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Thursday, December 31, 2020

MaxDefense PH's Year-ender for 2020 - A Summary of Project Updates on the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program

As part of our year ender for 2020, MaxDefense Philippines has summarized the modernization projects of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force that have made significant positive AND negative movements in 2020.

Another year has passed, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has affected a lot of our expectations for the year, including the accomplishments of the Revised AFP Modernization Program for 2020.

But despite this, we still push through forward, including the improvement of the overall defense capability of the country, and provide our military and its men and women with the equipment they need and the state can afford.

PN and PAF assets during the 85th Anniversary of the AFP.

We'll try to make this as simple as possible, as many of them have resource pages that our readers can access in case of need for more information, background and updates.

Take note that phrases in BOLD BLUE letters can be clicked for links to the resource pages supporting the project.

Philippine Army:

For projects covered under the Horizon 1 Phase of the RAFPMP, the following projects were among those that were updated in 2020:

1. Rocket Launcher Light Phase 2
Deliveries of RPG launchers and ammunition from Russia, the RPG-7V made by NPO Bazalt, were reported to have been made in 2019 and 2020, although exact figures on completion of delivery is still pending. Payment remains an issue due to the Philippine government avoiding getting sanctioned under CAATSA.

An ATGL-L RPG-7 from Arsenal JSco as displayed on ADAS 2019. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

2. Tactical Engagement Simulation System
While the V-TESS portion was already delivered by South Korea's SD Systems back in 2018, the I-TESS portion of the system was delivered by an American supplier only in 2020, with the system said to be completed this year.

3. Force Protection Equipment - Body Armor
Deliveries are said to still be ongoing as of 2020, with 37,744 units of body armor are to be supplied by South Korea's Dae-sung Tech Co. Ltd. We expect completion of the project by 2021.

4. Designated Marksman Rifle 7.62mm
While the SIG Sauer SIG716G2 designated marksman rifles were delivered in 2019, the rifles were only distributed to Army units in 2020, and are meant to replace the M14 DMRs used by the units receiving the new rifles.

A SIG716G2 DMR in the hands of a soldier from the 94th Infantry Battalion. Photo credits to 94th IB, PA.

5. Forward Support Equipment Phase 1:
The SARO for the acquisition of 2.5-ton and 5-ton forklifts were only renewed this year, and it remains to be seen if an award was made to any supplier.

6. Long Range Sniper Rifle Weapon System
The project has been awarded to American gunmaker Harris Gunworks through their local representative Armscor Global Defense back in 2018, but deliveries are said to still be pending. The rifles are .50 caliber anti-materiel model used for long range engagements.

7. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment Lot 2:
Funding has been provided for the acquisition of CBRN equipment in November 2019, with the project expected to be tendered in 2020. So far, no known tenders have been made that is related to the project, although MaxDefense PH is still on the lookout for any new updates on this project.

For Horizon 2 and 2nd List of Horizon 2 projects, below are the status of projects that moved in 2020:

1. Light Tanks
The project was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I in 2020, although it remains to be seen if a contract was signed within the year. Elbit will supply the Sabrah Light Tank System, which utilizes the GDELS ASCOD 2 tracked and Excalibur Army Pandur 2 wheeled armored vehicles.

The Sabrah light tank using the GDELS ASCOD 2 platform. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

2. Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers:
Another project that was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I within 2020, but the contract appears to be also pending as of end of 2020. Elbit is supplying the Iveco Guarani 6x6 APC with Israeli-made subsystems.

The Guarani 6x6 APC of the Brazilian Army. Credits to original source of photo.

3. 155mm Howitzer, Self Propelled System
This project had its contract signed with Elbit Systems Land & C4I on January 2020 for the delivery of 2 batteries of Soltam ATMOS 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer System, with production already started and the system scheduled for delivery starting 2021.

4. Riverine Assault Boats Lot 1 - Light Boats
The Philippine Army received the first batches of the FRP-hulled Riverine Light Boats made by local company Stoneworks Specialists in 2020. More will be delivered in 2021.

A Riverine Light Boat from Stoneworks Specialists. Photo credits to PA.

5. 40mm Revolving Grenade Launchers
The project was awarded to Rippel Effect in 2019 for the supply of the XRGL40 multi-shot 40mm grenade launchers, although the contract was signed in 2020. Deliveries are expected to proceed within 2020, but apparently there are some issues regarding this project.

6. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launched-Bridge
Delays have been encountered in this project, which was awarded to Elbit Systems Land & C4I in early 2020. Elbit was said to have offered a variant of the Leonardo-IMI Joint Assault Bridge, and would be using a Leopard 2 platform. Delivery is expected in either 2021 or 2022.

7. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 4 - Amrored Combat Engineering Vehicle
The project was awarded to Turkey's FNSS for their Kunduz Amphibious Armored Combat Engineer vehicle in 2020. While contract signing confirmation is still pending, we are expecting funding delays that will affect the positive movement of this project.

The Kunduz AACE from FNSS. Photo credits to Shephard Media.

8. Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detectors
Another project that has been delayed due to bidding failures. The project was re-tendered in 2020 although it remains to be seen if the tender was successful.

9. Tank Gunnery Simulator
The project was awarded to Singapore's Wolfberry Asia on December 2019, but it appears that no contract has been signed with the DND. This remains a pending project, as MaxDefense previously reported that there were indications the award to Wolfberry Asia was cancelled, and the tender decalred as a failure as of February 2020. 

10. All-Terrain Vehicles:
The Philippine Army received the delivery of 15 Can-Am Commander Max all-terrain vehicles on October 2020. So far this is one of the projects of the Philippine Army that was completed this year.

11. Army C4ISTAR Lots 1 to 7
7 lots of projects related to the Army's C4ISTAR system, including the acquisition of Unmanned Aerial Systems, ground jammers, thermal imagers, radio direction finder systems, combat net MANET radios, and unmanned ground vehicles were contracted to Israeli companies in 2020 under a Government-to-Government deal with the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Production of equipment are all ongoing and for delivery between 2021 and 2022.

So far, only 2 projects can be considered completed within year 2020, and these are the Designated Marksman Rifle 7.62mm with the SIG Sauer SIG716G2 which are currently in service with several Philippine Army units; and the All-Terrain Vehicles project with the Can-Am Commander Max ATVs that were already delivered to the Philippine Army for use by special operations units, most likely the Light Reaction Regiment.

Other projects that have been continuing negotiations include:
M113 APC Firepower Upgrade, which is said to be potentially awarded to Turkey's FNSS; 
Combat Engineering Equipment Lots 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 which are almost ready for awarding pending funding allocation; 
Land Based Missile System which is for final negotiations with India's Brahmos Aerospace, 
* the still pending Multi-Launch Rocket System donation of K136 Kooryong MLRS from South Korea which the Philippine Army is still trying to comply the conditions set by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.
* Forward Support Equipment Phase 2 Lot 1, which covers the acquisition of two dozens of 10-ton Medium Wrecker Trucks, which the DND confirmed during the Senate hearing on Defense budget for 2021 as planned for inclusion under the Php5 billion Unprogrammed Appropriations.
* Negotiations with the US government and some US boat manufacturers are ongoing for the acquisition of Riverine Assault Boats, Scout Boats and Support Boats, which would be acquired through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS). The US government submitted a proposed sale approval to the US Congress in 2020.

Philippine Air Force:

For Horizon 1, the following projects have some significant movement within 2020:

1. Close Air Support Aircraft
One of the biggest projects completed in 2020, the delivery of 6 Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft was completed in late 2020. While the contract includes training of PAF personnel in the Philippines remains to be complied, the delivery is the most important part of the contract.

Three of the six A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft delivered to the PAF in 2020. Photo credits to PAF.

2. Radar Basing Support System
This project is in support of the radars acquired from Israel under the Air Surveillance Radar Phase 1 project. As of 2020, works related to the project are still ongoing, although it is expected to be completed by 2021. The radar stations are located in Gozar Air Station in Lubang Island, the Paredes Air Station in Ilocos Norte, and Mt. Salacot Station in Palawan.

3. Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer Munitions Lots 1 to 3
So far, Lots 1 to 3 appear to still be ongoing, with Lot 1 to supply the AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile and Lot 2 to supply the AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missiles are still pending complete delivery, while Lot 3 to supply countermeasures is still unresolved. Lot 4 involving the supply of 20mm ammunition were already completed at an earlier date.

4. Flight Simulator for Bell 412 and AW109
After a massive delay on the project due to the cancellation of contract with an American company a few years ago, the PAF and DND decided to give the project another go, with modifications on the project's requirements. But still, the tender was declared a failure as of October 2020, and no further plan was made for 2020.

For Horizon 2 projects:

1. Air Surveillance Radar Phase 2:
The project has been given to Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp. in August 2020  as part of a Government-to-Government deal with the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Delivery is expected to proceed only in late 2021 or 2022. MELCO is expected to deliver the J/FPS-3ME fixed and J/TPS-14ME mobile radars.

2. Attack Helicopter Phase 2:
After a long drama due to issues not directly related to the Philippines, the DND has signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries through a Government-to-Government deal with the Turkish government in late 2020. The PAF is still pushing for the delivery of the first batch of helicopters by 2021, although this seems to be a difficult task for TAI considering the political issues and timeframe.

The T129B ATAK attack helicopter. Photo credits to original source.

3. Combat Utility Helicopter Phase 3:
The delivery of 6 new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters on November 2020 is also another major milestone for the PAF, although this is just a partial delivery considering 10 more are expected for delivery in 2021.

Some of the S-70i Black Hawk CUH delivered to PAF in 2020. Photo credits to

The PAF saw the delivery of a Gulfstream G280 business jet, which is said to be for use as a "Command and Control" aircraft despite its obvious use as a VIP jet due to lack of C2 subsystems. The aircraft was delivered on September 2020, which makes this another completed project for 2020.

5. Unmanned Aerial Systems Level 3:
The project involves the delivery of the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAVs to the PAF, which were completed as of mid-2020. This is another project which can be considered completed as of 2020.

6. C-130 Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS
A project involving US Foreign Military Financing (US FMF) and US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) programs, the PAF was suppose to receive 2 refurbished C-130 Hercules from the US, with one of them for delivery by December 2020. So far, no delivery has been reported as of the last day of 2020.

7. PAF Aviation Engineering Equipment
This project comprises 32 individual lots of construction-related equipment and services, with majority of the lots already awarded to respective contractors as of 2020. Several lots were already delivered in 2020 although there are still some that are still unresolved, and other lots are still for delivery by 2021.

8. Kia KM-250 6x6 Trucks
Another project completed in 2020, the PAF received 50 new Kia KM-250 trucks from South Korea and inducted into service on October 2020. These trucks will help improve logistics support of the PAF.

9. Basing Support System Phases 2 to 4 at Pag-Asa Island:
This project is dependent on the completion of the beaching ramp and pier at Pag-asa Island. With both projects completed by the civilian government agencies in 2020, the military-side of the project is expected to proceed only in 2021.

10. Heavy Lift Helicopters:
An award was said to have been provided to Russia for the supply of Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopters. But we received confirmation that CAATSA remains to be an issue, and could even be the reason for the PAF and DND to potentially cancel this in favor of additional S-70i Black Hawk helicopters.

The Mil Mi-171 Hip medium helicopter.

11. Brand New Additional Transport Aircraft:

In case you are all wondering, this is the OFFICIAL name of the project involving the acquisition of brand new C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft. So far, negotiations are ongoing with Lockheed Martin as of 2020, and budget for the initial payment is expected to be released only by 2021.

To summarize, the PAF completed 4 projects in 2020, namely the Close Air Support Aircraft, the Command and Control Jet Aircraft, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Level 3 and the Kia KM-250 6x6 Trucks Acquisition Projects. While significant due to the introduction of several new air assets, the number of projects completed remain dismal considering the number of projects ongoing.

Other projects that have been in the negotiation stages include:
Multi-Role Fighter and Munition System, which has been going through a lot due to conflicts in decision between the PAF and DND, and other factors including price changes and political issues; 
Medium Lift Aircraft which is under negotiations with Airbus-CASA for additional C-295 aircraft;
* Trainer Aircraft which is the pre-planning stages and negotiations ongoing with several aircraft manufacturers including KAI, TAI, Aero Vodochody, and others; 
PAF C4ISTAR Lots 1 to 4 which are in different stages of delivery phase; 
Kia KM-450 4x4 Trucks which are expected for delivery to the PAF soon;
Additional Light Lift Aircraft project which is being negotiated with Indonesia's PT Dirgantara Indonesia for the potential sale of 6 NC-212i aircraft.
* While negotiations were already completed, the PAF is awaiting the delivery of the Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS), which includes 3 batteries of the Rafael SPYDER-ER short-mid range air defense missile system, which are scheduled for delivery in 2021. Funding for its Multi-Year allocations have been continuous for 2020, and is already approved for its last funding allocation in 2021.

An F-16 fighter of the USAF. Photo credits to

Philippine Navy (including Philippine Marine Corps):

For Horizon 1, the following projects have some significant movement within 2020:

1. Frigates Lot 1 - Platform
The Philippine Navy received its first Jose Rizal-class frigate on May 2020, and was commissioned as BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) on June 2020. Delays were encountered on the delivery of the 2nd ship, which was suppose to be for delivery by 4th quarter of 2020, but was moved to 1st quarter of 2021.

The PN frigate BRP Jose Rizal with three of the recently delivered S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters of the PAF. Credits to original source of photo.

2. Frigates Lot 2 - Munitions:
The partial delivery of Mistral short range surface-to-air missiles were made in 2020, and these already equip the BRP Jose Rizal, although full delivery is expected to be completed only by October 2021. The contract for the supply of SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missiles was made in 2020, and delivery is expected only by 2022. We received confirmation as well that the 76mm ammunition were already delivered to the PN in 2020, and the same is true for the 30mm ammunition for the ship's guns.

3. Base Support and Logistics Phase 1 for Naval Base Rafael Ramos (Cebu):
Works appear to be ongoing on the construction of Phase 1 at Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Cebu, although we are not familiar with the percentage completion of the construction project works.

4. Fast Boats for NAVSOCOM:
The Philippine Navy received a partial delivery of 7 new RHIBs as part of the project in 2020, with 3 other units expected to be delivered by 2021. These boats are to be used by the Boat Unit of the Naval Special Operations Command.

For Horizon 2 Phase:

1. Landing Docks:
The project has been tendered in 2019, and although post-qualification inspections were made in 2020, the DND and PN has not made a decision yet to award the project to Indonesia's PT PAL (Persero), which offered a revised and improved version of the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock. Two ships are for acquisition under this project.

2. Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade:
Despite Hanwha Systems bagging the project in 2019, nothing much has been made in 2020. Hanwha is scheduled to inspect all 3 ships of the class by early 2021, with inspection dates already marked and provided to MaxDefense. The upgrades only involves sensors and combat systems, but no weapon upgrades.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), a Del Pilar-class ship of the PN. Photo credits to PN.

3. Marine Engineering Upgrades for BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37):
Another long delayed project that has been passed to the Horizon 2 phase after failing to start during the Horizon 1 phase. So far, drydocking works has been awarded to Herma Shipyard on January 2020, although it remains to be seen if the actual repowering works are included in their contract.

4. MPAC (Batch 4) Combat Systems and Capability Upgrade:
This project, which comprises 2 lots for the supply of weapon systems by Rafael Advance Systems and installation works by Propmech Corporation, has been delayed for a year, considering the original schedule of delivery and installation of these weapon systems and upgrades were suppose to have been done by 2020. The delivery of weapon systems were moved to 2021.

5. Squad Rocket Launcher Light:
A requirement for 702 units of RPG-7s from Bulgaria's Arsenal JSCo has been finalized in 2020, although delivery is only expected to be made by 2021. These RPGs will be used by the Philippine Marines, as they start improving squad firepower and replacing older recoilless rifles.

6. Force Protection Equipment (Helmets and Body Armor):
Israel's Marom Dolphin Tactical Equipment bagged the project, and was awarded the project on August 2020. So far, no indication was found on a contract signed with DND, which means this is still potentially another pending project. The project involves the supply of 8,860 sets of body armor vests and helmets for the Philippine Marine Corps.

7. Mortars Lot 2 - 81mm Mortars:
Another project that seems to be pending, we expected a contract to be signed with EXPAL Systems by early 2020, but this remains to be confirmed. The project was awarded to EXPAL in late 2019, which aims to supply 

8. Fast Attack Interdiction Craft with Missiles:
The project is also considered a delayed one, with the funding for the project only released on December 2020. This means an award for the project, which is expected to be for Israeli Shipyards Ltd, is only expected to happen in 2021. The PN hopes to receive the first Shaldag Mk. V fast attack craft by 2022.
A CGI of the Shaldag Mk. V FAC which the PN is currently negotiating. Photo credits to Israel Shipyards.

To summarize, the PN has not completed any RAFPMP project in 2020, despite several projects reaching major milestones and partial delivery and completion. This is dismal considering the number of projects ongoing, even if many projects take years to complete.

But to give credit, the PN received 8 new ScanEagle 2 UAVs from the US government, which is a major milestone for the service as it received its first fixed wing tactical UAV. Despite not being part of the PN's own modernization program, this is still an important accomplishment in 2020.

A ScanEagle 2 UAV of the PN. Photo credits to PN.

Other projects that have been in the negotiation stages include:
Corvette project which is said to be undergoing final negotiations with South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries for a potential Jose Rizal-class Flight II;
Offshore Patrol Vessel project, which is still under negotiations with other shipbuilders from South Korea and Thailand despite an earlier selection of Australia's Austal, specifically its local shipyard in Cebu, to be the shipbuilder and supplier for the project.
Submarine project which is under intense negotiations with France's Naval Group and South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering;
Shore Based Anti-Ship Missile System, which is also being negotiated with India's Brahmos Aerospace, although other offers from other countries are still being pushed;
Shore Based Air Defense Missile System, which is still in advanced pre-procurement and negotiation stage with several suppliers from South Korea, India, Norway, and others.
Frigate Project Lot 3, which involves the supply of torpedoes, chaffs, and acoustic decoy for the Jose Rizal-class frigates. The chaffs and acoustic decoys are currently in the procurement phase through public bidding, which is expected to be opened on January 2021, while the torpedoes are to be acquired through direct negotiation with South Korea's LIGNex1 for their Blue Shark torpedoes.

The OPV design for the PN from Austal. Photo credits to Austal.

Our Hopes for 2021:

With the list above, we can say that 2021 appears to be a busy year for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its modernization programs. Even as early as January 2021, we can already see some new deliveries and project finalizations to happen.

We at MaxDefense Philippines and Philippine Defense Resource are hopeful that the government under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte will do its best to make sure the AFP's modernization goes on smoothly, cleanly, and without interference from questionable personalities from the administration.

We hope that they come to their senses and put the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people first before their own personal interests.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers, contributors, supporters and friends! We hope to have your continuous and strong support for 2021!!

First release: 31 December 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. AFP should buy more attack drones that can also be used for surveillance including anti drone rockets and radars. These are cheaper and force multipliers. They can be deployed in land, air and sea.

  2. to economize in the on going AFP modernization is to build what we can locally in the defense industry. we can build ships in Navotas and Cebu why are these not being utilized since they will also create jobs. we already made our own assault rifle and only presidential guard battallion uses it. we can build drones too. years back Mapua students build one for the Army only to be discontinued. etc. building our own defense industry also guarantee us uninterrupted maintenance and parts supply. its a win win scenario. Late Pres Marcos was smart enough to know this and initiated the SRDP only be trashed by Cory Aquino a passive liberal. During Marcos SRDP we were already making rockets and in the process of building missiles the first ASEAN or in Asia to do so. Sadly our officials are wasting our talents and revenues for the local defense industry. Its no brainer but many of our officials seem to have no brains or long term vision.

  3. they should include buying hundreds of cheap kamikaze drones from Turkey and Israel. This are force multipliers, mobile and can be deployed by land, air, and sea together with anti drones rockets and radars. then deploy these in WPS.


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects