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!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Philippine Air Force Receives First Shipment of AGM-65G2 Maverick Missiles, Gains New Capability

Note: MaxDefense realized that this blog entry was not released last June 2017 despite being ready for release! Made some minor updates as well to cover some modernization updates this past month.

For this past 2 weeks alone, there were verification of new capabilities acquired by both the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Philippine Army (PA), which are being sought after for quite some time after delays hampered both projects. Both capabilities were not presented by either service branches nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Department of National Defense (DND) to the media, and were just quietly put into service.

But fortunately, keen eyes by our community members, plus the continued support of our sources and contributors to MaxDefense Philippines, we are able to verify and confirm these capabilities.

For the Philippine Air Force, it now has a new air-to-ground missile capability in the form of Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick missiles, while the Philippine Army with their RPG-7 assault weapon.

One of the PAF's FA-50PH Fighting Eagle armed with an inert AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile, as seen during the PAF's Anniversary last July 4, 2017.
Photo taken by MaxDefense Philippines community member Efrain Noel Morota. Photo owned and credited to Mr. Morota.

Acquisition of the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick:

The Philippine Air Force, through Pinoy Aviators' Facebook page, was proud of their recent accomplishment of Trans-Pacific flight of one their Lockheed C-130T Hercules, and posted the recent fete made by its pilots and aircrew for flying from the Philippines to Tucson, Arizona and back, something not done normally considering the PAF is a small regional air force known for antiquated aircraft in its fleet.

Photo of what appears to be munition containers being unloaded from a Philippine Air Force C-130T Hercules after flying in from Tucson, Arizona, home of Raytheon Missile Systems Co.
Photo taken from Pinoy Aviators' Facebook page.

While this is a good accomplishment for the PAF and the team involved, enthusiasts were actually more keen on knowing what the PAF did in Tucson, Arizona, considering that it was not a normal flight. Photos also emerged of what appears to be crates and containers being unloaded from the aircraft once it arrived in the Philippines. Crates that appear to be munition containers, something that normal people won't notice but defense followers and enthusiasts will.

As early as late June 2017, MaxDefense received a confirmation from one of its community members in the US that the PAF C-130 was in Tucson, Arizona to pick-up missiles, mentioning the exact type and variant as indicated in the crates. Unfortunately, the information got stuck deep in our Private Message inbox under hundreds of messages. But it's not too late, considering the information allowed us to confirm the delivery and the process.

On July 4, 2017, the Philippine Air Force showed off two of its FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft with AGM-65G Maverick inert rounds on its wing pylons, a sign that it now has such missiles in its inventory.

The Raytheon AGM-65G Maverick missile as installed on PAF's FA-50PH 17-007. The missile shown is an inert round. Also on the photo is a M117 750lb free-fall bomb and an AIM-9B Sidewinder missile on the wingtip.
Photo owned and credited to Efrain Noel Morota, a MaxDefense community member.

The Maverick missiles were acquired by the Philippine Air Force under the F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 2 acquisition project, which was a direct contracting project with Raytheon Missile Systems Co. based in Tucson, Arizona. The contract is worth Php 3.316 billion to deliver the AGM-65G2 variant of the Maverick missile, including LAU-117 launch rails and inert rounds, plus a support package.

Based on the PAFs own presentations posted in their website years ago, as well as information made available to MaxDefense, the original budget for F/SAA/LIFT Munitions (Lots 1 and 2) is Php 4.333 billion. Lot 1 will be for air-to-air missiles (which will be discussed in future blog entries as this project is moving fast as well), while Lot 2 will be for air-to-ground missiles. Originally the budget for Lot 2 is only around Php 1.7 billion for 125* missiles as of 2013, but it was increased to Php 3.316 billion as per contract.

*Note: These quantity was released by the PAF in a Modernization Program update in their website in 2013, so we consider this as unclassified information.

Reasons for the Changes in Quantity and Budget Allocation:

MaxDefense believes that the increase in quantity is due to the perceived need for more precision guided munitions against ground targets in light of terrorist threats as well as naval threats in the West Philippine Sea. Aside from that, price increase is another issue, considering that the PAF incorrectly assumed the price each AGM-65G2. This is because, as confirmed by many MaxDefense sources, the PAF or even the AFP as a whole has this facepalm-worthy illness that even people within the AFP call "internet window shopping" wherein AFP planners tend to check contract prices of materiel without considering inflation, exchange rate, and price fluctuations. This is a very common cause of most planning and budgeting errors and in the AFP Modernization Program.

Another problem encountered was the strong exchange rate fluctuations in favour of the US dollar, in which the dollar-pesos conversion changed from US$1 = Php45 in 2013 to US$1 = Php50.5 to contract signing date in 2017. That was more 10% decrease in value for the Philippine pesos!

While MaxDefense is unable to disclose the exact number of missiles acquired due to obvious reasons, we can only say that there will be more than 125 rounds (reported quantity as of 2013). 

LAU-117 containers being loaded into a PAF C-130T Hercules aircraft.
Credits to owner of photo.

Based on information received by MaxDefense Philippines, the missiles picked-up by the PAF C-130T is actually the 1st tranche of AGM-65s delivered for the PAF, which will allow the PAF to train its pilot to fly the FA-50PH with the missiles on-board, which will significantly affect the flight characteristics of the aircraft. It also allows the PAF, both ground and air crews, to familiarize itself with the missiles.

It is worth noting that this delivery is also among the fastest ever made between contract signing and initial delivery. Based on documents obtained by MaxDefense, the contract signing between Raytheon and the Philippines happened only on middle of June 2017, but an initial delivery was made just within a week after! MaxDefense has not noted any similar case in any project before, the AFP is lucky already if it gets its products in a a few months, like the Emergency Procurement of.45 Caliber Hammer Fired Pistol for the AFP which took at least 3 months to deliver.

Normally it takes a lot of time for missiles to be manufactured, and the PAF is lucky for Raytheon to deliver the 1st tranche ahead of time. The next deliveries will be standard in terms of duration, and MaxDefense expects them to arrive in 2019 at worst, depending on Raytheon's ability to deliver ahead of schedule.

An AGM-65 Maverick missile attached to a LAU-177 single missile launch rail.
Credits to owner of photo.

The AGM-65G2 Maverick in brief:

The Raytheon AGM-65G2 Maverick is among the latest variants of the Maverick family of air-to-ground tactical missile used mainly by the US military and friendly nations. It was first introduced in the early 1970s with the US armed forces, and is very much combat proven and boasts an average kill accuracy of 93%.

It has an imaging infrared seeker, carrying a 300lb WDU-24/B penetrating blast fragmentation warhead, and is configured not just for anti-bunker/structure use, but can also be used for anti-tank operations. It can also be used by the Philippine Air Force against ships and naval targets, and other ground targets of interest. Raytheon also confirmed that it is accuracy of up to 1 meter.

While the effective range is classified, publicly available information refers that it can be effective up to 20 kilometers, although MaxDefense believes it could be more since this is usual protocol for manufacturers to not fully disclosed the actual capability of their missile products. MaxDefense noted this in a previous blog discussing the acquisition of Spike-ER missiles for the Philippine Navy.

While the only PAF aircraft capable of carrying the Maverick is the FA-50PH Fighting Eagle, any of the candidates of the PAF's future Multi-Role Fighter acquisition project from the Western world, including the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16V Viper and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, are also capable of firing the Maverick missile.

Looking Forward:

MaxDefense expects that once the Maverick missile shows its capabilities and become a successful munition for the Philippine Air Force, it is highly possible that more of the missiles will be acquired in the next Horizon phases of the PAF's Modernization Program. It is also highly possible that experience with the Maverick will allow the PAF to further into acquiring more capable air-to-ground missiles with higher range, larger warhead payload, and perform better despite costing more than the Maverick.

With this, the future's looking bright for the Philippine Air Force.

The PAF's multirole fighter of choice, the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, is seen here armed with two AGM-65 Maverick missiles, two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles (which the PAF would be getting soon), and two RBS-15 anti-ship missiles.
Credits to owner of photo.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Philippine Navy Receives First TCOM 28M Tethered Aerostat Radar System from US

After two years since it was allocated by the US government as a military air for the Philippines, it has finally arrived.

The Philippine Navy received its first Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), which is among the military assistance promised by former Pres. Obama in 2015 under the US government's Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative.

The PN's first Tethered Aerostat Radar System. Due to obvious reasons, MaxDefense won't identify the location.
Photo exclusively shared to us by one of our MaxDefense Community member contributor who wish to remain anonymous.

The system uses the TCOM 28M Operational Class Aerostat System, which is a medium-sized aerostat made by American company TCOM L.P. which specializes in aerostat used for surveillance.

The system has a medium-range detection and monitoring capability that can detect maritime and air traffic operating below its domain. This is very much similar but a little simpler to the Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems used by the US Department of Homeland Security

An illustration on how surveillance aerostats work vis-a-vis an overall system. The surveillance aerostat provide information to the ground station, which can direct intercepting assets (air or sea) to the target.
Photo screen-grabbed from TCOM's Youtube video.

It is equipped with a downward looking radar that can detect sea surface, ground, amd low level aerial activities. Based on publicly available information, the aerostat's radar system can detect up to 90 miles at maximum operating height from its deployment area.

The TARS can be equipped with a variety of surveillance equipment including radar, EO/IR system, laser designator, and others.
Photo screen-grabbed from TCOM's Youtube video.

Problem with this is its dependent on weather to be deployed, as bad weather may affect its detection system, and may also damage or cut the tethering of the aerostat from the ground. But if this system works well, MaxDefense expects the PN to order more since one isn't enough considering the vast maritime donain of the country.

Thanks to one of our anonymous source for the photos.

MaxDefense discussed the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative in its FB posts on April 2016. For more details you  may check this link:

"The Philippines at Forefront of New Pentagon Maritime Security Inititative"

In comparison, this is TARS of the US Homeland Security, mostly used for customs and border protection in the southern borders of the US mainland. They use the larger Lockheed Martin 420K Aerostat System, a different brand and model as those used by the Philippine Navy.
Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

All future updates and additional discussions on the Philippine Navy's Tethered Aerostat Radar System will be discussed in this blog entry.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Philippine Army Receives Complete Shipment of ATGL-L RPGs, Immediately Puts into Service

For this past 2 weeks alone, there were several sightings in social media and news video reports confirming the presence of what appear to be RPG-7 launchers used by members of the Philippine Army. The rocket launchers are actually one of the expected acquisitions that has been ongoing for several years now, and were hoped to at least make some headway by now.

MaxDefense previously discussed the acquisition of RPG-7 in its older blog, with the link below:

"RPG-7(USA) FOR THE PHILIPPINE ARMY? NOT ANYMORE" - first posted January 15, 2014

After 2 weeks of silence, MaxDefense can at last confirm these capabilities now officially present with the Philippine Army. Not surprisingly, these RPGs are immediately put into use in the military operations in Marawi City in the hands of the Philippine Army's elite Scout Rangers. MaxDefense is still verifying if there are other units who already received the RPGs aside from the Rangers.

Arsenal's ATGL-L2, which MaxDefense believes is the variant the Philippine Army acquired.
Photo taken from

Acquisition of the RPG-7 for the Philippine Army:

The RPG-7 acquisition has been discussed previously by MaxDefense in  older blog entries, and has been in process for many years. Officially called the Rocket Launcher Light (RLL) acquisition project, it is funded under the original 1995 AFP Modernization Program covered by RA 7898, and has been in the planning process since the time of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Originally with an Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) at Php 94.98 million, the project intended to acquire 355 RPG-7s and 4,813 rounds of assorted ammunition, and was supposed to be a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) project. Eventually the approved contract amount was set at Php 81.73 million. The RPG launchers were supposed to be supplied by US arms manufacturer AirTronic USA with their RPG-7(USA) variant, until the said company failed to make sure it can supply the weapons as it faced bankruptcy issues in the US.

The Philippine Army was supposed to get the RPG-7(USA) variant from AirTronic USA but this was cancelled due to AirTronic's incapacity to deliver. This is now called the Precision Shoulder-Fire Rocket Launcher in AirTronic's product information sheets and website.
Credits to owner of photo.

Due to the delays in the project, price adjustments caught up with the project and the quantities were adjusted to 335 RPG-7 launchers and 3,272 rounds of ammunition for the same amount of Php 81.73 million.

Changes were made on the supplier in 2016, with JUSMAG sourcing it now to a US-accredited supplier from Bulgaria, which was also the approved supplier for the ammunition even when JUSMAG was still eyeing the launcher supply from AirTronic.

MaxDefense sources later identified this Bulgarian manufacturer as Arsenal JSCo, based in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. The company is represented in the Philippines by Intrade Asia Pacific, which is known to supply Sig Sauer, FN Herstal, and Oerlikon products to the AFP and PNP.

The ATGL-L family of rocket propelled grenade launcher from Bulgarian arms manufacturer Arsenal. Based on their own comparison table, only ATGL-L2 and ATGL-L5 are capable of firing thermobaric rounds, while only ATGL-L2, L4, and L5 can fire Fragmentation rounds.
Photo from

Further adjustments were made again as further delays strained the project further, and the final number of RPG-7s bound for the Army under this deal was decreased to 250 units.

With Arsenal, they made upgrades on the standard RPG-7 and renamed them as the ATGL-L family of rocket propelled grenade launchers. MaxDefense believes that the variant the Philippine Army got was the ATGL-L2, which can fire HEAT, Fragmentation and Thermobaric rounds. All other variants of the ATGL-L family, except for the ATLG-L2 and L5, appear to not have this capability.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that the RPG rounds were delivered to AFP as early as last year, supplied by Arsenal JSCo, and were stored while waiting for the launchers to arrive. Delivered munitioms include High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) Anti Personnel Fragmentation, and Thermobaric rounds.

MaxDefense sources confirmed lately, and supported by latest updates from the AFP itself, that all 250 ATGL-L RPG launchers was suppose to arrive in the Philippines by July 2017.

But based on other information gathered by MaxDefense, it appears that there are a few units that were delivered by Arsenal through Intrade Asia Pacific for field trials, training and familiarization for operating units. Since only a few were made available, unit that received the launchers were from the Philippine Army Scout Rangers.

Based on feedbacks we receive from MaxDefense community members from the Army, the RPGs werr already used in combat as early as last year against Maute terrorists in Western Mindanao.

While a few arrived earlier, the bulk of the ordered RPG launchers arrived only recently, and some are now used in action in Marawi City against the Maute terrorist group. Footage and photos taken in Marawi City show members of the Scout Rangers using the ATGL-L in action.

As seen in this screengrab, a Philippine Army Scout Ranger is shown using an ATGL-L RPG against targets in Marawi City. This is not the first time it was shown publicly. On July 4, 2017, Scout Ranger Books' Facebook page showed a photo of a squad of resting Scout Rangers with what appears to be a very new RPG-7 launcher was posted.
Photos screen grabbed from GMA News 24 Oras.

MaxDefense has not yet receive any photos of the Philippine Army ATGL-L RPG but will be updating this blog entry once we receive one or more photos.

The RPG-7 and ATGL-L Family in Brief:

The RPG-7 (RPG stands for Rocket Propelled Grenade, or Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot in Russian), is a portable, reusable unguided shoulder launched anti-tank rocket propelled grenade launcher first introduced by the Soviet Union in 1961, and is among the first weapon used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of Soviet origin. It is very simple to operate and maintain, and is very robust and rugged, with proven combat experience as a weapon by legitimate and illegitimate military organisations for decades now.

Arsenal's development of the RPG-7, the ATGL-L family, is said to be lighter than the standard RPG-7 due to the use of different material. It also allows the installation of a red dot sight, and other optics that may be acquired separately by the end user. It also has an option to install a bipod as shown on the photos above.

The weapon can be armed with different munitions, including single or tandem charge High Exposive Anti Tank (HEAT), Fragmentation anti-personnel, and Thermobaric rounds. So far MaxDefense can confirm the presence of HEAT and Fragmentation rounds, although it is widely known that since the Zamboanga City Siege a few years ago against rogue MNLF elements, the Philippine Army has been wanting to have a Thermobaric round capability, which is helpful in urban combat operations against structures and walls.

Shown here are examples of the different basic variants of ammunition used by the RPG-7 (from top to bottom): the single stage HEAT, tandem stage HEAT, Fragmentation, and Thermobaric
Photos taken from Wikipedia.

Rumors of Earlier Batch of RPGs:

MaxDefense received confirmation from one of its source that the Philippine Army actually already have a limited number of RPG-7s as early as 2012, from an unknown supplier, and were acquired with limited number of ammunition.

As MaxDefense normally takes at least 3 confirmations from reliable sources in the absense of photographic or video evidence, we take this report as a rumor for now.

MaxDefense will continue to search for more information regarding this claim, and see if there really are RPG-7s already with the Philippine Army for the last 5 years.

More RPGs and Munitions:

MaxDefense already received confirmation that among those the Philippine Army wishes to acquire in their Emergency Procurement for 2017 are thousands of RPG rounds in HEAT, Fragmentation, and Thermobaric variants. This initial requirements for Emergency Procurement were already approved for implementation by the Department of Budget Management and will be awarded to suppliers very soon.

Aside from munitions, the Philippine Army has another batch of RPG-7-type launchers that are to be acquired under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covered under RA 10349. Originally this was supposed to be a follow-on order to the first batch, with the project supposed to be another US FMS. Originally it was supposed to include 744 RPG-7-type launchers and munitions with a total Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) of Php408 million.

But MaxDefense received a very lately information that while this is supposed to be another negotiated procurement under US FMS, the Philippine Army is awaiting for the result of discussions between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Russia's Ministry of Defense, as they are planning to make changes on the project should it would be easier to source it from Russia. This is already a delayed project so any further delay would be nothing new.

With these new capabilities, the Philippine Army has finally been able to hurdle projects that seemed to be forgotten due to delays on the RLL Phase 1 and 2 projects. MaxDefense expects further updates on these projects in the coming months, especially for the RLL Phase 2 since current events like the Marawi City crisis, the counter-terrorism drive of the Philippine government, and closer ties with Russia and China might affect the decision-making of its procurement.

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects