Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Re-Offering the SBMS for Use Against Internal Security Threats as a Precision Land Attack Weapon

The new administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through his new Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, confirmed that the modernization efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be continued despite earlier statements made by the new president regarding the government’s focus on the fight against internal security challenges, including insurgency and crime, instead of territorial defense. But also, the new defense secretary clarified that territorial defense won’t be given less priority as is actually among the priorities of the new administration.

Despite the confusion, the common denominator is that programs of the AFP Modernization Program’s Horizon 2 phase, which was originally slated to start by 2018 but might be advanced forward to 2017, will continue with minor tweaks on the acquisition plans depending on the urgency of needs from the AFP’s requirements.

Thus, the AFP is compelled to make adjustments to its procurement plans to justify their use for internal security challenges, while still making sure its relevance as an asset for territorial defense. Among those that MaxDefense believes the AFP can use effectively both for internal and external threats was the previously shelved Shore Based Missile System (SBMS), which is among those approved for acquisition under the Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 1 Phase.

The original SBMS as offered to the Philippine Army. It could be seen here that the system can also be used against ground troops. So it means it could also be used against Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists and other internal security threats as a better alternative to artillery and air strikes.
Photo from IMI.

The Shore Based Missile System: A Background:

MaxDefense previously discussed the Shore Based Missile System project, which was the most expensive project in the Philippine Army’s request under the Horizon 1 phase. It has an Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) worth Php 6.5 billion, and is to be procured by direct negotiation under a government-to-government (G2G) procurement deal with Israel and Israel Military Industries (IMI).

The original offer made by IMI involves the acquisition of a small battalion, with 2 batteries composed of 2 platoons per battery of mobile guided rocket / missile system that could be fired against threats from the sea, including ships, landing crafts, and even fixed positions on sea features. It also involves the acquisition of a battery of short-range air defense system that will defend the SBMS against aerial threats.

Each platoon will have its truck-mounted launchers and ammunition reload carrier/loader, radar, and platoon fire direction centre, while the battery has its own command post, FDC, support equipment, forward observation equipment, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for surveillance and target acquisition.

The system is centred on IMI’s Lynx MLRS modular launch system, which is configured to fire different rocket and missile systems. To be able to hit small moving targets at sea, IMI has offered their 306mm EXTRA guided rocket which has a published range of 150 kilometres, and can carry several types of warheads up to 120 kilograms.

EXTRA is guided to its target by a GPS-augmented inertial navigation system developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI). According to inside sources, the rocket adjusts its trajectory as the target’s position changes while in flight. This results to a circular error probable (CEP) of only 10 meters, although MaxDefense was informed that actual CEP is lower than published.

The project was already in the advanced stages when it was cancelled by then PhilippineArmy chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri for reasons explained in our previous blog entry. Instead, he proposed to use the Php 6.5 billion budget to frontload the acquisition of sniper rifles, force protection equipment, and other items for the Philippine Army that are originally scheduled for acquisition on the Horizon 2 phase. This proposal was ultimately not approved for implementation even until now. While the general said he didn’t cancel the project and just moved it to a later date, the project is still not implemented as of this writing.

Chile operates the IMI Lynx under a different name as it was said to be manufactured locally. The Lynx is the foremost launcher used for IMI's offer for the Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) project of the Philippine Army.

The SBMS was discussed previously in a MaxDefense blog, with the link below:

The IMI 303mm EXTRA guided rocket. This has a published range of 150 kilometers, and can hit naval targets as it could adjust its flight trajectory while in flight.
Photo from IMI's website.

The SBMS's Relevance in the AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 1 & 2 Phases:

The Philippine Army still has a requirement for the Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) under their Capability Upgrade Program's Horizon 2 phase which runs from 2018 to 2022. Based on this, they are looking to acquire at least 3 batteries of Shore Based Missile System, in addition to the initial requirements posted under the Horizon 1 phase which involved the acquisition of 2 batteries.

This CUP program still appears to be subject to changes depending on leadership, planning, requirement, and operational changes and needs. So it is still possible to revise the requirement depending on the situation.

This year until next year is still covered by the Horizon 1 phase, so technically we can only push for whatever is still left in this phase for implementation immediately.

