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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase

With the Revised AFP Modernization Program under Republic Act 10349 now within the so-called Horizon 2 phase covering 2018 to 2022, the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has another acquisition program that was proposed for approval with the National Government.

As of our last check, the Department of National Defense (DND) headed by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, has already approved the latest Horizon 2 Priority Project List which is worth Php299,707,467,571.33. This covers the acquisition programs for the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN) which includes the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC); the Philippine Air Force (PAF), the General Headquarters - AFP, and the Government Arsenal (GA). Out of that, the Philippine Army was proposed to get Php47,993,429,694.00.

New acquisition list means new projects lined up for the next 5 years. And the Philippine Army has an interesting acquisition line-up in store. For this first blog entry for 2018 covering the Horizon 2 phase, MaxDefense will be discussing about the proposed acquisition of armoured assets for the PA, more specifically for the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID).

The FNSS-PT Pindad KAPLAN-MT medium tank, jointly developed by Turkish company FNSS and Indonesian company PT Pindad. The Kaplan is among those eyed for the Light-Medium Tank requirement of the Philippine Army.
Credits to owner of photo.

Marawi Campaign Experience:

The Philippine Army's experiences in combat against ISIS-inspired terrorists in an urban terrain in Marawi City provided basis for their requirements for new combat armoured vehicles. The tough terrain wherein concrete-poured building walls became good defensive barriers used by terrorists against advancing government forces, became a huge factor.

Among those lessons learned in Marawi City conflict include the following:

1. For fire support vehicles, the 76mm guns of the Scorpion CRVT and M113A2 FSV were insufficient in punching through or demolishing concrete walls and structures. The same is true for the 90mm guns used by the V-300 FSV of the Philippine Marine Corps. These guns are currently the largest calibers available in the AFP excluding the 105mm howitzer gun mounted on a few LVTH-6 armoured vehicles of the PMC which did not participate in the Marawi City crisis.

It was found out during the Marawi City crisis that the largest guns found on armored vehicles in the AFP, the 90mm gun on Philippine Marine Corps V-300 6x6 (top), and the 76mm gun on Philippine Army M113A2 FSV (below), were not enough to punch through structures especially on concrete walls and buildings.
Credits to owner of photos.

2. For armored fighting/infantry fighting vehicles, the 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannons mounted on M113A2 IFV, and the Oerlikon KBA-B02 25mm cannons mounted on the FMC AIFV armored vehicles were reported to be insufficient too in use against concrete structures, and 25mm ammo were reportedly not penetrating the concrete walls. Several M113A2 IFV armed with the Elbit UT25 unmanned turrets were used in Marawi City, and these are new acquisitions of the Philippine Army, only delivered in 2016.

The 25mm autocannons mounted on the M113A2 IFV were also said to be ineffective against concrete structures. The Philippine Army is now considering using a larger caliber for IFVs instead of continuing its plans for more 25mm armed IFVs.
Credits to owner of photo.

3. Unmanned turrets and remote-controlled weapons systems (RCWS) were proven to be effective in Military Operations and Urban Terrain (MOUT), as the system allowed cavalrymen to fire accurate shots using advanced sighting systems, and operate at night using night fighting systems, while also providing safety to gun crews and also improving the layout and space inside the armoured vehicle. The Philippine Army believes that investing in unmanned turrets and RCWS is the way to go for future armoured vehicles.

4. Tracked armoured vehicles were useful when operating in a very tight environment like in urban terrain, and its ability to turn on its own length is advantageous compared to the need to manoeuvre back and forth for wheeled vehicles. But the wheeled armoured vehicle is also advantageous in other purposes, being easier to travel in longer distances without the use of transporter trucks, faster on the road, and cheaper to maintain than tracked vehicles. So the Philippine Army believes that a proper balance of both tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles is needed depending on the requirement.

5. Heavy armour and not just firepower is needed to protect armoured and cavalry crew and troopers while operating in an MOUT environment like in Marawi City.

These lessons now appear to be among those used by Philippine Army Armor Development Office  planning teams, and has become the basis of their planned acquisitions.

Philippine Army's Planned Armoured Vehicle Acquisitions:

In previous announcements by the Philippine Army and the Department of National Defense, it was confirmed that the Philippine Army will be getting TANKS. Later on it was confirmed to be either a Medium Tank, or a Light Tank, depending on the source and date of the announcement.

MaxDefense confirms that there is indeed a plan to acquire tanks as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. But as explained already by authorities, they are indeed light or medium tanks, and not main battle tanks as originally wanted by the Army's Armor Development Office planners a few years ago. To those who have been following MaxDefense for some time, you may remember when we were discussing about tanks, it was actually a time when the Army was considering main battle tanks.

This goes to show that there is indeed lack of continuity happening in the planning for acquisition of equipment not just with the Philippine Army, but with the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole.

As MaxDefense already mentioned before, and I believe was also confirmed by the DND, that the Philippine Army was eyeing 44 tanks as per the latest Horizon 2 proposed acquisition plan, with a proposed budget of Php9,484,332,000.00.

44 tanks would be enough to equip 3 tank companies, equivalent to a tank battalion based on current table of organization and equipment of the Mechanized Infantry Division.

No technical specifications has been released so far, but MaxDefense's initial information from sources mentioned that the following are to be expected for the light/medium tank:

 - could be tracked or wheeled;
 - armed with at least a 105mm gun;
 - would weigh up to a maximum of 35 tons, but weighing less than that would be preferred:
 - powered by a diesel engine

Originally, MaxDefense believed that the MID was looking for just tracked vehicles as platform for the light/medium tank. This was due to its ability to pivot or turn within its own length which is useful in urban terrain, and tracked vehicles have better off-road capability than wheeled vehicles. Therefore it was a surprise that the MID was actually looking at both tracked and wheeled platforms.

It is highly possible that the acquisition would now involve 2 companies of tracked light/medium tanks, and 1 company of wheeled tanks. Each company may have around 14 vehicles each.

The Light Tank is among those projects already for final approval by the President.
Croppd from the RAFPMP Horizon 2 documents sent to Pres. Duterte for approval.

Tank Destroyers:

First of, we discuss the requirement for a Tank Destroyer, which the Philippine Army describes as a "Wheeled Light Tank". MaxDefense believes that the name "Tank Destroyer" is the more appropriate description for such, and a better way to separate this type of vehicle from a "Light Tank" based on a tracked vehicle platform.

Based on the platforms offered to the Philippine Army, most tank destroyer platforms are based on 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles due to its capability to carry large turrets and remain stable when absorbing recoil from firing large caliber guns like a 105mm tank gun.

As of this blog entry's posting, MaxDefense was told that the offers they received were from South Korea, Turkey, and one from Europe. All of those alreadt proposed are using an 8x8 platform. Aside from these offers, its still possible for other options to be considered especially if the Army opens a public tender for the acquisition.

At the moment, MaxDefense gathered that the offers made to the Army's TWG include tank destroyers based on the following: Hyundai Rotem of South Korea with their KW2 (K808) Scorpion, FNSS of Turkey with their PARS, Otokar from Turkey with their ARMA 8x8, and an entry from Europe which is still unnamed. It was also mentioned to MaxDefense that Russian and Chinese options may be considered although less likely to be chosen.

MaxDefense believes that a company (around 12-14 vehicles) might be acquired, and would be deducted from the 44 tanks planned for acquisition.

Hyundai Rotem's Scorpion is a new product from the said company, and is available in 6x6 variant as the KW1 (K806 in Republic of  Korea Army) and the 8x8 KW2 (K808 in Republic of Korea Army) models. No confirmation was made with MaxDefense if the K808 model offered as a tank destroyer is a standard KW2 armed with a 105mm gun turret sourced from a 3rd party supplier, or the KW2 Jupiter, which is a special model designed specifically as a fire support vehicle armed with a 120mm gun similar to those used by the Rotem K1A1 main battle tank. The KW2 is currently in service only with the Republic of Korea Army starting 2016, although full production will only start this year.

The K808 KW2 weighs at only around 20 tons, and with the 105mm gun turret it could weigh in at less than 27 tons. It could be the lightest among the confirmed offerings made to the PA.

The Hyundai Rotem KW2 (K808) Scorpion in APC configuration. It is said that the vehicle can be configured to carry a 105mm tank gun turret. Another version, the Jupiter, is a specially designed vehicle although its prototype used the older design of the vehicle and may not be available anymore.
Photo taken from Tanknutdave's website, said to be originally taken from IHS Janes.

FNSS' PARS is a vehicle already well-heard before by the Filipino defense community, as Malaysia bought a fleet of 200+ vehicles a few years ago as the Deftech AV8. The Turkish-made armoured vehicle is also available in 6x6 and 8x8 configuration, and can be armed with a 105mm or 120mm gun turret, although no orders have been made so far on such configuration. The PARS is in service with 3 countries including its country of origin, Turkey.

The PARS 8x8, without the gun turret, already weighs in at 30 tons. With a 105mm gun turret, the vehicle is expected to kick-in at more than 36 tons, which could be a problem considering the PA wanted a potential tank destroyer to weigh as less as possible, possibly below the 30 to 35 ton bracket, if possible. Meanwhile, the smaller PARS 6x6 may fit the bill although it is not yet confirmed if the vehicle can be safely mounted with a 105mm gun turret.

The FNSS PARS 8x8.
Credits to owner of photo.

Another Turkish product, the Otokar ARMA, is also available in 6x6 and 8x8 configuration. It is physically smaller than the FNSS PARS 8x8, and also weighs less at around 24 tons without the 105mm gun turret. Adding a 105mm gun turret brings it up to almost 30 tons. It is service with at least 2 foreign countries, although it is surprising that Turkey is not operating the type since it lost to the FNSS PARS in a previous competition to supply 8x8 armoured vehicles to the Turkish Army.

The Otokar ARMA 8x8 with a 105mm turret, presumed to be from CMI Defense.
Photo taken from Otokar's website.

A European-made model was also offered to the Philippine Army. And according to our sources, this armoured vehicle is in service with at least 3 countries including its country of origin and an Asian country with very close ties to the Philippines. MaxDefense was asked to withhold the information for now.  It is confirmed to be capable of carrying a 105mm gun turret despite no country ordering the vehicle in such configuration, and also weighs less than 30 tons with the tank gun turret in place.

Apparently, the US has an offer that has been standing for some years now for the General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker 8x8 armoured vehicle. The last confirmation came from the time of former Philippine Army Commanding General Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who was personally provided with information on the Stryker during his visit to Pentagon. If this is still in place, it is also possible that the Philippine Army may consider the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System, which is armed with a 105mm tank gun and is used for fire support missions, or even as a tank destroyer.

The only problems with the Stryker are its price, and its manufacturer not likely to join public biddings. Apparently GDLS don't sell them cheaply, although it can be a possible candidate for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) through US Military Assistance program to the Philippines. And since they do not normally join biddings, if the Philippine Army decides to acquire tank destroyers through a public bidding, don't expect GDLS to join in, as they know they won't win by being the lowest bidder.

The M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

There's no word yet to confirm if there is any offering from Russia or China, considering the president is very supportive of possible arms acquisition from both countries. More emphasis on China, since they have products which may match what the Philippine Army is looking for.

Light/Medium Tanks:

This is what most people are expecting when the Philippine Army and DND announced that they were acquiring tanks. A light or medium tank using a tracked armored vehicle platform, and is light enough to not need special equipment when crossing bridges in the Philippines. Around 2 companies worth (around 28 to 30 vehicles) are planned for acquisition.

To make it simpler, the Philippine Army actually considered also offers from the same companies who offered the Tank Destroyers. What the Philippine Army actually did was ask for offers from these companies for the two types of vehicles. Thus even without mentioning which vehicles were offered, probably a lot here may already know what to expect. But for discussion's sake, let us name them.

Since Hyundai Rotem does not produce a light/medium tank using a tracked armoured vehicle platform, the Koreans actually fielded the Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 light tank. FNSS, in cooperation with PT Pindad of Indonesia reportedly offered the Kaplan MT, while Otokar is said to have proposed to use their Tulpar tracked IFV as a platform with a 105mm tank gun turret. Like the tank destroyer, there is also a European model being proposed for the Light/Medium tank and will also be equipped with a 105mm tank gun turret.

Hanwha Defense System's K21-105 light tank was derived from the K21 infantry fighting vehicle used by the Republic of Korea Army. It was formerly under Doosan DST until the company was acquired by Hanwha a few years ago. It is essentially the same base vehicle with its turret replaced with a CMI Defense Cockerill XC-8 with 105mm tank gun. The vehicle weighs around 25 tons and is considered a light tank. While it has already shown its capability to carry the 105mm tank gun turret, the ROK Army has not ordered the type. Apparently Hanwha's offer is within the budget of the Army for the said project.

