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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Philippine Coast Guard receives cache of assorted firearms from Israel

The PCG was interested in acquiring firearms since early 2017, and has been looking at options as it preferred to do the acquisition as a package rather than for individual types.

With the issue of the US government’s rejection of exporting rifles and pistols to the Philippine National Police (PNP) still a hot issue, the PCG as well as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) which is the mother agency of the PCG, decided to avoid the American route to avoid backlash from the president.


Clockwise from top left: IWI  Negev, IWI Galil ACE, IWI Galil Sniper, and IWI Micro Tavor X95. Photo from IWI website, edited by MaxDefense.

Russian Firearms Considered:

Among those considered for the PCG were Russian-made firearms, which were offered to the PCG due to the closer relations between Russia and the Philippines. Some officials of the PCG, as well as certain officials from the Duterte administration and the DOTr, were keen on arming the PCG with Russian firearms and make use of Russia’s enthusiasm to supply the requirements.

MaxDefense reported in June 2018 that Russia made an offer, which we described back then as “7.62x39mm assault rifles, 7.62x54R sniper rifles and machine guns, and 9mm submachine guns”, with an estimated worth of “around US$9-10 million”.

While we did not identify the firearms involved as requested by sources, it would be fine to identify them now. The firearms consisted of:

Assault Rifles:
* 4,000 units of 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AK103 (Index 6P45) assault rifles with Picatinny rails
* 8,000 units of plastic magazines for AK103
* 5,230 units of Charging Handle RP, Sb
* 4,000 units PKY-2 Red Dot Sights


The Kalashnikov AK103 7.62x39mm assault rifle. Credits to original source of photo.

Sniper Rifles:
* 50 units 7.62x54mmR Dragunov sniper rifle SVD (Index 6B1)
* 50 units 1PN93-4 night optics


The Dragunov SVD 7.62x54mmR semi-automatic sniper rifle. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Machine Guns:
* 100 units 7.62x54mmR Kalashnikov 6P41H Pecheneg infantry machine gun with night sight leaf
* 30 units 1PN93-3 night optics


The Pecheneg 7.62x54mmR light machine gun. Photo credited to Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

Sub-Machine Guns:
* 1,230 units 9x19mm Vityaz-SN submachine guns
* 1,230 units PKY-2 Red Dot Sights


The Vityaz SN 9mm submachine gun. Photo credited to Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

Ammunition:
* 100,000 rounds 7.62mm sniper rifle cartridge (Index 7N1)
* 200,000 rounds 7.62mm cartridge with steel core bullet (Index 57-N-323S)

Interesting though is that, despite Russia capable of manufacturing variants of these firearms using NATO-standard munitions (in 7.62x51mm instead of 7.62x39 or 7.62x54mmR), the Russian-standard calibre variant were offered for sale.

The situation is different between this and when the Russian government decided to donate 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AKM rifles to the Philippine Army, since those AKMs were taken from Russian Army strategic reserves rather than new-manufactured models.

This could also be one of the reasons why the Russian offer was not approved by the PCG. According to sources, the PCG was not in favour of using Russian calibre size since it would be more difficult for them to acquire ammunition for them. Only the Vityaz-SN SMG used a calibre size that is common in the Philippines.

With this, the PCG decided to go for other offers, specifically with the Israeli government’s submitted proposal.


Israeli Firearms Offer Approved:

The Israeli government made its own offer based on firearms made by Israel Weapons Industries (IWI).

Among the reasons why the PCG was open to this proposal as because the firearms offered are already in service with Philippine security agencies, especially by the Philippine National Police (PNP) which has ordered thousands of firearms from IWI after winning several public biddings.

In the end after several negotiations, an agreement was reached between the Israeli government and the Philippines DOTr and PCG, as a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal was approved and a contract reached in 2019.

While MaxDefense does not have an exact figure of the contract amount, our estimate puts it at around US$15 to 17 million, although it appears that the PCG made adjustments on their requirements and the quantity of firearm types.

Below are the inclusions of the PCG’s Firearms Acquisition Project:

Assault Rifles:
* 4,357 units of IWI Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm assault rifles with 8.5” barrels and foldable buttstock
* 2,500 units of Meprolight M21 battery-less Reflex Sights


An infographic on the Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm carbine with the Mepro M21 reflex sight. Photo taken from Pinterest.

Sniper Rifles:
* 48 units IWI Galil Tzalafim “Galatz” 7.62x51mm semi-automatic sniper rifle with x10 Day Optics
* 2 units Meprolight NOA NYX Thermal Combat System Sight, with X7 magnification and video capability, includes Spotter Computers




Machine Guns:
* 350 units IWI Negev NG-7 7.62x51mm light machine guns
* 350 units Meprolight X4 Day Scopes
* 350 units Meprolight Sting Laser Pointers (Visible & IR)


The IWI Negev NG7 7.62x51mm light machine gun. Photo taken from Pinterest.


Sub-Machine Guns:
* 1,124 units IWI Micro Tavor X95 9x19mm submachine guns
* 1,124 units Meprolight M21 battery-less Reflex Sights


The IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm SMG equipped with an optical sighting system. The PCG received the X95 9mm SMG with the Meprolight M21 reflex sights. Photo credited to GunsWeek.com.

Pistols:
* 7,743 units of IWI Masada 9x19mm Parabellum Striker-Fired pistols 
* 6,743 nos. Pistol Holsters
* 1,000 nos. Pistol Leg Rig Holster
* 10 units CornerShot System


The Cornershot system for pistols. Photo taken from Pinterest.

The Galil ACE 21N rifle is the "shorty" version of the Galil ACE family. It has an 8.5" long barrel, which is far shorter than standard M4 rifles used by most Philippine government security agencies. "N" in 21N corresponds to the use of NATO-standard 30-round magazines instead of Galil-standard 35-round magazines. The Galil ACE N-series is already in service with the Philippine National Police (PNP).


Photo from IWI website.

The compact size allows for use in close quarter battle (CQB) including shipboarding, although it could be insufficient as secondary weapons for PCG boats.

The Galil Sniper S.A, also known as the Galil Tzalafim or "Galatz" sniper rifle, is based on the 7.62x51mm variant of the Galil assault rifle, with a 23" barrel length and long range optics. The sniper rifle is in service with the PNP, although older versions have already been in service with AFP units especially the Philippine Army's Scout Range Regiment.

Among the ones delivered, the IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm submachine gun is the most familiar to the PCG, as it already operates the type since 2018. It is based on the Tavor TAR-21 5.56x45mm bullpop assault rifle, but has been modified to fit a reduced body size, smaller caliber and shorter barrel.

The IWI Negev NG7 light machine gun is the next generation version of the Negev machine gun, using 7.62x51mm ammunition. It is said to be the only machine gun with semi-automatic mode, and is one the lightest in its class. It has a 20" barrel length and a rate of fire of around 600 to 750 rounds per minute.

The PNP also uses the IWI Negev NG7 and its 5.56x45mm variant called the Negev NG5.


Photo taken from IWI website.

The IWI Masada 9x19mm Parabellum striker fired pistol is their version of the polymer-construction 9mm pistol, featuring a 17+1 rounds capacity, and features a fully ambidextrous control and enhanced ergonomics. It is another firearm that is already common with the PNP.


Cresits to original source of photo.

Then there's the CornerShot System. This is one of those items that some AFP units do not want to confirm nor deny having, so it remains a mystery if the AFP has it. But MaxDefense can confirm that the PCG definitely has them now and are with the PCG Special Operations Group.

An Israeli invention by Lt. Col. Amos Golan, and mounts a standard semi automatic pistol linked to a mechanism that allows the weapon to be used from tight corners and with a camera guiding the shooter to its target, much like a periscope.




Some examples on the use of CornerShot system during CQB in tight spaces and high risk. Photos credited to original owners.

The decision to go with conducting the deal with Israel appears to have been due to several factors, although it appears that it was also the best proposal and the most practical for the PCG, compared to the proposals made to buy the firearms from other countries like Russia.


Deliveries Completed as of April 2020:

Most of the firearms will be given to the PCG’s Special Operations Group (PCG SOG), which still use mostly older M16-type firearms, although the delivery of CZ Scorpion Evo 3 9mm submachine guns a few years ago, and IWI Micro Tavor X95 9mm submachine guns in 2018 helped in improving their firepower.




MaxDefense received confirmation from several sources that deliveries has been made last March 2020, and the PCG has started to distribute the firearms to its units.


Some PCG members with the new IWI Galil ACE 21N 5.56x45mm rifle during relief operations related to COVID-19. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a contributor.

MaxDefense was informed that some of the Negev NG7 light machine guns and Galatz sniper rifles are to be assigned to PCG sea ssets are secondary weapons, as additional firepower and for use during shipboardings.


The absence of a medium caliber weapon system onboard several PCG assets like the Boracay-class fast patrol boat (above) has pushed the PCG to temporarily arm them with light machine guns like the Negev NG7, or even the Galil Sniper SA rifle. Photo from PCG.

Overall, this acquisition is expected to give the PCG a needed boost to improve their capabilities in conducting law enforcement, counter terrorism at sea, and even on protecting themselves.

Aside from this Firearms Acquisition Project, the PCG has also had several projects with the Israeli government, some of which will be discussed here @ MaxDefense Philippines soon.

MaxDefense also expects more firearms to be acquired by the PCG as the service increase its size, being now the fastest growing security agency in the country.

We just hope that the PCG would train its personnel well in properly using and caring for these assets including firearms safety considering many of irs new personnel may not have experience in handling firearms before.

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First published: 13 May 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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