The AFP-wide Pistol Project - Pres. Duterte's Promised Handguns for the Filipino Soldier

There have been numerous occasions that Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte mentioned to soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in his numerous camp visits, that he will be providing side arm pistols for them for their own protection.

So far, several AFP members have confirmed to MaxDefense that they have not received these pistols yet despite the promise from the president that it will be distributed to them soon. MaxDefense discusses why.


The Glock 19 Gen 4 pistol, which MaxDefense believes will be the top candidate as the official new pistol of all uniformed servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as by the Philippine Army.
Photo screen-grabbed from YouTube video of ZakaTac9mm.



The Original Pistol Project:

Originally, the Philippine Army has a project to acquire pistols as part of their Horizon 2 phase modernization program. Appearing in the draft Horizon 1-3 plans submitted by the Philippine Army in mid 2016 to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the plan was for the acquisition of  19,478 units of pistols, without mention on the caliber choice, by the AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 2 phase.

By late 2016, this plan was changed, with the 19,478 pistols planned for procurement was then moved to within the Horizon 1 (2023-2017) phase. Since 2017 is the last year of implementing the Horizon 1 phase, MaxDefense understands that the project will then be funded by the approved AFP Modernization Program budget for 2017.

By early 2017 and based on the draft submitted by the Philippine Army, the quantity for acquisition for Horizon 1 FY 2017 was increased to 25,000 units with a projected budget of Php 625 million. But adjustments were made to the entire 2017 request list, until it was reduced back to a finalised quantity of 19,478 units, with a projected budget of Php 389.560 million, or an average of around Php 20,400 per pistol. The budget will be taken from the repriotized funding that was originally intended for the Philippine Army's Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) Project worth Php 6.5 billion, whose SARO was extended lately by Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno.

Back then, MaxDefense has not received confirmation of what calibre was the Philippine Army looking for, but initial information from some sources mentioned that it would be a 9mm pistol. Surprisingly, it would be acquired through a public tender, and is expected that an Invitation to Bid will be released soon. Since it is for tender, it is expected that the winning bidder will submit a price below the projected budget, and reducing the average price of each pistol to less than Php 20,400.




The Promise:

Spates of kidnapping and/or murder of uniformed personnel by terrorists (mostly New People's Army terrorists) irritated Pres. Duterte, and as part of his support for the members of the AFP, he promised as early as late 2016 to provide side arm pistols to all AFP uniformed personnel, for them to use to protect themselves from these cowardly terrorist attacks when not in military operations or when they are outside camps and during rest and recreation periods, and also for use during operations against criminality and drugs.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines immediately drafted a plan, inserting the acquisition of around 113,612 units of pistols in compliance to Pres. Duterte's directive. This is now called the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project. It was planned for acquisition on the early part of Horizon 2, probably 2018, with no definite budget allocation then. This was included in the Horizon 2 acquisition plan submitted by the Department of National Defense to Malacanang earlier this year, as MaxDefense mentioned in other blog entires and in our Facebook group page.

After adjustments were made, the AFP Pistol Acquisition was moved to Horizon 1 phase, and will be funded under FY 2017. Quantity was also revised from 113,612 units to 115,383 units, with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php 2,307,660,000.00, or an average of Php 20,000 per pistol. This is slightly lower than the budget allocated by the Philippine Army for their own Pistol Acquisition Project, in consideration of the quantity involved for the AFP's requirements.


The finalised lsit of AFP projects for bidding this year included the AFP Pistol, as shown in this recent document. MaxDefense will discuss other projects (which were intentionally deleted) in other future blog entries. 


The AFP Pistol Acquisition project was listed as among the projects to be tendered this year 2017, together with other projects totalling Php 6.660 billion. 

This is actually surprising, considering that Pres. Duterte himself already mentioned in the past that the pistol to be distributed will be Glock 30 .45 calibre pistols. Apparently this was his personal choice, as he prefer handguns on .45 calibre rather than 9mm, and because Glock 30 sounds similar to "Du30" which is a monicker of his family name. 

