Your 1st for Philippine Defense

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.


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 

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

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.


  1. First post.
    Look guys let's see the good side of this situation first and take a good look on China quality first hand. First hand experience will give more information than simply give a blind judgement.

    And don't worry about political implication yet, your government is not stupid enough to sale its territory for just a few thousand rifles and ammo.

  2. Any assistance is indeed very welcome coming from the US, China or any other country. With our country's current predicament in Marawi, we could use all the help that we can. This is also a good oppurtunity to test these different weapon systems so as to help our AFP in the future to make better decisions in arms and weapons procurement.
    Sir Max, again, a very informative article! Cheers!

  3. A great article overall with detailed analysis. Thanks Max!

  4. If NORINCO products show good performance, then why not, we could buy more. butthurts to pinoys who are anti china, but for me as long as our army get what they need thats fine. Theres a possibility also that NORINCO will invest and establish a big facility in the Philippines if the project of government arsenal will be approved by the senate. not only NORINCO but also POLY group technology and AVIC. this will be a big help to the country because it will increase tax to be collected plus more job to the Filipinos, especially if this facility is big, it can reach up to hundred thousands of job depends on the numbers of facility built. So this is okay to me again. no more FIlipinos going to abroad.

  5. Great But its better not to buy and choose chinese techonology and military equipment because they are fragile The only good thing about chinese military is the navy If I was president DU30 I would buy type 52D Destroyers which is cheap and Powerful We could atleast buy 2

  6. Giving out norinco CQ-A's IMO is the best move to dispel the myth of low quality chinese weapons. Giving out a version of the M4 in itself a challenge for the philippines military to directly compare a weapon of the same design but manufactured in different places. If this big gamble pays off, it would single handedly dispel all the bad myths of chinese weapons with the phillipine soldiers.

    BTW norinco M4 clones have quite a good reputation with civillian users. Remington manufactured M4's meanwhile, have a very low reputation even by american gub owners. Browse through blogs such as TFB to read what most users rate remington build M4's.

  7. thanks anyway.... afp be careful with those toys.

  8. the cq a will be tested by friday. if I given a chance to join the saf in assaulting the maute.


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects