A Comprehensive Review of Accomplishments and Balances of the AFP Modernization Program Under RA 7898 and RA 110349 Horizon 1 Phases as of June 2016
|Refurbished M113A2+ with RWS were delivered by Elbit Systems Land & C4I to the Philippine Army, with several more expected to be delivered within the year.|
|The acquisition of Strategic Sealift Vessels, now known as the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock, was among those completed as part of RA 7898.|
Photo taken from Philippine Navy.
Among the controversial decisions regarding the AFP Modernization Program made during the Aquino administration was the cancellation of the Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) which was supposed to provide a battalion of mobile guided rocket systems designed to hit naval and ground targets up to 150 kilometers away from shore. The project was a G2G between Israel and the Philippines, involving the acquisition of Lynx mobile rocket systems with EXTRA guided rocket ammunition from Israel Military Industries. As a bonus, the Philippine Army was supposed to receive a short-range air defense system with it that should have been delivered before the APEC 2015 Conference in Manila.
The issues concerning its cancellation were discussed on previous MaxDefense blog entry which could be accessed below:
"SNAFU in the DND and the Philippine Army for Scrapping its Shore Based Missile System Project for Helmets and Vests" - dated July 9, 2015.
MaxDefense sources confirmed that the SBMS is indeed back in the table for Horizon 2 & 3 phases, but no mention if the bonus short-range air defense system is still included.
Republic Act 10349 of 2012:
General Headquarters, AFP:
- Of the three (3) projects listed before, only 1 has been completed, which is the acquisition of 717 light utility vehicles. KIA Motors Corporation of South Korea with their KM-450 truck. This is in addition to those already acquired by the GHQ, AFP funded under RA 7898.
- The acquisition of C4ISR equipment is reportedly under negotiations at the moment, and will be acquired via G2G with a friendly country which MaxDefense will not name for now. This company has bagged some projects for the AFP in the past few years.
- MaxDefense has not got any update on the acquisition of engineering equipment, although previous information from several months ago did not confirm any finalized deal for this one yet.
- On the procurement of 60 Field Ambulances, the project was awarded to KIA Motor Company of South Korea, which has already started deliveries of the KM-451 vehicles. This type is already in service with the Philippine Army which were also bought as part of RA 7898 during Pres. Aquino’s term in 2013. MaxDefense is waiting for confirmation if all 60 were already delivered.
More of the KM-451 Field Ambulances, which is based on the venerable KM-450 light truck, were added to the Philippine Army's fleet under the RA 10349 Horizon 1 Phase.
Photo taken from Noontimebalita.com
- The budget to deliver, refurbish, and arm the 114 M113A2 armoured personnel carriers acquired from US government Excess Defense Articles (EDA) was also funded by RA 10349. These vehicles were presented to the public during the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ founding anniversary parade last December 2015, and all are reportedly in active service with the Philippine Army’s Mechanized Infantry Division.
|114 units of M113A2 from US Excess Defense Article program was delivered to the Philippine Army in 2015, increasing the armoured vehicle fleet by around 35%.|
Photo taken from DWDD.
- Acquisition of more tactical communication equipment from Harris Corporation USA via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) was also finalized during Pres. Aquino’s term, with deliveries coming in together with those ordered under RA 7898. This includes vehicle mounted and handheld radios which form part of improving the Army’s C4ISR capabilities.
- For the Acquisition of Night Fighting System which was not yet confirmed as
awarded after a second bid attempt was made last December 2015. It was reported early this year that Aselsan of Turkey was found to be the lowest bidder, although it was not confirmed if they were able to pass the Post Qualification Stage process, or if a Post Qualification Stage process was even made.
More of the discussion on this project can be seen in our previous blog entry:
"Philippine Army to Acquire Night Fighting Systems to Improve its Night Fighting Capabilities" - dated May 13, 2015.
- With phase
1 of the Rocket Launcher (Light) under RA
7898 on hold, the phase 2 which calls for the acquisition of more of the
same model is definitely on hold too. Phase 2 should have added almost 800
rocket launchers to those planned for acquisition under Phase 1.
More on this project can be seen in our previous blog entry:
"RPG-7(USA) for the Philippine Army?" - dated January 14, 2014.
- No further information is available regarding the status of the Acquisition of Tactical Engagement Simulation System that will be acquired via FMS, and the Acquisition of Thermal Imaging Devices, both of which are scheduled to be offered for public tender.
acquisition of 3 missile-equipped Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) Mk. 3 were
awarded to Propmech Corporation – Lung Teh Shipbuilding Joint Venture for the hull under the project's Lot 1,
and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. of Israel for the remote weapon
station and Spike-ER missiles under the project's Lot 2. Based on diagrams released during the recent
anniversary of the Philippine Fleet this year, the MPAC’s missile launcher will
be located at the mid decks just behind the bridge. Deliveries of both lots are
expected to be made by 2017.
Previous discussions on this project could be found here:
"The Philippine Navy embarks on the acquisition of missile-armed Multi Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC-M)" - dated May 22, 2015
|The MPAC Mk. 3 was presented to visitors during the Philippine Fleet's anniversary earlier this year.|
Photo taken from the Philippine Fleet's Facebook page.
acquisition of 2 Anti-Submarine Helicopters project was awarded to Anglo-Italian
defense and aviation company AgustaWestland, which will supply their newly
developed AW-159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopters. These helicopters will be
paired to the new frigates, and are expected to be the first batch of ASW
helicopters as more are expected to be ordered in the following Horizon phases.
Deliveries are expected by 2018, although AgustaWestland has a reputation to
deliver earlier than scheduled and might consider delivering them earlier than
stipulated in the contract. The helicopters are expected to arrive with air-to-surface missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes with it.
More discussions on this project can be found on the entry below:
"Confirmed: Philippine Navy Acquires AgustaWestland AW-159 Lynx Wildcat as its Future Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter" - dated April 12, 2016
|The AgustaWestland AW-159 Lynx Wildcat, seen here with the MU90 torpedo and Sea Venom light anti-ship missile.|
Photo taken from Helis.com.
of 8 Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) was awarded to South Korea’s Hanwha
Techwin (formerly Samsung Techwin) on December 2015 for Php 2.423 billion. Hanwha Techwin offered their KAAV (a derivative of
BAE Systems AAV7A1) for this project. Deliveries are expected to begin in late 2017. Samsung
sold their Techwin division to Hanwha Group lately, thus the company’s name change.
More discussions on this project can be found on the entry below:
"Samsung Techwin KAAV7A1 Expected as PMC's New Amphibious Assault Vehicle" - dated May 31, 2014
- The Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel (JCPV) Combat Systems Alignment Phase 3A and Phase 3B were also awarded recently, with Phase 3A won by Ultra Electronics, and Phase 3B by Propmech Corporation-SAAB AB Joint Venture. The project includes the restoration of the Oto Melara 76mm Compact gun, the 25mm Bushmaster cannon, and supply of new X-band naval radar and Electro-Optical Fire Control System (EO-FCS). MaxDefense raised an issue regarding this plan to segregate the two phases, as different winning bids will be using different subsystems which is not advisable for a small class of 3 ships where commonality is expected.
- MaxDefense received conflicting reports on the awarding of the Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System (MITSS) which call for the acquisition of miniature unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, which was reportedly awarded to Triton Communications. So far, there are no Notice of Award that was made available to the public or to MaxDefense to confirm its awarding. It was reported last year that there were complaints made by another bidder as Triton was accused of submitting subcomponents that are untested and not in service with other militaries. This means that Triton Communication's offer was a combination of different subsystems and put together as a single system.
|Expecting for a large UAV? Sorry to burst your bubbles, but the MITSS will probably look something close to the photo above.|
More discussion on MaxDefense's latest blog entry on the frigates on the link below:
"The Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Program Finally Moves in 2016! New Technical Specification Released and Tender Soon" - dated February 7, 2016.
- The FA-50PH Fighting Eagle lead-in fighter trainers from Korea Aerospace Industries, and the acquisition of Combat Utility Helicopters from Canadian Commercial Corporation for 8 Bell 412EP helicopters.
- The acquisition of ex-US Marine Corps C-130T via FMS was among those awarded, with the first C-130T already in service with the PAF, and the 2nd unit expected to arrive in a few months. The US government shouldered part of the acquisition, while the PAF funded Php 1.6 billion as part of its share, which were used to rehabilitate, refurbish, and deliver the aircraft.
|The PAF's first C-130T Hercules from the US. A second unit is coming within 2016.|
Photo taken from mb.com.ph / Manila Bulletin.
- The DND already awarded last November 2015, the Acquisition of Full Motion Flight Simulators to Environmental Tectonics Corporation, although the project was changed to only deliver 1 unit from the previous plan to acquire 3. No information was given regarding the changes on the quantity of units. Delivery is expected in 2017.But after these projects were completed, their project approvals became slow in implementing many of the total of 11 projects under the Horizon 1 phase of RA 10349.
- The DND reportedly signed a contract with IAI-Elta of Israel for the Air Surveillance Radar (Phase 1) project, in which the Israeli firm will supply 3 EL/M-2288 AD-STAR air defense and surveillance radars. It was reported 2 years ago that the deal will include a shorter ranged gap filler radar, although it is unclear if this is still included.
- The acquisition of 6 Close Air Support Aircraft, which has not moved after the DND announced to put it on hold. Previous reports posted in MaxDefense @ FB page also indicated that talks are currently ongoing between DND, DFA, and Embraer officials, highlighting the strength of Embraer’s offer for the PAF. Embraer of Brazil is offering their A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. But it is surprising that Textron Aviation is still visibly present in PAF events showcasing their Beechcraft AT-6C aircraft, showing that the project could still be anyone’s game.
- The Long Range Patrol Aircraft project, which calls for the acquisition of 2 maritime patrol aircraft with ASW and ASuW capabilities, is also in limbo after appearing to have failed a 2nd bidding attempt a few months ago. No further information regarding this was released for some time now, although updates will definitely be made as more information comes in.
|The DND and PAF still needs to settle the Long Range Patrol Aircraft project which is still pending. Among the most important projects of the AFP, this will allow a clearer picture of the WPS once in service.|
- Another project that is still on the tender stage is the acquisition of munitions for the FA-50PH aircraft, which was divided into several projects, with the acquisition of 20mm munitions, and the other to acquire chaffs, and flares already among those announced for tender. The 20mm ammunition will be a separate project, while the chaffs and flares are another project. The acquisition of chaffs and flares is currently the only one moving ahead, but is still in the tender stage and has not moved fast after being put on-hold a few months ago due to funding issues.
- No announcements yet on the acquisition of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, although previous information gathered by MaxDefense mentioned that they are still being decided if they will go for a tender or a negotiated procurement. Among those already offered to the PAF were the Python family of missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, and the AIM-9L Sidewinder from an unnamed supplier, which was highly speculated as Diehl Defense of Germany. PAF was reportedly interested on the AIM-9L, although there are camps within the PAF and DND that favours the Rafael offer.
|Previously, MaxDefense reported that the certain PAF leaders are opting for the AIM-9L/I-1 air-to-air missile for the FA-50PH, although there are other offers made including the Python family from Israel.|
- Basing support systems for the air surveillance radar, the FA-50s and the LRPA are in different stages as of the moment, with some already awarded while others are still being tendered. Less attention was given to these projects although MaxDefense will try to put this into pieces later on.
There are some projects that were not originally in the Horizon 1 phase of the RA 10349, or with the RA 7898 funding, but were still acquired through separate means during the Aquino administration. One of them is the acquisition of the Balikpapan-class Landing Craft Heavy from Australia, with the first 2 units granted for free by the Australian government, but the last 3 units were purchased at goodwill prices, and underwent refurbishing works in the Philippines, which costed significant amounts.
The outgoing government can be credited for the acquisition of the 5 LCH, now known as the Ivatan-class.
|BRP Batac and BRP Ivatan during the commissioning ceremonies earlier this year.|
Photo taken from the Philippine Navy.
Another asset acquired that can be considered a special project is the acquisition of BRP Gregorio Velasquez, the Philippine Navy's first purpose-built oceanographic research vessel. The ship arrived just this month, and was among those promised by POTUS Barrack Obama. Although it was a grant, the Philippine government still spent for its repairs and training of personnel.
While there are still a lot to be done, the past 6 years was the best years of the AFP Modernization Program so far, with the Aquino administration being able to beat the expenditures and accomplishments of the three past presidents before him.
With president-elect Rodrigo Duterte getting the reigns of the presidency tomorrow, MaxDefense is hopeful that he will continue what was already started, and reconsider his previous statements that has negative implications to the AFP Modernization Program. Sources who knows Duterte mentioned and explained to MaxDefense that the man listens to his trusted advisers, and chosen cabinet officials and military appointees. Admittedly, president-elect Duterte is not familiar with defense and security issues, and the AFP and DND has already scheduled a command conference right after his inauguration.
If that is the case, then the success and failure of the AFP Modernization rests on the hands of incoming DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and incoming AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, as well as the current officers of the AFP and DND who formulated all the procurement plans, procedures, and projections of what the future AFP should be capable of doing.
This could be done if they could properly and comprehensively explain and correct the lingering misconceptions about the importance of a strong armed forces and a credible defense posture in the development of the country, and the purpose of every project that were procured, or planned for future procurement. They should also explain the importance of protecting the Philippines' EEZ, extended continental shelf, the Kalayaan Group of Islands, and Scarborough Shoal, in which the other department heads should also understand.
Another important thing that needs to be cleared with the new president: acquiring weapons does not mean the country is going to war, or will start a war against a bigger and more powerful country. But any country like the Philippines must be prepared anytime for war, as we cannot stop one if the aggressor is really prepped-up to start one.
So what are the chances of the AFP Modernization continuing as plan following the Horizon 2 Phase procurement plans of all 3 major services? To be honest, its difficult to say, so we just have to wait and see for now, regardless of the outcome of all the explaining done to the new president.
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July 12, 2016:
MaxDefense received an update regarding the Acquisition of Force Protection Equipment which was previously awarded to the Achidatex Nazareth Elite - Colorado Shipyard Joint Venture. This project is part of the AFP Modernization Program funded under RA 7898.
Sources confirmed that Achidatex Nazareth Elite and Colorado Shipyard cannot deliver the body armour vests due to lack of funding to manufacture 44,000+ vests, resulting to a fall-out between the two companies.
While it was previously mentioned as a cancelled project due to the failure of the joint venture to deliver the products within the specified timeframe, it appears that the DND has awarded the project to a new lowest responsive bidder. Although their price is higher than the offer made by the lowest bidder, MKU Pvt. Ltd. of India was declared the new winner, and will supply the 44,000+ body armour vests to the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps.
No timeline was provided, but this is certainly good news after more than a year of delay.