Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Elbit Systems Wins Contract to Upgrade Philippine Army M113A2 with RCWS and Mortars

It has been six months since the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program has started. But there are still several projects form the Horizon 1 phase that has yet to be implemented, or even started. In the Philippine Army alone, more than 5 projects are yet to be procured or awarded to a winning supplier, and there are several projects that are already awarded to a winning supplier but is still in the process of pre-delivery.

Despite some discussions we made on our Facebook page early this year, it appears that MaxDefense has not really made a blog entry yet regarding another M113 project that is underway for delivery - the Firepower Upgrade of EDA M113 Project under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The Philippine Army is to upgrade 5 of its M113A2 into Self Propelled Mortar Carriers using the Soltam Cardom 81mm Mortar (above shows 120mm mortar variant), and 44 M113A2s upgraded with the Dragon 12.7mm RCWS.
Credits to owner of photo.

Project Background:

This project, which is a part of the so-called "2nd List of Horizon 1" that was formed by prioritizing Army projects using the budget originally intended for the delayed Shore Based Missile System (SBMS), involves the upgrade of the M113A2 tracked armoured personnel carriers received by the Philippine Army from US Military Assistance a few years ago.

The project has an allocated budget worth Php 1,051,650,000.00. The project proceeded as a Government-to-Government (G2G) project undertaken by the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and Israel's Ministry of Defense, and was divided into 2 lots within a single project.

The M113 Firepower Upgrade is divided into 2 Lots with a total ABC of Php1,051,650.00.
Photo exclusively provided to MaxDefense by AFP sources.

Both project covering both lots was awarded last year to Israel's Elbit Systems Land & C4I, which has experience in projects with the Philippine Army especially in the M113 vehicle. After months of pre-contract negotiations, the contract between the DND and Elbit Systems was signed in January 2018, and the Letter of Credit was released a few months later, which effectively starts the project duration.

Prior to modernization of the M113A2 into RCWS-equipped vehicles, they were standard M113 APCs armed with a 50-calibre 12.7mm Browning M2 machine gun with either an armoured cupola protecting the front side only, or a 360-degree armoured cupola protection. Both are less suitable for high threat environment, while the machine guns are manually aimed and is not as accurate as those using advanced sights found on RCWS.
Credits to owner of photo.

Lot 1: Upgrade with 12.7mm Remote Controlled Weapons System:

The first lot involves the upgrade of 44 M113A2 tracked armoured personnel carriers by installing Elbit System's Dragon 12.7mm RCWS and Elbit's Combat NG Battlefield Management System (BMS) into the vehicles. This is the same RCWS and BMS installed by Elbit on the 6 M113A2+ that they delivered in a pre-Horizon 1 project covered by the older AFP Modernization Program covered by the 1995 RA 7898.

Elbit will supply the complete Dragon RCWS, and the Combat NG BMS. Installation works and any upgrade to the vehicles will be done in the Philippines by Elbit Systems in cooperation with the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division.

Close-up of one of the M113A2+ armed with the Elbit Dragon 12.7mm RCWS during field exercises last year. The same RCWS will installed on 44 other M113A2s under this project.
Photo owned by the late John Chua, which gave MaxDefense permission to use his photos in his hayday.

The Dragon RCWS mounts a 50-caliber Browning M2 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and has modern sighting systems which allows for improved surveillance and targeting, as well as day and night capability in providing fire support to dismounted troops. The RCWS also allow the gunner to be inside the armoured vehicle which gives better protection from enemy fire, explosions or shrapnel.

Meanwhile, the Elbit Combat NG battlefield management system allows Command and Control capability, as well as integration with other units using the same system. These armoured vehicles won't be the first ones to have this capability, as the Philippine Army's M113A2+ tracked armoured vehicles are all equipped with the same BMS, as well as the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps' recently delivered Soltam M-71 155mm towed howitzers. More units are expected to operate the same BMS in the near future.

Elbit's Combat NG BMS allows units Command and Control and integration of combat and support units to improve combat capabilities in the battlefield. These batch of M113s isn't the first one to have this capability, as the Philippine Army has been using the Combat NG since the delivery of Upgraded M113s by Elbit Systems a few years ago.
Photo taken from Elbit's website. 

Once the upgrades are complete, the Mechanized Infantry Division will have 50 of its M113s armed with the Dragon 12.7mm RCWS. This also gives more reason for the Philippine Army to continue using the same system in future upgrades of its armoured vehicles for commonality in terms of logistics and maintenance, training, and sustaining these kind of modern assets.

Four of the six M113A2+ armed with the Dragon 12.7mm RCWS. These were delivered by Elbit Systems Land & C4I under the Upgraded M113 acquisition project. The same RCWS will be installed by Elbit Systems on 44 other M113A2 vehicles of the Philippine Army.
Credits to the owner of the photo.

Lot 2: Upgrade to Self Propelled Mortars:

This lot involves the acquisition of 5 Soltam Cardom 81mm mortar systems, and the conversion of 5 of the Philippine Army's M113A2 into Self Propelled Mortars.

While this is not the first attempt by the Philippine Army to have such asset (previously they tried converting a FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier into a Self Propelled Mortar by installing an 81mm mortar), this is the first time that actual Self Propelled Mortars will be made operational.

An example of an M113 Armoured Mortar Carrier armed with a Soltam Cardom mortar system. The Philippine Army will receive 5 upgraded and converted M113 AMC as part of this project.
Credits to owner of photo.

The Soltam Cardom 81mm mortar has a range of around 7 kilometers, and has a maximum rate of fire of 16 rounds per minute. It is ready to fire around 30 seconds from vehicle halting, and can immediately scoot after firing, which allows it to move away from counter-artillery fire.

While the mortars will be using the 81mm variant, the M113s will be able to shift to the larger Cardom 120mm mortars if the Philippine Army decides to make the shift. In our previous posts in our Facebook page, MaxDefense explained that the Mechanized Infantry Division wanted 120mm version of the Cardom, but was forced to go for the smaller 81mm variant due to current doctrines in the Philippine Army that only allows Artillery units to operate howitzers or mortars from 105mm caliber and up. MaxDefense was informed that the Philippine Army is already in the process of revising this to allow the MID to have 120mm mortars as well.

Like the RCWS-equipped units, the 5 M113A2 Self Propelled Mortars will also have the Elbit Combat NG battlefield management system,

5 Cardom-equipped M113 Mortar Carriers can equip a single Self Propelled Mortar battery, and will be used to train the Mechanized Infantry Division on the usage of self-propelled mortar carriers as the Philippine Army plans to acquire more units in the near future (to be discussed in future blogs).

More of the Cardom system can be seen in the video below. While the video mostly show the 120mm variant, the 81mm variant to be delivered by Elbit differs only on the mortar size being used. Everything else, from the


Based on information provided by our sources, and information gathered from other means, it appears that Elbit intends to deliver the completed vehicles in batches and is dependent on the facility's availability and the availability of people involved in the upgrade project.

The first batch of around 19 completed upgraded vehicles will be delivered by around February 2019. The 2 other batches will be delivered before mid-2019, although MaxDefense would rather not mention the breakdown of the said batches and the exact month of succeeding deliveries until a few months from then.

By the time all 49 upgraded M113A2s are delivered to the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division, it is expected that the next 2 projects to upgrade another batch of M113s are expected to be ready to proceed as well, especially that Pres. Duterte has finally approved the Horizon 2 Priority Projects. These 2 projects will be discussed by MaxDefense is another blog entry, and will probably be among the first projects of the Philippine Army to proceed under the recently approved Priority Projects of Horizon 2 phase.


Firepower Upgrade of EDA M113s
* Lot 1 - Supply and Installation of 12.7mm RCWS (44 nos.)
* Lot 2 - Upgrade to Armored Mortar Carrier (5 nos)

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry DIvision);
Modernization Phase: RA 10349 Revised AFP Modernization Program HORIZON 1 (2nd List);
ABC: Php1,051,650,000.00;
SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0022354, released 29 November 2017;
Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land & C4I (Israel) through Government-to-Government transaction between the Israeli and Philippine governments;
Contract Price: Php1,051,650,000.00;
First post by MaxDefense: 31 July 2017

MaxDefense will provide updates on this project, including updates in our Facebook page and in this blog entry. It is expected that this project will be complete by mid-2019, so we have 1 year more to wait until the completion of this project, if everything goes according to their program and plans.


  1. Much better firepower with 120mm...and with the mobility of a light tracked vehicle, our afp operations will be surgically swift and deadly.

    1. Elbit Systems will be providing a 120mm upgrade kit for these five (5) 81mm units at no additional cost...

  2. Given the Army's interest in fielding self-propelled mortars, can this be an indication that self-propelled howitzers aren't far off?

    1. In about two years, the Army Artillery Regiment shall have Two (2) Batteries of 155mm 52 Cal. Self-Propelled Howitzers complete with FO's, FDC's, Reconnaissance Vehicles, Maintenance Vehicle, Ammunition Truck and Meteorological Kit. All vehicles will also be equipped with the same Battle Management System it already has. Final negotiations for this project are already underway...

  3. Why can't we upgrade such M113A2s for our short - medium range anti aircraft defense?


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects