Division.

For Level 1, Aeronautics offered the Orbiter 2, Elbit with the Skylark 1-LEX, and IAI MALAT with the Bird Eye 400.

For Level 2, Aeronautics submitted the Orbiter 3, Elbit with the Skylark 3, and IAI MALAT with the Bird Eye 650D.

For Level 3, Aeronautics pushed for the Aerostar TUAV, Elbit with the Hermes 450, and IAI MALAT with the Searcher Mk. III.

Above is the selection made by the Philippine Army's TWG for the UAS Acquisition Project. Three Israeli proponents offering 3 types of UAS during the initial pre-selection phase of the project. A forth category was added later on.
Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source from the DND.

Surprisingly, in earlier evaluations by the Philippine Army’s Technical Working Group on the UAS Acquisition, IAI MALAT’s offerings were rated with the highest scores for all Levels of UAVs, with Elbit Systems’ offerings scoring a far second.

Despite the results, all companies continued to pursue the project, with some even demonstrating their products to Philippine government officials.

In fact, MaxDefense got exclusive coverage on the demonstration by Aeronautics Defense Systems on their Orbiter 3 light tactical UAV at Clark Airport on April 2017, just a few months before the Battle of Marawi happened. Aside from Philippine Army officials, other government agencies were also present to see the demonstration.

MaxDefense covered the demonstration made by Aeronautics Defense Systems in Clark on April 2017, a few months before the Battle of Marawi.

Experiences from 2017 Battle of Marawi:

In early 2017 just before the Marawi City attacks, Pres. Duterte was updated in a Command Conference by the Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, wherein the proposed Philippine Army Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project was gone up to Php8.115 billion for 3 lots of different level/tier of UAS. Back then, the PA’s Technical Working Group (TWG) already prepared the pertinent documents while the DND is to release the Acquisition Decision Memorandun (ADM) and getting approval for the project from the president so the project would be funded by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Then Marawi City terrorist attacks happened. 

This event saw several units of the AFP in action, and the AFP was forced to adapt by issuing emergency acquisitions of commercially-available quadrotor UAVs for surveillance in urban operations, while being supported by RQ-20 Puma mini tactical UAVs and larger tactical MQ-1C Grey Eagle MALE UAVs of the US military and AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide a bigger picture to the joint task force operating in the area.

A DJI Mavic quadcopter UAV operated during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.
Photo taken from GMA News.

The Philippine Army requested for UAVs to be acquired as part of the proposed Emergency Acquisitions, but the national government junked all proposed acquisitions when the Battle of Marawi ended in October 2017.

A US military RQ-20 Puma tactical light UAV during the Battle of Marawi.
Aside from UAVs, manned surveillance aircraft were used in the Battle of Marawi. This is a Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force taken during the siege.
Photo from GMA News' Raffy Tima.

After the Marawi crisis, many of the Philippine Army’s ground units involved were equipped with dozens of commercially spec DJI Phantom 4 and Mavic UAVs purchased hastily during the crisis off-the-shelf from commercial UAV dealers in Manila. These Chinese-made UAVs were designed for photography and hobby use, but were effective in extending the eyes of small ground units especially on hard to see and hard to reach areas. The only disadvantage was that they were designed to fly only for a few minutes, and operation of these UAVs have to be quick and precise.

It appears that the experiences by the Philippine Army in the Marawi City crisis made them re-open the planned UAS acquisitions, changing a lot of the plans to instead give emphasis on acquiring military-spec rotary VTOL UAVs that are effective in close quarter or urban operations, have longer endurance and better sensors than commercial off-the-shelf UAVs, and will be operated by ground units as small as platoon or company level.

Plans for Level 2 and Level 3 UAS remained the same.

So why go Elbit?

With mini VTOL multirotor UAVs being cheaper than mini fixed-wing hand-launched UAVs, the PA was able to reduce its budget for the Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project.
Another evaluation was made by the Philippine Army Technical Working Group on the UAS Project, with the same candidates as before from Aeronautics Defense Systems, Elbit Systems, and IAI MALAT. 

But for the Level 1 Mutirotor UAS, only Elbit Systems was able to offer with their Thor Multirotor UAS.

Another reason for the change could probably be in related to the PAF's decision to go for Elbit's UAS solutions like the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900. Commonality and interoperability just swayed to Elbit's favor with the PAF getting them, making a choice of using Elbit for the PA's requirement just suddenly making more sense.

These are probably the reasons why Elbit Systems was able to get the project, as the DND decided to go with Elbit Systems’ offer for all UAS Levels.

Also, the Philippine Army reduced the Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) for the project from Php8,115,000,000.00 to just Php5,400,000,000.00, due to reasons still being determined by MaxDefense.

The Philippine Army Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project:

Due to OPSEC reasons, MaxDefense won’t specifically mention the exact quantity of UAVs involved in the acquisition.

The Department of National Defense (DND) released a Notice of Award to Elbit Systems Ltd. to supply and deliver the Levels 1 to 3 Unmanned Aerial Systems to the Philippine Army under a deal worth Php5,339,625,000.00 last May 2019, while the Contract Signing for the project was done in Manila only this week.

To support this, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a Special Appropriation Release Order (SARO) last 23 May 2019, with reference no. SARO-BMB-D-19-0003824 dated 22 May 2019 worth Php5,399,625,000.00 - the same amount as the submitted offer by Elbit Systems Ltd to the DND.

Contrary to belief of many, the SARO that was released last May 2019 regarding Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project was not related to a similarly named project of the Philippine Air Force that was signed last year, but rather a new one for the Philippine Army.
Photo taken from DBM SARO sheet.

1. Elbit Systems THOR Mutirotor VTOL Mini UAS – the most plentiful in terms of number of UAVs ordered by the Philippine Army. The Thor is a quad-copter-type UAV, one of the newest products in Elbit Systems’ line of UAVs, and is ideal for low altitude observation and taking footage.

The Thor is ideal in operations on urban areas, as it can fly around corners and hide within the urban terrain, and is operable even on non-line of sight conditions. It is also very portable due to its size, and can be transported by 1 man in a portable hard backpack as shown on the photo below.

Several hundred units were ordered by the Philippine Army.

The Elbit Systems THOR multirotor mini UAV. Photo taken from Elbit Systems' website.

2. Elbit Systems Skylark 1 – LEX Fixed Wing Mini UAS – the system uses a small fixed-wing mini UAV that is good for covert aerial intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of in theatre operations. 

It allows units to get high-resolution real-time surveillance videos in both day and night operations. Its effective range of operating within 40 kilometers of Line of Sight with the operator, plus its ability to use secured and encrypted communications allows it to be used on low to medium threat environment with ease.

Several dozen units were ordered by the Philippine Army.

The Elbit Systems' Skylark 1-LEX mini fixed wing tactical UAV. Credits to original sources of photos.

 3. Elbit Systems Skylark 3 Fixed-Wing Light UAS – first unveiled by Elbit Systems in 2016, it was intended to support brigade or division level units, it has an operating range of up to 100 kilometers from the operator, and an endurance of up to 6 hours flying time. It is capable of carrying up to 10 kilograms of payload, usually electro-optical infrared cameras, sensors, and surveillance equipment.

It is also highly capable in providing target detection and classification, which allows units to properly identify enemy units while also allowing the use of data for artillery and airstrike coordination.

Due to its size, it is required to be transported using light land vehicles, and launched by a pneumatic launcher, similar to the Insitu ScanEagle UAVs operated by the Philippine Air Force and the MAG Super Swiper II UAVs of the Philippine Marine Corps.

Several units were ordered by the Philippine Army.

The Elbit Systems Skylark 3 light tactical UAV. Credits to original sources of photos.

4. Elbit Systems Hermes 450 Tactical Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAS – this UAV is one of the most successful large UAVs in the market, and has been used in combat missions especially in the Middle East.

The Hermes 450 allows a wide variety of payloads while being able to operate over larger areas over long period of time. Aside from surveillance, the Hermes 450 allows other capabilities including target acquisition, use of synthetic aperture radar for remote sensing and imaging, intelliegence gathering including Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Hyper-Spectral imaging, and other requirements.

Another advantage of the Hermes 450 is that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) also ordered it as part of their own Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Acquisition Project, which means commonality and inter-operability between the two branch services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Elbit Systems Hermes 450, which was already ordered by the Philippine Air Force as part of their own Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project. Top photo is an actual Hermes 450 bound for the PAF during its testing last year, while bottom photo was taken from submitted offer to AFP. Both photos exclusively shared to MaxDefense by sources from the Philippine Air Force and AFP.

