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Friday, May 26, 2017

Featuring Some of the New Special Vehicles in the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Note: Most, if not all photos were taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage Facebook page. The page maintains a good library of Philippine military photos from various sources. Credits to that group's page and to its members, as well as thanks.

During the recently concluded ASEAN Summit held in Manila from April 26 to 29, 2017, there were sightings of members of the Presidential Security Group's Special Reaction Unit (PSG-SRU) riding what appears to be a  Utility Task Vehicles (UTV), or more commonly known as Side-by-Side All Terrain Vehicles, while securing the meeting areas.

One of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR 4 Utility Task Vehicles as seen during the APEC Summit 2017
Photo taken from the Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilians fanpage's FB page.

Polaris MRZR-4 UTV:

Based on sightings and photos of the vehicles, they appear the Polaris MRZR-4 UTV. The vehicles appear to be quite new and was never seen before this security detail in Manila.

While this is not the first time Filipino security forces are seen using UTVs, and there are no known press releases for such acquisitions as well as quantity acquired, the public appearance of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR 4 shows that there are acquisitions made for such vehicles.

The Polaris MRZR 4 is among the latest UTVs entering the US Armed Forces, and are mostly used by Special Operations Forces for quick deployments where the larger Humvee and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are either too large or too slow for use. Fast, agile, lightweight, and can easily be transported by tactical air transport assets like the C-130 Hercules, MV-22 Osprey and CH-47 Chinook.

Another angle of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR-4.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage's FB page.

These vehicles can carry at least 4 fully armed operators and their gear, and can be armed with assorted light firearms including machine guns and/or grenade launchers. It can also be used to carry a stretcher at the back side, extending to the passenger cabin by folding one of the passenger seats.

Aside from these features, the UTV is also an affordable transport option for special operations forces on the ground. These attributes allowed for the increasing use of such vehicles with other militaries aside from the US, and the Philippines is among those who have noticed its potential.

While there are no further information on its quantity and acquisition dates, MaxDefense sources pointed out that the Polaris vehicles are probably new but were acquired through US military assistance. 

Kawasaki Teryx:

Aside from the PSG's MRZR 4, the other UTVs confirmed to be used by the Philippine military is the Kawasaki Teryx of the Philippine Army's Light Reaction Regiment (LRR). 

A Kawasaki Teryx UTV of the Light Reaction Regiment, as seen during a demonstration given to Pres. Duterte last July 2017.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB oage. 

A Kawasaki Teryx of the US Special Forces. Look at the similarity to the LRR's own vehicle, which makes it possible that those used by the LRR are actually former US military vehicles provided as part of a military assistance program.

These vehicles were observed by several people, including some MaxDefense community members, as not quite new looking, and may have been used before by the US military before finding its way to the Philippine Army. A quick check on Kawasaki's website also showed that the Teryx used by the Light Reaction Regiment are not the newest models being marketed by the company.

The LRR's Teryx UTV was first seen in a live fire demonstration last year, when a couple of them were used by LRR operators in the firing range while in a public demonstration attended by the media.

A Kawasaki Teryx UTV during a live fire demonstration last year.
Photo taken from Francisco Vila's Instagram page, as screen grabbed from a video taken from the Presidential Communication's Youtube video.

There are no data yet on when did the LRR received these vehicles, but based on sightings, it is highly possible that these vehicles were received sometime between 2015 and 2016. There is also no details on the quantity received by the Light Reaction Regiment, although there are photos of the vehicles posted by other Facebook-based defense fan pages of several vehicles moving together in what appears to be a military camp.

The only information that MaxDefense sources have provided is that these Teryx vehicles were provided by the US military as part of their military assistance to the Philippines. 

Several Kawasaki Teryx UTVs are seen in this photo taken from another UTV included in the convoy.
Photo taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

Tactical Assault Ladder Vehicle:

Another type of vehicle that recently appeared in Philippine Army inventory are Tactical Assault Ladder Vehicles, mounted on either the KIA KM-450 1 1/4-ton 4x4 utility vehicles, or Isuzu FRR medium utility trucks.

One of the tactical assault ladders mounted on a KIA KM-450 1 1/4-ton utility vehicle.
Photo taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

The AFP has not been seen with any assault ladder vehicle in the past, and is possible that these are the first of its kind in the AFP, or in any other Philippine security agency.

None have been seen yet during public demonstrations, although these vehicles were among those showed by the Philippine Army during the 2017 Philippine Army anniversary parade a few months ago. Based on sightings, these vehicles may also have entered Philippine Army service only between 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.

The Philippine Army's tactical assault ladder vehicles as shown during the Philippine Army's founding anniversary parade a few months ago.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

These ladders allow counter terrorism troops to enter elevated areas with ease, coming in from areas which are not expected to be used as access points. Examples could include buses and aircraft, buildings, and other elevated structures. The bus hostage incident in Luneta several years ago showed the need for such capability, when the Manila SWAT team failed to enter the bus as fast as possible due to lack of platform to bring them up with speed and surprise.

More photos of the tactical assault ladder of the Light Reaction Regiment.
Photo taken from getty images, taken by Ted Aljibe.

MaxDefense may have failed to include here any other new special vehicles in the Philippine armed forces, but more can be added in this blog entry later on should we take notice of its presence, or if credible information is made available to us for sharing.


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