As expected by MaxDefense, only 1 entity submitted a bid for the project, South Korea's Samsung Techwin, which produces the KAAV, which is their version of BAE System's AAV7 amphibious assault vehicle (which is reportedly out of production). Their submitted bid is around Php 2.42 billion, around Php 76 million lower than the ABC. On the previous bidding for the same project, Samsung Techwin was the only one that bought the bid documents, but did not submit a bid due to technical issues on the specifications and costs. Post-qualifications will follow, which will be done in South Korea by DND and PN/PMC personnel.
|Samsung Techwin's KAAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicle.|
Photo taken from Yahoo.com
Based on the Technical Specifications provided by the DND, it appears to be patterned after the American AAV7 amphibious assault vehicle, down from the performance specs, weapons and components, carrying capacity, and even the parts included in the deal. This definitely puts other offers from other manufacturers out of the race, leaving only Samsung Techwin and BAE Systems as possible bidders.
Basic information on the vehicles include the following details:
- Samsung Techwin offered the KAAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicle;
- all brand new units;
- armed with 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher, 50-caliber machine gun, and smoke grenade launchers, mounted on a standard 1-man turret;
- communications conforming to requirement of inter-operability with existing AFP radio equipment;
- comes with camouflage net, search lights, periscope, and other essential items.
Aside from these, the deal also includes training ammunition, integrated logistics support package, and training for PMC crew and support teams.
|Basic information on the KAAV7A1. There might be changes on the radio and intercom system depending on the requirement of the Philippine Marine Corps.|
The AAV Project:
The Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) acquisition project was meant to provide the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) with an armored vehicle capable of bringing in troops from the amphibious vessels to the landing beach and beyond, while providing fire support when needed. It is actually the PMC's direct replacement for its once large but now diminished fleet of older LVTP-5 and LVTH-6 amphibious assault vehicles. The PMC has long been looking for a replacement of its old amphibious vehicle assets since these were decommissioned in the 1990s due to spare parts issues. It was reported in the past that the Philippine military received LVTP-7s (previous designation of the US AAV7) from the US decades ago, like the one made by the Federal Research Service for its Country Studies wherein they reported the PMC having 55 units, but this did not materialize due to financial issues and probably US arms control concerns.
4 AAVs are planned to be carried by each of the upcoming Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV, aka Landing Platform Dock LPD), 2 of which were already ordered from an Indonesian shipyard. Each AAV has 3 crew members, and is capable of bringing in 21 fully equipped troops, or cargo & supplies.
|The KAAV operating during an amphibious operation.|
The AAV are expected to be used during amphibious operations from landing ships, in a similar fashion as the United States Marine Corps and other friendly Marine units in Asia like Thailand and Indonesia. Yearly exercises between the Philippine and US Marine Corps unit have enabled PMC troops and armored vehicle crews to work with USMC AAV7A1, and the PMC has gained familiarity with the capabilities of the vehicles and usage in combat. The availability of such assets with the PMC would enable them to improve their inter-operability with US forces, and the PMC is expected to gain a lot of training experience with the vehicles as the recently signed Expanded Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) gains actual foothold.
|Philippine Marine Corps armored vehicle crew members man of the USMC's AAV7 amphibious assault vehicle during a Balikatan Exercises several years ago.|
Photo taken from pmcmssr.tripod.com.
Problems Encountered in the Previous Bid Attempt:
Previously, Samsung Techwin already indicated in their bid queries, specifically the Supplemental Bid Bulletin No. AFPMP--PN-AAVAP-13-002 dated November 5, 2013, that they may have difficulties in complying with a number of requirements that the DND set in their technical specifications. Main concerns are the following:
a. Delivery date for the goods, wherein Samsung Techwin requested to extend to 910 days upon opening of Letter of Credit. This was revised by the DND and is now according to Samsung Techwin's request.
b. Communications equipment was requested by Samsung Techwin to be Buyer Furnished Equipment, meaning supplied by the DND separately, or that the DND consider using the Korean-made VRC-947K made by LIG Nex1. Previously the DND insisted on being supplied with an on-board communications system inter-operable with existing AFP radios for secured and non-secured channels. It appears that Samsung Techwin will go for Harris radios, and due to the extension of delivery time, they can now do the integration as previously requested.
c. It also appears that the DND was requesting for 2 units to act as Command Vehicles, with additional 2 base communication systems compared to the other units. Samsung Techwin requested for compromise on this, as they believed that Command Vehicle variants may affect the fire support and troop carrying capability of the AAV based on US and Korean versions where there are no turrets and have less troop carrying space to accommodate the extra communications items.
d. Warranty was requested by DND to be 2 years, while Samsung Techwin can only cover 1 year. This is because the components in the vehicles are also only covered for 1 year by Samsung Techwin's suppliers, and extension of the warrantly may increase the cost of the entire project.
Aside from the above, Samsung Techwin revealed to media sources their concerns, reiterating their incapability to comply to the warranty requirement and cost implications on the additional base radio requirements.
More Required in the Future:
Due to the requirements of the Philippine Navy to have more SSV/LPD in the near future, it is expected that the PMC will request for additional AAVs as well. This is to eventually retire the remaining LVTH-6 in the PMC's inventory, as well as improve its amphibious operations capability. The PMC's current armored assets, the V-150 and the V-300, are incapable of the amphibious capability of the KAAV7A1, and will be relegated more to ground operations which do not need the amphibious capabilities, similar to how they are being used today.
MaxDefense believes that the PMC must also try to obtain support vehicles of the KAAV series in the future if it wishes to expand its AAV fleet, including the armored recovery vehicle version. The PMC must also look to improve its maintenance, repair, and support capability, including adequate shelter and facilities for the vehicles when not deployed on ships. Currently the main support facility for armored vehicles is located at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, but due to the impending reduction of military bases inside Metro Manila, it is best for the PMC to create a new armored vehicle support facility on one of its major bases outside Metro Manila.
If this deal pushes through, this would be the 2nd major arms export by South Korea to the Philippines within this year, after the Philippine Air Force's acquisition of the KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle jets.
|2 of the few remaining serviceable LVTH-6 with the Philippine Marines. More KAAV may allow the PMC to totally drop the LVTH-6 from active service.|