The Duterte Presidency - Change Towards Internal Security Challenges:

With Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte becoming the new President of the Republic of the Philippines, he already mentioned that priority of his administration will beto resolve the internal security challenges, including the defeat of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) during his term. While his idea might be based on his experience as a mayor in Mindanao, or possibly due to either lack of information, lack of comprehensive understanding or briefing of the security challenges of the Philippines, or because of wrong information fed by people around him (see MaxDefense’s recent post on the Facebook page wall), the AFP is being limited in its acquisitions. But even so, it needs to push the limits to procure the necessary equipment it needs, whatever the call for attention is by the current administration.

It is still too early to say if the president is serious in his previous statements that external or territorial defense requirements will be given a backseat until he settles the internal security issues, but the AFP won’t be taking this easily and must act swiftly, smartly, and decisively.

Why Focus of SBMS?

MaxDefense chose to discuss the SBMS again because this project is among those already approved by the government for implementation, and was already previously allocated with funding based on the ABC previously requested by the DND and AFP, at Php 6.5 billion. 

With Horizon 1 already in its final years, the AFP should implement this project and not put the entire effort to waste. It's still not too late. Discontinuing the project will require the Army to return the budget back to the Department of Budget Management and it would be difficult to request for funding again next time. The AFP should also avoid the project from being overtaken by those included in the Horizon 2 phase that are still subject for funding and approval. MaxDefense believes that the SBMS, even in its current guise, is still relevant to the challenges that Pres. Duterte wanted to focus with, which will be discussed later on.

The CIDS is the basis of IMI's offer to the SBMS project of the Philippine Army, although IMI's offer did not include fixed launchers. The CIDS is already in service with the Vietnamese armed forces.
Photo from IMI's website.

Re-Offering and Re-Branding the SBMS and Meet New Requirements:

To answer the calls for equipment that are relevant and highly effective in ensuring the defeat of internal threats, MaxDefense believes that the SBMS, is still relevant for use not only against threats from the sea but also land targets.

To make it palatable to the current administration, MaxDefense proposes the re-branding of the project, moving away from the Shore Based Missile System name which focuses on territorial defense against naval threats. The name could be anything, as long as it sounds focused on internal security operations. MaxDefense proposes the name “Land Based Missile System (LBMS)” to describe the new system, for the sake of this discussion.

MaxDefense proposes that Israel’s SIBAT and IMI retain the system to be offered under the rebranded project. Everything will be the same: it still consists of the Lynx truck-mounted launcher system, and will still include the necessary support and logistics components like reloader, command posts, fire direction centre and radar systems, forward observation equipment, umanned aerial vehicles, and communications systems.

Ammunition will remain, using the 303mm EXTRA guided rocket optimized for use against ships or hard structures, while also considering the use of smaller guided rockets like IMI’s Accular, which is available in both 122mm and 160mm calibers for use against smaller and softer targets like formations, landing crafts, and soft structures. They could also open the option for the Philippine Army to acquire small cruise missiles that are compatible with the Lynx launching system, like the Delilah GL which not only has a longer range at 250 kilometres (published range) than the EXTRA, but can also pack a larger warhead, and has smarter capabilities like the ability to loiter for before homing to its target. This ability of loitering allows the missile to act as a surveillance system, or to allow the user to shift to a different target based on the data provided by the missile’s camera.

Also, allowing the Delilah to be incorporated to the system will allow the missile system to be true a “missile system”, which employs not only guided rockets, but actual land-attack cruise missiles.

The Delilah GL cruise missile can be an option for the Philippine Army to acquire later on as the Lynx can also launch them as an alternative to EXTRA, Accular, LAR-160 and Grad.
The Lynx can be seen here with a mix of Accular guided rocket launch pod (left) and Delilah GL cruise missile launch pod (right) mixed together.

The SBMS – Also an Accurate Land Attack Weapon:

Being a system that can be used to accurately hit naval and sea-based targets like moving ships and fixed structures on rocks or shoals, the SBMS (or LBMS) can also be used to hit land targets, be it fixed or mobile. This has been overlooked by many, even in the AFP, considering that there is not much difference on how the system works against land and sea targets.

Naval targets are actually more difficult to hit compared to land targets due to their nature of moving practically anywhere while in open sea, ability to detect incoming aerial threats and availability of hard and soft kill systems especially for surface combatants, and difficulty to provide target coordinates as there are only a few options to know where the ships are. Only aircraft, UAVs with surveillance and targeting capability, and long range search radars could provide information to set the munition’s course.

Meanwhile, ground targets are normally slow-moving or stationary, normally does not have detection and kill capabilities, and can be targeted by hidden forward observers close to the target, which can provide more accurate data to feed the launchers. MaxDefense also got clarification from Rafael Advance Systems that EXTRA and Accular does not need radar feed to provide target and guide the munition, as UAVs or forward observers would be good enough. If the system can effectively hit naval targets, no doubt it could do better against ground targets.

Considered as an artillery asset, the SBMS/LBMS can pound soft targets like insurgents hiding in the thick jungles, and hard fixed targets like encampments, pillboxes and defensive positions. It also means that the system can be used against more powerful land threats like enemy armoured, artillery, and infantry formations that successfully landed on the country’s shores.

Compared to conventional gun and rocket artillery, the guided rocket systems reduces the chances of collateral damage as it will be homing on the target accurately with pinpoint accuracy, and will be able to do so most of the time.  It also reduces the need for huge quantities of munition being launched at a certain coordinate since it only need one or few to hit a target. In the Philippine setting, this is important, as civilians and infrastructure are normally close to where terrorist groups hide or operate, and use of inaccurate artillery like 155mm or 105mm howitzers are dangerous and highly destructive without ensuring all destruction received by the intended target.

As an alternative to the larger EXTRA guided rocket, the PA could use the smaller, cheper Accular guided rocket which is effective enough for ground targets up to 40 kilometers from the launch unit.
Photo taken from IMI.

These are some of the projectile types that Lynx can launch, with the Delilah GL being a missile, the EXTRA and Accular are guided rockets, while the TCS, LAR-160 and GRAD and unguided field artillery rockets.
Photo taken from IMI website.

The SBMS/LBMS Launcher as a Multiple Launch Rocket System:

Aside from being a component of the SBMS/LBMS, the IMI's Lynx launching system can also be utilized by the Philippine Army for its Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) requirement, which is among those planned for acquisition under the Horizon 2 and 3 phases of the Philippine Army Capability Upgrade Program. For Horizon 2, the Army intends to acquire 3 batteries, with each battery probably consisting of around 6 mobile launchers.

As an MLRS, the Lynx can utilize standard 122mm GRAD with high explosive warhead, or the larger 160mm IMI LAR-160 Mk. IV artillery rockets, which can carry submunitions. A single standard Lynx truck-mounted launching system can carry two launch pod containers, with each container being to hold 20 122mm GRAD or 13 LAR-160 rockets. Larger 220mm Uragan unguided rockets can also be used by Lynx with only minimum adjustments needed, and up to 4 can be carried by a single launch pod container.

This capability is in addition to the use of guided rockets like EXTRA and Accular, and the Delilah GL cruise missile. Since each truck-mounted launcher can carry 2 launch pod container, the user has the option to mix and match the different rocket systems as necessary.

Azerbaijan operates the IMI Lynx as a MLRS platform, and it can be seen on the photo above that it carries the IMI EXTRA 303mm guided rockets (left), the LAR-160 160mm unguided rockets (middle) and the Soviet-era GRAD 122mm unguided rockets (right).
Photo taken from Military-Today.com.

Other Purposes of the System:

Another important acquisition that is included in this project is the presence of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in the equation. These UAVs are small, silent, and are designed to operate for up to 7 hours, and has enough range to reach more than the maximum range of the EXTRA guided rocket and loiter for target acquisition and post attack surveillance.

This means that not only are they useful for the SBMS/LBMS, but could also be used for surveillance missions on areas where suspected rebels are hiding or operating. Even without the need to launch the rockets/missiles, the UAV can provide information to ground commanders. It would allow for an unrelenting and continuous flow of information that will allow the AFP to operate continuous with relentless day and night operations that will surely tire the enemy into submission. 

Surveillance and targeting UAVs could provide accurate information day and night, and will provide the targeting information for the launching system. 

Approval Under the Duterte Administration?

MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Army's leadership is actually open to the product since a few years ago, and a proposal to return it back to the priority acquisition under the still unfinished Horizon 1 phase is expected to be accepted gladly for implementation.  

