|Philippine Army M113s, including one of the fire support vehicle versions on the right.|
Photo taken from Istorya.net
Several news reports took on the DND's recent announcements with different interpretations, not only because of the media's lack of understanding of military terms, but also on the DND's lack of precise information regarding the projects because of unknown circumstances. There were not much information except for the the following: that there will be 28 "new" armored vehicles to be "procured" from Israel, with a budget of around Php 800+ million, and for delivery by 2015 without any specific mention of what model of armored vehicles. Another set of reports indicated that 14 M113s of the Philippine Army will receive modernized 76mm turrets from decommissioned Scorpion "tanks".
For MaxDefense reader's further understanding and clarification, let us disect the entire program.
All these talk of incoming armored vehicles involve the US-made M113A2 armored personnel carriers from US Army excess stocks. There are actually 2 batches of M113A2-based armored vehicles that will arrive for the Philippine Army, which were not properly discussed by media reports before as the DND kept it under wraps until recently. Despite being old and used assets, these M113A2 vehicles would greatly boost the PA's armor capabilities and increase the number of assets, as the PA only have less than 100 of the older M113A1 in its inventory left since the PA acquired them starting in the late 1960s. The last time the PA received such large number of armored assets was during the early 90s when the Simba 4x4 armored vehicle was introduced. The following are the breakdown of the M113A2 vehicles to be delivered for the PA:
|Philippine Army officers inspecting the M113A2s intended for delivery to the PA.|
Photo taken from Mechanized Infantry Division website.
An initial batch of 114 M113A2 armored personnel carriers, which were approved by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in 2012 as grants to the Philippine Army, are expected to arrive this 2014, and all are expected to be completely delivered before the end of the year. The earliest public announcement on this project was made at around 3rd quarter of last year, and was even posted early on the MaxDefense @ Facebook page. They were actually expected by the PA to be delivered starting on the 4th quarter of 2013 but met delays that pushed the delivery back for several months.
|M113A2, similar to those above, would be provided to the Philippine Army under the US DSCA grant.|
Photo taken from Army Recognition website.
These will all be coming from the US Army stocks, and are not yet confirmed if all will be in standard APC variant, as well as what equipment are included in the transfer, including its weapons and protection fit. The vehicles are expected to be refurbished before delivery, and will fill the bulk of the requirements for tracked mechanized assets of the army's newly-reformed Mechanized Infantry Division, previously known as the Light Armor Division.
|Aside from standard M113s, the PA also uses the ACV-300, a Turkish derivative of the US vehicle.|
Photo taken from IPMS Philippines website.
In 2013, another batch of 28 M113A2 armored vehicles was approved for grant to the Philippine Army by the US DSCA, and was decided by the Philippine Army and DND high command to be upgraded with better weapons and situation awareness systems as an improvement to the earlier batch. A contract was signed a several weeks ago with Elbit Systems of Israel to undertake the upgrade program, which include the uparming of several units with the following breakdown:
- 14 units to fire support vehicles (FSV) armed with L23A1 76mm gun taken from decommissioned Philippine Army FV101 Scorpion CRVTs. These turrets will be upgraded by Elbit Systems to include installation of a new fire control and thermal imaging system, and the guns itself would be refurbished. Due to this modification, MaxDefense expects the vehicles to carry less troops as it needs to provide space for the turret operator and ammunition storage.
- 4 units will be installed with a 25mm auto cannon mounted on a remote weapons station (RWS) supplied by Elbit Systems. No specifics on the model of gun to be used, but it's worth noting that the Philippine Army uses the Oerlikon KBA 25mm for the older AIFVs purchased in the 1970s, and the M242 Bushmaster 25mm on some Simba IFV versions. It may have a limited number of mounted troops it can carry but not as less than its FSV variant. MaxDefense believes that Elbit may use the RWS-H system and M242 Bushmaster 25mm gun which are already in service.
|Elbit Systems may use their RWS-H system for the PA's requirements, and will be using a proven 25mm gun, possibly the M242 Bushmaster already in use on some PA Simba IFVs.|
Photo taken from Elbit Systems USA product brochure of the RWS-H.
- 6 units will be installed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted on a RWS also supplied by Elbit Systems. These would probably be APCs capable of carrying the same number of mounted troops as a standard M113. MaxDefense believes Elbit Systems will make use of the RWS-M system with a M2HB 12.7mm machine gun.
|Elbit Systems may also use the RWS-M for the APC variant of the upgraded M113A2, coupled with the already proven and in-service M2HB heavy machine gun.|
Photo taken from Elbit Systems USA product brochure for RWS-M.
- 4 units will be converted by Elbit Systems to armored recovery vehicles, which will assist the other upgraded M113A2s.
|The PA will also get 4 M113s converted to armored recovery vehicles similar to the one above.|
It is expected that Elbit System's subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America Land and C4I will do the said upgrades, as the armored vehicles are all stored in the mainland United States. All in all, 142 M113A2s are expected to arrive in different variants, and this was confirmed by a recent article from the PA's Mechanized Infantry Division's website.
For those expecting Israeli armored vehicles like the heavyweight Namer that the Israel Defense Forces are using, sorry to burst your bubbles. Looking at the budget alone, it is already obvious that these are not the vehicles the PA is expecting. There were a lot of people who thought this was what the PA will be getting from Israel, so sorry to burst your expectations but practicality alone can easily tell that Namers are not possible for now.
|Sorry, no Namers for the Philippine Army.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Although MaxDefense is still confirming, it is expected that the DND and Philippine Army will be using the budget for the upgrades of 28 M113A2 to FSV, IFV and ARV versions, and delivery of all 142 refurbished APCs from the allocated budget to purchase 14 new tracked armored personnel carriers, which may not happen anymore due to decision changes. Originally budgeted at around Php 880 million, the Mechanized Infantry Division leadership saw that 14 new APCs won't really make a big difference to the MID's capability. It would be better to make use of the budget to purchase a fleet of used but still effective armored vehicles to fill in the gaps in the organization requirements and improve the unit's capability. MaxDefense see this as a wise decision considering the small budget allocated for the improvement of the Mechanized Infantry.
Aside from these deliveries, it is expected that the PA will undertake a refurbishing and upgrade program for its current M113A1 fleet, and probably other MID assets like the AIFV and remaining Scorpion CRVT as well.
|The PA has around 50 FMC AIFV in its arsenal, and may need refurbishment soon due to age and wear & tear issues.|
With more armored assets in its inventory, the Mechanized Infantry Division will indeed be a true division-sized organization with enough assets to meet its requirements, and will enable the distribution of its wheeled armored assets to fill other requirements including assignment to independent cavalry squadrons attached to the individual Infantry Divisions of the PA.
It would be interesting to see if the PA still has several armored asset procurement projects soon, as there were previous announcements of improving its air defense capability to defend armored assets, as well as improving firepower by procuring heavier weapons systems like tanks and self-propelled artillery systems. MaxDefense will provide the updates to everyone once these plans come to priority within the DND and PA procurement boards.
April 7, 2015:
A new MaxDefense blog post regarding the 2 separate projects of acquiring 114 surplus M113A2 APCfrom the US via EDA, and acquiring 28 refurbished upgraded M113A2+ IFVs from Israel was made available last April 6, 2015. It answers all the questions pertaining the project and debunking erroneous information released by media reports by Erwin Tulfo.
The link to the page is here:
"Questions Answered on Erroneous Reports on the Acquisition of M113 APC from the US and Israel for the Philippine Army"