Friday, December 27, 2013

New 81mm Mortars and UAV Confirmed with the Philippine Army

The 78th Anniversary and Thanksgiving celebrations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last December 20, 2013 confirmed 2 new systems with the Philippine Army (PA). These are the newly acquired 81mm Mortars and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). Both projects were realized under the AFP Modernization Program and were quietly commissioned in the past.


President Aquino inspecting the new equipment of the AFP, which includes the Philippine Army's 81mm mortars & Unmanned Aerial Systems. Also displayed by the PA are its Garmin handheld GPS and M4 rifles.
Photo taken from GMA News website.

MaxDefense will discuss the 2 projects in this blog:

1. New M69B 81mm Mortar
The Department of National Defense (DND)_released an Invitation to Bid on November 2010, for a new project called 81mm Mortar Acquisition Project with project number AFPMP-G-PA-10-004. This project involves the acquisition of 100 new 81mm mortars, and 2,000 rounds of 81mm mortar ammunition. The Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) of this project is Php 190,320,000.00, with the mortar worth Php 170,320,000 while the ammunition is worth Php 20,000,000.00.

The M69B 81mm mortars displayed during the AFP's 78th Anniversary.
Photo taken from Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas' Facebook page.

Only 1 company, a joint venture of Joavi Philippines Corp. and Israeli firm Talon Secuirty Consulting and Trade Ltd. (Talon) submitted a bid worth Php 189,500,000.00. Interesting is the background of Talon which was also involved in a controversial deal for mortar ammunition with the AFP in 2009, which they were cleared later on. They were also involved in a controversial arms trade in Iraq by being the agent of defense companies in Serbia and Montenegro. This is probably the connection that was also used in winning the 81mm Mortar Acquistion Project, wherein the joint venture of Joavi and Talon offered the M69B from Serbia.



The M69B mortar during tests prior to delivery.
Photo taken from the PARDC Facebook page.

The Yugoslavian M69 was originally designed as an 82mm mortar for the Yugoslav People's Army. Upon the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 90s, most of the country's former states like Serbia and Bosnia brought with them the industry, technical know-how, and skill to make arms and weaponry. With the democratization of these former Yugoslav states, arms standardization slowly leaned towards NATO's own standard, which eventually affected the production of the M69 mortar. An 81mm NATO-compatible version was built, designated as M69B, which is the same model offered to the Philippine Army. 

The original M69 mortar uses a 82mm caliber, non-NATO compliant version. A NATO-compatible version, the M69B, is the model sold to the Philippine Army.
Photo taken from Krusik Holdings Corp. website.
According to media reports, the mortars were supplied by a Serbian company to the Joavi-Talon joint venture. MaxDefense also initially taught it was Serbian, being the dominant Yugoslav state and home to most of the former Yugoslavia's defense manufacturing sector. But a MaxDefense source involved in the actual transaction and testing of the mortars confirmed that the mortars were actually made by a Bosnian company, BNT-Tvornica Masina i Hidraulike, d.d (BNT-TMiH), based in Novi Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This company actually made the mortar's major components like the barrel, breech, breech block and the undercarriage, and also make mortar and artillery components for other major manufacturers from other Western countries. This company is also the manufacturer of the 155mm howitzer being offered by Joavi Philippines to the DND as part of the 155mm Howitzer Acquisition Project previously discussed in an earlier MaxDefense blog. In turn, this company's products were marketed internationally by a Serbian defense marketing agent which has the connections to the Israeli company. So to those asking, that was the reason why these mortars are actually Bosnian.

The M69B is among the products produced by Bosnian company BNT-TMiH.
Photo taken from BNT-TMiH company website.

Meanwhile, the M72 81mm mortar High Explosive (HE) ammunition are made in Serbia. 

The 81mm Mortar Acquisition Project suffered a setback in for more than a year until the project was again continued, with the DND signing a contract with the Joavi-Talon joint venture for the delivery of 100 units of M69B 81mm mortars. Field testing of the mortars and ammunition was done at Crow Valley, Tarlac on June 2013. According to the Philippine Army's spokesman, all have been delivered and were distributed to all infantry divisions..




2. Philippine Army Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)
Another item displayed in the anniversary celebrations are the Philippine Army's Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), which are actually small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) developed by the Philippine Army Research and Development Center. (PARDC).


The Philippine Army's UAS displayed during the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.
Photo taken from Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas' Facebook page.

Although there is little information about these UAS, the PA claims that the Raptor and Knight Falcon (as they are called) UAS are capable of providing real time imagery and video feed from a distance of 3km to 7km, and has an endurance of 3 hours. According to the PA, these UAS will complements their existing Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities, and can also be used in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. 

MaxDefense previously posted a photo of the Raptor in action during the Zamboanga City crisis last September, 2013. The army claims that this is the first time they actually used the UAS in action.




From a simple look at the display, it appears that the drones look like commercial-designed models, specifically the Skywalker remote control aircraft used by hobbyists and commercial UAV operators. It is a simple and sturdy design, probably the reason why the PARDC chose this specific model as a platform for the army's UAS. The army quotes the Raptor at Php 150,000.00 each, while the Knight Falcon, although it looks similar to the Raptor, costs higher at Php 300,000.00. This is cheap compared to most military UAV systems used by other countries. Reportedly another larger, more advanced version is being developed and may cost at Php 1.5 million.

According to the Philippine Army, news reports and the Philippine Drones blog, the drones are said to carry a 12 megapixel camera capable of snapshots and video, and weighs at around 2.1 kilograms. It has a wingspan of 178 centimeters (1.78 meters) and can fly at an altitude of 1,000 feet. It's propulsion is an electric brush-less motor powered by lithium-polymer battery packs. Surprisingly, the entire autopilot system is probably Chinese-made, with a FeiyuTech UAV GPS capable autopilot system with radio datalink, ground station control software is FYGCS by Feiyu Electronics running on Windows-7, and a video link using FeiyuTech Hornet on screen display.


The UAS' ground station and autopilot program displayed during the AFP's 78th Anniversary celebrations.
Photo taken from Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas' Facebook page.




Both the army's mortar and UAS acquisitions are very important, as it improves the overall combat capability of the organization. MaxDefense believes that these are initial acquisitions, and follow-on orders or development may follow later on upon availability of more funds from the national government (as in the case of the UAS, it's a project that is continuously improving). 

The appearance of these items in the PA's capability list only shows that the modernization program is moving without the public knowing too much. It proves that modernization programs not being reported publicly does not mean there's no movement on the program at all.

43 comments:

  1. That's nice for the Philippine Army.. Hope they acquire more hardware for the Filipino soldiers!

    The Drones are interesting, Max, do you think that the one they are developing could carry bombs aside from performing recon?? I just don't
    like the software they are using is chinese..

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    1. No bombs, I believe, but the range and endurance are higher, and may have a FLIR.

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  2. wow......your truly a true chief of our armed forces president pnoy..I salute you for this move and continuing support of afp modernization..... I support you on this project....mabuhay ka...lem1

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  3. Hi Sir Max

    It seems our military is using a hobby grade(high end) equipment/software for military made from China.

    If the government is incline on Research and Development. why not try this open source "Ardupilot" for our Auto pilot system. This is an open source software supported by well-know Arduino platform. Since this is an open source software we can study, expand, and extend the functionality. There is an infinite of functionality we can think of it in the future.

    Can we inform our Philippine Army Research and Development Center to try this approach?

    Thanks,
    Eugene

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    1. Hi Eugene, this is just the beginning, imagine what they can do with just a small budget. From what I was told, PARDC was only given Php 2.5 million, and they have not yet even used half of it for the 2 earlier UAS. There's another one, much more complicated than the Raptor and Knight Falcon that will most more than a million pesos. Let's see what it is first. But there are already plans to improve the entire system using Milspec equipment. The PMC on the other hand has moved to a MilSpec system for their requirement, but look at the cost: a staggering 300x the budget allocated to the PARDC.

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    2. i hope they will venture to UAVs with better optics and better endurance. EO/IR, FLIR would trump PAs ability to fight rebels at night.

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    3. Hi max, i read that one of the drones are running on a Window OS besides from being controlled under a chinese made program. For me this is risky as the operating system alone can be vulnerable to hacks that can cause the UAS to malfunction.

      With a chinese made software we can not be so sure that it to may have loop holes or worse already has a spy code since the program is for UAVs it may have that higher chance.

      Can the developers subject the UAS to security checks or have it experts to do that for them. Best will be to replace the platform to a more secure one. Tnx.

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    4. Hi Sir Max, i read above that 1 the UAS are running on Windows OS with a chinese made control program. I believe in a military device like a UAV its system and operations should be secured and hardened because if not, it can be compromised which will cause it to malfunction or its vital live feed be used against our soldiers.

      Having windows alone would make the UAS vulnerable to hack attacks if not heavily secured or protected. With a chinese made software we can not be sure that even this is safe and it may possibly be vulnerable too or worse is already embedded with a spy code knowing that the program is for drones.

      Can the developers subject the UAS for further security checks or at least have them checked by local it experts. We are in a digital age so this stuff is already a reality to consider. Tnx.

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  4. Max with this post u made me glad,,hope this is where taxes of pinoys goes!thank u max for this positive upgrades in our armed forces!thank u pres pinoy!cngratz army research group!as wd eugne's suggestion,hope u can have latitude and wide areas of research for a more sophisticated drones uav's in the future! Ramil

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    1. Hi Ramil, there are more projects on the way, small but will improve the army's capabilities.

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  5. it seems the mortar acquisition had too many 'middle men' and thus may have ended up disadvantageous for the govt.... couldnt just a bidding failure had been declared (i know a couple more bidding attempts were needed before an ultimate failure is declared but still...) and direct negotiations undertaken with this or other manufacturers?

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    1. It's up to the supplier, for as long they meet the ABC and win the bidding. It happens that Joavi Philippines Inc. was able to win the bid, and still keep the price below the ABC so it doesn't matter. A bidding failure can't be declared because JPI was able to meet the bid requirements.

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    2. Medyo pangit yung nabili nating mortar. Wala akong nakitang fins that would serve as a cooling system to avoid overheating.

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  6. Hello Eugene,

    Other AFP branch RDCs are working on their own UAV projects details are of course OPSEC. It includes the use of the Ardupilot flight controller system and commercial autopilot systems.

    PDR

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    1. Hi Philippine Drones! Thank you for sharing! It appears that the UAV program is not really included in the AFP Modernization Program budgeting between 2013-2017, but is funded separately either by the annual defense budget, or by a special funding. I believe there's a local commercial entity supporting the PARDC am I right?

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  7. We should not used software from china, I think we can build our own.

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  8. thanks to p noy.but we should not use china software.....
    when we create our own UAV project all the component and software system 100% philippine made....so that if it is damage we can fix it here......

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  9. Really happy to hear about the UAV. our technology is still not at par with other countries but its a good start. -don

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  10. Just read in the papers the 21 huey contract has been awarded and the fa 50's are due on 2015. Now the only thing missing are the 2 frigates. Unless somebody has a spare new frigate i must assume that this will be available at 2020.

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  11. using the chinese software is not bad as long as we can copy it then make our own. the UAV is a good start, it does need to be sturdy and simple for easy to use or user friendly by enlisted personnel. as this goes along more improvements will be made and can be exported to other countries armed forces who prefer cheaper and yet effective.

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  12. Hi sir Max and felow bloggerz!am a civilian,pls enlighten me on this..are the newly acquired m69 mortars can be used also as addtnal firepower by our troops stationed in spratly?will it still need a forward observer jst as what it is being done on land?in whch case can the uav rcntly dvlopd by our army be used as guide to calculate the distance and location of targets??thank you.Ramil

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    1. Mortars are not really effective in the Spratlys. So probably we won't see them placed there. What the troops in Spratlys need are anti-aircraft MANPADS and anti-tank weapons that they can unleash on incoming landing crafts or boats.

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    2. Hey Max, when we should start building on Ayungin? I'm assuming if we do, China will use the excuse to build on Scarborough.

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    3. hi Max, speaking of anti tank weapons, based on the papers that the DND is planning to buy 300 units of light anti tank weapons. any update about it ??

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    4. Possible, that's why the government is in a bad position with regards to Ayungin and Panatag.

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    5. Those light anti tank weapons are not really anti tank but something like an assault weapon similar to the Armbrust. As far as I know this would be FMS from the US, my guess is probably the SMAW II Serpent system.

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  13. Sir max thankz for that quick response.so with the scenario in the spratley or the KIG, what we need are patriot missiles.what is a manpad?is patriot missile manpad?do u have nfo if big ticket hardwares such as the patriot missiles are included in the 75B AFP mdrnztn program!sir max thank u.ur blog is very nformative.u fill the gap ang thirst of us cvlians who are1 wd you in the govt quest to later on see our afp capable and dpendable in protectng our country,especially our maritime domain.advans happy new year! Ramil Santos Mateo.

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    1. Hi ramil, MANPADS means Man Portable Air Defense System. Similar to the Mistral and Stinger missiles. You can't put a Patriot System in Spratlys, it would be a waste ones an attack starts. No long range air defense missile systems yet.

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    2. Manpad is operated by man and also have the same size of RPG-7 that you always see in modern war movies, search it to google if you still wan't to know more about it.

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    3. Hi Max, By the way talking about the the air defence system. if SAM are not capable in spratlys, are DND already consider anti air cannons like Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon or BIHO self propelled ?? it is worth considering because it can defend philippine occupied in spratly islands against low flying aircraft like Helicopters or jets.,

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    4. Long range airdefense missiles would be more useful in palawan.as such they would could be better protected and still able to cover the kalayaan

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    5. Long range air defense missiles would be more useful if based in palawan where they can be better protected while still being able to cover kalayaan

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  14. Its not bad to have a dream....but to dream higher than our nation capabilities is foolish and idiotic.!

    why i say this..?(reality basis)
    1. no unity
    2. our nation have no willingness
    3. corrupt
    4. unfair
    5. can't execute big politicians like (JPE) tanda! by sending them in jail, who commit different kind of illegal transaction and jobs! they are full of shit!( i base only on miriam defensor santiago privilege speech).

    Philippines will not be succeed as long as the crocodile politicians are still in position.! nyhahahahaha

    mortar? mini uav? what is that?? our big problem is territorial dispute!
    it can't help! even US cant control China..


    let us say.. ..that UAV, AW109 saw enemy submarine,frigate...etc.
    THEN what?...nothing right? i'm sure they will cry to uncle SAM. asking for help,nyhahaha












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    1. Three things; First and foremost, your grammar is erroneous. You may want to improve it before ranting shit to the gov't. Secondly, don't complain about everything the gov't do. There is progress and face that reality. Lastly, if there is something wrong with our country, that is not the gov't nor the Filipino society, THAT IS YOU!

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    2. Let us support AFP Modernization. Di makakatulong kung puro na lang critisismo.

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  15. if you look at history, during the vietnam war, the North Vietnamese deployed and used Russian SAMs effectively against USAF, they shot down several US fighter jets. this is what we need in KIG, of course the technology now may have improved but the newer SAMS now have also updated its technology, SAMs, and some fighter jets like the Saab or FA-50 is what is needed in KIG. military planners should think and prepare and for possible Chinese attack like swift raids or sorties by the PLAAN air force, or an invasion of Palawan scenarios, what are the best assets to counter this and strategy, not just calling for help from Uncle and aunt Sam.

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  16. that UAV flying in the photo looked like OV-10

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  17. how about building an UAV with rockets or mini missiles.

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  18. Its to expensive right now to have a UAV that is capable to hit target with ASM however, may in the next few years we can have it as long as next chief executive of nation we vote will continue what PNOY started. Besides our main priority is to get the FA-50 lead in fighter jet and the Multirole combat aircraft that our air force is badly needed.

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  19. I think our military is aware of what was happening in Kalayaan groups of Island and the Palawan area, but sad to say we are little bit late in our modernization or capability upgrade for AFP any way, there is a saying that "better late than never" hopefully we can catch up with our Asian neighbors or far better HOPEFULLY....

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  20. we can do this mag tulungan po tayo. cooperation lng nmn ang kailangan.

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  21. we can really see progress in this administration...far from the previous one! I'm really excited to know what frigates win the bidding...

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  22. we also hve hero civilian drone fliers,, of matang lawin scratch nera nodado and happy ian pattugalan hu are giving nyt vision support drone piloting in basilan and jolo

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