This new UAS acquisition is increasing the number of UAVs in service with the entire AFP. It would be remembered that the Philippine Air Force received the Insitu ScanEagle 2 UAS from the US government several months ago, with the Pentagon announcing another 8 units coming soon. The Philippine Marines also received the MAG Super Swiper 2 light tactical UAVs in 2017. The ScanEagle 2 and Super Swiper 2 UAVs are the same category as the Skylark 3 UAV ordered by the Philippine Army,

The Philippine Marines also has a few RQ-11 Raven tactical hand-launched mini UAVs that are similar to the Skylark 1-LEX ordered by the Philippine Army. These were granted by the US government as part of US Military Assistance to the Philippines.

The Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Marines also have Level 2 UAVs in service, the Insitu Scan Eagle 2 (top) and the MAG Super Swiper 2 (above), respectively. Photos credited to original owners.

Clarifications on Earlier Media Reports from Israel's Globes:

MaxDefense wishes to clarify the report made by Israeli business news outlet Globes, wherein it mentioned that the Elbit Systems was about to sign a US$180 million deal with the Philippines to supply the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900, and the Skylark 1 and Skylark 3 UAVs to the Philippine Army.

The report was partially right, since the deal between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Elbit Systems involved the delivery of Hermes 450, Skylark 1 and Skylark 3 UAVs to the Philippine Army.

But it appears that the contract amount was too high, which Globes indicated to be at around US$180 million (around Php9.5 billion), when the contract amount was only around Php5.4 billion (around US$102 million).

Instead, MaxDefense believes that Globes included the contract amount of other Philippine Army and AFP C4ISTAR sub-projects that are being negotiated with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which may also be awarded to Elbit Systems. This would be discussed in a separate blog, or may not be discussed at all due to its confidentiality.

The US$160 million UAV deal that Globes also mentioned in the report was the Philippine Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project, which was signed last year between the DND and Elbit Systems as part of a Government-to-Government deal between the Philippines and Israel. This is the deal where the Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 were ordered. And possibly where the mix-up of details happened.

In the meantime, MaxDefense will continuously monitor this project as the phase of movement will be happening quick as the Notice to Proceed and Opening of Letter of Credit would probably happen soon, considering the DBM already released the full amount of the project's cost.

Project Summary:

Philippine Army C4ISTAR Acquisition - Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Level 1 to 3 Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 14 June 2019:

* End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)

* Quantity: 3 lots (1 lot for each Level)

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php5,400,000,000.00

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

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

* SARO Release: 

    - SARO-BMB-D-19-003824 dated 22 May 2019 worth Php5,399,625,000.00 (Full amount), released 23 May 2019

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel)

* Product for Delivery: 

    - Elbit Thor Multirotor VTOL Mini UAS (Level 1)
    - Elbit Skylark 1-LEX Mini UAS (Level 1)
    - Elbit Skylark 3 Tactical Small UAS (Level 2)
    - Elbit Hermes 450 Tactical Long Endurance UAS (Level 3)

* Contract Price: Php5,399,625,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 16 March 2018

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

AFP to acquire Shoulder-Fired Anti-Drone Directional Jammers from Singapore

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be getting Anti-Drone Directional Jammers from Singapore, as the tender process for the AFP's Shoulder-Fired Direction Jammer Acquisition Project was completed after a successful public bidding.

The project is part of of the Horizon 2 phase of Revised AFP Modernization Program covering the years 2019 to 2023. 

The Orion Anti-Drone system is among those offered for the AFP's Shoulder-Fired Directional Jammer requirement.  Photo taken from TRD Consulting's website.


The AFP included the requirement to acquire Shoulder-Fired Directional Jammers as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP after the experiences it gained during the Marawi City crisis in 2017. 

Back then, the ISIS-inspired Maute Group terrorists used commercial off-the-shelf quadcopter drones to survey the battlefield, while also gathering intelligence on location of government forces that are after them.

This prompted the AFP to begin the acquisition of a limited number of anti-drone jammers that could help forces take down enemy drones, or even protect installations from drones.

A portion of the Invitation to Bid (ITB) for the project.

In this instance, the AFP required the acquisition of 9 sets of directional jammers, enough to equip 9 teams of specialized personnel whose mission is to hunt or defend against enemy drones. The equipment as per the project's Schedule of Requirements FOR EACH SET are as follows:

A. Shoulder Fired Directional Jammers:
* 2 nos. of Jammer Modules (rifle and manpack)

* 4 nos. of Jammer Module Batteries

A sample of a rifle-type jammer and module.

B. Vehicular Platform:
* 2 nos. 145cc Sports Motorcycle

C. Soldier Protection System:
* 2 pairs Ballistic Plate Level IV

* 2 nos. Plate Carrier
* 2 nos. FAST Ballistic Helmets, Level IIIA Protection
* 2 pairs Elbow Pads
* 2 pairs Knee Pads

D. Initial Integrated Logistics Support
* 2 sets of Jammer Tool Sets / Basic Repair Sets

E. Manuals:
* 2 nos. Operator's Manual
* 2 nos. Parts Catalog

F. Training
* Operators Maintenance Training


The Jammers will have the capability to jam GPS (US standard), GLONASS (Russian standard), Galileo L1 (European Union standard), and BeiDou B1 systems (Chinese standard) of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), and has the modes to either drive out or force land drones. 

Currently, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) which has AFP officers and personnel as its members, also operate rifle-type anti-drone directional jammers, although this new acquisition by the AFP is a more effective variant.

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) first showed this rifle-type directional jammer to the public in early 2018. The model appears to be a Chinese-made Hikvision UAV-D04JA jammer, which has been with the PSG for sometime. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by one of our community member.

Bidding Outcome:
The project was approved by the DND via an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) dated 01 August 2018 to be procured Direct Contracting mode. But this mode of procurement was changed on 05 November 2018 to Public Bidding.

The project underwent four attempts before the tender became successful. The bid submission deadline and opening dates of the bidding attempts were on 25 October 2018, 29 November 2018, 15 January 2019, and 26 February 2019.

For the 4th attempt, only two bidders submitted their bids:

* Joint Venture of Southcoast Marketing Inc (Filipino company), and TRD Consulting Pte Ltd (Singapore);

* Joint Venture of Safer PH Innovations Inc. (Filipino) and NT Service UAB.

Of the two, only the Joint Venture of Southcoast Marketing Inc and TRD Consulting Pte Ltd was declared legible and the Single Calculated Bidder (SCB) with a bid amount of Php32,446,507.50.

According to a MaxDefense source from the AFP, the directional jammer offered by the winning bidder was the Singaporean-made Orion 7 MP rifle-type directional jammer.

The Joint Venture underwent and passed the Post Qualification Inspection, and was given the Notice of Award (NOA) from the DND on 10 May 2019. While there is no publicly available document, MaxDefense believes that a contract should have been signed before we wrote this blog entry.

For those who may have not noticed, TRD Consulting Pte Ltd has been actively marketing their Orion series of anti-drone jammers, and was also present during the ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila last September 2018. Even the official media partner of ADAS 2018, Shephard Media did an exclusive on the Orion anti-drone system.

The Orion anti-drone system was actually demonstrated and discussed during last year's ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila, with TRD Consulting Pte Ltd also present in the said exhibition. Photo taken from TRD Consulting's FB page.

Being a small project that is probably already manufactured, the winning proponent is required to deliver within 120 days (4 months) from receiving the Notice to Proceed (NTP). So far no word has reached MaxDefense if the joint venture already got their NTP from the DND.

It remains to be seen now how the AFP will manage this project, and how good will the JV of Southcoast Marketing and TRD Consulting Ltd. be in terms of cost, performance, robustness, reliability and compatibility with our AFP's existing electronics systems.

It also remains to be seen which unit of the AFP will be receiving these jammers and their respective equipment. Based on the need for motorcycles, it means the troops handling these jammers may need to move quickly and without too much issue on logistics.


Shoulder-Fired Directional Jammer Acquisition Project

* End User: Armed Forces of the Philippines (no specific unit mentioned yet)

Quantity: 9 sets (with 18 jammers)

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: JV of Southcoast Marketing Inc. and TRD Consulting Pte Ltd.

Product for Delivery: Orion family of Rifle-type Directional Jammers

* Contract Price: Php32,446,507.50

First post by MaxDefense: 03 October 2018

The Orion series of anti-drone equipment is also being marketed lately to Thailand.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Issues on the Air Surveillance Radar Project (Horizon 2) of the Philippine Air Force

MaxDefense has been requested by one of its reliable source to post this article regarding the ongoing proposed acquisition by the Philippine Air Force of what is Phase 2 of its Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Project under Horizon 2 (H2) of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

As there has been very limited information about the status of this project after the successful delivery and deployment of the three (3) ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Radar Systems supplied by IAI/Elta Systems of Israel under the Horizon 1 phase of RAFPMP last March 2019, MaxDefense decided to allow the article to be posted on the basis of the contributor’s credibility and track record of access to first-hand information provided to MaxDefense for the past few years.

The IAI/Elta Systems ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range is currently the centerpiece of the Philippines' network of Air Defense and Surveillance radar systems. Photo taken from PAF's 580th ACWW.



Recent information has come to light about the ongoing acquisition for Phase 2 of the Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) by the Philippine Air Force (PAF), which like the choice of the AFP-GHQ to go for the non-military standard Motorola P25 handheld radios to replace the current Harris handheld radios of the AFP, appears to be equally disturbing, if not questionable.

The original objective for Phase 2 of the Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Acquisition project as conceptualized and presented, is primarily, “To expand Air Surveillance and Aircraft Control capabilities in support of Air Defense Operations over Benham Rise / Philippine Rise, the southern areas of the country and other areas of the West Philippine Sea.”

The ASR project has an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) of Php5.5 billion, or USD$100 million (at an exchange rate of Php55 to USD$1), as listed in the “Priority Project List of Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), also recently identified to be sourced from BCDA Remittances Funds.

Given the complexity and sensitivity of the project, the mode of procurement, similar to that on Horizon 1, is to be undertaken through a Government-to-Government negotiated deal.

Under the original Horizon 2 project plan, the ASR Package consists of the following:

* Horizon 2 stipulates the acquisition of three (3) fixed ASRs and two (2) mobile ASRs.

* Horizon 1 ADSR platform performance (which is the IAI Elta Systems ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range) will be utilized as the minimum standard for the projected fixed ASRs of the Horizon 2 Project.

* An “Add-On Package,” in addition to the radar tower and radome, are the remaining radar operating facilities and equipment (Command and Control building; communication equipment and infrastructures; ELINT; etc.).

The PAF requires the acquisition of mobile radar systems aside from fixed radars. Above photo is an example from Thales. 

These Fixed and Mobile ASRs are intended to augment and expand the air surveillance capability of the recently delivered ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Radar Systems supplied by IAI/Elta of Israel under the Horizon 1 phase and are planned to be deployed at Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Panganiban, Camarines Norte; Balut Island, Saranggani; Hill900B, Zamboanga; and Balabac, Palawan, which will effectively cover at least most of the critical areas of our country.


For the fixed ASRs, the project aimed to have the detection performance of the Horizon 1 Radars as the minimum standard for the Horizon 2 requirement:

* At least 300nmi Instrumented or Maximum Detection Range;

* At least 200nmi Effective Detection Range;

* At least 100,000 feet altitude;

For the mobile ASRs, due to the expected lower performance of the mobile platforms, the detection range requirement was hence reduced by 30nmi.

The project also places emphasis on the compatibility of the platform’s systems with those of Horizon 1.

The Thales Ground Master 400 was offered for the fixed radar requirements.

Original Proponents:

For the Fixed Radar requirements, only Elta Systems and Thales managed to meet the specifications and criteria set for the project. Among those that were considered and evaluated are:

* Elta Systems (Israel), which re-offered its ELM 2288ER;

* Lockheed Martin (USA) with the TPS-77;

* SAAB (Sweden) with the Giraffe 4A;

* Thales (France) with the Ground Master GM400;

* SPETS (Ukraine) with the 80K6T; and

* LIGNex1 (South Korea) with the LRS 180.

As with the Fixed Radar requirements, only IAI/Elta Systems and Thales made the grade for the Mobile Radar, with five (5) prospect proponents evaluated:

* Elta Systems (Israel), ELM 2288MR;

* Lockheed Martin (USA), TPS-77MRR;

* SAAB (Sweden), Giraffe 4A;

* Thales (France), GM 400;

* SPETS (Ukraine), 80K6T.

IAI Elta is again offering the ELM-2288ER AD-STAR for the fixed and mobile radar requirements.

Then came the Japanese Offer:

Sometime last December 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana announced that Japan is offering for the PAF’s Air Surveillance Radar (ASR) Acquisition Project, an “upgraded” model of its 1990s Mitsubishi Electric J/FPS-3 Air Defense Radar System, seven (7) of which are in used by the Japan Air Defense Ground Environment (JADGE), since the early 1990’s. This upgraded model offered by Japan was later identified as Mitsubishi's J/FPS-3ME.

It may be recalled that prior to the offer made by Japan to the Philippines of its J/FPS-3 radar system last December, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has lost to Indra Systemas S.A., in a public tender held several months earlier by the Royal Thai Air Force for a similar project offering the same “updated” version of its J/FPS-3 radar system. This could have been the very first export of domestically produced defense equipment by Japan after its government lifted the ban on the export of arms and related technologies in 2014.

The array panel of Mitsubishi Electric's J/FPS-3 radar.

The Original PAF/DND Decision and the Israeli Offer:

To reiterate, prior to the entry into the evaluation and selection process for the ASR project of Mitsubishi Electric’s J/FPS-3 radar system, the Philippine Air Force has already completed the evaluation of at least six (6) prospect proponents for the project.

The recommendations thereafter submitted were as follows:

* Approval of the ASR Horizon 2 package for three (3) fixed and two (2) transportable/mobile systems to include the required “add-ons”

* Approval of the initial selection of proponents (IAI/Elta Systems and Thales) that qualified based on the project’s Radar Coverage / Detection Range Requirements

* Approval to validate the Japanese proponents’ ASR platforms for qualification to the Project’s Radar Coverage/Detection Range requirements once coordination has been made between our country’s respective Defense Department

* Approval for a Government-to-Government mode of procurement for the Project

* Approval of the conduct next Analysis pass for the selection of platforms for the three (3) fixed and two (2) transportable/mobile ASR Systems package

At that time, Israel's IAI Elta’s offer for the project stood at Php6.997B, which is way beyond the ABC, while France's Thales did not submit any price quotation.

Possibly realizing its imminent disqualification for going above the ABC, IAI Elta submitted a revised price proposal of US$97.1 million to the Department of National Defense on March 2019, significantly reducing its price offer compared to its original offer, and even improving their proposal by offering to accept only a fifteen percent (15%) Advance Payment, with the balance of eighty-five percent of the contract price spread over the years 2019 to 2022, but still maintaining the same delivery schedule as before.

This revised price proposal and Terms of Payment submitted by IAI/Elta Systems included the following:

* Three (3) Fixed Radar Systems – ELM-2288ER AD-STAR Extended Range,

* Two (2) Mobile Radar Systems – ELM-2288MR AD-STAR

* “Add-On” Package consisting of:
o Radar Tower and Radome
o Command and Control Building
o Communications Infrastructure
o Mobile/Transportable ADSR storage facilities
o Electrical Power Generators including Infrastructure
o Data Link and ELINT/SIGINT requirements
o Communications equipment: Microwave radios, VHF/UHF radios, multi-band and HF radios
o Transport vehicles for Radar platforms, Command and Control and Support (for Transportable/Mobile ASRs only)

The ELM-2288ER and MR variants both meet the requirements of the PAF for fixed and mobile radar systems.

Changes in PAF's Requirements:

Shortly thereafter, in a surprising and unexpected turn of events, and prior to the visit of DND Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana to Japan last April 2019, the Procuring Entity - Philippine Air Force again made and submitted another presentation of the project, this time highlighting the offer made by Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, of its modified version of the J/FPS-3, dubbed as the “J/FPS-3ME,” including what appears to be its own “Add-Ons” which are not originally included in the package proposal criteria asked of from the other proponents.

This latest presentation made by the Philippine Air Force listed the ASR project requirements to be as follows:

* At least 300nmi Instrumented or Maximum Detection Range;
* At least 200nmi Effective Detection Range;
* At least 100,000 feet altitude;

a.) Three (3) Fixed and One (1) Mobile Radar Platforms
b.) Radar Tower and Radome
c.) Command and Control Building
Command and Control Operations equipment
Communications equipment
Data Link System interoperable with Link 16 Protocol
ELINT/SIGINT Systems equipment
Perimeter Fence
d.) Communications Infrastructure
e.) Electric generators and housing
f.) Mobile Radar requirements
Transport vehicle
Command and control vehicle
Support vehicles (Security vehicles, Refueling truck, etc.)
g. Mobile Radar Training and Storage facilities

The Offer Changes:

We particularly took note that the above project requirements now lists only Three (3) Fixed and One (1) Mobile Radar Platforms, a reduction of one (1) Mobile Radar Platform from the original requirement of two (2).

Even more surprising in this latest presentation made by the PAF, is the re-inclusion of Lockheed Martin’s TPS-77, which was already declared as disqualified in its first evaluation for not having met the range requirements, and the exclusion of Thales, which made it during the “first pass.”

One very striking reality in the conduct of the evaluation of the proposed system of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation’s modified version of its 1991-model J/FPS-3, is that this specific model, presented as FPS-3ME has never seen actual deployment and operations in Japan's own Japan Air Defense Ground Environment (JADGE).

For the above “re-packaged” project requirements, the Philippine Air Force reported the following Comparative Costs vis-à-vis an ABC of Php5.5 billion:

* IAI Elta Systems – Php6.237 billion for 5 radars (3 fixed, 2 mobile). Apparently PAF still used the original offer in their comparison, when IAI Elta Systems already revised the offer to just US$97.1 million, which is approx. PHP5.34 billion based on US$1=Php55 exchange rate;

* Mitsubishi Electric – Php5.292 billion for 4 radars (3 fixed, 1 mobile);

* Lockheed Martin – Php5.238 billion for 4 radars (3 fixed, 1 mobile) and Php6.048 billion (3 fixed, 2 mobile).

Noteworthy in the above disclosures of the price offers by the three evaluated proponents is what followed as the conclusion thereto:

• Mitsubishi Electric’s price for their ASRS Package Proposal is Php208 million below the budget limit for four (4) radars.

• To get five (5) radars, Mitsubishi Electric will exceed the budget limit by Php702 million.

• Lockheed Martin will also exceed the ABC if it offers five (5) radar units.

Revised Recommendation by PAF:

The “Recommendation” given by the PAF in this latest evaluation presented as stated:

“The DASAT recommends Mitsubishi Electric as the most competitive proponent that can satisfy the capability requirements of the Second Horizon ASRS Project due to superior technical performance, most competitive price package, and for having the most advantageous maintenance and support package due to proximity.”

While the standard J/FPS-3 radar is in use by the Japan Air Defense Ground Equipment (JADGE), the variant offered for export to the Philippines is not.

As it is, there seems to be some major issues in this latest evaluation report submitted by the Philippine Air Force requiring some serious explanation.

1. Foremost, why was the TPS-77 of Lockheed Martin re-included in this latest Assessment Report when it was already declared as disqualified during the first pass?

2. If the “Recommendation” made primarily arose from the Assessment criteria as listed  above, how is it that the Mitsubishi FPS-3ME was given a perfect 10 in the criteria “Ease of Integration” when this radar system has never been integrated with any other system produced by other foreign manufacturers of air defense systems? To reiterate, had Mitsubishi won the Thailand tender, it would have been its very first export of the FPS-3 Radar System outside Japan. 

3. What was the basis or criteria used in determining the “Operational Effectiveness” of each system? How did the PAF scored the J/FPS-3 to make it ranked #1 on “Operational Effectiveness” by the PAF?

Despite Japan operating the J/FPS-3 as part of its integrated air defense system, the variant for export was not optimized for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and is not the same variant used by Japan. 

4. On the matter of supportability, one can hardly declare that proximity of the supplier is a major factor to be considered for a favorable determination. The latter can always be resolved and addressed by employing an efficient spare parts inventory system, local training and or maintenance of a local service facility by the prospect supplier.

