Your 1st in Philippine defense

Hermes 450 MALE UAVs arriving soon!

MaxDefense presents the first photo of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 MALE UAV of the Philippine Air Force!

Elbit's Skylark 3 UAV coming soon!

The Philippine Army just made a massive order for several UAV types from Israel.

Philippine Navy and HHI launches BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150)

The Frigate acquisition project reaches a milestone with the launching of BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

The Philippine Navy's first Combat Management System from Saab

The Philippine Navy introduces the first CMS in PN service, the Saab 9LV Combat Management System on PS-35

Spot the difference

The Philippine Army received their first batch of upgraded M113A2 APCs. So which is which?

They KAAV7A1s are finally here!

The Philippine Navy (Marines) will soon be having their own AAVs. No more hitchhiking on USMC AAVs!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Armed Forces of the Philippines Receives First Shipment of Defense Aid from China

The Armed Forces of the Philippines finally received the first shipment of arms from the People's Republic of China, as promised by the Chinese government to Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte during his engagements with them, and highlighted by his two visits he made to China in 2016 during his State Visit, and in 2017 during his attendance to the One Belt One Road Initiative meeting.

The Norinco CS/LR4 7.62x51mm Sniper Rifle. MaxDefense believes the AFP received 30 units from this shipment.
Photo taken and from Raffy Tima's Twitter page.

Pres. Duterte receives the Chinese donation of arms and ammo himself during ceremonies at Clark Air Base.
Photo taken from PTV4's FB page. Photo by Eunice Samonte.



Background:

With the blooming friendship between the China and the Philippines spearheaded by Pres. Duterte's foreign policies, the president was able to secure a US$14.4 million military assistance grant from the Chinese government, and also a possible credit line worth US$500 million to acquire Chinese-made arms and materiel.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines was requested to submit a wish list of items they are interested to procure from China, as well as what they would want to include in the military assistance grant. So far, reports these past few months were sketchy but the general consensus are for the acquisition of small arms and sniper rifles, corner shot weapons, fast boats, night vision systems, unmanned aerial systems, and bomb disposal equipment. Looking at this list, ot appears to be closer to materiel used in Internal Security Operations, considering that the main thrust of the Duterte administration is on fighting drug related crime and terrorism.

But on May 2017, Defense Sec  Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that the deliveries will include 4 fast boats, 200 sniper rifles, and several hundred Rocket Propelled Grenades with ammunition. No mention was made on all other items listed earlier.

So far no exact figures has been determined, except for the fast boat which was said to be four (4) units.


First Tranche of Arms:

The first shipment of donated arms to the AFP arrived at Clark Air Base in Pampanga on 28th June 2016, onboard four Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). According to the introduction made by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, the distribution of the    v are, and I quote, "3,000 units of M4-type assault rifles with more than 5 million ammunition, and 90 units of sniper rifles with more than 800,000 ammunitions".

Crates of rifles and ammunition being prepared before the ceremony of acceptance.
Photo taken from Inquirer.net 


Based on photos and information released during the acceptance ceremonies yesterday, it appears that the rifles received are the Norinco CQ-A5 assault rifle, Norinco Type 85 semi automatic marksman rifles, and Norinco CS/LR4 bolt action sniper rifles, with associated ammunition.


The Norinco CQ-A. The AFP received the CQ-A5 variant.
Photo taken from the Small Arms Defense Journal.

The Norinco CQ-A is a Chinese copy of the C M4A1 5.56mm carbine of the US. While the AFP is very familiar with the M4, being a longtime user of the Colt M4 and M4A1 variants with special units, and having the Remington R4A3 as its new standard rifle for all Army and Marine units, the AFP is not very familiar with the CQ-A despite a lot of similarities with the M4. The AFP received the CQ-A5 variant.



The Norinco CS/LR4 rifle, also known as NSG-1.
Photo taken from Modernfirearms.net.

The CS/LR4 bolt action sniper rifle is a modern design from Norinco which chambered to 7.62mmx51 NATO. It is said to have a 1 minute of angle (1MOA) accuracy within 300 meters and has a maximum effective range of 800 meters. lt is equivalent to the Remington M24 Sniper Weapon System that snipers of the AFP are currently using.



The Norinco Type 85, a copy of the Soviet SVD Dragunov sniper rifle.

The Type 85 semi-automatic marksman / sniper rifle is a Chinese copy of the Soviet/Russian SVD-63 Dragunov 7.62x54mmR rifle but is said to be reverse-engineered to perform better than the original Soviet model.

Originally it is chambered on 7.62x54mmR round, but Norinco also produced a version chambered to 7.62x51mm NATO, similar to those used by the AFP. But based on the product info posted during the turnover ceremonies, it was described to be "7.62x54mm", as shown on the photo below. Thus these rifles are using ammunition that the AFP does not have in its inventory. It is highly possble then that most of the 800,000 7.62mm ammunition provided by China could be for the Type 85 marksman rifles.

The Type 85 rifles are labeled as chambered for 7.62x54mm, a round which is unavailable in AFP inventory.
Photo credited and taken from Eunice Samonte's FB page.


Sniper Rifle Quantities:

While the CSAFP already mentioned that there are 3,000 CQ-A rifles, we determine how CS/LR4 and Type 85 rifles are there, which was totalled as 90 units.

Each crate carries 5 sets of Type 85 rifles as shown on the photo below. this means that they could have arrived in 5s.

Each crate has 5 Type 85 marksman rifles and associated accessories inside.
Photo taken from PTV4's FB page, by Eunice Samonte.



Meanwhile, each CS/LR4 rifle is encased in a kit box as shown on the photo below.

The CS/LR4 sniper rifle comes in a hard carry-on box with all associated accessories inside.
Photo taken frm PTV4's FB page, photo by Eunice Samonte


This hard carry-on box kit is enclosed individually in a cardboard box, as shown on the photo below.

The Norinco CS/LR4 sniper rifle.
Photo taken from PTV4's FB page, photo by Eunice Samonte.



Based on one of the photos of below, it shows that there are at least 9 or 10 columns of brown cardboard boxes during the acceptance ceremonies:

10 columns of 3 boxes high is equivalent to 30 boxes. Thus China may have delivered 30 CS/LR4 sniper rifles.
Photo taken from PTV4's FB page, photo by Eunice Samonte.


If there are 30 CS/LR4 sniper rifles, then there are 60 other rifles out of 90, which could be the quantity of the Type 85 marksman rifles delivered to the AFP.

While there are only 90 rifles chambered in 7.62x51mm, China delivered more than 800,000 rounds! MaxDefense believes that these rounds are not just for these 90 rifles, but could also be to help the AFP in their requirements for more 7.62x51mm NATO rounds which is being used regularly by snipers and marksmen of the AFP. MaxDefense also believes that the AFP could be expecting more marksman and sniper rifles from China, as promised by the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines.


Who Decided on the Choices of Weapons?

It is rather surprising that China sent in 3,000 CQ-A5 rifles for the AFP when there is a consensus in the military that these copies of the M4 are inferior to those already in use by the AFP, specifically the M4, M4A1 and the R4A3. It is highly unlikely that the Philippine Army or any other service branch requested for these CQ-A5s as the lack of new assault rifles to replace the venerable M16 is already being addressed, and it is more logical to acquire more R4A3 rifles from Remington, or even M16/M4 byproducts from the Government Arsenal.

Samples of the rifles to be shown to Pres. Duterte just before the ceremonies.
Photo taken from Pia Ranada's Twitter page 


Meanwhile, it is a different case for marksman and sniper rifles. There currently is a strong need for new marksman rifles for the AFP as the current model used by regular infantry units, the old M14 rifle, are rapidly deteriorating and are already performing less than hoped for at most times. The delivery of 60 Type 85 Dragunovs are a welcome for our marksmen, but honestly it is insufficient in number. The same is true for the sniper rifle requirements of special operations and regular infantry units, they are in need of more sniper rifles, and 30 of the CS/LR4 is also insufficient despite being a welcome addition.

Thus, it is worth asking if the AFP was the one who specified the items for delivery or if it was a Chinese decision based on their point of view of the requirements?

MaxDefense believes that if the AFP was the one who made the choices, they could have asked for more of the Type 85s and CS/LR4 rifles rather than getting 3,000 CQ-A assault rifles.


Marketing Plan:

With the AFP actively in need of new rifles to replace the M16 and M14, and more sniper rifles to increase its capabilities, the arrival of these Norinco products allows their testing by the AFP in combat operations to see if they live up to expectations in terms of accuracy, dependability, consistency and build quality. There is a strong consensus in the Philippines that Chinese arms are inferior, something the China would be happy to disprove, if they can.

It also is a gamble for China to allow a pro-Western military likethe AFP to test their products in real world situations, as it they would be comparing it to the usual Western-sourced arms that they have been using for decades. But should these Chinese products perform well, it gives Chinese arms manufacturers like Norinco a chance to entice the AFP to buy more Chinese products in the future considering Norinco not only manufacture small arms but also armored vehicles and even missile systems.


Benefits for China:

Symbolisms are also high in this deal.

In a period when major powers are contributing in the fight against the growing ISIS threat, China has so far been less active with almost no troops on the ground nor any deployments to help fight the ISIS in the Middle East.

The idea that Chinese weapons are used to fight ISIS terrorists could be used as good publicity for the Chinese government. Imagine photos of their weapons in action and used by Philippine forces could bid China well in political standing and can be used as propaganda to the Chinese general public back home.

This show by China that they can try to match America's military assistance (who recently just provided weapons and equipment to the Philippine Marines Special Operations Group) which also allows China to put more pressure on the Philippine government (and to the pro-US armed forces as well) to reduce dependence on the US and keep the Philippines at bay while the territorial issues in the West Philippine Sea remains unsettled.

Will China be able to gain influence within the Philippine military just like what the US has? MaxDefense believes it will take time for such to happen. If the next presidential administration goes back to being closer to the US than China, then it might not even happen at all in the near future. But its still a big question if the Philippines' good  and growing relationship with China continues after Duterte. But definitely this is a start of it.

A People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 together with P-3 Orions from the US Navy and the Royal Australian Air Forcr in Clark Air Base. who would have thought that this could even happen.
Photo taken and credited to Raffy Tima.



Despite all these, a military assistance is still an assistance that is gratefully accepted by the country, in the same way any assistance fromany other country is accepted with gratitude.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unannounced and Upcoming Ship Retirements with the Philippine Navy - BRP Iloilo, BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo and BRP Rajah Humabon

MaxDefense has consistently been discussing the impending retirement of older assets as they become less capable in safely and efficiently conducting their duties to secure and defend the Philippines' territorial waters, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and interests in the East and West Philippine Seas. As a ship ages, the hull becomes more stressed and its technology becomes obsolete.There will come a time where repair and replacement becomes financially not viable, or sometimes even impossible due to excessive damage or stress.

Japanese sailors return the salute to the men and women of BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) during a recent Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the JMSDF. It also is a way of saying "Thank You" and "Goodbye", something related to the upcoming retirement of the ship.
Photo taken from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's FB page.


As we speak, the Philippine Navy is not only having rapidly ageing, or too aged ships and equipment in its fleet and arsenal, but also reduced numbers due to retirement without replacement. MaxDefense last reported about the retirement of BRP Iloilo (PS-32), which MaxDefense sources confirmed to have happened in September 2016. The BRP Iloilo is a Miguel Malvar-class patrol vessel / Patrol Craft Escort (PCE) which was in service with the Philippine Navy from 1948 to 2016, and was indirectly replaced by the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) which was commissioned on July 2016. But in reality the Andres Bonifacio is actually an asset which was supposed to increase the fleet numbers of the Philippine Navy to what it was in the 1980s when it has more than 6 "frigates" (consisting of destroyer escorts and high endurance cutters) at its disposal.

The BRP Iloilo (PS-32), which was seen here as of February 2017 without its weapon and sensors systems, and was said to awaiting disposal as its useful parts were "transplanted" to its active sisterships. The ships was confirmed by sources as decommissioned in September 2016.
Photo credited and owned by Cdr. Alfred  Kenneth Tingabngab, PN (ret.), who allowed us to be used @ MaxDefense Philippines, and first appeared in our Facebook page post last February 6, 2017.



But it appears that no major publicly available media outlet or website, not even MaxDefense Philippines, was able to report on the retirement of another asset of the Philippine Navy, specifically the Littoral Combat Force (LCF) which is in charge of inshore naval patrol and support.



Retirement of BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140)

With the shoulder-tap from one of our community member - contributor who shared a photo, MaxDefense Philippines checked with sources to confirm what appears to be another Philippine Navy ship that is stripped off its weapons and appears to be in very poor physical condition and awaiting disposal.

The BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140) seen here in better times in June 2011.
Photo owned and credited to Mr, James Gabriel Verallo, and was taken from his Flickr account.


It turns out, and confirmed by naval sources of MaxDefense, that the BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140), the lead ship and last ship remaining in service of the Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel, has already been decommissioned from Philippine Navy service. While there is no confirmation yet on the actual date of decommissioning, it could have happened sometime in mid 2016 based on the information below.

BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo was shown here as of June 7, 2017 in Cebu. It was already stripped off its weapon systems, and still useful parts that could be used by other ships in the fleet.
Photo owned and credited to ship spotter MBB8356 / Mark Baylon, whose photos were taken from his Flickr page.



Another check of photos from our contributor showed that the ship appears to still be with complete weapons and sensors systems, even up to the bridge glass curtains as of April 2015.

It appears that there were already pre-cursor information that we have received as early as April 2016 in our MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook community page, wherein one of our community members who worked on the assessment of the ship's condition confirmed that the BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo has a very poor hull condition, and was checked as having thousands of holes in its hull while dry-docked in Cebu. A photo of the PG-140's hull was shared by one of our MaxDefense community members but we believe it is best not to post it publicly. Prior to its dry-docking, the ship was said to have been stripped off its weapons and sensors, conducted build-up welding to keep her afloat, and was towed from Cavite to Cebu. This could have been a reason for its sudden retirement, as the ship is considered unsafe to use.

Considering that the photo above of the stripped PG-140 which was also taken in Cebu, the ship did not sail anymore since then and was just brought to its current resting place while awaiting for decision on how to dispose the hull.

BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo is seen here with BRP Boni Serrano (PG-111) in Cebu as of April 2015. Back then she appears to still be in service put is limited in conducting patrols within calmer interior waters.
Photo owned and credited to Mr. John Carlos Cabanillas, whose photo was taken from his Flickr page.



Upcoming Retirement of BRP Rajah Humabon:

As early as last year, MaxDefense has already mentioned in some of its comment posts in the MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook community page, that there were already unconfirmed information coming out that BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) the former flagship of the Philippine Navy, will be the next to retire.

As confirmed by several MaxDefense sources, this plan to retire the old rajah from service is finally coming into reality.

The Philippine Navy is scheduled to finally decommission the 74-year old destroyer escort by 4th quarter of 2017, most probably between September and November 2017.

The BRP Rajah Humabon is formerly the US Navy destroyer escort USS Atherton. In this photo, USS Atherton was seen in action during World War 2, dropping depth charges while hunting for the German submarine U-853, which she is credited of destroying. This makes the ship among the only active warship in the world credited of sinking an enemy submarine.
Photo taken from DESAUSA.org's website.


Signs were already coming out of her impending retirement, including the bypass of her scheduled dry-docking which should have been made either in 2015 or 2016. In comparison, as mentioned in our posts a few days ago at the MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook page, the scheduled dry-docking of BRP Pangasinan (PS-31), BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20) and BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) were signs that they would be staying in service longer. The Philippine Navy would not spend more money on ships that are retiring anytime, and the release of Invitation to Bid to dry-dock and repair them confirms their continued service.

Another sign happened last year, when the Philippine Navy started implementing a new hull numbering and classification system. The new classification downgraded the BRP Rajah Humabon from a frigate (PF-11) to a patrol vessel (PS-11), instead of retaining it as a frigate with the anticipated hull number FF-11.

Based on information received by MaxDefense, the BRP Rajah Humabon is currently operating only as a ceremonial ship used to welcome visiting foreign warships entering Manila Bay, represent the Philippine Navy in PASSEX, and is used as a training ship.

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) as seen here conducting Passing Exercises (PASSEX) with the JS Izumo, currently Japan's largest warship, just before it leaves the Philippines a few days ago. BRP Rajah Humabon was also the PN ship that escorted the Japanese flotilla when it arrived for a goodwill visit to the Philippines.
Photo taken from Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's FB page.


The ship was found to be beyond economic repair, as signs of ageing has already affected the integrity of the ship's hull and frame, as well as on the actual physical condition of the ship. This is not to mention the obsolescence of all its working subsystems including weapons, sensors, mechanical and electrical, electronics, and hydraulics.

Another reason to retire the ship is more of an emotional decision, to drive the Philippine Navy to strive harder in acquiring newer assets and modernize the fleet. It is a sign of renewal in the Philippine Navy's mindset of maintaining obsolete assets instead of replacing them with new ones.

The impending retirement is also in anticipation on the arrival of the Philippine Navy's upcoming new asset, the Pohang-class corvette formerly known as ROKS Chungju of the Republic of Korea Navy, which is also scheduled to arrive sometime between September and October 2017.

There is currently no information yet on what the Philippine Navy intends to do with the ship once it retires, despite calls by many enthusiasts and former crew members of the ship (while in service with the US Navy and Philippine Navy, and probably with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force where she served after World War 2) to convert her into a museum or display ship. Based on observations alone, it is highly unlikely to be converted to a museum, as it means the Philippine Navy will be pushed to allocate funding to it while they are already having problems obtaining funding for active serving warships to be at sea.

Below is a video taken and posted by David Grindley on Youtube, showing the BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) entering Subic Bay. This is probably among the last pristine video you may find of the ship as it goes for retirement in a few months time.





MaxDefense will definitely post any updates on the BRP Rajah Humabon's retirement, as well as any other related information to the plan, which will be made available in our Facebook community page.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Embraer Advances in Philippine Air Force's Close Air Support Aircraft Acquisition Project (Horizon 1)

The acquisition of the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) next Close Air Support Aircraft has finally reached an important milestone after 4 years of failing to have it move beyond planning and pre-bid conferences.

On June 7, 2017, the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) finally went through with a bidder announced as the Sole Compliant Bidder, pending settlement of issues of another bidder.

The A-29 Super Tucano, Embraer's bid for the Philippine Air Force's Close Air Support Aircraft acquisition project under the Horizon 1 phase of the AFP Modernization Program.



Prior to SOBE:

MaxDefense previously mentioned in its Facebook community page post that there were at least three expected bidders who were present in the Pre-Bid Conference held last May 2017. The Pre-Bid Conference is a meeting wherein the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and prospective bidders and their suppliers are given the chance to clarify items specified in the Bid Documents, mostly paper works, permits, and financial requirements, aside from the Technical Specifications of the product being eyed for supply.

Three prospective bidders were present then: 

Aero Vodochody of Czech Republic, who was offering their L-39NG, a new product but was derived from the proven L-39 Albatross advance jet trainer. Apparently the initial offer made by Aero Vodochody is for six (6) brand new armed L-39NG, and two refurbished L-39 Albatross trainers upgraded to L-39NG standard. 


Aero Vodochody offered the L-39NG, which is a new development of the original L-39 Albatross advance jet trainer. The L-39NG are either made brand new, or are upgraded L-39s. 



Embraer of Brazil, which offered their EMB-314 / A-29 Super Tucano. Previously MaxDefense mentioned in an earlier blog entry that the Super Tucano was the PAF's favorite, and is "unofficially" the basis for the CAS aircraft project's technical specifications;


The Super Tucano is the said to be the favorite among PAF pilots, and is the most proven among the products offered.
Photo taken from the Colombian Defense Forum @ webinfomil.com, 



Textron Aviation - Beechcraft of the US, which submitted their AT-6 Wolverine, an armed variant of the successful Beechcraft T-6 Texan II aircraft family used by numerous countries including the US military.


Textron Aviation offered the AT-6 Wolverine for the PAF's CAS aircraft acquisition project. They have been lobbying for the type for years now.


There were other avaiation companies that showed interest on the project, including Turkish Aerospace Industries, which according to MaxDefense sources, discussed with the PAF regarding their armed variant of the Hürkųs, and Korea Aerospace Industries who previously made known its intention to offer the KA-1 Woongbi light attack aircraft. Both companies did not submit a bid. KAI proba ly determined early on that their product do not meet the Technical Specifications, while TAI did not have enough time to prepare their bid for the project.



Bid Submission Period:

Of the three expected bidders, only two formally submitted a bid to the Bids and Awards Committee, and these are Embraer and Textron Aviation-Beechcraft.

Like most biddings for AFP Modernization Projects, bidders are required to submit two envelopes. The first is the Eligibility and Technical Component, while the second is the Financial Component. The former includes all documentation requirements related to the company and the product as well as their capabilities as a supplier. Meanwhile the latter envelope contains the financial aspects of the bid, including the amount they are bidding for the project.

The process in opening bids by the BAC is to first open the Eligibility and Technical Component envelope, and check its compliance to requirements, before opening the envelope for the Financial Component.

Both of Embraer's bid envelopes were opened without any issue. But when Textron's Eligibility and Technical Component envelope was opened, the BAC found out that there are problems with the eligibility documents. Due to this, Textron was immediately disqualified, and opening of their Financial Component envelope did not proceed. This made it impossible for BAC and everyone else to know how much Textron's bid was.

This means Embraer is considered the Single Lowest Calculated Compliant Bidder, effectively winning the bid. But rules also allow Textron three (3) working days to file a Motion for Reconsideration that will ask the BAC to reconsider allowing their bid documents to be approved and be given the chance to have their Financial Component envelope be opened to determine if they outbid Embraer and take the position as the Lowest Calculated Compliant Bidder.

Based on MaxDefense sources, Embraer's bid is almost US$2 million lower than the ABC, surprising considering that MaxDefense believes that the ABC itself is already on the low side compared to acquisitions deals made by other countries with Embraer for the Super Tucano aircraft.


The Super Tucano made an appearance in the Philippines early 2016, and was flight tested by 15th Strike Wing pilots assisted by Embraer test pilots. The test unit was seen here (above) in Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite.
Photo taken from Pinoy Aviators Facebook page.


What are the Chances of Textron to Bounce Back?

When BAC gave Textron time to contest the bid results, many observers including PAF officers believe that Textron's chances of gaining a foothold after their debacle is too low. For one, the documents missing are not difficult to attain and could be a sign of the Textron tender team's carelessness. MaxDefense believes heads will roll in Textron because of this.

After the SOBE itself, no further documents can be submitted since it is unfair for the other bidders. Only extraordinary reasons might be given a chance, and this does not happen often as seen in dozens of big ticket item SOBEs in the past 5 years concerning the AFP Modernization Program projects.

But as respect to Textron, MaxDefense did not publish Embraer's win last June 7,  just to make sure that Embraer's win would not contested by anyone. But it appears that Textron will not contest the results of the bidding, giving a reason for MaxDefense to post this blog entry.

It is also surprising to note that the BAC agreed that Textron Defense's AT-6 Wolverine was found compliant of the technical specifications provided by the Philippine Air Force, considering that previous discussions we had mentioned that there are several parameters wherein the AT-6 might be at a disadvantage considering the PAF closely used the Super Tucano as basis for its specifications.

MaxDefense believes that if Textron did not mess up their bid submission, there is a chance that they could have been declared the Lowest Compliant Bidder, 


What's Next?

With Embraer already considered the Sole Compliant Bidder, the Philippine Air Force will be conducting Post-Bid Qualification Inspections to confirm the submitted documents of Embraer, while also checking Embraer's aircraft manufacturing as well as the Super Tucano itself. This would probably be done in Embraer's facility in Brazil.

Once they get the conformance approval from the PQ inspection team, the PAF would make a recommendation for the DND to provide a Notice/Letter of Award to Embraer which fomally signifies the awarding of the project to Embraer, and with that a Contract will follow between the two parties.

Once a Letter of Credit and Notice to Proceed from the DND/PAF will be provided to Embraer, it is the signal that  the implementation of the contract has started, and this is where the count-off for the manufacturing and delivery milestones get its basis.

Based on the bid  requirements of the project, Embraer should be able to deliver all six aircraft by 2019. 

It means the PAF's OV-10 Broncos will have to shoulder on a few years more. These ageing assets are in need of immediate replacement, despite their spectacular performance providing close air support and surgical strike missions against Maute terrorists in Marawi City.


Despite their spectacular performance in conducting surgical strike and close air support to ground forces in Marawi City, the OV-10 Broncos are in need of immediate replacement as the platforms are ageing fast.
Photo taken from Associated Press.


Beyond Horizon 1:

While the total number of aircraft for this specific deal only covers six (6) aircraft, the plan is for to acquire more aircraft in the next Horizon phases of the Philippine Air Force's Modernization Program.

Depending on the version of the Horizon 2-3 wish list submitted by the Philippine Air Force, the common plan is to get a total of 24 Close Air Support Aircraft to replace both the OV-10 Bronco and the SF-260TP used by the 16th and 17th Attack Squadrons of the 15th Strike Wing.

This means 18 aircraft more are needed by the PAF, and based on the submitted Horizon 2 proposal by the AFP and DND to Malacanang early this year, all 18 aircraft will be for acquisition within Horizon 2.

In the end, its up to the blessings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to make sure this plan happens, considering that Close Air Support to ground troops has shown its importance during the ongoing Marawi City occupation by Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists. The president, based on his previous speeches, has given his approval to acquire more propeller-powered attack aircraft, which he believes are cheaper and easier to maintain and operate than jet aircraft.



But for now, MaxDefense looks forward for Embraer passing the Post Qualification Inspection, which is already being prepared as of this writing.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Delivery of Elbit-Soltam M-71 155mm/39cal Towed Howitzers for the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps (Horizon 1 Project)

After three blog entries since our first entry on the project to acquire 155mm Towed Howitzers for the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps was posted in 2013 here @ MaxDefense Philippines blogs, we are now finally getting to the end of this acquisition project. This new milestone is better discussed in a new blog rather than updating older blogs that have become a little less relevant.


One of the Soltam M-71 155mm /39 calibreTowed Howitzers for the Philippine military seen here being tested in the Israel Defense Forces' Shivta Firing Range in the Negev Desert. Officials from the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps were present to verify the test results.
Photo exclusive for MaxDefense Philippines.


Recap: Elbit Gets Contract:


Israeli defense company Elbit Systems Land and C4I won the bid to supply and deliver twelve (12) units of 155mm / 39 calibre Howitzers and ammunition for the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps, and a contract was signed between them and the Department of National Defense (DND) in 2015.

Elbit, who owns howitzer manufacturer Soltan Systems, was to supply M-71 155mm towed howitzers to the PA and PMC, plus ammunition for the howitzers.

The original Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) was Php 438,620,000.00, and only two companies showed interest in the bidding. These are Elbit Systems Land and C4I, and BNT-Tvornica Masina i Hidraulike (BNT) based in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  But by April 2015, BNT withdrew from participating in the bidding, and Elbit was left to submit a bid and ultimately win the project. Elbit's submitted bid amount was Php 410,849,184.00.


MaxDefense believes that BNT entered the PA-PMC 155mm Towed Howitzer acquisition project with their M84 NORA-A1 155mm / 39 caliber gun howitzer, which was derived from the Yugoslavian M84 NORA 152mm towed howitzer (above).
Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.



Since the M-71 155mm Towed Howitzers are actually produced by Soltam Systems since the mid 1970s, and several units were even ordered and delivered to the Philippine Army in 1978. MaxDefense learned that there are some minor difference between the original 1978 model the PA received, and this 2016 model that are for delivery, and these include:

1, Travel Lock is now located on one trail only;
2. The new guns are equipped with LED lights;
3. Improvements were made on the Breech Opening Mechanism


One of the M-71 towed howitzers for the PA, as seen prior to delivery. The paint scheme identified this as an Army bound unit.



The last update MaxDefense Philippines made was on 12th May 2017, and was posted on our earlier blog entry "Updates on the 155mm Towed Howitzer with Ammunition Acquisition Project (Horizon 1) for the Philippine Army and Marine Corps" first posted on 20th March 2015. 


 Pre-Delivery Testing and Delivery:

Related to our previously posted information found on our earlier blog entries, MaxDefense Philippines received A1 information from its sources that the the delivery was divided into two batches: a first batch of three (3) howitzer units plus the ammunition and integrated logistics support (ILS) package, and another batch of nine (9) howitzer units.

The first batch underwent pre-delivery testing early this year, and was attended and verified by officials from the Philippine Marine Corps. The tests were made at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Shivta Firing Range in the Negev Desert. Delivery of the first units arrived in Manila on the last week of April 2017, after the howitzers were shipped from Israel. The Philippine Marine Corps' own artillery crew already underwent familiarisation and proficiency training locally,   


The first three units of Soltam M-71 155mm towed howitzers are seen here during its delivery. The guns arrived in the Philippines on the last week of April, and are already in the Philippine Marine Corps' possession as of this blog entry's posting.


The second batch of nine (9) howitzers underwent a separate pre-delivery testing also attended and verified by officers of the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps, and was also conducted on the IDF's Shivta Firing Range. All nine howitzers passed the tests and were confirmed by the PA and PMC's officials present.
  
This batch is expected to arrive within June 2017, with the actual delivery date withheld by MaxDefense for security reasons. Six (6) of the howitzers will be for the Philippine Army, while the Philippine Marines will receive the remaining three (3) units for them to complete their first ever 155mm Artillery Battery.





Pre-delivery testing of the second batch of nine (9) howitzers conducted at the Negev Desert.




The paint scheme for the howitzers differ for thse bound for the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps. 3-colour camouflage painted units are for Philippine Army, while Olive Drab are bound for Philippine Marine Corps.

With the delivery of these assets, both the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps will each have a new 155mm Artillery Battery in its table of organization, while paving the way for the transition of both armed service from reliance on the smaller 105mm towed howitzer. It is expected that both ground services will be requesting for the acquisition of dozens more of 155mm towed howitzers and increase the size of their organization and improving their capabilities altogether.




Side Trip: PA and PMC Officers Witness Testing of ATMOS 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer:

Take notice on the two photos posted above showing the nine M-71 155mm towed howitzers in the desert and you may have notice a truck, which upon closer look shows a 155mm gun mounted on it. Sources confirmed that it is an ATMOS 155mm/52 calibre Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH), brought in by Elbit-Soltam Systems for live fire demonstrations to the present officials of the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps.

The ATMOS was originally being considered by the Philippine Army in 2013, before the Philippine Army's leadership backtracked and confirmed that they will only be acquiring towed howitzers under the Horizon 1 phase of the AFP Modernization Program. Based on information gathered, Elbit Systems submitted their proposal and offer for the ATMOS SPH system earlier and has undertaken preliminary evaluation by the Philippine Army. 


The ATMOS 155mm/52 calibre self propelled howitzer, seen here with some of the M-71 towed howitzers bound for the Philippines.  In this case, the ATMOS system is mounted on an 8x8 high mobility truck. It can also be mounted on the shorter 6x6 high mobility truck depending on end user's choice. 


While Horizon 1 does not include any plan for Self Propelled Howitzer procurement, MaxDefense has previously mentioned several times in its blog entries and Facebook page posts that the Horizon 2 phase of the AFP Modernization Program covering years 2018 to 2022 includes plans to acquire such assets for the both the PA and PMC. The latest version of the Horizon 2 phase acquisition plan list indicated a combined requirement of 5 batteries between the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps, with more expected to be requested under the Horizon 3 phase covering years 2023 to 2028.


While the demonstration is not yet part of the acquisition phase, this is a good sign that the AFP is indeed giving a chance to consider such assets for future requirements. 


Moving forward, MaxDefense will be providing updates on the delivery of the balance nine units of Elbit-Soltam Systems M-71 155mm/39 calibre towed howitzers, as well as updates on the integration of the first batch of three units with the Philippine Army Artillery Regiment once information become available. We look forward for these assets to be of good use to the PA and PMC.


Philippine Coast Guard Modernization Projects