Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Austal leads Philippine Navy's OPV Acquisition Project!

SecDef Lorenzana confirms Austal is still the preferred OPV supplier for the PN

The Philippine Navy commissions its 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate!

The Philippine Navy welcomes BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), its newest frigate!

The Philippine Navy selects Shaldag Mk. V for Fast Attack Interdiction Craft!

The DND has awarded the FAIC-M Acquisition Project to Israel Shipyards

The Philippine Air Force wants more Black Hawk helicopters!

The Philippine Air Force asks for more Black Hawks to allow the retirement of their Bell UH-1 Huey fleet

The Philippine Army orders the Sabrah Light Tank System from Israel!

Israel's Elbit Systems was declared the winner to supply light tanks to the PA

The Philippine Air Force receives full order of Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 UAVs!

All 9 Hermes 900 and 4 Hermes 450 MALE UAVs have been received by the PAF!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Featuring Some of the New Special Vehicles in the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Note: Most, if not all photos were taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage Facebook page. The page maintains a good library of Philippine military photos from various sources. Credits to that group's page and to its members, as well as thanks.

During the recently concluded ASEAN Summit held in Manila from April 26 to 29, 2017, there were sightings of members of the Presidential Security Group's Special Reaction Unit (PSG-SRU) riding what appears to be a  Utility Task Vehicles (UTV), or more commonly known as Side-by-Side All Terrain Vehicles, while securing the meeting areas.

One of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR 4 Utility Task Vehicles as seen during the APEC Summit 2017
Photo taken from the Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilians fanpage's FB page.

Polaris MRZR-4 UTV:

Based on sightings and photos of the vehicles, they appear the Polaris MRZR-4 UTV. The vehicles appear to be quite new and was never seen before this security detail in Manila.

While this is not the first time Filipino security forces are seen using UTVs, and there are no known press releases for such acquisitions as well as quantity acquired, the public appearance of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR 4 shows that there are acquisitions made for such vehicles.

The Polaris MRZR 4 is among the latest UTVs entering the US Armed Forces, and are mostly used by Special Operations Forces for quick deployments where the larger Humvee and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are either too large or too slow for use. Fast, agile, lightweight, and can easily be transported by tactical air transport assets like the C-130 Hercules, MV-22 Osprey and CH-47 Chinook.

Another angle of the PSG-SRU's Polaris MRZR-4.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage's FB page.

These vehicles can carry at least 4 fully armed operators and their gear, and can be armed with assorted light firearms including machine guns and/or grenade launchers. It can also be used to carry a stretcher at the back side, extending to the passenger cabin by folding one of the passenger seats.

Aside from these features, the UTV is also an affordable transport option for special operations forces on the ground. These attributes allowed for the increasing use of such vehicles with other militaries aside from the US, and the Philippines is among those who have noticed its potential.

While there are no further information on its quantity and acquisition dates, MaxDefense sources pointed out that the Polaris vehicles are probably new but were acquired through US military assistance. 

Kawasaki Teryx:

Aside from the PSG's MRZR 4, the other UTVs confirmed to be used by the Philippine military is the Kawasaki Teryx of the Philippine Army's Light Reaction Regiment (LRR). 

A Kawasaki Teryx UTV of the Light Reaction Regiment, as seen during a demonstration given to Pres. Duterte last July 2017.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB oage. 

A Kawasaki Teryx of the US Special Forces. Look at the similarity to the LRR's own vehicle, which makes it possible that those used by the LRR are actually former US military vehicles provided as part of a military assistance program.

These vehicles were observed by several people, including some MaxDefense community members, as not quite new looking, and may have been used before by the US military before finding its way to the Philippine Army. A quick check on Kawasaki's website also showed that the Teryx used by the Light Reaction Regiment are not the newest models being marketed by the company.

The LRR's Teryx UTV was first seen in a live fire demonstration last year, when a couple of them were used by LRR operators in the firing range while in a public demonstration attended by the media.

A Kawasaki Teryx UTV during a live fire demonstration last year.
Photo taken from Francisco Vila's Instagram page, as screen grabbed from a video taken from the Presidential Communication's Youtube video.

There are no data yet on when did the LRR received these vehicles, but based on sightings, it is highly possible that these vehicles were received sometime between 2015 and 2016. There is also no details on the quantity received by the Light Reaction Regiment, although there are photos of the vehicles posted by other Facebook-based defense fan pages of several vehicles moving together in what appears to be a military camp.

The only information that MaxDefense sources have provided is that these Teryx vehicles were provided by the US military as part of their military assistance to the Philippines. 

Several Kawasaki Teryx UTVs are seen in this photo taken from another UTV included in the convoy.
Photo taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

Tactical Assault Ladder Vehicle:

Another type of vehicle that recently appeared in Philippine Army inventory are Tactical Assault Ladder Vehicles, mounted on either the KIA KM-450 1 1/4-ton 4x4 utility vehicles, or Isuzu FRR medium utility trucks.

One of the tactical assault ladders mounted on a KIA KM-450 1 1/4-ton utility vehicle.
Photo taken from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

The AFP has not been seen with any assault ladder vehicle in the past, and is possible that these are the first of its kind in the AFP, or in any other Philippine security agency.

None have been seen yet during public demonstrations, although these vehicles were among those showed by the Philippine Army during the 2017 Philippine Army anniversary parade a few months ago. Based on sightings, these vehicles may also have entered Philippine Army service only between 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.

The Philippine Army's tactical assault ladder vehicles as shown during the Philippine Army's founding anniversary parade a few months ago.
Photo courtesy of Philippine Armed Forces images and videos - civilian fanpage FB page.

These ladders allow counter terrorism troops to enter elevated areas with ease, coming in from areas which are not expected to be used as access points. Examples could include buses and aircraft, buildings, and other elevated structures. The bus hostage incident in Luneta several years ago showed the need for such capability, when the Manila SWAT team failed to enter the bus as fast as possible due to lack of platform to bring them up with speed and surprise.

More photos of the tactical assault ladder of the Light Reaction Regiment.
Photo taken from getty images, taken by Ted Aljibe.

MaxDefense may have failed to include here any other new special vehicles in the Philippine armed forces, but more can be added in this blog entry later on should we take notice of its presence, or if credible information is made available to us for sharing.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The AFP-wide Pistol Project - Pres. Duterte's Promised Handguns for the Filipino Soldier

There have been numerous occasions that Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte mentioned to soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in his numerous camp visits, that he will be providing side arm pistols for them for their own protection.

So far, several AFP members have confirmed to MaxDefense that they have not received these pistols yet despite the promise from the president that it will be distributed to them soon. MaxDefense discusses why.

The Glock 19 Gen 4 pistol, which MaxDefense believes will be the top candidate as the official new pistol of all uniformed servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as by the Philippine Army.
Photo screen-grabbed from YouTube video of ZakaTac9mm.

The Original Pistol Project:

Originally, the Philippine Army has a project to acquire pistols as part of their Horizon 2 phase modernization program. Appearing in the draft Horizon 1-3 plans submitted by the Philippine Army in mid 2016 to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the plan was for the acquisition of  19,478 units of pistols, without mention on the caliber choice, by the AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 2 phase.

By late 2016, this plan was changed, with the 19,478 pistols planned for procurement was then moved to within the Horizon 1 (2023-2017) phase. Since 2017 is the last year of implementing the Horizon 1 phase, MaxDefense understands that the project will then be funded by the approved AFP Modernization Program budget for 2017.

By early 2017 and based on the draft submitted by the Philippine Army, the quantity for acquisition for Horizon 1 FY 2017 was increased to 25,000 units with a projected budget of Php 625 million. But adjustments were made to the entire 2017 request list, until it was reduced back to a finalised quantity of 19,478 units, with a projected budget of Php 389.560 million, or an average of around Php 20,400 per pistol. The budget will be taken from the repriotized funding that was originally intended for the Philippine Army's Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) Project worth Php 6.5 billion, whose SARO was extended lately by Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno.

Back then, MaxDefense has not received confirmation of what calibre was the Philippine Army looking for, but initial information from some sources mentioned that it would be a 9mm pistol. Surprisingly, it would be acquired through a public tender, and is expected that an Invitation to Bid will be released soon. Since it is for tender, it is expected that the winning bidder will submit a price below the projected budget, and reducing the average price of each pistol to less than Php 20,400.

The Promise:

Spates of kidnapping and/or murder of uniformed personnel by terrorists (mostly New People's Army terrorists) irritated Pres. Duterte, and as part of his support for the members of the AFP, he promised as early as late 2016 to provide side arm pistols to all AFP uniformed personnel, for them to use to protect themselves from these cowardly terrorist attacks when not in military operations or when they are outside camps and during rest and recreation periods, and also for use during operations against criminality and drugs.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines immediately drafted a plan, inserting the acquisition of around 113,612 units of pistols in compliance to Pres. Duterte's directive. This is now called the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project. It was planned for acquisition on the early part of Horizon 2, probably 2018, with no definite budget allocation then. This was included in the Horizon 2 acquisition plan submitted by the Department of National Defense to Malacanang earlier this year, as MaxDefense mentioned in other blog entires and in our Facebook group page.

After adjustments were made, the AFP Pistol Acquisition was moved to Horizon 1 phase, and will be funded under FY 2017. Quantity was also revised from 113,612 units to 115,383 units, with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php 2,307,660,000.00, or an average of Php 20,000 per pistol. This is slightly lower than the budget allocated by the Philippine Army for their own Pistol Acquisition Project, in consideration of the quantity involved for the AFP's requirements.

The finalised lsit of AFP projects for bidding this year included the AFP Pistol, as shown in this recent document. MaxDefense will discuss other projects (which were intentionally deleted) in other future blog entries. 

The AFP Pistol Acquisition project was listed as among the projects to be tendered this year 2017, together with other projects totalling Php 6.660 billion. 

This is actually surprising, considering that Pres. Duterte himself already mentioned in the past that the pistol to be distributed will be Glock 30 .45 calibre pistols. Apparently this was his personal choice, as he prefer handguns on .45 calibre rather than 9mm, and because Glock 30 sounds similar to "Du30" which is a monicker of his family name. 

Also in one occasion, the president also mentioned of an alternative to Glock 30, using M1911 "Commander" pistols as well. "Commander" refers to a post-war M1911 variant which is shorter and lighter than the standard M1911, and was based on the 1950s Colt Commander pistol by US arms manufacturer Colt. Here is why it is surprising:

The Glock 30 .45 calibre pistol, as shown with the standard 10-round magazine and the 13-round magazine from the Glock 21. Both can be used on the pistol. This is the pistol model Pres. Duterte promised for distribution to AFP soliders.
Photo taken from Personal Defense World's website.

The President's Choice: Glock 30 - A Backgrounder:

The Glock 30 is a subcompact pistol from Glock, which is chambered to fire .45 ACP rounds. It is originally included with a 10-round capacity magazine, although a 13-round magazine used in the larger Glock 21 can also be used to increase its capacity.

The subcompact size of the pistol makes it easy for plainclothes or off-duty soldiers to carry it around, while still packing the highly regarded .45 ACP punch that Filipino gun enthusiasts and soldiers love.

Its dimensions are (based on Glock USA's website):

  • Length: 177 mm
  • Height: 122 mm
  • Width: 32.50mm
  • Barrel Length: 96 mm
  • Unloaded weight: 750 grams
  • Loaded weight (standard magazine): 960 grams

This is how the Glock 30 looks like if it uses the 13-round Glock 21 magazine.
Photo taken from Home Defense Weapons website.

(EDIT: May 21, 2017) A New Twist - Bid Documents Released:

This portion is added less than a day after this blog entry was publicly posted.

MaxDefense finally received a copy of the AFP's pistol acquisition program bid documents and technical specifications, as sources were unaware that MaxDefense will be publishing an entry about the Philippine Army and AFP Pistol acquisition projects. Corrections were informed to MaxDefense only after the entry was posted.

As per the Bid Documents, the AFP and PA Pistol Acquisition Projects were combined into one project, which is now called the "Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm, Striker Fired, for the Department of National Defense". The acquisiion quantity for both projects were added together as well, with the new quantity requirement at 134,861 units (that is the sum of 115,383 units for AFP plus 19,478 units for the Philippine Army). The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) is now at Php 2,697,220,000.00, or arond Php 20,000 per unit.

Based on the title alone, the requirement has changed substantially, with the major change is on the barrel and ammo to be used. Instead of the firing .45 Auto rounds, the pistols requested by the AFP will now be chambered to fire 9mm x 19 NATO rounds. This means Pres. Duterte's choice, the Glock 30 .45 ACP, is now out of the running. 

Also, the requirement of being a striker-fired pistol narrows the competing pistol models into a few, with major highlight on Glock, whose pistols are striker fired instead of the conventional hammer-fired on other models. This means any M1911 based pistol are also out of the running.

These new requirements put the pistol choices to be almost similar to those that were evaluated by the US Army-US Air Force Modular Handgun System, which called for a handgun with a striker-firing requirement. So choices could include the Glock 17 and Glock 19, SIG Sauer's P320, FN Herstal's FNS-9, Smith & Wesson's M&P, and Springfield Armory's XD(M).

The specification also calls for a pistol with the following dimensions:
  • Length: 185 to 220mm
  • Barrel length: 100 to 120mm
  • Unloaded weight: 1,000 grams maximum
  • Loaded weight: 1,300 grams maximum
  • Magazine: 15 rounds capacity minimum, ambidextrous
  • Tactical Rail System: Frame integral
Portion of the technical specifications for the Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm Striker-Fired for the Department of National Defense. As shown in the 1st part of Physical Characteristics, the calibre is now 9mm, firing the 9 x 19mm NATO round.

The dimensions put the pistol's size as larger than a subcompact pistol like the Glock 30.

Another requirement is for the upper receiver (slide) having a high grade carbon steel material, and the lower receiver (frame) using polymer material. This is a very important part since only Glock uses these specs on their pistols. In comparison, the SIG Sauer P320, which is a candidate in the PNP's own pistol acquisition program, uses stainless steel upper and lower receivers, which does not meet the DND's specified requirements.

Based on MaxDefense's sources, only 3 pistols fit the bill based on specs: the Glock 17 and 19, Springfield Armory's XD(M), and SIG Sauer's P320.

Finally, the consideration will all boil down to the pricing. So far MaxDefense received information that Glock/Trust trade and Springfield Armory are willing to go lower than the ABC, while nothing is heard yet from SIG Sauer /Intrade Asia Pacific. A pistol with these specs for less tha Php 20,000 can be attainable considering the quantity involved.

Based on initial search made by MaxDefense in a very limited time (as the corrections on this blog must be made ASAP), among those that can fit the bill are Glock's G19 Gen 4 and G17 Gen 4 (same as what the PNP uses).

MaxDefense believes that the G19 is more applicable for military use due to its compact design, as well as making it easier for plainclothes soldiers to hide it in public. 

As for the bidding itself, latest information based on the Bid Documents places the deadline for Submission and Opening of Bids by May 31, 2017, 3:00pm. This could still be subject to changes, which is normal in military equipment biddings.

A comparison between the Glock 17 Gen 4 (above) and Glock 19 Gen 4 (below), wherein the height and length difference can be visually without the need for measurement. The magazine capacity is also shown, with Glock 17 Gen 4 having a 17-round capacity, while the shorter Glock 19 Gen 4 having a 15-round capacity.
Photo screengrabbed from YouTube video from J.P.'s FirearmsChannel.

Pres. Duterte's Relations with Trust Trade:

During the president's visits to military camps around the country, there were several mentions made on the name "Trust Trade" when discussing about Glock 30 pistols. Who/What is Trust Trade?

Trust Trade Firearms and Ammunition, more commonly known as Trust Trade, is a firearms supplier based in Ortigas Center in Quezon City, and carries several firearms brands including Glock, Taurus, Kimber, and Norinco, among others. The company is owned and controlled by the Gutierrez family, and is known friend of Pres. Duterte.

With Pres. Duterte already mentioning several times that Trust Trade has already received, or is in the process of receiving thousands of Glock 30 .pistols, which MaxDefense believes are from Glock USA rather than from Austria, the sudden inclusion of the project to those scheduled for bidding this year might be more of a compliance to the Government Procurement Reform Act RA 9184.

But with Trust Trade already investing millions of pesos by ordering thousands of pistols without a contract signed yet with the government, this creates an impression that there is something fishy that is about to happen. Or in another point of view, is Pres. Duterte bluffing when he mentioned a few months ago that 30,000 Glock 30 pistols are coming, considering that they are now useless if the specifications of the combined AFP-PA 9mm Striker-Fired Pistol project is followed?

MaxDefense believes that while the project will be publicly tendered, the specifications of the pistols for procurement seemed to be skewed in favour of Glock, making Trust Trade a sure winner against other potential bidders that may want to try their luck on the project. If this happens, this will again be a breach of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184.

Other Issues on Glock Pistols:

MaxDefense also sees issues that may hamper the delivery of Glock pistols for the AFP.

First is the export license for the pistols. Glock 30 is currently manufactured in Glock's facility in Georgia, USA, and in Austria, although any export by Glock USA is monitored and confirmed first by Glock's headquarters in Austria. With the Philippine government being questioned with regards to so-called Extra Judicial Killings (EJKs) by the European Union and the US government, this might affect the AFP's acquisition of pistols considering that Pres. Duterte himself said that he wanted the AFP to use them to help win his War on Drugs. This despite the AFP being cleared by these foreign governments as an organisation not involved in EJKs. The same issue might be expected for pistols coming from Western arms manufacturers like S&W, FN and SIG Sauer.

Second, as already shown in previous experiences in other AFP projects, the entire bidding process for military projects are so slow and requires stupendous amounts of time. If the same happens to the AFP Pistol project despite having a delivery date of 180 calendar days for the first tranche of 35,000 units, 300 calendar days for the 2nd tranche of 99,861 units, then do not expect the pistols to arrive soon. Do not expect the repealing of Executive Order 235 to help streamline the process, as MaxDefense and many other defense, military, and industry sources and community members believe that the this would instead further prolong the bidding and procurement process instead of improving it.

Third, as confirmed by tests conducted recently by the Philippine National Police (PNP), that certain models of Glock pistols, specifically the Glock 17 Gen 4 which is a candidate for the PNP's own pistol procurement project, failed the sand, water, and drop tests conducted by the PNP last March 2017. While the pistol involved was the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 4 and not the Glock 30 or the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the Glock pistols can also pass the AFP's own test, which are expected to be stipulated in the Bid Requirements. If the pistol offered by Glock / Trust Trade fails the tests conducted by the AFP, there will definitely be delays in the project implementation and delivery schedules.

MaxDefense is still trying to find out how Glock failed the PNP tests considering the pistol has been tested and passed with flying colours before being adapted by many other countries.

The PNP recently confirmed that the Glock 17 Gen. 4 9mm pistol failed in sand, water, and drop tests as part of the requirements for the PNP's own pistol acquisition for 2017. While this is not the Glock 30 nor the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the pistol Glock and Trust Trade is expected to offer will pass the tests the AFP will conduct as specified in the Bid Requirements.
Photo taken from

Moving On:

With the project still about to be tendered, it is expected that AFP personnel will have to wait longer for the pistols to be distributed, despite the continued promises of Pres. Duterte that the pistols are on their way. Should Trust Trade win the deal, it is still yet to be confirmed how many pistols are in Trust Trade's possession as of the moment and ready for delivery, as they have the option to deliver earlier than the stipulated schedule on the bid documents. Also, this project clears another issue that many in the AFP are clarifying: is the pistol given by the president for personal ownership of AFP personnel, or if they would be owned by the AFP and just issued to AFP personnel. The answer appears to be the latter - AFP owns the pistols.

Only those few lucky ones, the AFP personnel that was personally given with Glock 30 handguns by the president himself, are expected to own the pistols as their own. Most of these personnel were either injured ones visited by Pres. Duterte in his hospital visits, or those raffled off during his camp visits.

MaxDefense's Choice:
If MaxDefense is to choose, preference would be on the SIG Sauer P320 Compact 9mm variant. The 9mm variant is also the US Army's pick for its own Modular Handgun System (MHS) requirement to replace the ageing Beretta M9.

Main reason for this choice is because MaxDefense believes that the US Army already conducted very rigorous tests on the P320, much more rigorous than any test that is expected to be made by any Philippine government armed agency like the AFP, PA, and PNP. If it passes the US Army, it is indeed a durable and very good weapon. There is no reason to be very specific on the need for a polymer lower receiver since this obviously just point to a preferred supplier instead of a better product.

This is my personal choice and no further explanation will be given since it is moot at the moment.

MaxDefense's choice is the SIG Sauer P320. Hopefully the Philippine Army's own separate pistol requirement will consider this model, whether in 9mm or .45 ACP variant.

MaxDefense will provide more details about the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project and the Philippine Army Pistol Acquisition Project in future updates within this blog entry, or at our Facebook community page.


JULY 19, 2017:
A pre-bid conference was held for the AFP 9mm Striker Fired Pistol acquisition project last July 6, 2017. 

Anong those present and are expected to submit their bids are: Alepo, Armscor Global (Rock Island Armory), CZ USA, Intrade Asia Pacific (SIG Sauer), Lock & Load / Caballo Negro Industriya, P.B. Dionisio & Co., Precision Munitions Inc. (Beretta), SOD Corp. (Springfield), Triton Defense & Logistics, and Trust Trade (Glock). Take note that they are potential bidders but they can skip on this project if they wanted to.

Among those discussed were changes on the delivery date, which is now earlier than before; some concerns on the pistol's rear sight,  and endurance of the pistols was reduced.

Also, due to consessions made by the AFP to allow Pres. Duterte's instructions to be integrated to the project, the quantity of 9mm Striker Fired Pistols is reduced, from 134,861 units to 74,861 units. The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) for these pistols was also reduced to Php 1,497,220,000.00, making the pistol price average of Php20,000 per pistol.

To compensate the reduction, the AFP will now be acquiring .45 caliber Hammer Fired Pistols worth 60,000 units, with an ABC of Php 1,200,000,000.00, or an average of Php 20,000 per pistol. 

While 60,000 units of .45 caliber pistols are required, the Philippine Government through the Department of Budget Management awarded an Emergency Procurement to Armscor for the delivery of 3,000 M1911-type Rock Island Armory pistols. These pistols were offically turned-over to the AFP on July 18, 2017 under the presence of Pres. Duterte himself. 

However it is expected that the AFP might still get the original quantity of 60,000 units of .45 caliber Hammer Fired pistols, which would be tendered. Armscor already has the advantage being able to deliver 3,000 pistols earlier as it does not make sense to have 2 kinds of .45 caliber pistols for the same project. MaxDefense also received information that Intrade Asia Pacific is another strong contender and may offer one of their 1911 series .45 caliber pistol model.

One of the Rock Island Armory .45 caliber pistols turned over to the AFP last July 18, 2017.
Photo taken from PTV's Facebook page.

MaxDefense is still awaiting the details of the tender for the AFP .45 caliber Hammer Fired Pistols, including the final approved ABC, as well as other details including the bid submission and opening dates.

Meanwhile the AFP 9mm Striker Fired Pistol acquisition project's Bid Submission and Opening is scheduled today, July 19, 2017. MaxDefense will provide an update on who wins this tender, or if it will be considered a failed bid.

= = = = =
AUGUST 1, 2017:
Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE ) proceeded as scheduled last July 19, 2017 for the AFP 9mm Striker Fired Pistol acquisition project. Only four proponents submitted a bid for the project, namely CZ USA, Intrade Asia Pacific, Precision Munitions, and Trust Trade-Glock Asia Pacific JV.

Trust Trade-Glock Asia Pacific was declared the lowest compliant bidder with a bid amount of Php 1,231,463,450.00. second lowest compliant was Intrade Asia Pacific with a bid amount of Php 1,290,229,335.00, while third is Precision Munitons with a bid amount of Php 1,378,866,149.50. CZ USA failed during the eligibility part, thus their financial proposal envelope containing the bid amount was not opened anymore. In comparison, the Approved Budget for Contract is worth Php 1,497,220,000.00.

74,861 units are to be acquired under this project. 

Trust Trade-Glock Asia Pacific JV offered the Glock 17 Gen 4, while Intrade Asia Pacific offered the SIG Sauer P320. Precision Munitiond offered the Beretta APX.

The difference betweem Trust Trade-Glock's bid amount and the ABC is Php 265.756 million, which the AFP can re-use to fund other projects later on.

As of this writing, Post Qualification Inspections is being scheduled, which MaxDefense expects to happen in August 2017. Once Trust Trade-Glock Asia Pacific passes these inspections, the Inspection team will submit their report and recommendation for award, which would be the basis of the Notice of Award which MaxDefense believes may happen by September 2017 at the earliest.

The delivery schedule are as follows, based on the Supplemental Bid Bulletin for the project:

First tranche of 30,000 units will be delivered within 120 calendar days (4 months) from date of receiving the Notice to Proceed. 

Second tranche of 39,861 units will be delivered within 240 days (8 months) from receiving the Notice to Proceed. 

The Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm pistol.
Photo taken from Guns and Ammo website.

MaxDefense believes that, if everything goes well, the Notice to Proceed will be given to Trust Trade-Glock JV before the end of the year, while the 1st tranche will arrive before the end of 2nd Quarter 2018.

In addition, MaxDefense received confirmation that a separate and simultaneous acquisition of BUL Cherokee 9mm Hammer Fired Pistols for the AFP was being pushed. 1,000 brand new units are being pushed although the proposed budget was not made known to MaxDefense.

Based on the documents received by MaxDefense, the acquisition of BUL Cherokee pistols are under an Emergency Procurement plan approved by the Department of Budget Management. Interesting though is that originally, the intention was to buy the IWI Jericho 9mm pistols instead of the BUL Cherokee. No reason was provided on the decision to change the model to be acquired.

In our Facebook community page, MaxDefense questioned the wisdom of acquiring 1,000 9mm pistols when the Glock 17 Gen 4 is expected to arrive very soon, and the government just recently awarded an Emergency Procurement contract to supply 3,000 units of 1911 Rock Island Armory Tac Ultra .45 caliber pistols to Armscor Global Defense.

Instead of adding another pistol model to the AFP's inventory, why not just increase theorder of Armscor's RIA Tac Ultra .45 pistols, which are already in service with the AFP? This would reduce the types of pistols in the AFP to a minimum while also reducing complications in logistics, maintenance, training, and support by having multiple pistol models in the AFP.

Another angle that was explored was the possibility of the presence of an "invisible hand" pushing this procurement. Many pro-administration supporters criticized MaxDefense on this angle, although MaxDefense insist that this remains a possibility due to the information it received from multiple sources from the defense, military, industry, and gun communities that all corraborate to its possibility.

MaxDefense also checked if our proposal to just order additional pistols from Armscor is feasible, considering the emergency nature of the procurement. We received info from an Armscor insider that they can manufacture an additional 1,000 pistols in less than 45 days. so it means its not impossible.

The BUL Cherokee 9mm pistol from Israel.
Credits to owner of photo.

Speaking of .45 caliber pistols, as of this writing, the AFP's .45 Caliber Hammer Fired Pistol acquisition project is still being processed by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Budget Management (DBM), as it would be DBM who would handle the bidding of these pistols.

Originally 60,000 units are to be acquired under this project, but since 3,000 units were already acquired under Emergency Procurement, the bidding would only be made for 57,000 units with an ABC of Php 1,140,000,000.00.

MaxDefense will be updating this blog entry for any new info relating to the pistol acquisitions for the AFP. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

BRP Gregorio del Pilar misses Continuous Maintenance Availability, Emphasizes Need of Philippine Navy for More Warships

Last April 23, 2017, the Philippine Navy's Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) was relieved of its duties with the Naval Forces West (NAVFORWEST) to undergo a Continuous Maintenance Availability in Subic, Zambales. She was replaced by her sistership BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) who just came back from Langkawi, Malaysia after attending LIMA 2017 as the Philippines' representative to the event.

A few days later, MaxDefense received confirmation from its sources that BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be the Philippines' representative in the 50th Anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), which will hold its 1st Maritime Review, and will also be present at IMDEX Asia 2017 defense exhibition in Changi Naval Base, which coincides with the maritime review. The ship held its send-off ceremonies yesterday, May 6, 2017.

This means that BRP Gregorio del Pilar will not be able to go for its scheduled maintenance, and instead will be deployed to Singapore.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar during CARAT 2014.
Original photo taken from US Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Continuous Maintenance Availability:

Every few years, a ship enters what we call a Continuous Maintenance Availability (CMAv), which is a maintenance procedure that can be done without the need for dry docking, and involves refreshing the ship's physical appearance, repairing or maintaining minor systems, conducting tests and maintenance of its machinery and electrical systems, and if possible, conduct upgrades.

MaxDefense believes that the scheduled CMAv on BRP Gregorio del Pilar is not the first time scheduled by the Philippine Navy since the ship was commissioned to service 6 years ago, and this is actually its second time to have CMAv as a Philippine Navy ship.

Also, this is not the first time the ship skipped its scheduled CMAv. MaxDefense sources confirmed that FF-15 has not been able to commit to its CMAv schedules due to operational deployments, mostly in support of patrols in the West Philippine Sea area.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar Skips CMAv:

The scheduled CMAv on FF-15 was actually planned as early as last year, so any deviation to the plan should have been made earlier if the ship is in need to reschedule its CMAv. But from April 23 to somewhere between April 29 to 30, changes were made by the Philippine Navy. That is not normal for a sudden change of plan, and it is possible that there should have been another ship originally scheduled to attend the activities in Singapore.

Send-off and arrival ceremonies for BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), respectively, from assignment with NAVFORWEST, as FF-15 goes for its supposed CMAv.
Photo taken from NAVFORWEST's FB page. 

Being the current chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines has committed to play an active role in different regional activities, and that includes the Philippine Navy, which was confirmed by its Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S. Mercado during an interview @ LIMA 2017. This means that there is no way for the PN to miss this event in Singapore, and has to do everything in its capacity to send a ship to represent the country.

MaxDefense believes that there are no available ships in the fleet to attend the Singapore activities, and it has to make changes on BRP Gregorio del Pilar's schedules to allow such deployment. This actually supports MaxDefense's earlier statements that the Philippine Navy is in need for more ships in its fleet at the fastest possible time.

PN FOIC VAdm. Mercado during his interview with Malaysian media wherein he stated the PN's commitment for active participation and leadership in regional naval events this year, in line with the Philippines' chairmanship of ASEAN.
Photo taken from the PN's FB page.

Missed Installation of Mk. 38 Mod. 3 Machine Gun System:

The CMAv schedule for BRP Gregorio del Pilar was supposed to include the installation of a new weapons system, which is the Mk. 38 Mod. 3 machine gun system (MGS), which was ordered under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme with the US Navy since 2015. MaxDefense posted a blog entry regarding this development last month.

The MGS were delivered to the Philippines a few days ago, and installation of the entire system will take several days. This should have made the BRP Gregorio del Pilar the second Del Pilar-class frigate to have an automated Mk. 38 system as part of its capability. Currently, the ship is equipped with a manually operated Mk. 38 Mod. 1 at the tail end, and two manually operated 20mm Oerlikon guns at midships. The Mk.38 Mod. 3 will replace the Oerlikon guns.

Although the report from the US mentioned that the Mk. 38 Mod. 3 will be the 25mm caliber variant, MaxDefense there is a possibility for the Philippine Navy to have chosen the larger 30mm caliber variant. It may seem like a new caliber for the Navy, but it makes sense since the new frigate ordered from HHI were specified to have a 30mm machine gun system as well, making its availability inevitable.

This delivery means that the Mk. 38 Mod. 3 ordered by the Philippine Navy in 2016 will probably be for BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), and is scheduled for delivery next year.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that FF-15 will finally have its CMAv once it arrives from Singapore late this month, including the installation of the Mk. 38 Mod. 3 gun system, and will probably be out of action for several weeks.

The Mk. 38 Mod. 3 machine gun system intended for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) is already waiting to be installed. The skipping of the ship's CMAv means the installation of this system will be delayed for a while.

Need for More Navy Ships:

Currently the Philippine Navy only has 15 major surface combatants in its fleet, composed of three (3) Del Pilar-class frigates, one (1) Cannon-class destroyer escort, two (2) Rizal-class, three (3) Jacinto-class, five (5) Malvar-class, and one (1) Cyclone-class patrol vessels.

The Cannon-class destroyer escort, BRP Rajah Humabon (FF-11), is currently used as a training vessel and is only used for patrol, training, and ceremonial purposes within the Manila-Subic area.

The BRP Rajah Humabon (FF-11) is currently in reduced operational capability and is being used as a training and ceremonial ship. It is expected to be the next ship to be retired by the Philippine Navy.
Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The three Jacinto-class are mostly on port, also on their CMAv schedules, as upgrades are being made on its combat systems (JCPV Upgrade Phase 3A and 3B) and machinery system (JCPV Upgrade Phase 2 for PS-37). With the number of patrol ships going down as BRP Iloilo was retired from service in September 2016, there has no direct replacement made until now for these ageing patrol ships.

The only confirmed ship coming in within this year is the Pohang-class corvette, the former ROKS Chung Ju (PCC-762), whose crew will be coming in from different ships of the Philippine Fleet but mostly with experience with the Del Pilar-class frigates. There is no confirmation yet that the Philippine Navy will receive more Pohang-class ships from South Korea, although the MaxDefense sources confirmed that the Philippine Navy is actually pursuing to have at least three (3) ships of the class, depending on availability and approval of the South Korea government.

The only confirmed incoming warship as of now is the Pohang-class Flight III corvette ROKS Chung Ju (PCC-762) which is set to arrive in the Philippines by 4th quarter of 2017.

MaxDefense has also recommended the acquisition of the Joao Coutinho-class patrol vessels of the Portuguese Navy as a short-term solution to allow the retirement of more ageing Malvar-class ships, in which two are available for transfer anytime and has already been inspected by a team from the Philippine Navy. MaxDefense was informed that another inspection will be taking place soon, and will probably the final one before a decision is made to take in or turn down the acquisition plan. Should this offer be taken, the Philippine Navy may also opt to take a third ship, which is still in service with the Portuguese Navy but will be retired soon.

MaxDefense previously mentioned about the interests of the Philippine Navy in acquiring the Joao Coutinho-class patrol vessels of the Portuguese Navy. Up until now, the PN has not made any finality in its decision if they will or will not acquire the ships, two of which are available for grabs anytime.
Photo taken from

Americans Watching:

MaxDefense also received information that the assets that the US government provided are actually being monitored by the US government, specifically by JUSMAG Philippines. The feedback MaxDefense received is that they are concerned about the Philippine Navy's decision to skip the ship's CMAv, which makes them think that the Philippine Navy is not taking care of the assets being provided by the US to them. This might affect any future decision by the US government to provide assets to the Philippine Navy.

MaxDefense believes that this is actually a double edged sword. While it appears that the PN is getting a negative rating on maintenance of US-provided assets, it also allows the PN to support its request to be provided with more assets to allow the PN to meet all its operational requirements without pushing its ships beyond the limits. Based on previous information we received, the Philippine Navy is actually interested in acquiring a 4th Hamilton-class cutter from the US Coast Guard, while also looking at the possibility of acquiring more capable ships like the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, or any of its sub-class including the Adelaide-class frigates of the Royal Australian Navy.

Doing the Math:

As mentioned above, the Philippine Navy has fifteen (15) major surface combatants. Eight (8) of them are World War 2-era ships that need to be replaced by 2020, according to the Philippine Navy's own Sail Plan. That means there are only seven (7) ships (Del Pilar-class, Jacinto-class, and Cyclone-class) that will remain in service past 2020.

Just to keep up with the numbers, it means the Philippine Navy need to have 8 replacement ships by 2020. So far only 1 is confirmed coming (ex-ROKS Chung Ju). So we still need 7. If the PN opts to get the 2 Joao Coutinho-class patrol vessels that are currently on offer, the requirement is still 5 ships. The frigates awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries only confirmed that one will be delivered by 2020, although MaxDefense believes that it won't be in service immediately. The other frigate will be delivered by 2021. If that goes according to plan, the requirement is still for 4 ships.

For Horizon 2, the Philippine Navy has requested for 4 new frigates, and 6 new Multirole Patrol Vessels/Offshore Patrol Vessels. Its still to be seen if an order will be made by 2018 or 2019, but if the Philippine Navy goes for the same bidding process as usual, expect an award 3 years after the bidding starts, so thats probably after 2020. Same is true for any additional frigates aside from those ordered from HHI. It means that new assets won't be able to replace the outgoing assets within the 2020 deadline, putting the PN at risk of reduced naval capability between 2020 and 2022-2023 should the PN strictly implement the retirement deadline.

Aside from replacing the World War 2-era warships, MaxDefense believes, and as discussed on the earlier pages of this blog, that the Philippine Navy needs more ships to also increase the ship numbers in the fleet to allow for greater presence in Philippine waters, and faster response to any requirement for naval support.

Used ships acquired to replace the World War 2 assets will remain in service beyond Horizon 2, allowing the PN to at least have the greater number it needs. If all procurement proposals MaxDefense made, and all other procurement plans go according to planned (which MaxDefense highly doubts), the Philippine Navy will have the following assets by 2025: 2 HHI-built frigates, 3 Del Pilar-class frigates, 2 to 4 new OPV/MRPV, 3 Pohang-class, 3 Joao Coutinho-class, 3 upgraded Jacinto-class, and 1 Cyclone-class. That's 17 to 19 ships, or just a little over the current numbers - still below the numbers that MaxDefense believes could make a difference to meet future requirements. This ship list is already the "best" option, meaning all options on Pohang, Joao Coutinho, and new OPVs were made.

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With this, MaxDefense's previous recommendations stand, that the Philippine Navy should consider acquiring used but still useful warships from friendly countries as a stop-gap measure to replace the World War 2-era warships in its fleet, and as a short to medium-term measure to increase the number of ships available for the Philippine Navy and increase its capability to meet all its requirements.

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