Indonesia's Increasing Participation in the Philippine Military's Modernization Program

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to modernize its forces under the banner of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP) mandated by Republic Act 10349 (RA 10349), the Department of National Defense (DND) continues to search for reliable source of military equipment and munitions that would not only be of high quality, but also reasonably priced.

While Western-made equipment, particularly those sourced from European, American and Australian manufacturers and suppliers are generally accepted to be of high quality, they are also normally higher priced, and sometimes beyond the reach of the budget allocated by the National Government for the RAFPMP. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese sourced equipment tend to be cheaper, but quality, compatibility, commonality and interoperability are all affected due to their different mindset in manufacturing (priority on quantity and reduced cost rather than quality), as well as their being on the different side of the geopolitical spectrum means it would be difficult for the AFP to integrate most of their equipment especially those using higher technology like fighter aircraft, naval systems, sensors, and missile systems.


A compromise would be going for other sources that are using NATO or Western standards, but are not necessarily Western countries. These countries include South Korea, India, Eastern European countries like Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Serbia, and others. Among those "others" is Indonesia, which is experiencing a boom of defense industry development in the past 10 years due to their government prioritizing improvement of their defense capabilities, support of local manufacturing capability to support defense, and the hunger for technology transfer agreements from suppliers.

Aside from fulfilling their local market, these Indonesian defense companies are now looking outward at exporting their wares to countries who usually either buy Western or Russian/Chinese, but prefer to take a look at alternatives in the global market. The Philippines is among those who showed early interest in Indonesian-made defense products, as shown by the active participation of several Indonesian companies in public bidding or negotiated procurement projects of the AFP and DND.

In this blog, MaxDefense will be discussing the RAFPMP projects where the Indonesians have been participating actively, and what are the status of their offers in respect to the modernization project's status. The information on Indonesian companies and products was connected with the recent high activity in the Indonesian defense sector due to the ongoing IndoDefence 2018 defense exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia earlier this week. This could be noticed by the steady stream of defense news related to Indonesia lately as major defense publications like IHS Jane's, Shephard Media, and other big names were covering the event.

Indonesia is still on the game with regards to the Philippine Air Force's long delayed Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) acquisition project (top), and in the new requirement for Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) (above).
Photo taken from PTDI's website, and Detic.com.




DND & AFP @ IndoDefence 2018:

The Philippines has a strong delegation that attended the IndoDefence 2018 Exhibition and Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is ongoing from 7th to 10th November 2018. All branch of services of the AFP, as well as the AFP General Headquarters and DND were well represented, which allowed them to cover their respective requirements.

While part of the DND-AFP contingent was to talk to different defence manufacturers from all participating countries, there is also a strong reason to bring discussions with Indonesian companies that supply Indonesian-made products.




Indonesian Products in the AFP:

So far, Indonesia has been successful in supplying products to the Philippines, with at least two major projects won and undertaken by Indonesian companies after winning public tenders made by the DND.


Among them are the Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) acquisition project, which was awarded to state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL in 2014 resulting to the delivery of the Tarlac-class landing platform docks, and the Philippine Air Force's Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition project, which was awarded to PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI, aka Indonesian Aerospace) and supplying the CASA-PTDI NC212i Aviocar light tactical transport aircraft. 

Both projects were undertaken by previous administrations, with the PAF LLFWA acquisition actually part of the 3rd phase of the old AFP Modernization Program under RA 7898, and the PN SSV acquisition project under the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP.

There were several attempts made by Indonesian companies in winning projects under the old AFPMP and the RAFPMP Horizon 1 phases. Among them were the PTDI's participation in the PAF's Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition project which was ultimately won by Airbus Military, and PTDI's participation in the Anti Submarine Helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Navy, which was ultimately won by Leonardo Helicopters.



Best examples of Indonesian products already in service with the Armed Forces of the Philippines include the Tarlac-class landing platform docks made by PT PAL (top), and the NC-212i light tactical airlifters made by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (above). So far both are non-kinetic assets and are mostly support assets.
Photo credits ot the Philippine Navy and detik.com.



Upcoming Modernization Projects of the AFP:

There are still several acquisition projects in the RAFPMP, mostly under the current Horizon 2 phase, as well as future projects in the Horizon 3 phase which will be implemented starting 2023.

Currently there are several projects in which Indonesian companies are expected to participate. Some of these projects actually have a high chance of being awarded to an Indonesian company.

1. Philippine Army:

a. Light Tank:


The Philippine Army is in the market to acquire 2 types of Light Tank platforms with a total quantity of 44 units: with one based on a tracked armoured vehicle platform, and a second one based on an 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicle. Both will be armed with a 105mm tank gun.

Indonesia is currently in the running for the tracked Light Tank platform with the FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT (aka Harimau Hitam) medium tank. This is a joint development of Turkish company FNSS and Indonesia's PT Pindad, wherein FNSS is providing support to PT Pindad to meet requirements of the Indonesian Army to supply up to 300 medium tanks to replace their ageing AMX-13 and Scorpion light tanks. The tank is said to be designed as a real medium tank rather than an Infantry Fighting Vehicle armed with a tank turret. 


While PT Pindad is not participating on the Wheeled Light Tank requirement, its partner FNSS will by participating with their 8x8 Pars.

According to MaxDefense sources, the Philippine Army is scheduled to have a demonstration of the tank sometime between 19th to 22nd of November 2018 in Indonesia. MaxDefense looks forward to get details on the said demonstration.

The FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT / Harimau Hitam medium tank.
Credits to original source of photo.





b. Wheeled APC:

The Philippine Army is also looking at proposals for to supply 28 Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers armed with a manned turret with a 25mm autocannon. Among those who were reported to have submitted a proposal was PT Pindad, although it is still unclear what are the complete details of their offer, which is said to be revolving around the Anoa 2 6x6 armored vehicle, considering the vehicle was never been installed with such gun and turret before. MaxDefense believes that PT Pindad may have offered an alternative using a RCWS system with a 12.7mm machine gun.


PT Pindad's Anoa 2 6x6 armored vehicle.
Credits to original source.




c. Light Tactical Vehicle:

This is another project that PT Pindad made known its interest to the Philippine Army by proposing its Komodo 4x4 tactical vehicle line. The project is currently not among those considered as urgent, so details on this as well as PT Pindad's offer is still not solid enough for discussion.


The PT PAL Komodo was offered to the Philippine Army and Philippine Marines for their Light Tactical Vehicle requirements, although it remains to be seen if the vehicles are within the technical specifications of both service branches.
Credits to original source of the photo.




2. Philippine Navy:

a. Strategic Sealift Vessel:

The Philippine Navy is again in the market to acquire two additional Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) similar or better than the Tarlac-class landing platform docks it acquired from Indonesia's PT PAL. As expected, PT PAL is again in the frontline in this project, making use of its previous win and close coordination with the Philippine Navy. The current budget for the two SSVs is Php5 billion, which is 20% more than the budget allocated for the first batch of SSV in 2013.


Based on media reports as well as information passed on to MaxDefense, PT PAL is offering a longer variant at 143 meters long (compared to the 123 meters on the Tarlac-class). Based on interviews made on PT PAL's public affairs officer present in IndoDefense 2018, they are confident to bag the contract, which they expect to cost around US$43 million per ship (Php2.3 billion on current exchange rate), or within the allocated budget of Php2.5 billion per ship by the Philippine Navy.

The new variant is not only larger, but also faster with a top sustained speed of 20 knots (compared to 16 knots on the Tarlac-class), which means the extra length could be to accommodate larger, more powerful diesel engines, or additional diesel engines in a CODAD configuration.

PT PAL is competing with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) and South Korea's Daesun Shipbuilding.


PT PAL's proposed SSV for Horizon 2 is 20 meters longer, faster, and may have more storage or carrying capacity than the Tarlac-class that is based on a 123 meter design from PT PAL (above).
Photos credited to Benedict Exconde, shared during ADAS 2018.




b. Offshore Patrol Vessel:

Another major project, and is actually the most expensive project of Philippine Navy's Horizon 2 project, the acquisition of 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels is among the most contested project, and PT PAL is present to provide its own solution.


Last month, MaxDefense mentioned in an earlier blog that PT PAL was said to have offered their 85 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel design to meet the PN's requirements. Although there already appears to be some favoured shipbuilders by the DND, PT PAL's offer remains on the table should the DND and Philippine Navy consider competition aside from those favoured by both offices.

PT PAL submitted their 85-meter long Offshore Patrol Vessel design to the Philippine Navy to meet the OPV Acquisition Project requirements. It remains to be seen if PT PAL will be shortlisted, considering this project is given higher priority by the DND and PN for immediate implementation.
Photo credited to Benedict Exconde, taken during ADAS 2018.




3. Philippine Air Force:

a. Long Range Patrol Aircraft:

The Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) is among the most delayed project in the RAFPMP, first implemented by the PAF in 2014 and is among the first projects forwarded for implementation. Several bid failures later, its still in the acquisition list.

Previously MaxDefense wrote in its last blog entry that Spain's CASA might be at an advantage on the LRPA project based on the recent plans to allow Government-to-Government acquisitions between the Philippines and Spain.


But it appears now that the Technical Working Group is still finalizing the revised specifications of the project. Apparently, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) is pushing forward its CN-235-220MPA offer. Originally the CN-235-220MPA did not met the original technical specifications of the LRPA project which calls for a larger aircraft with more space and consoles, and capability to do both Maritime Patrol Aircraft with Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). 


PTDI is said to be capable of producing a ASW-capable MPA similar to the Turkish Navy's MELTEM II CN-235ASW but using the CN-235-220 platform manufactured by PTDI.
Photo from turkishnavy.net



But with technological improvements, PTDI is said to be capable of combining both requirements in a single system, with their new variant called the CN-235-220ASW. PTDI's advantage is on pricing, which they are confident to be far cheaper than any of their competitors, while also adding their willingness to provide technology transfer as part of the deal.

It remains to be seen though if the PAF's LRPA TWG would indeed change the specifications especially on aircraft dimensions and weights, or will stick to the old one, which would not be beneficial to PTDI due to it being more favorable to the CASA-Airbus' C-295ASW.

PTDI confirmed that they are now capable of combining MPA and ASW capabilities due to technological advancements in the past few years. It all remains to the PAF's TWG if they insist on using a larger aircraft like the C-295M.
Photo taken from PTDI's website.




b. Medium Lift Aircraft:

The PAF plans to acquire three more Medium Lift Aircraft to supplement the three Airbus Military-CASA C-295M medium tactical airlifters acquired a few years ago, and to replace the remaining Fokker F-27 Friendship aircraft in service.

Despite PTDI's offer using the CN-235-220 aircraft which is cheaper but smaller and shorter than the CASA-Airbus C-295M/W, it appears that PTDI is willing to provide extra including technology transfer, and willingness to assist the DND to revive the capacity of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC, which is now under DND control) to allow local servicing of the existing NC-212i fleet, as well as the future CN-235-220 and even the CASA-Airbus C-295M fleet.

Should the DND and PAF decide to go on a G2G or negotiated bid for this project, such offer by PTDI can be considered unlike if the project goes under a public bidding like before.


MaxDefense was also told that PTDI was actually offering more if the PAF and DND consider acquiring the CN-235-220 airlifter and maritime patrol aircraft all together, which MaxDefense believes may have to do with the PAF's interest to acquire additional NC-212i light tactical airlifters. 

The CASA-PTDI CN-235-220 medium tactical airlifter, this specific aircraft said to be for Senegal.
Photo taken from Tempo.co.




c. Combat Utility Helicopter:

PTDI actually has a license to build the Bell 412EP, although it appears that they still do not have the capacity to build the newer Bell 412EPI that the Philippine Air Force is originally after for their Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project.


According to MaxDefense sources, PTDI did made a pitch to supply license copies of the Bell 412EP, similar to those already in service with the PAF, although they are giving way to current moves by Bell's parent company in the US to sell the Bell 412EPI through their own line.

Nonetheless, PTDI is said to be always ready to produce the Bell 412EP if the PAF decides to go for it instead of the current offers it got from the US government and Bell USA.

PTDI is a licensed manufacturer of the Bell 412EP, and is willing to produce them for the PAF if Bell USA cannot secure a deal that is being ironed out between them and the DND with the assistance of the US government.
Credits to owner of the photo.




The Possibilities are Wide Open:

These projects are just some of several possible projects that the Indonesian defense companies are interested in joining in, there are several projects wherein MaxDefense has not been able to gather enough information, but we are certain that the Indonesians are hoping to participate in.

Among them are minor products like ammunition, small arms, infantry equipment, machinery, and spare parts for military equipment.

Then there's the offers to provide technology transfer to the Philippines, as well as in assisting the Philippnes own aircraft and naval shipyard capabilities which are actually interesting proposals that go beyond acquisitions but are still within the bounds of the AFP's Modernization Program.



Many of the projects we listed above are for immediate implementation, including the Offshore Patrol Vessel, Combat Utility Helicopter, and Long Range Patrol Aircraft, so hopefully we'll see the outcome of Indonesia's and everyone's participation in these projects.

Whatever the outcome, MaxDefense hopes that cooperation in defense manufacturing and trade continues between the Philippines and Indonesia, and strengthen further considering both countries are among the closest neighbours in terms of people, government, culture and defense. Indonesia as the de facto leader of ASEAN and the largest economy and country in Southeast Asia can be a good role model on how the Philippines can move forward to defense self sufficiency, technological advancement, and other achievements that could help the Philippines and the Filipino people in the long run.



Summary:

1. Light Tank acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00 (combined 2 lots)
Quantity: 44 units (lots 1 & 2 combined)
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


2. Wheeled APC acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php2,265,200,000.00
Quanitity: 28 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


3. Light Tactical Vehicle acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php4,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 200 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


4. Strategic Sealift Vessel acquisition project

End User: Philippine Navy (Sealift & Amphibious Force)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php5,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 2 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


5. Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project

End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php30,000,000,000.00
Quanitity: 6 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


6. Long Range Patrol Aircraft acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence & Security Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 phase
ABC: Php5,976,000,000.00 (subject to possible changes)
Quanitity: 2 units
SARO Release: returned, to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


7. Medium Lift Aircraft acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (220th Airlift Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php5,288,609,984.00
Quanitity: 3 units
SARO Release: to be updated
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A


8. Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project

End User: Philippine Air Force (205th Tactical Helicopter Wing)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php12,100,000,000.00
Quanitity: 16 units (subject to change depending on model procured)
SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0025076 released on 21 December 2017
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A

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