Being a weapon system that can be used both for internal and external security threats, MaxDefense believes that this project will have no problem getting re-approval for implementation, as long as it meets the same Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) as previously provided to avoid further complicating the project with delays to approve funding and adjustments.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that the system can be delivered quickly once a contract, letter of credit, and notice to proceed is provided to the supplier, Israel Military Industries. Additional orders under Horizon 2 will also be easy as the Israeli Ministry of Defense has been very active in pursuing the export of their homegrown defense products to the Philippines. So far they have been the fastest to react to the new challenges and changes in the government, and is expected to make headway in other expected projects too.

But its up to the people above the AFP, the ones that say if a project is good to go or not, if this project will proceed this time or not.Ultimately its still up to the people of the AFP and DND to justify the need for their projects before the agencies involved.


  1. PLZ let me first.


    1. YAYYYYY!!!!!

      Thank You Sir Max.

      But I just realize, u try to convince the army to re-brand the system to make it look useful for Internal security, but what if the opposing site also read your Blog? Wouldn't they know its just re-branding?


    2. Which opposing site? You mean the enemy of the state? It doesnt matter because they can't do anything aside from running and hiding once the Army uses something like this to them.

    3. Hiding? Hmmmm. I don't think so. How about they challenge us that the other side fires their conventional ICBM with nuclear electromagnetic pulse from air to crippled our support system in using this battery of SBMS/LBMS. We have to plan taking into considerations the threats out there. When acquiring this missile system we need to have a hardened tunnel in our strategic islands. We still need AFP three branches capability at the same time. There is a lot of threats out there. ASG targets you just need a reliable air support with guided munitions and forward looking force. With the vastness of our islands with challenging terrains with trees in the wilderness and ASG is doing the tactics of guerilla warfare.

    4. No I mean the one that need to be convincing. What if they read and know that this is just re-branding?


    5. @Sebastian: It's not just "re-branding." Anyone who has tried to haul artillery and munitions through mountainous jungle terrain will appreciate the longer range of the SBMS--you don't have to haul it further into the jungle to get it in range. This kind of precision long range artillery support will be very much welcome by troops pinned down deep in very rough terrain.

      Sir Max, hope the Philippines can also negotiate to have the SBMS system and associated munitions locally manufactured under license, just like in Chile.

      The Philippine economy is the world's 39th largest while Chile's economy is 42nd. The package may initially end up costing more but the additional costs would be offset by the jobs created and minimized logistical costs of importing units and spare parts from overseas. The Philippines can do this!

      Thank you very much.

      Kind Regards
      Mat E
      Blacktown NSW

  2. The PA should consider this proposal, this would help in minimizing the loss of lives on our troops. And at the same time sbms will discourage adventurous military vessels from illegally entering our territories.

    1. Nobody asked yet why I suddenly wrote about this? ☺

    2. may I know why sir max??

    3. Alright maxi, I'm going to ask.. are there people lobbying for this? Can they make it happen?

      - Neo

    4. Why Sir Max? Do you have info that this is almost a done deal..thanks

  3. Great article sir max! I do realy hope that with the help of the AFP that they educate the president so he sees the good in this project. It will deter both external and internal threats. That alone will ensure lives are not wasted which is the main point of the current president.

    1. To be honest, my 7nderstanding before was that the president won't be doing micro management of defense projects, as he put his trust in his cabinet members. But I was surprised on what happened on the frigate so its really difficult to say now.

    2. Sir. Max it is very informative and also it gives hope that we will have our own missile system. Sir you mentioned the frigate in our reply what happened to the frigate?

    3. what happen to the frigate sir Max? Was it shelved already?

    4. Sir what happened to the indian made frigate deal?

    5. Max, may we know what happened to tge indian made frigate deal?

  4. This is a more than a good choice of weapon. It is like a multi tasker person able to adapt in many combat scenarios. Ireberri looses his chance to put his name in the military history book by usering the AFP entrance to the missile age. That is the past.

    Now come fvr huffing and puffing to blow this house of cards down. I mean is that hard for the Philippines to have a decent way to defend itself even just to show history that we fought just because we are FILIPINOS, just to say I'm proud to be Filipino. I am surprised thst Israel or other countries would take us seriously in arms deal because of our put you're one foot in and put youre one foot out attitude.

    1. I heard that the new crop of leadership are very interested on this and in other wquipment that uses technology to their advantage, so lets see what happens. Iriberri was said to have a personal grudge on the local rep of IMI so the issue was more personal than objective.

    2. Here's routing g for the best. At least someone realises that technology is here to help for many reason but most importantly in saving lives to our REAL HEROES fighting in the jungle and civilians. Even Angels need a sharp sword once in a while. I hope Sir Max you're name be included in the pages of AFP history as the one that introduce the Philippines in the missile age and the person that makes a difference and cared for the AFP.

  5. Does the ATACMs & GMLRS have the ability to hit moving targets aswell? The DOD plans to use US ARMY's HIMARS , 155mm guns against warships in the WPS....

    1. With adjustments, the US claim it can, using a similar guidance system. But the HIMARS and its components and ammunition are far more expensive than Lynx.

  6. sir max, with the confusing statements from digong and his men, i really do not expect more of the afp modernization. i already switch mu mode from "excited" to "come-what-may-as-he-may-wish" na lang. just hoping for the best to come for afp.

  7. they need to continue lobbying for any type of modernization. whatever the AFP can get. time is of the essence. the presence of US forces in our soil is no guarantee in securing our borders. this is our job anyway. so lobbyist and advisers of Duterte who are for modernization should push harder and convince him. we need to take control of our borders and EEZ. waiting and slow will be a losing way. just as what happened with us with China. we may just wake up again one day and Taiwan, Malaysia, China even Vietnam may take some more of our territories and US may not intervene since these are all allies. lol. Duterte should see it this way.

  8. I think the reason why this administration is kind of not keen on horizon 2 is because of the EDCA. But they don't seem to understand that one way to protect our territories or EEZ is prevention and prevention means having assets that are present in the area of responsibility for not only patrols but being there to protect our fishermen and oil exploration etc. without these assets then everything around our perimeter are unsecured and we will just wake up one day find the Taiwanese, or Vietnamese and Malaysian encroaching in our borders and nothing we can do about it like china did. Prevention means credible external defense capabilities. The UN can only do so much as we now see. china does not honor the UN tribunal decision even when they are a signatory in UNCLOS. by the end of the day the barrel of the gun weighs more. same thing happened with the Faulkland war between UK and Argentina. UK being regional power drove away the Argentinians who geographically owns the Falkland island but was defeated militarily. and UN was not able to do anything about it. In WWII the US said they shall return and they did but damage had been done already. so prevention prevention. modernization modernization is the key.

  9. Sir Max sana magising na ating mga pinuno sa kalagayan ng ating bansa at kumilos na sa pg bili ng mga kailangan natin kagamitan pang depensa bago mahuli ang lahat sana ikaw na lang Sir Max ang DND Sec or NSA Ad kasama si Sir Golez

  10. Sir max what is the conpelling reason for this article? What other technology are they looking into?

  11. Im glad at least there are personnel in the DND and AFP still interested in carrying out this project . If they are going to pursue this proposal it is to their best interest to stick with known and proven design made in Israel . "Bang for the Bucks ". Pairing this program with a more comprehensive UAV for up to date surveillance and Intel will certainly maximize its capabilities . I'm quite sure any operations to finally put them into submission will be done by the PA SOCOM supported by their regular troops . It's time to make bigger hurdle if they want immediate results .

  12. Max, just read the whole comments and no one has still asked you. So why did you suddenly write about this project?


  13. Hi sir max any news about our new ships? Is it incheon class or kamorta class? If only we could look on different direction , we should try RUSSIAN ships.. Admiral Groshkov class frigates.. For its size it can do everything... Anti air anti sub ground targets anti ship... Its like the combination of incheon and kamorta.. With VLS... Of course it is not that simple but who knows...

  14. Ah well, just so the guys manning them knows the exact coordinates of a moving targeted ship so they can set the GPS-based guidance system. And if the opposition uses GPS jammers...

  15. Well, so long as the guys operating this system knows the exact updated coordinates of a targeted ship, because that opposition will sure as hell be moving and jinking to throw off any fire solution. And pray the opposition forgot to use GPS jammers too.

  16. Any news about the ships from japan? Wnen it will arive and what kind of ships.thanks sir max

  17. Sir tungkol dun sa ships na galing japan anu po ba ang nakarating na.thanks

  18. Dumating na ang MRRV-4401 para sa coast guard.