Also, the world is so small in this era and physical distance of the manufacturer is never an issue anymore.

5. In fact, it also appears that the Assessment Team in the course of its evaluation totally disregarded the long accepted concept and advantage of maintaining commonality of parts and systems. It only follows that an acquisition of multiple platforms for the radars will eventually result in increased maintenance costs for the Philippine Air Force and the government.

Moreover, acquisition of multiple types of platform for a single purpose will also require training a separate team of operators and maintenance personnel, thus maximization of human resource cannot be employed;

6. Relative to Item No. 2, the primary objective of acquiring an Air Surveillance Radar System is to provide early detection of any intrusion or incursion in our airspace in order to effect a successful intercept of any threat. It is for this reason that the Philippine Air Force has also recently selected Rafael’s Ground Base Air Defense Missiles, which will eventually be integrated into the ASRs. It is also worthy to note that the radars currently installed in the PAF’s FA-50 fleet were also supplied by IAI/Elta.

7. On the matter of price offering, the revised price proposal submitted by IAI/Elta, was deemed to be the LOWEST price offering for this project. This is even made more advantageous to the government, by its offer of multi-year payment terms, without any change in the required delivery period. These conditions are essentially translated to be an interest free “USE NOW, PAY LATER” proposal.

As such, for 2019, it allows the DND/AFP to only allocate Php825 million instead of Php5.5 billion. The remaining Php4.675 billion can therefore be treated as savings for fiscal year 2019, and utilized by the DND/AFP for other priority projects, as opposed to any other alternative proposal submitted, the payment of Php5.5 billion is to be completely allocated and paid (via a Letter of Credit) for 2019;

8. What is rather odd and not clear in this latest assessment made is the fact that the original number of five (5) radars were suddenly reduced to four (4) units only.

9. And lastly, how did the J/FPS-3 meet the requirements on Effective Range and Maximum Instrument Range when based on the product specs, its Maximum Effective Range is only 200nmi, or 50nmi less than required by the PAF?

And as stated, had the original number of radars been retained, the offer made by Mitsubishi Electric would have exceeded the budget already, whereas the revised offer of IAI/Elta at USD$97.1 million, which was actually based upon the original five (5) radar units, but only disclosed as equivalent to four (4), would have resulted as the proponent with the lowest price offer.

Which begs the question of whether there was an “accommodation” extended to Mitsubishi Electric Corporation when this assessment was done for it to qualify and be Ranked as No. 1?

To summarize the issues:

1. Originally the PAF selected the IAI Elta Systems ELM-2288ER and ELM-2288MR for fixed and mobile radar requirements, respectively. While not selected, the only other shortlisted product was Thales' Ground Master GM400 radar.

2. To support the PAF's selection, the DND also approved the acquisition mode to be a G2G deal with Israel. But due to the sudden entry of Japan's Mitsubishi Electric J/FPS-3ME, the earlier decisions to go G2G with Israel for IAI Elta's radar came to a halt.

3. The DND and PAF suddenly decided to restart the selection process, with a reduced quantity from 3 Fixed and 2 Mobile radars to just 3 Fixed and 1 Mobile radar. This is questionable since the original selected product (IAI Elta Systems)  was confirmed to meet the budget while still supplying 5 radar units.

4  The new selection process declared Mitsubishi Electric's J/FPS-3ME, despite being more expensive, possibly not meeting required range parameters, and being a product variant not used by Japan or any other country. In contrast, the previous selected product (IAI Elta Systems) improved its previous offer of still offering 5 radar units within the ABC while also improving the payment scheme.

5. Questions were also raised on J/FPS-3ME's interoperability and integration with the existing PAF Air Defense system that are mostly made up of products from IAI Elta Systems, including incoming products also made in Israel (e.g. GBADS from Rafael).

With this, the author only wants to ensure that this very important and essential project to secure our borders and air space, would not end up like most of the other inutile and failed endeavors entered into by the different government administrations.

Project Summary:

Air Surveillance Radar Phase 2 Acquisition Project

* End User: Philippine Air Force (580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing


       Original: 3 fixed and 2 mobile radar systems
       Revised: 3 fixed and 1 mobile radar systems
* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government
* SARO Release: TBA
* Winning Proponent: TBA
Product for Delivery:  TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: