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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!

Wildcats arriving soon!

The Philippine Navy's will soon be getting their AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat naval combat helicopters!

Coming soon!

MaxDefense continues to monitor the impending launch of the PN's new frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150)

The waiting game is on

With the PAF confirming its order for S-70i Black Hawks, all we can do now is wait for the 1st batch this year.

Looks like a certain group is asking for new aircraft!

MaxDefense will discuss more about this in its next blog entry coming soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Japan turns over Yamaha high speed boats to Philippine Coast Guard

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recently received two fast boats from the Japanese government.



One of the Yamaha High Speed Boat 1202 fast boat turned over to the PCG recently. Thanks to one of our sources for providing this photo.


These boats are the Yamaha High Speed Boat 1202, and were specifically designed for law enforcement missions. These are said to be made in Japan. 

Both boats, together with it's essential equipment and trailer, were turned over to the PCG last 13 February 2019.

The Yamaha HSB 1202 is 12.16 meters long, has a beam of 2.75 meters, can accommodate 7 people, and can run over 50 knots. It also has a range of 200 nautical miles at 35 knots.


Photo shows the 3 outboard motors of the Yamaha high speed boat. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source.


The Japanese government provided these boats, as part of their commitments to assist the Philippine Coast Guard improve it's capabilities.

MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Coast Guard's Special Operations Group will operate these boats, and could be assigned in Mindanao.

Last year, MaxDefense covered the turn-over of at least 10 units of 7-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) to the PCG, which also came from the Japanese government. Based on PCG reports, all the said RHIB are already being utilized.

Below is a video from Yamaha Global on the said high speed boat. 




The Filipino people thank Japan for these high speed boats, and we hope that their support for the PCG continue in the future.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Is the Philippines Navy's BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) Next on the Retirement Queue?

MaxDefense received a shoulder tap lately that another major surface ship of the Philippine Navy will be retiring soon.

Based on the information we received and validated by different sources, the next ship on the axe is the Malvar-class patrol vessel, BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22).

The ship was suppose to have its major dry-dock works last 2017, but apparently it did not happen. And now the Philippine Navy leadership decided to just retire it as part of the PN’s Sail Plan 2020, which aims to retire all its World War 2-era warships and surface assets by 2020.


The Malvar-class patrol vessel BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) together with a Point-class patrol boat BRP Abraham Campo (PC-396) in Mactan, Cebu in 2010.
Photo taken by and credited to Mike Baylon, directly taken by MaxDefense from Navsource. 



Brief History:

BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) was originally a PCE-842-class patrol craft escort of the US Navy, which was commissioned in October 1944 as PCE-895, and served in the remaining years of World War 2. She was renamed as USS Crestview (PCE-895) in February 1956, and was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam Navy in November 1961.




As the US Navy patrol craft escort USS PCE-895 during World War 2 (top), and as the USS Crestview (PCE-895) taken in 1955 (above).
Photos taken from Navsource. 


In South Vietnamese service, she was named Dong Da Il (HQ-07) and served from 1961 to 1975. The ship was among those that escaped Vietnam after South Vietnam fell to North Vietnamese forces. Legally, the US government took possession of the ship despite being docked in the US Navy base at Subic Bay.


As the Republic of Vietnam Navy patrol vessel Dong Da II (HQ-07) taken in South Vietnam in 1971.
Photo taken from Navsource.


Out of practicality, the US handed-over the ship to the Philippine Navy in April 1976, and was named RPS Sultan Kudarat (PS-22). She is considered one of the oldest fighting ships in service anywhere in the world, being in service for more than 74 years now, 43 years of it with the Philippine Navy.  She currently serves with the Philippine Fleet’s Offshore Combat Force.


As the Philippine Navy ship BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) during post-repair sea trials in Subic Bay in 1989.
Photo taken from Navsource.



Expected Fate:

Like most of her sister-ships that served the Philippine Navy, BRP Sultan Kudarat might be used as a parts hulk for the remaining sister-ships still in service. If we follow the usual way the Philippine Navy disposes retired ships, her hull might be sold-off as scrap and the PN could use the sale for other purposes. 

But MaxDefense’s opinion is that this could change, as it could also be possible for the PN to use the hulk as a target ship as part of a Sinking Exercise (SINKEX) once the new Jose Rizal-class frigates, armed with the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missile, gets commissioned starting 2020.

Let’s see when exactly will this happen, although our information was that the retirement may happen “very soon”.


BRP Sultan Kudarat's hulk as a SINKEX target? Who knows, it may happen.
Photo taken from Youtube.




Same Issue on Lack of Replacements:

This upcoming retirement of BRP Sultan Kudarat highlights an issue that MaxDefense has been saying for several years now: that the Philippine Navy is retiring it's assets without a replacement.

Normally in other navies, a ship only retires when a replacement is already on it's way. In the case of BRP Sultan Kudarat, it is unclear what replacement will be coming to cover the Navy's capabilities by it's retirement.

MaxDefense compiled the retirements made by the Philippines Navy since 2015 to show our point in a clearer manner, and we will only focus on surface combatants above 100 tons and not transport or amphibious support vessels:

Retirements:
* BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140) Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel - early 2016
* BRP Gen. Antonio Luna (PG-141) Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel - April 2016

* BRP Iloilo (PS-32) Malvar-class patrol vessel - September 2016
* BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) Cannon-class destroyer escort(frigate) - 2018
* BRP Dionisio Ojeda (PC-117) Tomas Batilo-class fast attack craft - mid 2018
* BRP Bienvenido Salting (PC-112) Tomas Batilo-class fast attack craft - October 2018


Commissionings:
* BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) Del Pilar-class frigate - July 2016 - apparently the direct replacement of BRP Iloilo (PS-32)
* BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) Pohang-class corvette - estimated April 2019 - apparently the direct replacement of BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11)



The BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) (top), which retired last year, will be directly replaced by the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) (above) which is expected to be commissioned by April 2019 at the earliest.
Photos taken from Wikipedia (top) and to an uncredited source (above).





Based on this, it can be seen that the Philippine Navy has lost 4 major assets, mostly from the Littoral Combat Force, without a direct replacement.

And while the Philippine Navy is expected to receive 2 frigates between 2020 and 2021, and 2 corvettes and 6 offshore patrol vessels between 2022 to 2024, the service is also bound to lose 4 more Malvar-class and 2 Rizal-class patrol vessels before 2021. Thus, there would be a backlog of 4 offshore-capable ships starting 2021 until 2024, that's if the Philippine Navy will not retire more ships in its fleet like the Kagitingan-class inshore patrol vessels.



Aside from the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), the only other sure major surface warships coming in for commissioning by 2020 is the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) frigate committed by South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries for delivery by early 2020.
Photo taken from HHI's website.



The only way at the moment to provide a short to medium-term solution and avoid the backlog is for the Philippine Navy to introduce used warships by 2020. 

Also, the Philippine Navy has no littoral assets coming in within the Horizon 2, although MaxDefense received information that a friendly foreign government, most likely the US government, is offering littoral patrol boats that could be used to replace the retired ones. But a proposal remains nothing else but paper until the first boats arrive. And until that happens, the absence of a solid plan means for everyone to expect no new assets for the Littoral Combat Force.



For now, all we can do is wait for the Philippine Navy to actually retire the BRP Sultan Kudarat from active service, and hope that they would have a good news to bring once they do the retirement. Replacing them with another Pohang-class corvette or Hamilton-class cutter would be very much welcomed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Philippine Navy sends-off Crew of Pohang-class Corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)

Latest on the Pohang-class corvette that the South Korean government donated to the Philippines.


A Shipbucket illustration of the upcoming Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).
Illustration shared by Steel Bamboo to MaxDefense, credits to Steel Bamboo.


MaxDefense was informed that the Philippine Navy’s (PN) intended crew for the Pohang-class corvette, which MaxDefense first reported as the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) had their Send-off Ceremony this morning.


The Corvette as ROKS Chungju (PCC-762) of the ROKN.
Credits to original source of photo.




BRP Conrado Yap is formerly the Pohang-class Flight III corvette ROKS Chungju (PCC-762) of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).

While the ceremony was held today, the flight of the PN crew to South Korea will be made at a later date, probably this week.


From the send-off ceremony this morning.
Photo shared by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.


The crew will undergo training and familarization on the ship, both in operation and maintenance. MaxDefense also received word that the crew will also cross-train with the ROKN’s active-service Pohang-class corvettes as part of the program.

Currently the ship is drydocked in South Korea as it undergo repair and refurbishing works prior to transfer to the Philippine Navy.

According to the PN’s Flag Officer in Command, Vice Adm. Robert Emperdrad, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) could be home by March or April 2019. 1-2 months of training would be sufficient based on our opinion, referencing from training deployments made by the PN in the past.

Good luck to the men and women of the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)!




============
U P D A T E S:
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13 March 2019:

Further information provided to MaxDefense indicated that the sailors from the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force that were sent to South Korea last month was just the first batch, while majority of PN personnel to man the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) will only be leaving for South Korea next month.

Also, it appears that the expected delivery of the Pohang-class corvette by March or April 2019 is not possible anymore, and the new delivery schedule points closer to June 2019. It is still possible though that the formal hand-over of the ship to the Philippine Navy can be made by April or May 2019, although this remains tentative and fluid.

Meanwhile the PN's FOIC VAdm. Robert Empedrad confirmed in a lengthy interview with DWDD Katropa Radio that his visit to South Korea on 17-19 May 2019 together with Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana includes a visit to the BRP Conrado Yap and the Philippine Navy crew training on it. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Philippine Army Proceeds with M113 Mortar Carrier Project, Signs Contract with Elbit for 120mm Self Propelled Mortars

As early as late 2017, MaxDefense Philippines has been posting about this upcoming project, and now it has finally finalized and formalized.

Another milestone has been reached by the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND), as MaxDefense sources confirmed that the DND just recently signed a contract with Israel's Elbit Systems Land and C4I (Elbit) to implement the Philippine Army's M113 Armored Mortar Carrier acquisition project.

This project is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, which is the phase covering the years 2018 to 2022.

Based on our records, this project appears to be the first Horizon 2 phase project of the Philippine Army (PA) that reached the contract signing stage, since almost all other projects of the PA are only in the negotiation stage at best, while other are not yet even in the pre-procurement phase.



The Philippine Army ordered 15 Soltam Cardom 120mm Recoil Mortar System, installed on refurbished M113A2 tracked armored vehicles from Elbit Systems Land and C4I of Israel.
Credits to the original source of the photo.



The Contract:

The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) approved for the DND and allocated to the Philippine Army for the project as approved as part of the Horizon 2 phase is Php1,094,570,175.00. As of the contract signing, this is equivalent to around US$21 million.

The project is a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the Philippines and Israel, with the DND's ad-hoc committee approving the procurement mode in July 2018, and with Israel supporting Elbit Systems Land & C4I as the preferred contractor. Since it is a G2G deal, it is expected that the overall cost of the project is almost equal, or equal to the ABC, as the deal was negotiated based on that amount, without looking too much on the Philippine pesos' exchange rate.


This deal goes to show the strong commitment between the Philippines and Israel to further strengthen its defense relations, as Israel is already among the biggest market for defense and security related products for the Philippine government in the past 5 years.


This project was already in the pipeline for a few years, and was originally proposed for implementation as part of the Philippine Army's 2018 Priority Projects as part of plans to equip the planned Brigade Combat Teams. Although MaxDefense doesn't have the exact dates, it appears that the Senior Leaders of the AFP approved this project only in early 2018.

It is also surprising that this project was able to finalize into a contract before other Philippine Army projects that were in considered priority even before Horizon 2 started in January 2018.



The Elbit Systems Soltam Cardom Self-Propelled Mortar system:

As part of the contract, Elbit System will supply 15 Armoured Mortar Carriers to the Philippine Army's Mechanised Infantry Division.

The main project is Elbit's Soltam Cardom 120mm vehicle-mounted Recoil Mortar System, which is also known in Israel as the Soltam Keshet.

The Cardom is available in both 81mm and 120mm variant, and is fully computerized, autonomous, and was designed to be mounted on light or medium armoured vehicles like the M113. Take note that the Philippine Army also has an upcoming delivery of 5 Soltam Cardom 81mm RMS for installation of their existing M113A2 tracked armored vehicles.


The 120mm Cardom has a range of 7,000 meters, has a maximum rate of fire of 16 rounds per minute, and can be used in "shoot and scoot" manner to have the element of surprise and avoid enemy counter fire. It can be operated by only 2 crewmen, although it is said to be easier with a 4-man crew.

It can use a variety of ammunition of 120mm NATO standard, and is in operation with the Israel Defense Force, US Army, and several other countries.
The Soltam Cardom 120mm recoil mortar system, as displayed during the ADAS 2018 defense exhibition in Manila last September 2018.
Photo credited to a MaxDefense commuunity member who wish to remain anonymous.


Compared to the US Army's M113-based M1064 mortar carrier and the Styker-based model called the M1129, the upcoming Philippine models with be using the computer-controlled Cardom instead of the manually-operated M120/RMS6L 120mm mortar (which is also based on Soltam's K6 120mm infantry mortar). This allows for faster operations and less stress on the mortar crew due to automation.




Another part of the deal is the platform where the Cardom mortars will be installed. Elbit Systems will also deliver 15 refurbished and upgraded M113A2 tracked armored vehicles

No mention was made on where the vehicles would be sourced, but MaxDefense believes that it would be from Israel. Elbit owns the Belgian armored vehicle maintenance company and reseller Sabiex, and already supplied refurbished and upgraded low-mileage M113A2 armored vehicles to Elbit Systems for export to the Philippines. But it appears that Belgium's strict arms export control to the Philippines is still in effect due to their concerns on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's administration being involved in state-sponsored extra judicial killings and human rights violations. Thus it is unlikely that they will again be the source of M113s supplied by Elbit.

Being armored mortar carriers, the M113s to receive the Cardom mortars will have a wide roof opening to allow the safe and effective use of the mortar system.


The Philippine Army is expected to not have any trouble accepting the M113s as it is already a long time user of the type.


An upgraded M113 tracked armored personnel carrier from Sabiex of Belgium. Apparently this specific vehicle was among those delivered by Elbit Systems to the Philippine Army in an earlier contract. Elbit Systems is once again supplying 15 refurbished M113A2 tracked armored vehicles as the platform for the Soltam Cardom 120mm RMS.
Photo taken from Sabiex's website.




Another part of the deal is the inclusion of the Elbit Systems Combat NG Battlefield Management System, which is already in use with the Philippine Army.

The Combat NG is a command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) system designed to improve artillery and air defense unit's ability to engage targets by improving its target engagement speed and accuracy, provide up to date and real time situational awareness, and provide coordination capability with other forces.
 



Elbit's Combat NG system utilized together with the a self-propelled mortar system. Elbit's contract with the Philippines is to combine the Combat NG with the Soltam Cardom 120mm RMS units to enhance their C3I capability.
Photo taken from Elbit's website.


And lastly, and this was unexpected, is that Elbit Systems will also provide conversion 120mm barrels for the 5 earlier Soltam Cardom 81mm autonomous recoil mortar systems the Philippine Army ordered in January 2018. As mentioned earlier, the 5 units of Soltam Cardom 81mm mortars are part of the Philippine Army's M113 Firepower Upgrade project that also includes the supply of 44 remote controlled weapon systems (RCWS) for the Philippine Army's fleet of M113A2 armored vehicles and are scheduled to be delivered this year (MaxDefense will discuss this again in a separate blog entry).

This would allow the Philippine Army to standardize its entire self-propelled artillery fleet to the 120mm NATO standard, and increasing the firepower of the upcoming mortars due to the 120mm mortar's longer range and heavier warhead.


It is still a question though if the Philippine Army will make use of Elbit's LG2MK 120mm smart mortar round, which was featured by Elbit Systems in last year's ADAS 2018 defense expo in Manila. This allows the Cardom mortar system to fire precision munitions and obtain a first shot hit, which improves accuracy and sure kill hit, reduces collateral damage, munition wastage, and u necessary firepower when required. The munition also works well with the Combat NG system as well as other artillery spotting systems of the Philippine Army.


The LG2MK smart 120mm mortar munition from Elbit Systems. While acquisition of the said mortar round type is not included in the Philippine Army's acquisition of Soltam Cardom 120mm mortars, it remains to be seen if the PA will acquire them separately for its requirements in the future. It is highly probable that the PA would obtain a few for testing and evaluation purposes.
Photo taken by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.





Expected Deployment:

These new M113-based 120mm Self Propelled Mortars (SPM) are expected to be operated by the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infanry Division, which can actually form up to 5 platoons or sections of 4 SPM firing units each. At least most of the MID's Mechanized Infantry Divisions would have an SPM platoon once deliveries are completed.

MaxDefense believes that priority would be made to provide at least 1 platoon to be attached with the new 6th Mechanized Infantry "Salaknib"  Battalion, which is the attached Mechanized unit to the newly formed 1st Brigade Combat Team.


The introduction of the Soltam Cardom mortar system allows Mechanized units to have its own quick-moving short range artillery support anytime without relying on heavy artillery howitzers. This is in addition to the 81mm and 60mm infantry mortars assigned to mechanized infantry units. 

In other foreign armies, 120mm mortar with smart and standard munitions actually replaced the 105mm towed howitzer, like in the case of the Singapore Army. 


The Cardom 120mm (aka Keshet) in action with the Israel Defense Forces.
Photo taken from Britmodeller.com.



What's Next:

With the contract already signed, it is now a matter of time before the Opening of the Letter of Credit (LOC) takes place, which is the actual go-signal for Elbit Systems to proceed with the contracted job as it confirms financial backing and guarantees by legitimate financial institutions.

And while no date was provided to MaxDefense, based on our monitoring of AFP projects and contracts made, MaxDefense's opinion is that deliveries may be completed by 3rd quarter of 2020, or even earlier.

And like the M113 Firepower Upgrade, MaxDefense believes that the Mechanized Infantry Division may have a share of work on installing the mortar systems to the M113 platform, which allows them to understand how the process works and improve their skills especially in doing maintenance work.



Expect more of this project in the near future, as MaxDefense would definitely get updates from our sources as this progresses forward.

Congratulations to the Philippine Army's Technical Working Group on the M113 Armored Mortar Carrier acquisition project, the PA's MID and PA leadership for successfully reaching this milestone.







Summary:

M113 Armored Mortar Carrier acquisition project

End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
Modernization Phase: Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase
ABC: Php1,094,570,175.00
SARO Release: to be updated
Status as of this writing: Limited Source Bidding to proceed, tentative bid opening 15th January 2019
Selected Proponent: None yet
Contract Price: none yet, to be updated.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Philippine Navy Starts Procurement of Gun Munitions for new Jose Rizal-class Frigates

The Philippine Navy (PN), through the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) has finally started the procurement process for some sub-lots of the Philippine Navy’s Frigate Acquisition Project – Lot 2 covering ammunition for the upcoming Jose Rizal-class frigates.

A CGI image of the Philippine Navy's upcoming Jose Rizal-class frigates.
Photo taken from Hyundai Heavy Industries website.

In two separate Invitations to Bid (ITB) posted by the DND last 31 January 2019, they announced the bidding of two sub-lots under Lot 2C covering naval gun ammunition, with the following details:

* Lot 2C Sub-lot 1: 76mm Ammunition with an Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) of Php77,536,964.00.

The Oto Melara 76mm/62 calibre Super Rapid naval gun, which will be the main gun of the Jose Rizal-class frigates.
Photo taken from Leonardo's website.


* Lot 2C Sub-lot 2: 30mm Ammunition with an ABC of Php100,000,000.00. This covers the acquisition of: 6,000 rounds of 30mm High Explosive Incendiary (HEI), 4,000 rounds of Target Practice Tracer (TPT), and 4 units of Cut-Away models of both HEI and TPT rounds.

The Aselsan SMASH 30mm RCWS using the Bushmaster Mk44 30mm autocannon.
Photo taken from Aselsan's website.


Both sub-projects would be implemented under a Public Bidding mode of procurement.

The Philippine Navy is an existing user of the CTG 76mm ammunition, as it already has the Oto Melara Mark 75 76mm/62 caliber Compact naval gun in its arsenal. The same munitions will be used for the Jose Rizal-class frigates which features an Oto Melara 76mm/62 caliber Super Rapid naval gun.



The same is true for the CTG 30mm x 173 ammunition, which is also being used on the Oerlikon KCB 30mm guns installed on the Emerlec twin gun weapon mounts used on some of the PN’s Kagitingan-class and Tomas Batilo-class patrol boats.

With the Jose Rizal-class frigates, the munitions will be used by the Aselsan SMASH remote controlled weapon system (RCWS) which mounts the Bushmaster Mk44 30mm autocannon. Both frigates are armed with 1 such system.



As for the missiles and torpedoes for the Jose Rizal-class frigates, these would be purchased under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with specific countries since the approved weapon systems was I cluded in the submission made by the frigate builder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) during the 2nd Stage bidding of the Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 1.

The anti-ship missiles will be the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star missile from South Korea, while the short range anti-aircraft missile would be the MBDA Mistral from France. The torpedo is expected to be the LIGNex1 K745 Blue Shark lightweight Anti-Submarine torpedo also from South Korea.

MaxDefense expects the DND and PN to start the actual procurement of these munitions also within 2019.