Also in one occasion, the president also mentioned of an alternative to Glock 30, using M1911 "Commander" pistols as well. "Commander" refers to a post-war M1911 variant which is shorter and lighter than the standard M1911, and was based on the 1950s Colt Commander pistol by US arms manufacturer Colt. Here is why it is surprising:


The Glock 30 .45 calibre pistol, as shown with the standard 10-round magazine and the 13-round magazine from the Glock 21. Both can be used on the pistol. This is the pistol model Pres. Duterte promised for distribution to AFP soliders.
Photo taken from Personal Defense World's website.




The President's Choice: Glock 30 - A Backgrounder:

The Glock 30 is a subcompact pistol from Glock, which is chambered to fire .45 ACP rounds. It is originally included with a 10-round capacity magazine, although a 13-round magazine used in the larger Glock 21 can also be used to increase its capacity.

The subcompact size of the pistol makes it easy for plainclothes or off-duty soldiers to carry it around, while still packing the highly regarded .45 ACP punch that Filipino gun enthusiasts and soldiers love.

Its dimensions are (based on Glock USA's website):


  • Length: 177 mm
  • Height: 122 mm
  • Width: 32.50mm
  • Barrel Length: 96 mm
  • Unloaded weight: 750 grams
  • Loaded weight (standard magazine): 960 grams

This is how the Glock 30 looks like if it uses the 13-round Glock 21 magazine.
Photo taken from Home Defense Weapons website.



(EDIT: May 21, 2017) A New Twist - Bid Documents Released:

This portion is added less than a day after this blog entry was publicly posted.

MaxDefense finally received a copy of the AFP's pistol acquisition program bid documents and technical specifications, as sources were unaware that MaxDefense will be publishing an entry about the Philippine Army and AFP Pistol acquisition projects. Corrections were informed to MaxDefense only after the entry was posted.

As per the Bid Documents, the AFP and PA Pistol Acquisition Projects were combined into one project, which is now called the "Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm, Striker Fired, for the Department of National Defense". The acquisiion quantity for both projects were added together as well, with the new quantity requirement at 134,861 units (that is the sum of 115,383 units for AFP plus 19,478 units for the Philippine Army). The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) is now at Php 2,697,220,000.00, or arond Php 20,000 per unit.

Based on the title alone, the requirement has changed substantially, with the major change is on the barrel and ammo to be used. Instead of the firing .45 Auto rounds, the pistols requested by the AFP will now be chambered to fire 9mm x 19 NATO rounds. This means Pres. Duterte's choice, the Glock 30 .45 ACP, is now out of the running. 

Also, the requirement of being a striker-fired pistol narrows the competing pistol models into a few, with major highlight on Glock, whose pistols are striker fired instead of the conventional hammer-fired on other models. This means any M1911 based pistol are also out of the running.

These new requirements put the pistol choices to be almost similar to those that were evaluated by the US Army-US Air Force Modular Handgun System, which called for a handgun with a striker-firing requirement. So choices could include the Glock 17 and Glock 19, SIG Sauer's P320, FN Herstal's FNS-9, Smith & Wesson's M&P, and Springfield Armory's XD(M).

The specification also calls for a pistol with the following dimensions:
  • Length: 185 to 220mm
  • Barrel length: 100 to 120mm
  • Unloaded weight: 1,000 grams maximum
  • Loaded weight: 1,300 grams maximum
  • Magazine: 15 rounds capacity minimum, ambidextrous
  • Tactical Rail System: Frame integral
Portion of the technical specifications for the Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm Striker-Fired for the Department of National Defense. As shown in the 1st part of Physical Characteristics, the calibre is now 9mm, firing the 9 x 19mm NATO round.



The dimensions put the pistol's size as larger than a subcompact pistol like the Glock 30.

Another requirement is for the upper receiver (slide) having a high grade carbon steel material, and the lower receiver (frame) using polymer material. This is a very important part since only Glock uses these specs on their pistols. In comparison, the SIG Sauer P320, which is a candidate in the PNP's own pistol acquisition program, uses stainless steel upper and lower receivers, which does not meet the DND's specified requirements.

Based on MaxDefense's sources, only 3 pistols fit the bill based on specs: the Glock 17 and 19, Springfield Armory's XD(M), and SIG Sauer's P320.

Finally, the consideration will all boil down to the pricing. So far MaxDefense received information that Glock/Trust trade and Springfield Armory are willing to go lower than the ABC, while nothing is heard yet from SIG Sauer /Intrade Asia Pacific. A pistol with these specs for less tha Php 20,000 can be attainable considering the quantity involved.

Based on initial search made by MaxDefense in a very limited time (as the corrections on this blog must be made ASAP), among those that can fit the bill are Glock's G19 Gen 4 and G17 Gen 4 (same as what the PNP uses).

MaxDefense believes that the G19 is more applicable for military use due to its compact design, as well as making it easier for plainclothes soldiers to hide it in public. 

As for the bidding itself, latest information based on the Bid Documents places the deadline for Submission and Opening of Bids by May 31, 2017, 3:00pm. This could still be subject to changes, which is normal in military equipment biddings.


A comparison between the Glock 17 Gen 4 (above) and Glock 19 Gen 4 (below), wherein the height and length difference can be visually without the need for measurement. The magazine capacity is also shown, with Glock 17 Gen 4 having a 17-round capacity, while the shorter Glock 19 Gen 4 having a 15-round capacity.
Photo screengrabbed from YouTube video from J.P.'s FirearmsChannel.




Pres. Duterte's Relations with Trust Trade:

During the president's visits to military camps around the country, there were several mentions made on the name "Trust Trade" when discussing about Glock 30 pistols. Who/What is Trust Trade?

Trust Trade Firearms and Ammunition, more commonly known as Trust Trade, is a firearms supplier based in Ortigas Center in Quezon City, and carries several firearms brands including Glock, Taurus, Kimber, and Norinco, among others. The company is owned and controlled by the Gutierrez family, and is known friend of Pres. Duterte.

With Pres. Duterte already mentioning several times that Trust Trade has already received, or is in the process of receiving thousands of Glock 30 .pistols, which MaxDefense believes are from Glock USA rather than from Austria, the sudden inclusion of the project to those scheduled for bidding this year might be more of a compliance to the Government Procurement Reform Act RA 9184.

But with Trust Trade already investing millions of pesos by ordering thousands of pistols without a contract signed yet with the government, this creates an impression that there is something fishy that is about to happen. Or in another point of view, is Pres. Duterte bluffing when he mentioned a few months ago that 30,000 Glock 30 pistols are coming, considering that they are now useless if the specifications of the combined AFP-PA 9mm Striker-Fired Pistol project is followed?

MaxDefense believes that while the project will be publicly tendered, the specifications of the pistols for procurement seemed to be skewed in favour of Glock, making Trust Trade a sure winner against other potential bidders that may want to try their luck on the project. If this happens, this will again be a breach of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184.




Other Issues on Glock Pistols:


MaxDefense also sees issues that may hamper the delivery of Glock pistols for the AFP.

First is the export license for the pistols. Glock 30 is currently manufactured in Glock's facility in Georgia, USA, and in Austria, although any export by Glock USA is monitored and confirmed first by Glock's headquarters in Austria. With the Philippine government being questioned with regards to so-called Extra Judicial Killings (EJKs) by the European Union and the US government, this might affect the AFP's acquisition of pistols considering that Pres. Duterte himself said that he wanted the AFP to use them to help win his War on Drugs. This despite the AFP being cleared by these foreign governments as an organisation not involved in EJKs. The same issue might be expected for pistols coming from Western arms manufacturers like S&W, FN and SIG Sauer.

Second, as already shown in previous experiences in other AFP projects, the entire bidding process for military projects are so slow and requires stupendous amounts of time. If the same happens to the AFP Pistol project despite having a delivery date of 180 calendar days for the first tranche of 35,000 units, 300 calendar days for the 2nd tranche of 99,861 units, then do not expect the pistols to arrive soon. Do not expect the repealing of Executive Order 235 to help streamline the process, as MaxDefense and many other defense, military, and industry sources and community members believe that the this would instead further prolong the bidding and procurement process instead of improving it.

Third, as confirmed by tests conducted recently by the Philippine National Police (PNP), that certain models of Glock pistols, specifically the Glock 17 Gen 4 which is a candidate for the PNP's own pistol procurement project, failed the sand, water, and drop tests conducted by the PNP last March 2017. While the pistol involved was the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 4 and not the Glock 30 or the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the Glock pistols can also pass the AFP's own test, which are expected to be stipulated in the Bid Requirements. If the pistol offered by Glock / Trust Trade fails the tests conducted by the AFP, there will definitely be delays in the project implementation and delivery schedules.

MaxDefense is still trying to find out how Glock failed the PNP tests considering the pistol has been tested and passed with flying colours before being adapted by many other countries.


The PNP recently confirmed that the Glock 17 Gen. 4 9mm pistol failed in sand, water, and drop tests as part of the requirements for the PNP's own pistol acquisition for 2017. While this is not the Glock 30 nor the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the pistol Glock and Trust Trade is expected to offer will pass the tests the AFP will conduct as specified in the Bid Requirements.
Photo taken from gunivore.com.




Moving On:

With the project still about to be tendered, it is expected that AFP personnel will have to wait longer for the pistols to be distributed, despite the continued promises of Pres. Duterte that the pistols are on their way. Should Trust Trade win the deal, it is still yet to be confirmed how many pistols are in Trust Trade's possession as of the moment and ready for delivery, as they have the option to deliver earlier than the stipulated schedule on the bid documents. Also, this project clears another issue that many in the AFP are clarifying: is the pistol given by the president for personal ownership of AFP personnel, or if they would be owned by the AFP and just issued to AFP personnel. The answer appears to be the latter - AFP owns the pistols.

Only those few lucky ones, the AFP personnel that was personally given with Glock 30 handguns by the president himself, are expected to own the pistols as their own. Most of these personnel were either injured ones visited by Pres. Duterte in his hospital visits, or those raffled off during his camp visits.




MaxDefense's Choice:
If MaxDefense is to choose, preference would be on the SIG Sauer P320 Compact 9mm variant. The 9mm variant is also the US Army's pick for its own Modular Handgun System (MHS) requirement to replace the ageing Beretta M9.

Main reason for this choice is because MaxDefense believes that the US Army already conducted very rigorous tests on the P320, much more rigorous than any test that is expected to be made by any Philippine government armed agency like the AFP, PA, and PNP. If it passes the US Army, it is indeed a durable and very good weapon. There is no reason to be very specific on the need for a polymer lower receiver since this obviously just point to a preferred supplier instead of a better product.

This is my personal choice and no further explanation will be given since it is moot at the moment.



MaxDefense's choice is the SIG Sauer P320. Hopefully the Philippine Army's own separate pistol requirement will consider this model, whether in 9mm or .45 ACP variant.


MaxDefense will provide more details about the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project and the Philippine Army Pistol Acquisition Project in future updates within this blog entry, or at our Facebook community page.

Comments

  1. ...I'd go for the SIG Sauer P320 but if not, i think the AFP should choose Armscor as the best and cheapest alternatives. in that way they can procure more pistols for the AFP personnel and even promote filipino made arms and promote local defense industry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sir Max how exactly the repealing of Executive Order 235 can prolong the process?

    And First.

    Sebastian.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You forgot to mention why the Glock 30 is Duterte's choice in the first place: the story is Mr Gutierrez told the President that the G30 sounds like DU30.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Execellent article sir max... any idea how much is the estimated cost of a P320 since you mentioned earlier that AFP pistol project will have a budget of 20,000 php per pistol?

    On a side note.... I hope to be the first to comment on this article... been following this site for quite long time now! Keep it up sir max!

    ReplyDelete
  5. With the large amount of pistols in this contract, I believe even the foreign manufacturers like Glock and Sig could make changes on their pistols based on the DND's bid specifications. There is enough quantity to justify a special run for the AFP if required, as over 100 thousand pistols is already a big contract.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello max. Can I ask how self sufficient the philippines is in arms productions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "In comparison, the SIG Sauer P320, which is a candidate in the PNP's own pistol acquisition program, uses stainless steel upper and lower receivers, which does not meet the DND's specified requirements."

    Max, the P320 doesn't use a steel frame. It uses a polymer frame that Sig calls a "grip module" and not a lower receiver. Hence it can qualify as a competitor to the Glock 19.

    ReplyDelete

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