The Hanwha Defense Systems (formerly Doosan DST) K21-105 being tested in South Korea.
Credits to owner of the photo.

Weighing at around 35 tons, the FNSS-PT Pindad KAPLAN MT/Harimau Hitam (Black Tiger) can be considered a medium tank, and is armed with a 105mm tank gun mounted on either a CMI Defense Cockerill XC-8 turret (similar to the one used on the K21-105), or the Cockerill 3105 turret, with a Cockerill 105mm hugh pressure gun. It uses a tracked armoured vehicle platform that was jointly designed by the 2 companies, and is actually a new vehicle that is not yet in service with any country. Indonesia is more of the target market for the tank, with FNSS providing technical expertise and technology. This actually is a disadvantage since the AFP procurement rules require a product to be in service with its country of origin, or at least 2 other foreign countries.

The FNSS/Pindad Kaplan MT (also called the Harimau Hitam in Indonesia), shown here in Indonesian Army colors and being tested by PT Pindad and Indonesian Army teams. The sole Turkish-made prototype is yet to be followed by an Indonesian-made prototype, and the vehicle is yet to be approved for full production. This is a main problem in its consideration for the Philippine Army since the vehicle itself is not considered as a proven product.
Credits to owner of photo.

The Otokar Tulpar is another new product, which was only released by Otokar a few years ago and has not been ordered yet by Turkey or any other country. Coming in at around 35 tons, it could also be considered as a Medium Tank. It was design to also be able to carry a 105mm tank gun turret although its yet to be identified which brand was it design to carry. But based on Otokar's use of CMI Defense Cockerill turret on the ARMA, it is expected that the same turret was considered for the Tulpar's "anti-tank vehicle" variant (which is how they call the tank variant). Although there is no confirmation yet, MaxDefense believes that other turret models can be used in place of those from CMI Defense.

The Otokar Tulpar, in AIFV configuration, as shown during IDEF 2013. A medium tank variant is also possible using a 105mm gun turret instead of the 25-30mm autocannon.
Photo taken from

Like the tank destroyer, the European-made tracked light tank was offered by the same company. The light tank variant is not in service with any other country, but the base tracked armoured vehicle is in service with 2 European countries and a third European country preparing to put its derivative into service. With a 105mm tank gun turret, the vehicle is expected to weigh around 30 tons.

As with Russian and Chinese models, there is no confirmation if they are also offering or even willing to join a public tender should it become the mode of acquisition for these light/medium tanks. A G2G deal would definitely benefit both countries, as they are expected to offer a similar but definitely cheaper alternative, like China's Norinco VT-5 light tank, and Russia's 2S25 Sprut-SD airborne-capable light tank.

Another offer that was actually made a few years ago came from Elbit Systems Land & C4I of Israel. They previously offered refurbished and upgraded SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyers handled by their Belgian subsidiary Sabiex. The SK-105 retains their 105mm gun, and can be rebuilt to modern standards including a new fire control system and mechanical/electrical systems.

Elbit and Sabiex also offered the Philippine Army some of their SK-105A2 Kurassier stocks in an as-is, where-is option (no upgrades). Apparently both options were not given serious consideration by the Philippine Army as it prefers brand new, newer models rather than upgraded and refurbished old units. The SK-105 was first deployed in the 1960s and uses old Cold War-era technology. But they come in very cheap, even for the upgraded model.

Sabiex, through their parent company Elbit Systems, offered a refurbished and upgraded SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyer to the Philippine Army and other militaries. These vehicles are former Austrian Army models are can be modernized and tropicalized according to Sabiex and Elbit.
Credits to owner of the photo.

Turret Issues:

Previously, MaxDefense mentioned that Belgium is implementing an arms export restriction to the Philippines. It was later on confirmed by Shephard Media that the national government of Belgium is not imposing an arms export ban to the Philippines, but its Walloon regional government is implementing a strict control on arms export. It was later found out by MaxDefense through the AFP and from the local defense industry, that the Walloon regional government has indeed stopped a number of export license of arms, munition, and weapons spare parts intended for the Philippines, due to Human Rights concerns.

Already affected are the FN Herstal M3P machine guns, RMP gun-rocket pods, and HMP gun pods for helicopters of the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy, as well as FN Herstal Minimi squad automatic weapons for the Philippine Army and Government Arsenal.

While FN Herstal has nothing to do with the Tank Destroyers and Light Tanks, the Walloon Regional Government's decision to withhold export licenses of arms to the Philippines will affect the tank gun turrets for the vehicles.

CMI Defense, the makers of the Cockerill line of turrets, is also within the control of the Walloon Regional Government. Thus, even if CMI Defense wanted to supply the turrets to the Philippines, the regional government might defer its export, and CMI and the proponents cannot do anything about it.

The Hanwha K21-105 and the Rotem KW2/K808, the FNSS/Pindad Kaplan MT, the FNSS PARS, Otokar's ARMA and Tulpar, and the European 8x8 and tracked armoured vehicles all use CMI Defense's turrets.

Despite the availability of other suppliers of turrets like Oto Melara's Hitfact 105, or similar models from Denel and General Dynamics. But this would prove to be a problem since these vehicles were developed with CMI Defense turrets in mind. Any reconfiguration may require further development, which in turn means costs that might be shouldered by the Philippine Army.

So far, it appears that most of the offerings were able to find solutions. Apparently, the Koreans will continue to use CMI Defense turrets and are able to do so, while the Turkish companies especially FNSS are said to be hesitant to proceed with the projects if the Philippine government cannot settle its issues with the Belgian government. The European offers are willing to use a different turret model, which actually gives their offers an advantage over the others.

According to PT Pindad, FNSS' partner on the development of Kaplan MT, they have not used a different turret model for the Kaplan and any request to replace the turret with another model may require more time for product development and includes costs that PT Pindad or FNSS may be unwilling to shoulder on their own.

Otokar might be able to use a different turret model but this needs further confirmation.

The concern on the Koreans is that despite the capability to supply the tanks with CMI Defense turrets, support and spares could be an issue in the future, similar to what is happening with FN Herstal products ised by the AFP.

MaxDefense urges the Philippine government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs, to settle this issue with the Belgian government. It was also the recommendation of FN Herstal's local representative in the Philippines, Intrade Asia Pacific Corporation, as they are also having problems supplying parts for the AFP.

Lack of Heavy Armor:

Another issue that is worth discussing is the choice of getting light weight, lightly armoured tanks instead of heavily armoured with a heavier gun.

Marawi and Zamboang showed that armoured vehicles, especially those operating in urban operations/MOUT will be susceptible to heavy gunfire, high explosives, booby traps, and RPG/anti-tank fire.  Armoured vehicles are also used by troops as cover for their advance.

In these cases, heavy armour is extremely important to protect the tank crew, and also survive such extreme concentration of enemy fire and achieve their mission while also safely returning from it.

Based on the armor protection data from the vehicles mentioned above, most if not all (Kaplan, K21, and the European model) are only protected up to STANAG 4569 Level 4, which is good up to 14.5mm projectiles and 155mm shell splinters.

The K21 is said to also have a better frontal armor capable of protection from up to 30mm armour piercing projectiles as it was designed to fight BMP-3 from the North Korean Army.

The Tulpar is said to be capable only of STANAG 4569 Level 2 protection from small arms fire but can be upgraded to Level 5 protection up to 25mm AP projectiles as it has modular armour capability by adding composite armour.

MaxDefense believes that protection from RPG fire might still be a problem, which heavier tanks like MBT has a better chances of surviving multiple hits and remain operational.

Adding more armour protection on these light tanks will affect their weight and decrease its mobility as the mechanicals are given heavier loads.

Lack of Heavier Firepower:

While the main threat the Philippine Army has at the moment is terrorism and insurgency with the possibility of conducting wars in urban environment, the PA should also consider the need to be able to destroy or disable tanks from a perceived invasion force.

All of the light tanks offered are mounted with a 105mm tank gun. But most modern main battle tanks are already protected from 105mm AP projectiles, thus making the light tanks incapable of piercing enemy tank armour.

A 120mm or 125mm tank gun armed with modern AP shells would have a better outcome against enemy tanks. But it also comes at a price since heavier main battle tanks are the ones carrying such heavier gun caliber.

And if used on MOUT operations, a 120mm ammo is more expensive than a 105mm ammo. MaxDefense believes a 105mm projectile would be enough should another Marawi Crisis happens.

Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers:

This is something that was not expected before, since the original plan by the Philippine Army was to upgrade and refurbish some of their existing V-150 Commando and GKN Simba 4x4 armoured vehicles, and equip them with RCWS systems.

Later on it was confirmed by sources that the Philippine Army was considering two options: either to refurbish and upgrade some of its existing 4x4 armoured vehicles, or acquire a new armoured vehicle. Most of those involved in the project within the Mechanized Infantry Division prefer the acquisition of new assets.

28 vehicles, good for 2 Mechanized Companies, are planned to be acquired with a proposed budget of Php2,265,200,000 as part of the Army's Horizon 2 modernization phase.

The technical specifications are not yet finalized by the project's TWG, but MaxDefense was given by MID sources an idea of what to expect:

- maximum budget is around Php80.9 million per vehicle including Integrated Logistics Support, training, and other requirements;
- wheeled, and probably 6x6 or 8x8;
- preferably the same platform or model as the Wheeled Tank Destroyers for commonality;
- armed with a 30mm unmanned turret.
- basic model can be upgraded with modular or improved armoring which can be done in the future.

The initial information MaxDefense received is quite tight considering the budget appears to be very small while specifying specs that may need more budget. For a base vehicle, Php80 million each may be enough, but the 30mm unmanned turret alone is already pushing too hard. MaxDefense confirmed this with a source from a major defense company, who confirmed that Php80 million per vehicle may not be enough for an 8x8 vehicle, more so an APC armed with a 30mm unmanned turret.

The choice of using at least a wheeled 6x6 platform means that experience with 4x4s may have already been considered. In both the Zamboanga and Marawi City crisis, tires are being shot at by terrorists to disable or reduce the armoured vehicle's mobility. This despite the armoured vehicles using run-flat tires that enable them continue running for a certain time or distance even after the tires are deflated.

Based on the requirement to be preferably similar vehicles to the tank destroyer, MaxDefense believes that the possible offers made came again from the same companies that offered the Wheeled Tank Destroyer. MaxDefense expects Hyundai Rotem to have offered the KW1 (K806) 6x6 and KW2 (K808) 8x8 Scorpion, FNSS with its PARS 6x6 and 8x8, Otokar with its ARMA 6x6 and 8x8, and the European model with a 6x6 and 8x8 version of its wheeled armoured vehicle.

MaxDefense also received confirmation that unsolicited offers were made by PT Pindad, probably with its Pansir Anoa 6x6, and Elbit System with the Amir 6x6 armed with a UT30 unmanned turret based on the UT25 used in the M113A2 IFVs they supplied a few years ago to the Philippine Army.

The Pansir Anoa 6x6 from PT Pindad of Indonesia. It actually looks like a Renault VAB APC from France.
Photo taken from PT Pindad's website.

Apparently Gaia Automotive Industry, an Israeli company represented by a local company, also made a separate offer using the Amir 6x6 armoured vehicle similar to what was being offered by Elbit Systems, but with a different unmanned turret possibly from Israel Military Industries (IMI). Gaia Automotive appears to be the Original Manufacturer (OEM) of the Amir, with Elbit carrying the model under its brand too.

A CGI of the Amir 6x6 wheeled APC armed with what appears to be an Elbit UT30 unmanned turret with 30mm gun.
Credits to owner and source of the photo.

Apparently the Elbit/Gaia Amir 6x6 appears to be the cheapest armoured vehicle platform being offered, followed by PT Pindad's Anoa 6x6. The only problem with the Amir 6x6 is its only a prototype at the moment, since both Gaia and Elbit only has the 4x4 version in actual production.

Actually MaxDefense believes it would be better if the Philippine Army will continue using Elbit System's unmanned turret for logistics, maintenance and support benefits due to its commonality with existing Elbit UT25 turret already in use with the Philippine Army. The use of a different Unmanned Turret model would not be a huge problem, but it would be best if the Army could reduce the number of types of similar systems in its inventory.

But budget remains the biggest obstacle. So far there are 3 solutions in this problem:

1. Increase the acquisition budget beyond Php80.9 million per vehicle;

2. Change the unmanned 30mm turret into a manned turret system, which is cheaper;

3. Settle for a cheaper remote weapon system, lets say a 12.7mm Remote Controlled Weapon System (RCWS) like the Dragon RCWS used in the M113A2s Elbit supplied earlier. This can be replaced later on as funds become available, and the RCWS reused for other existing vehicles like the Simba or V-150.

With the finalized Horizon 2 modernization proposal still awaiting Pres. Duterte's signature despite already being approved by the AFP and DND leaderships, it remains to be seen if there would still be changes in the program or budget of these projects. MaxDefense believes that no more changes might be made on the budget, although the quantity and specs may still change since all 3 projects are still in their pre-procurement stage. Everything can still happen, but hopefully its for the better.


  1. is there blog for NAVY and Air Force H2 projects presented like this one Sir Max

    1. What for? This covers everything you are looking for. This is it man.

  2. is there a blog about H2 projects of Air Force and Navy

  3. This is gonna be great for the Army, hopefully the Marines will get their AAVs soon and acquire additional units in the 2nd horizon to distinguish their function as an amphibious force against our sole ground force which is the Army alone, and to douse the talk of the proposed elevation of the Marines as another AFP service branch for now.

    P.S. I also hope that the Navy will proceed with their Medium-Lift Choppers for the Tarlac-Class LPDs. Just my wishful thinking.

  4. I recommended to buy K21 IFV,Otokar ARMA for Wheeled Tank Destroyer,VT-5 for medium tank and PARS 6x6 for wheeled APC.K21 IFV because it has 40mm gun perfect to penetrate walls and its unmatchable protection.Otokar ARMA because its price is perfect for our budget and its unique protection and air-conditioning. VT-5 because its performance is match on army's specification and its armor that can proof against RPG and anti tank missiles perfect for urban warfare and you can pick what armor you want and last PARS 6x6 because its performance,firepower, protection and Engine are perfect for army's specification. It can adapt any guns from unmanned to manned turrets, it can be amphibious and can drive on roads even on flat tires.

  5. has anyone checked the rooikat of south africa it can be equipped with 105 mm gun and its wheel based

  6. After 2 years in this administration my expectation for the AFP to modernize has become unconfident. And should it push through I would not recommend korea made specially on what happened on the FAP fiasco and now the delayed AVV delivery. This shows on their poor conduct and credibility put into the light. Nuff said for now.

  7. The lessons of wheeled armour assests during Marawi Siege by V-150 Cabadbaran and his body Simba APC cornered and became sitting duck. It was i think almost 2 weeks before our fallen operators' bodies were retrieved.

    1. Just turn over the v150s to the pnp saf and the simbas to airforce spow for airbase security, but of course after its refurbishment.

  8. Sounds like the two unnamed vehicles are Pandur II and ASCOD

  9. if the project Frigate acquisition gets cancelled and HHI gets banned due to it, wont it also affect their bids for this project.

  10. Sir Max, i dont want to sound negative but are these the only armored project for horizon 2?

  11. If the main reason is to punch through walls, even a 0.50 cal HE bullet can pass through 2 inches of solid concrete. For anything like a 25mm shell cannot penetrate a wall, there must be something really wrong.

  12. Sufficiently ambitious. Remains to be seen if he will sign it despite slashing modernization budget. Too much kimchi lobby maybe we could go Turkish/Indonesian for a change.

  13. any news about BMP-3F for the marines? and why BMP-3 is not included in the selection? if we go for russian hardware (BMP-3, T-90S, BMD-4, BTR-80, etc.), this might be the quickest and cheapest route to get heavy armoured units, IMO

  14. In an invasion scenario, light/medium tanks with 105mm gun is still capable of destroying heavily armoured MBTs by using ammunition such as laser-guided Falarick anti-tank missile...AFP should have those together with purchased light/medium tanks

  15. I hope philippines choose panser anoa and medium tank kaplan/harimau hitam FNSS/PINDAD

  16. It would be more effective to acquire and use a combination of K21-40 IFV and K21-105 Medium Tank as an Assault Tank Group for the Philippine Army. For wheeled vehicles FNSS PARS 8x8 or KW2-K808 will be the best choice to enhance the capability and effectiveness of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Marines .

  17. Regarding this

    "A European-made model was also offered to the Philippine Army. And according to our sources, this armoured vehicle is in service with at least 3 countries including its country of origin and an Asian country with very close ties to the Philippines."

    This Asian country bought a very tiny-tiny amount of this model including the ones with the 105mm. This is according to various local medias, and local military forums. So I'm not sure it can be in military service of that Asian country. They bought it for evaluation purpose. It is their habit to buy tiny-tiny amount of weapon models, from China, Ukraine, and other countries, for evaluation purposes.

    And according to Wiki, the 105mm version was tested in the country of origin, but the army never put it into service.

  18. Is the the BTR80A2 not in the running for the APC requirement? It's an 8x8 with a 30mm gun and is of course already proven in the battlefield..

  19. Israel has a weapon that can be attached to the tank and it will launch when it detected an incoming RPG. it automatically explodes once near the RPG round while in mid air. But I am not sure if its for sale.

    1. You mean the Trophy (ASPRO) Active Protection system. Currently costs about US$300k per system. Very expensive for our military and I believe not urgently needed. Improvised modular armor and slat armor could do the job.

  20. Why not just buy a Patria or rosomak then put a bmp-3 turrent that can play both role as anti tank and anti infantry

  21. Throughout the world, military commands and law enforcement agencies are participating in more specialized missions, ranging from special operations and low-intensity conflicts to peace-keeping assignments. And that’s why armor to protect tactical vehicles and their crews against blasts and bullets.

  22. I suggest not to get tank destroyers. They're useless now. Either a mbt or get ATGMs, kornet, TOW, javelin for fighting tanks. Buy why are they buying tank destroyers? Terrorists doesn't have tanks. Maybe get an MBT. But I think they cannot afford MBT with modern passive and active defense like ERA, arena and trophy so maybe get the cheapest light/medium tank with 120mm/125mm gun?

  23. prefer 40 units of ARMATA tanks, 30 units of T 90 tanks

  24. Yes, medium tanks is almost wonderful for Philippine defense, but there's a little problem and this little problem complicate and makes everything looks playing dumb. We have a big external problem like Taiwan is facing now with out the US pressure to China Taiwan is already over ran by China.Thesame with the Philippines, actually it's not the territory but the resource rich west Philippine sea really very significant for China fortunately they lost in Hague tribunal court.Do you think China will not invade the Philippines in the near future , I don't think so, thats why we really need a main battle tank because this will help us counter PLA of China to established their invasion force. Filipinos were good in counter attack and ambush that's the only way we could get the upper hand. Other than that I dont know.

  25. Hey guys, medium tanks is almost wonderful for the Philippine defense. My argument is simple and easy. But we have a little problem and this will complicate things if not address. We have a big argument with China with regards to our west Philippine sea territorial claims fortunately we won and they lost in Hague arbitrary court. Wether we refused to think about it we are facing a big external problem . The conflict with China in the near future is inevitable ,do you think procuring a medium tank is a wise decision to confront China's pla ? I don't think so that's why we need a main battle tank like M1 abrams , T-90 or at least Leopard 2 to deter them attack us.

    1. I agree to the T-90 but M1 abrams has few downside but mostly its super expensive ranging about 301M php per unit in 2016 and leo 2A7 is becoming obsolete thats why Germany has new tank propose this year the price per unit of the leo 2 is estimate 278 M php while T-90 is lot cheaper thats why i agree to buy MBt instead of Medium tanks. Mostly MBT range about 100M to 5B php

  26. I recommend having a MBT on Philippine Arsenal and ive done a little basic research for an MBT and i recommend the T-72 And its other variants like T-72 B that weights around 49 to 50 Tons and its powered by a diesel engine. Combine with Speed,Good armor And a gun (largercaliber maybe) and most importantly its the cheapest MBT that is currently in service, ranging about 97 million Php per unit in 2009.
    Good armor speed and gun, cheap and currently being upgraded and said to able to destroy an M1 Abrams tank(definitely can punch to concrete).
    The only possible downside is thats its heavy weights about 50tons it will have problem on passing to bridges and transportation can also or might damage road infastructure. Other tanks include The T-90MS which is a diesel powered but weights 53tons and more expensive about estimate 218 M php per unit in 2018, T-14(not sure if it is exported)weight 55 ton and cost 194 M php per unit in 2015 it is advance can can be equipped with 150 mm gun in the future but it is so expensive to maintain and to buy also the ammunition . For medium tank ive found the TAM 2IP from argentina its a diesel engine and have a weight of 30.5 tons. Wheeled tanks have good guns easy to maintain and not so expensive but the protection, wheres the protection? Its protected against large caliber machine guns and artillary shrapnels but is it protected against RPG? It can be equip with ERA armor can be effective againts HEAT ATGM and new ERA said it can destroy APFSDS round.


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects