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!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase

With the Revised AFP Modernization Program under Republic Act 10349 now within the so-called Horizon 2 phase covering 2018 to 2022, the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has another acquisition program that was proposed for approval with the National Government.

As of our last check, the Department of National Defense (DND) headed by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, has already approved the latest Horizon 2 Priority Project List which is worth Php299,707,467,571.33. This covers the acquisition programs for the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN) which includes the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC); the Philippine Air Force (PAF), the General Headquarters - AFP, and the Government Arsenal (GA). Out of that, the Philippine Army was proposed to get Php47,993,429,694.00.

New acquisition list means new projects lined up for the next 5 years. And the Philippine Army has an interesting acquisition line-up in store. For this first blog entry for 2018 covering the Horizon 2 phase, MaxDefense will be discussing about the proposed acquisition of armoured assets for the PA, more specifically for the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID).

The FNSS-PT Pindad KAPLAN-MT medium tank, jointly developed by Turkish company FNSS and Indonesian company PT Pindad. The Kaplan is among those eyed for the Light-Medium Tank requirement of the Philippine Army.
Credits to owner of photo.

Marawi Campaign Experience:

The Philippine Army's experiences in combat against ISIS-inspired terrorists in an urban terrain in Marawi City provided basis for their requirements for new combat armoured vehicles. The tough terrain wherein concrete-poured building walls became good defensive barriers used by terrorists against advancing government forces, became a huge factor.

Among those lessons learned in Marawi City conflict include the following:

1. For fire support vehicles, the 76mm guns of the Scorpion CRVT and M113A2 FSV were insufficient in punching through or demolishing concrete walls and structures. The same is true for the 90mm guns used by the V-300 FSV of the Philippine Marine Corps. These guns are currently the largest calibers available in the AFP excluding the 105mm howitzer gun mounted on a few LVTH-6 armoured vehicles of the PMC which did not participate in the Marawi City crisis.

It was found out during the Marawi City crisis that the largest guns found on armored vehicles in the AFP, the 90mm gun on Philippine Marine Corps V-300 6x6 (top), and the 76mm gun on Philippine Army M113A2 FSV (below), were not enough to punch through structures especially on concrete walls and buildings.
Credits to owner of photos.

2. For armored fighting/infantry fighting vehicles, the 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannons mounted on M113A2 IFV, and the Oerlikon KBA-B02 25mm cannons mounted on the FMC AIFV armored vehicles were reported to be insufficient too in use against concrete structures, and 25mm ammo were reportedly not penetrating the concrete walls. Several M113A2 IFV armed with the Elbit UT25 unmanned turrets were used in Marawi City, and these are new acquisitions of the Philippine Army, only delivered in 2016.

The 25mm autocannons mounted on the M113A2 IFV were also said to be ineffective against concrete structures. The Philippine Army is now considering using a larger caliber for IFVs instead of continuing its plans for more 25mm armed IFVs.
Credits to owner of photo.

3. Unmanned turrets and remote-controlled weapons systems (RCWS) were proven to be effective in Military Operations and Urban Terrain (MOUT), as the system allowed cavalrymen to fire accurate shots using advanced sighting systems, and operate at night using night fighting systems, while also providing safety to gun crews and also improving the layout and space inside the armoured vehicle. The Philippine Army believes that investing in unmanned turrets and RCWS is the way to go for future armoured vehicles.

4. Tracked armoured vehicles were useful when operating in a very tight environment like in urban terrain, and its ability to turn on its own length is advantageous compared to the need to manoeuvre back and forth for wheeled vehicles. But the wheeled armoured vehicle is also advantageous in other purposes, being easier to travel in longer distances without the use of transporter trucks, faster on the road, and cheaper to maintain than tracked vehicles. So the Philippine Army believes that a proper balance of both tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles is needed depending on the requirement.

5. Heavy armour and not just firepower is needed to protect armoured and cavalry crew and troopers while operating in an MOUT environment like in Marawi City.

These lessons now appear to be among those used by Philippine Army Armor Development Office  planning teams, and has become the basis of their planned acquisitions.

Philippine Army's Planned Armoured Vehicle Acquisitions:

In previous announcements by the Philippine Army and the Department of National Defense, it was confirmed that the Philippine Army will be getting TANKS. Later on it was confirmed to be either a Medium Tank, or a Light Tank, depending on the source and date of the announcement.

MaxDefense confirms that there is indeed a plan to acquire tanks as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. But as explained already by authorities, they are indeed light or medium tanks, and not main battle tanks as originally wanted by the Army's Armor Development Office planners a few years ago. To those who have been following MaxDefense for some time, you may remember when we were discussing about tanks, it was actually a time when the Army was considering main battle tanks.

This goes to show that there is indeed lack of continuity happening in the planning for acquisition of equipment not just with the Philippine Army, but with the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole.

As MaxDefense already mentioned before, and I believe was also confirmed by the DND, that the Philippine Army was eyeing 44 tanks as per the latest Horizon 2 proposed acquisition plan, with a proposed budget of Php9,484,332,000.00.

44 tanks would be enough to equip 3 tank companies, equivalent to a tank battalion based on current table of organization and equipment of the Mechanized Infantry Division.

No technical specifications has been released so far, but MaxDefense's initial information from sources mentioned that the following are to be expected for the light/medium tank:

 - could be tracked or wheeled;
 - armed with at least a 105mm gun;
 - would weigh up to a maximum of 35 tons, but weighing less than that would be preferred:
 - powered by a diesel engine

Originally, MaxDefense believed that the MID was looking for just tracked vehicles as platform for the light/medium tank. This was due to its ability to pivot or turn within its own length which is useful in urban terrain, and tracked vehicles have better off-road capability than wheeled vehicles. Therefore it was a surprise that the MID was actually looking at both tracked and wheeled platforms.

It is highly possible that the acquisition would now involve 2 companies of tracked light/medium tanks, and 1 company of wheeled tanks. Each company may have around 14 vehicles each.

The Light Tank is among those projects already for final approval by the President.
Croppd from the RAFPMP Horizon 2 documents sent to Pres. Duterte for approval.

Tank Destroyers:

First of, we discuss the requirement for a Tank Destroyer, which the Philippine Army describes as a "Wheeled Light Tank". MaxDefense believes that the name "Tank Destroyer" is the more appropriate description for such, and a better way to separate this type of vehicle from a "Light Tank" based on a tracked vehicle platform.

Based on the platforms offered to the Philippine Army, most tank destroyer platforms are based on 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles due to its capability to carry large turrets and remain stable when absorbing recoil from firing large caliber guns like a 105mm tank gun.

As of this blog entry's posting, MaxDefense was told that the offers they received were from South Korea, Turkey, and one from Europe. All of those alreadt proposed are using an 8x8 platform. Aside from these offers, its still possible for other options to be considered especially if the Army opens a public tender for the acquisition.

At the moment, MaxDefense gathered that the offers made to the Army's TWG include tank destroyers based on the following: Hyundai Rotem of South Korea with their KW2 (K808) Scorpion, FNSS of Turkey with their PARS, Otokar from Turkey with their ARMA 8x8, and an entry from Europe which is still unnamed. It was also mentioned to MaxDefense that Russian and Chinese options may be considered although less likely to be chosen.

MaxDefense believes that a company (around 12-14 vehicles) might be acquired, and would be deducted from the 44 tanks planned for acquisition.

Hyundai Rotem's Scorpion is a new product from the said company, and is available in 6x6 variant as the KW1 (K806 in Republic of  Korea Army) and the 8x8 KW2 (K808 in Republic of Korea Army) models. No confirmation was made with MaxDefense if the K808 model offered as a tank destroyer is a standard KW2 armed with a 105mm gun turret sourced from a 3rd party supplier, or the KW2 Jupiter, which is a special model designed specifically as a fire support vehicle armed with a 120mm gun similar to those used by the Rotem K1A1 main battle tank. The KW2 is currently in service only with the Republic of Korea Army starting 2016, although full production will only start this year.

The K808 KW2 weighs at only around 20 tons, and with the 105mm gun turret it could weigh in at less than 27 tons. It could be the lightest among the confirmed offerings made to the PA.

The Hyundai Rotem KW2 (K808) Scorpion in APC configuration. It is said that the vehicle can be configured to carry a 105mm tank gun turret. Another version, the Jupiter, is a specially designed vehicle although its prototype used the older design of the vehicle and may not be available anymore.
Photo taken from Tanknutdave's website, said to be originally taken from IHS Janes.

FNSS' PARS is a vehicle already well-heard before by the Filipino defense community, as Malaysia bought a fleet of 200+ vehicles a few years ago as the Deftech AV8. The Turkish-made armoured vehicle is also available in 6x6 and 8x8 configuration, and can be armed with a 105mm or 120mm gun turret, although no orders have been made so far on such configuration. The PARS is in service with 3 countries including its country of origin, Turkey.

The PARS 8x8, without the gun turret, already weighs in at 30 tons. With a 105mm gun turret, the vehicle is expected to kick-in at more than 36 tons, which could be a problem considering the PA wanted a potential tank destroyer to weigh as less as possible, possibly below the 30 to 35 ton bracket, if possible. Meanwhile, the smaller PARS 6x6 may fit the bill although it is not yet confirmed if the vehicle can be safely mounted with a 105mm gun turret.

The FNSS PARS 8x8.
Credits to owner of photo.

Another Turkish product, the Otokar ARMA, is also available in 6x6 and 8x8 configuration. It is physically smaller than the FNSS PARS 8x8, and also weighs less at around 24 tons without the 105mm gun turret. Adding a 105mm gun turret brings it up to almost 30 tons. It is service with at least 2 foreign countries, although it is surprising that Turkey is not operating the type since it lost to the FNSS PARS in a previous competition to supply 8x8 armoured vehicles to the Turkish Army.

The Otokar ARMA 8x8 with a 105mm turret, presumed to be from CMI Defense.
Photo taken from Otokar's website.

A European-made model was also offered to the Philippine Army. And according to our sources, this armoured vehicle is in service with at least 3 countries including its country of origin and an Asian country with very close ties to the Philippines. MaxDefense was asked to withhold the information for now.  It is confirmed to be capable of carrying a 105mm gun turret despite no country ordering the vehicle in such configuration, and also weighs less than 30 tons with the tank gun turret in place.

Apparently, the US has an offer that has been standing for some years now for the General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker 8x8 armoured vehicle. The last confirmation came from the time of former Philippine Army Commanding General Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who was personally provided with information on the Stryker during his visit to Pentagon. If this is still in place, it is also possible that the Philippine Army may consider the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System, which is armed with a 105mm tank gun and is used for fire support missions, or even as a tank destroyer.

The only problems with the Stryker are its price, and its manufacturer not likely to join public biddings. Apparently GDLS don't sell them cheaply, although it can be a possible candidate for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) through US Military Assistance program to the Philippines. And since they do not normally join biddings, if the Philippine Army decides to acquire tank destroyers through a public bidding, don't expect GDLS to join in, as they know they won't win by being the lowest bidder.

The M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

There's no word yet to confirm if there is any offering from Russia or China, considering the president is very supportive of possible arms acquisition from both countries. More emphasis on China, since they have products which may match what the Philippine Army is looking for.

Light/Medium Tanks:

This is what most people are expecting when the Philippine Army and DND announced that they were acquiring tanks. A light or medium tank using a tracked armored vehicle platform, and is light enough to not need special equipment when crossing bridges in the Philippines. Around 2 companies worth (around 28 to 30 vehicles) are planned for acquisition.

To make it simpler, the Philippine Army actually considered also offers from the same companies who offered the Tank Destroyers. What the Philippine Army actually did was ask for offers from these companies for the two types of vehicles. Thus even without mentioning which vehicles were offered, probably a lot here may already know what to expect. But for discussion's sake, let us name them.

Since Hyundai Rotem does not produce a light/medium tank using a tracked armoured vehicle platform, the Koreans actually fielded the Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 light tank. FNSS, in cooperation with PT Pindad of Indonesia reportedly offered the Kaplan MT, while Otokar is said to have proposed to use their Tulpar tracked IFV as a platform with a 105mm tank gun turret. Like the tank destroyer, there is also a European model being proposed for the Light/Medium tank and will also be equipped with a 105mm tank gun turret.

Hanwha Defense System's K21-105 light tank was derived from the K21 infantry fighting vehicle used by the Republic of Korea Army. It was formerly under Doosan DST until the company was acquired by Hanwha a few years ago. It is essentially the same base vehicle with its turret replaced with a CMI Defense Cockerill XC-8 with 105mm tank gun. The vehicle weighs around 25 tons and is considered a light tank. While it has already shown its capability to carry the 105mm tank gun turret, the ROK Army has not ordered the type. Apparently Hanwha's offer is within the budget of the Army for the said project.

The Hanwha Defense Systems (formerly Doosan DST) K21-105 being tested in South Korea.
Credits to owner of the photo.

Weighing at around 35 tons, the FNSS-PT Pindad KAPLAN MT/Harimau Hitam (Black Tiger) can be considered a medium tank, and is armed with a 105mm tank gun mounted on either a CMI Defense Cockerill XC-8 turret (similar to the one used on the K21-105), or the Cockerill 3105 turret, with a Cockerill 105mm hugh pressure gun. It uses a tracked armoured vehicle platform that was jointly designed by the 2 companies, and is actually a new vehicle that is not yet in service with any country. Indonesia is more of the target market for the tank, with FNSS providing technical expertise and technology. This actually is a disadvantage since the AFP procurement rules require a product to be in service with its country of origin, or at least 2 other foreign countries.

The FNSS/Pindad Kaplan MT (also called the Harimau Hitam in Indonesia), shown here in Indonesian Army colors and being tested by PT Pindad and Indonesian Army teams. The sole Turkish-made prototype is yet to be followed by an Indonesian-made prototype, and the vehicle is yet to be approved for full production. This is a main problem in its consideration for the Philippine Army since the vehicle itself is not considered as a proven product.
Credits to owner of photo.

The Otokar Tulpar is another new product, which was only released by Otokar a few years ago and has not been ordered yet by Turkey or any other country. Coming in at around 35 tons, it could also be considered as a Medium Tank. It was design to also be able to carry a 105mm tank gun turret although its yet to be identified which brand was it design to carry. But based on Otokar's use of CMI Defense Cockerill turret on the ARMA, it is expected that the same turret was considered for the Tulpar's "anti-tank vehicle" variant (which is how they call the tank variant). Although there is no confirmation yet, MaxDefense believes that other turret models can be used in place of those from CMI Defense.

The Otokar Tulpar, in AIFV configuration, as shown during IDEF 2013. A medium tank variant is also possible using a 105mm gun turret instead of the 25-30mm autocannon.
Photo taken from

Like the tank destroyer, the European-made tracked light tank was offered by the same company. The light tank variant is not in service with any other country, but the base tracked armoured vehicle is in service with 2 European countries and a third European country preparing to put its derivative into service. With a 105mm tank gun turret, the vehicle is expected to weigh around 30 tons.

As with Russian and Chinese models, there is no confirmation if they are also offering or even willing to join a public tender should it become the mode of acquisition for these light/medium tanks. A G2G deal would definitely benefit both countries, as they are expected to offer a similar but definitely cheaper alternative, like China's Norinco VT-5 light tank, and Russia's 2S25 Sprut-SD airborne-capable light tank.

Another offer that was actually made a few years ago came from Elbit Systems Land & C4I of Israel. They previously offered refurbished and upgraded SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyers handled by their Belgian subsidiary Sabiex. The SK-105 retains their 105mm gun, and can be rebuilt to modern standards including a new fire control system and mechanical/electrical systems.

Elbit and Sabiex also offered the Philippine Army some of their SK-105A2 Kurassier stocks in an as-is, where-is option (no upgrades). Apparently both options were not given serious consideration by the Philippine Army as it prefers brand new, newer models rather than upgraded and refurbished old units. The SK-105 was first deployed in the 1960s and uses old Cold War-era technology. But they come in very cheap, even for the upgraded model.

Sabiex, through their parent company Elbit Systems, offered a refurbished and upgraded SK-105 Kurassier tank destroyer to the Philippine Army and other militaries. These vehicles are former Austrian Army models are can be modernized and tropicalized according to Sabiex and Elbit.
Credits to owner of the photo.

Turret Issues:

Previously, MaxDefense mentioned that Belgium is implementing an arms export restriction to the Philippines. It was later on confirmed by Shephard Media that the national government of Belgium is not imposing an arms export ban to the Philippines, but its Walloon regional government is implementing a strict control on arms export. It was later found out by MaxDefense through the AFP and from the local defense industry, that the Walloon regional government has indeed stopped a number of export license of arms, munition, and weapons spare parts intended for the Philippines, due to Human Rights concerns.

Already affected are the FN Herstal M3P machine guns, RMP gun-rocket pods, and HMP gun pods for helicopters of the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy, as well as FN Herstal Minimi squad automatic weapons for the Philippine Army and Government Arsenal.

While FN Herstal has nothing to do with the Tank Destroyers and Light Tanks, the Walloon Regional Government's decision to withhold export licenses of arms to the Philippines will affect the tank gun turrets for the vehicles.

CMI Defense, the makers of the Cockerill line of turrets, is also within the control of the Walloon Regional Government. Thus, even if CMI Defense wanted to supply the turrets to the Philippines, the regional government might defer its export, and CMI and the proponents cannot do anything about it.

The Hanwha K21-105 and the Rotem KW2/K808, the FNSS/Pindad Kaplan MT, the FNSS PARS, Otokar's ARMA and Tulpar, and the European 8x8 and tracked armoured vehicles all use CMI Defense's turrets.

Despite the availability of other suppliers of turrets like Oto Melara's Hitfact 105, or similar models from Denel and General Dynamics. But this would prove to be a problem since these vehicles were developed with CMI Defense turrets in mind. Any reconfiguration may require further development, which in turn means costs that might be shouldered by the Philippine Army.

So far, it appears that most of the offerings were able to find solutions. Apparently, the Koreans will continue to use CMI Defense turrets and are able to do so, while the Turkish companies especially FNSS are said to be hesitant to proceed with the projects if the Philippine government cannot settle its issues with the Belgian government. The European offers are willing to use a different turret model, which actually gives their offers an advantage over the others.

According to PT Pindad, FNSS' partner on the development of Kaplan MT, they have not used a different turret model for the Kaplan and any request to replace the turret with another model may require more time for product development and includes costs that PT Pindad or FNSS may be unwilling to shoulder on their own.

Otokar might be able to use a different turret model but this needs further confirmation.

The concern on the Koreans is that despite the capability to supply the tanks with CMI Defense turrets, support and spares could be an issue in the future, similar to what is happening with FN Herstal products ised by the AFP.

MaxDefense urges the Philippine government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs, to settle this issue with the Belgian government. It was also the recommendation of FN Herstal's local representative in the Philippines, Intrade Asia Pacific Corporation, as they are also having problems supplying parts for the AFP.

Lack of Heavy Armor:

Another issue that is worth discussing is the choice of getting light weight, lightly armoured tanks instead of heavily armoured with a heavier gun.

Marawi and Zamboang showed that armoured vehicles, especially those operating in urban operations/MOUT will be susceptible to heavy gunfire, high explosives, booby traps, and RPG/anti-tank fire.  Armoured vehicles are also used by troops as cover for their advance.

In these cases, heavy armour is extremely important to protect the tank crew, and also survive such extreme concentration of enemy fire and achieve their mission while also safely returning from it.

Based on the armor protection data from the vehicles mentioned above, most if not all (Kaplan, K21, and the European model) are only protected up to STANAG 4569 Level 4, which is good up to 14.5mm projectiles and 155mm shell splinters.

The K21 is said to also have a better frontal armor capable of protection from up to 30mm armour piercing projectiles as it was designed to fight BMP-3 from the North Korean Army.

The Tulpar is said to be capable only of STANAG 4569 Level 2 protection from small arms fire but can be upgraded to Level 5 protection up to 25mm AP projectiles as it has modular armour capability by adding composite armour.

MaxDefense believes that protection from RPG fire might still be a problem, which heavier tanks like MBT has a better chances of surviving multiple hits and remain operational.

Adding more armour protection on these light tanks will affect their weight and decrease its mobility as the mechanicals are given heavier loads.

Lack of Heavier Firepower:

While the main threat the Philippine Army has at the moment is terrorism and insurgency with the possibility of conducting wars in urban environment, the PA should also consider the need to be able to destroy or disable tanks from a perceived invasion force.

All of the light tanks offered are mounted with a 105mm tank gun. But most modern main battle tanks are already protected from 105mm AP projectiles, thus making the light tanks incapable of piercing enemy tank armour.

A 120mm or 125mm tank gun armed with modern AP shells would have a better outcome against enemy tanks. But it also comes at a price since heavier main battle tanks are the ones carrying such heavier gun caliber.

And if used on MOUT operations, a 120mm ammo is more expensive than a 105mm ammo. MaxDefense believes a 105mm projectile would be enough should another Marawi Crisis happens.

Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers:

This is something that was not expected before, since the original plan by the Philippine Army was to upgrade and refurbish some of their existing V-150 Commando and GKN Simba 4x4 armoured vehicles, and equip them with RCWS systems.

Later on it was confirmed by sources that the Philippine Army was considering two options: either to refurbish and upgrade some of its existing 4x4 armoured vehicles, or acquire a new armoured vehicle. Most of those involved in the project within the Mechanized Infantry Division prefer the acquisition of new assets.

28 vehicles, good for 2 Mechanized Companies, are planned to be acquired with a proposed budget of Php2,265,200,000 as part of the Army's Horizon 2 modernization phase.

The technical specifications are not yet finalized by the project's TWG, but MaxDefense was given by MID sources an idea of what to expect:

- maximum budget is around Php80.9 million per vehicle including Integrated Logistics Support, training, and other requirements;
- wheeled, and probably 6x6 or 8x8;
- preferably the same platform or model as the Wheeled Tank Destroyers for commonality;
- armed with a 30mm unmanned turret.
- basic model can be upgraded with modular or improved armoring which can be done in the future.

The initial information MaxDefense received is quite tight considering the budget appears to be very small while specifying specs that may need more budget. For a base vehicle, Php80 million each may be enough, but the 30mm unmanned turret alone is already pushing too hard. MaxDefense confirmed this with a source from a major defense company, who confirmed that Php80 million per vehicle may not be enough for an 8x8 vehicle, more so an APC armed with a 30mm unmanned turret.

The choice of using at least a wheeled 6x6 platform means that experience with 4x4s may have already been considered. In both the Zamboanga and Marawi City crisis, tires are being shot at by terrorists to disable or reduce the armoured vehicle's mobility. This despite the armoured vehicles using run-flat tires that enable them continue running for a certain time or distance even after the tires are deflated.

Based on the requirement to be preferably similar vehicles to the tank destroyer, MaxDefense believes that the possible offers made came again from the same companies that offered the Wheeled Tank Destroyer. MaxDefense expects Hyundai Rotem to have offered the KW1 (K806) 6x6 and KW2 (K808) 8x8 Scorpion, FNSS with its PARS 6x6 and 8x8, Otokar with its ARMA 6x6 and 8x8, and the European model with a 6x6 and 8x8 version of its wheeled armoured vehicle.

MaxDefense also received confirmation that unsolicited offers were made by PT Pindad, probably with its Pansir Anoa 6x6, and Elbit System with the Amir 6x6 armed with a UT30 unmanned turret based on the UT25 used in the M113A2 IFVs they supplied a few years ago to the Philippine Army.

The Pansir Anoa 6x6 from PT Pindad of Indonesia. It actually looks like a Renault VAB APC from France.
Photo taken from PT Pindad's website.

Apparently Gaia Automotive Industry, an Israeli company represented by a local company, also made a separate offer using the Amir 6x6 armoured vehicle similar to what was being offered by Elbit Systems, but with a different unmanned turret possibly from Israel Military Industries (IMI). Gaia Automotive appears to be the Original Manufacturer (OEM) of the Amir, with Elbit carrying the model under its brand too.

A CGI of the Amir 6x6 wheeled APC armed with what appears to be an Elbit UT30 unmanned turret with 30mm gun.
Credits to owner and source of the photo.

Apparently the Elbit/Gaia Amir 6x6 appears to be the cheapest armoured vehicle platform being offered, followed by PT Pindad's Anoa 6x6. The only problem with the Amir 6x6 is its only a prototype at the moment, since both Gaia and Elbit only has the 4x4 version in actual production.

Actually MaxDefense believes it would be better if the Philippine Army will continue using Elbit System's unmanned turret for logistics, maintenance and support benefits due to its commonality with existing Elbit UT25 turret already in use with the Philippine Army. The use of a different Unmanned Turret model would not be a huge problem, but it would be best if the Army could reduce the number of types of similar systems in its inventory.

But budget remains the biggest obstacle. So far there are 3 solutions in this problem:

1. Increase the acquisition budget beyond Php80.9 million per vehicle;

2. Change the unmanned 30mm turret into a manned turret system, which is cheaper;

3. Settle for a cheaper remote weapon system, lets say a 12.7mm Remote Controlled Weapon System (RCWS) like the Dragon RCWS used in the M113A2s Elbit supplied earlier. This can be replaced later on as funds become available, and the RCWS reused for other existing vehicles like the Simba or V-150.

With the finalized Horizon 2 modernization proposal still awaiting Pres. Duterte's signature despite already being approved by the AFP and DND leaderships, it remains to be seen if there would still be changes in the program or budget of these projects. MaxDefense believes that no more changes might be made on the budget, although the quantity and specs may still change since all 3 projects are still in their pre-procurement stage. Everything can still happen, but hopefully its for the better.

2 Multi-Role Response Vessels, 4 RHIBs for Commissioning with the Philippine Coast Guard on 28th March 2018

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has finally received another batch of 4 units out of the 10 units of Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) donated by the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The boats, together with trailers, are now with the PCG's headquarters in Manila South Harbor. The boats arrived at the PCG headquarters yesterday. This will being the total of RHIBs received from Japan to 7 units.

The 4 RHIB's donated by Japan to the PCG.
Photo taken only yesterday 23rd March 2018, and shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a community member.

Originally 10 units were promised by the Japanese government, with the first 3 units arriving an handed over to the PCG last November 20, 2017 by Japan's Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda. These boats were then handed-over together with the commissioning three Multi-Role Response Vessels on the same date. The last 3 are already in the Philippines but are still in custody of the Bureau of Customs.

The RHIBs are ARD-series models made by Achilles Inflatable Crafts, and are powered by 2 outboard Suzuki marine engines. These boats can carry up to 12 people including the crew, and are more than 7 meters long. These would be used by the PCG for a variety of missions including law enforcement, coastal patrol and interdiction, and maritime rescue including HADR missions.

In addition, the Philippine Coast Guard is scheduled to commission two (2) Parola-class Multi-Role Response Vessels, the BRP Cape San Agustin (MRRV-4408) and BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. The event will also formally hand-over the 4 RHIBs to the PCG, which will then be put to service.

BRP Cape San Agustin (top) and BRP Cabra (above) arrived in the Philippines only within a two-week difference due to the delays encountered in delivering BRP Cape San Agustin because of natural causes. Both ships will be commissioned together on March 28, 2018, together with the official turn-over of 4 RHIBs donated by Japan.
Photo provided exclusively to MaxDefense by source who prefer to remain anonymous.

The event will be at the Philippine Coast Guard's headquarters in Manila South Harbor, and will be graced by Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade, and probably Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda. This brings the number of active Parola-class MMRVs with the PCG to 8, with 2 more units expected to arrive within the year.

Both projects are actually part of the Philippine Coast Guard's drive to modernize its capabilities with the help of the Japanese government. The MRRVs were financed by Japan under a low-interest, long term loan from JICA under the Department of Transportation's "Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard".

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Philippine Air Force Receives 6 ScanEagle 2 Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Discussion of Existing and Future AFP UAS

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) finally formally received the Insitu ScanEagle small tactical Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) into the service on March 13, 2018. Based on the PAF's own public statements, they received 6 systems in a package worth US$13.76 from the US Department of Defense under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) scheme. The UAS were said to have been delivered on March 10, 2018.

The PAF formally accepted the ScanEagle 2 UAS into the service, which will be assigned with the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing.
Photo taken from Eunice Samonte / PTV FB page.

Among those present during the event held at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City were Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, US Ambassador to the Philippine Sung Kim, and head of JUSMAG-Philippines, US Army Col. Ernest Lee.

The ScanEagle UAS were then handed-over to the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing, which is the unit handling surveillance and intelligence gathering assets of the PAF, including the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ISR aircraft.

MaxDefense believes that the contract cost of US$13.76 million also includes the training of the flight operators, ground crew, and maintenance personnel, and others aside from the actual unit cost of the systems.

The statement coming for the PAF's Public Information Office as provided during the official handover ceremonies.
Photo taken from Nikko Dizon /

First of: UAS vs UAV:

Before we proceed, MaxDefense wants to make use of the opportunity to discuss the difference. What is a UAS, and what is the difference with UAV.

Umanned Aerial System (UAS) is the complete set, that combines individual pieces of equipment into a "system" that works together. This includes the Unammed Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which  is the actual drone, the flying platform, the most obvious piece of equipment of the system; plus other equipment like the ground station which controls the UAV in its flight and picks-up the information being seen by the UAV; the launching system which puts the UAV into flight; and the recovery system which allows the UAV to safely land in the absence of rolling landing or vertical landing capability.

A UAS includes the drone (the UAV), the ground station, launching system and recovery system. Shown on the photo are the ScanEagle 2 UAV and the ground station trailers.
Credits to owner of photo.

ScanEagle 2 UAS:

Based on the photos coming out from the event, the PAF actually received the newer ScanEagle 2, which is a newer model from the ScanEagle family. According to Insitu, the ScanEagle 2 is improved compared to the older models by having more payload capability and power, and allows the integration of better sensors. It is also said to have better endurance despite the heavier payload.

Physical differences between the ScanEagle 2 and the older ScanEagle include the bulbous head that houses the sensors being carried 

According to Insitu, the ScanEagle 2 retains the same wingspan as the older model at 3.2 meters, but the new UAV is heavier and can carry 3.5 kilograms of equipment, up by an additional 100 grams of payload compared to the older model. The drone is also using a reciprocating combustion engine technology, and can take gasoline or heavier aviation fuel. The ScanEagle 2 also has a vertical fin just on top of its rear engine, something that is not present in the older variant.

The ScanEagle 2 does not carry air-launched munitions, and was designed for surveillance use only.

The statements coming out from the DND and PAF mentioned that the ScanEagle 2 UAV are capable of flying up to 24 hours non-stop. If MaxDefense may add, this depends also on the payload being carried. Other sources also confirmed that the ScanEagle 2 has a less endurance than the older variants, with only a flight endurance of 16 hours instead of 24 hours. So this needs to be reconfirmed as the PAF may have use the data from the older ScanEagle for their statements.

The ScanEagle 2 can provide 100W to 150W of power to its sensor payloads, plus the Ethernet-based architecture and reduction of Electronic Magnetic Interference. This allows the ScanEagle 2 to carry more sophisticated equipment, including a fully digital video system, compared to the older variant.

The PAF showed probably what composed 1 system, which includes 4 ScanEagle 2 UAVs.
Photo taken from Nikko Dizon /

The PAF was said to have received 6 units, which might be misinterpreted by people who are unfamiliar with the system. The PAF actually received 6 SYSTEMS, and based on similar contracts made with Insitu, 6 systems is indeed closer to the US$13.76 million contract cost, compared to 6 units, which would not cost as high as the contract amount.

Based on the photos from the event, a ScanEagle 2 UAS (the system) probably includes the a Ground Station, at least 4 ScanEagle 2 UAVs, a

The ScanEagle 2 UAS' Mk. 1 Mod. 2 Skyhook recovery system, which is used to safely recover a flying ScanEagle 2 UAV.
Photo taken from Nikko Dizon /

Other Current and Future UAS in AFP:

The Philippine Air Force is expected to receive more sophisticated Unmanned Aerial Systems in the near future, with the ScanEagle 2 being the initial system being introduced to the services. These systems will assist the PAF's current and future manned aircraft fleet which includes the still non-moving Long Range Patrol Aircraft and the future Command and Control aircraft that would be introduced to the PAF hopefully within the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

There is also a persistent rumor that the Philippine Air Force operated 2 General Atomics RQ-1 Predator drones for the Office of the President, but were flown by US military. No confirmation on this one, although there are reports that 1 of the drones crashed and there is only 1 RQ-1 left.

The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) actually has a similar system that they are using for target acquisition and surveillance, the Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System (MITSS), which was acquired by the PMC under its Horizon 1 modernization phase and delivered in 2017. The PMC received 6 unmanned systems plus 2 spare systems, with 3 MAG Aerospace Super Swiper II UAVs in each system, for a total of 24 UAVs, plus supporting equipment including a Brigade Combat Operations Center and Brigade Mobile ISR Integration Kits.

The PMC's MITSS, based on the MAG Aerospace Super Swiper II UAV, was displayed during AFP Day last December 2017. The Super Swiper II is actually in the same category as the ScanEagle 2, although payload-wise the ScanEagle 2 is said to be better.
Photo taken from Presidential Communcations Office.

In addition, the PMC has 1 system (with 3 drones) of the smaller AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven man-launched mini UAS provided by the US Department of Defense in January 2017. These are small UAVs that can be used by small field units. MaxDefense believes this is just an initial delivery for training purposes, with more of these requested by the PMC from the US. Additional units may be provided again under the US Military Assistance that the Philippines annually receives.

The RQ-11 Raven being explained by US Marines to their Filipino counterparts during a Joint Military Exercise a few years ago. The PMC operates at least 1 system with 3 drones.
Photo taken from the US Department of Defense.

The Philippine Navy is also reported to be testing ScanEagle UAS since last year, with sources saying that the PN successfully tested a few of them in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija last year and were already testing them for ship operations. No confirmation though if they are just test units while more units were reportedly coming up soon.

The Philippine Army currently only operates a few locally-made UAVs, some of which were seen in action during the Zamboanga City siege in 2013. But this will change as the Army is preparing the acquisition of three types of UAS under its Horizon 2 modernization program, categorised as Tiers 1, 2 and 3 and vary is size and range or endurance. This would be discussed further in future blog entries here @ MaxDefense.

The Aeronautics Orbiter III is among those being considered by the Philippine Army for their Tier II (mid-level) UAS requirements. It is competing with 2 other systems. It was seen here during a demonstration held last April 2017 in Clark.
Photo exclusively provided to MaxDefense by our sources.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Philippine Air Force May Consider ex-JGSDF UH-1H Hueys as Short Term Solution for CUH Project Delays.

With the Philippine Air Force (PAF) not proceeding with the acquisition of more Bell 412EPIs combat utility helicopters from Bell Helicopter Textron after the problems encountered with the Canadian government, other options are being considered for short to long term solutions.

Based on information MaxDefense received this past few days, as a short term solution, the PAF is actually considering the possibility of acquiring surplus Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey combat utility helicopters from the Japanese government, as the type has been retired from the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces (JGSDF) for a few years now. It would be worth noting that the Philippines and Japan has agreed to transfer their stock of UH-1H parts to the Philippine Air Force in a separate agreement, and it would be expected to be easy to possibly approve a request to transfer surplus working airframes as well.

Take note that this is still a proposal and not an actual project.

A Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The JGSDF retired all its UH-1H and are currently stored in their bases.
Photo credited and taken from

According to a source from the PAF, these surplus Japanese Hueys are in even better condition that those actively used by the Philippine Air Force. And even if the PAF decides to only bring a few into service, it would definitely be a big boost for the fleet as the PAF's Hueys and other utility helicopters are dwindling in numbers despite the addition of 13 Bell-Dornier UH-1D Delta Hueys and Super Delta Huey helicopters delivered by Rice Aviation Services Inc (RASI) a few years ago (2 Deltas Huey helicopters crashed in separate incidents since then). It was mentioned years ago that the PAF needs at least 100 readily available CUHs, which means a fleet of at least 150 CUHs for the entire fleet.

An example of a Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey.
Credits to Rico Swytech and Air-Britain Photographic Images Collection.

It is also worth noting that these Bell-Fuji UH-1H Hueys are different from the Bell-Fuji UH-1J Hueys, The Bell-Fuji UH-1H are similar to the bread and butter Bell UH-1H Hueys used by the PAF, while the Bell Fuji UH-1J are similar to the PAF's own Super Hueys and Super Delta helicopters. The JGSDF has not yet retired their UH-1Js, which will only happen a few years from now once a replacement becomes available.

MaxDefense also received confirmation that at least 2 other options previously discussed in our earlier blog were requested to submit a formal offer to the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) Technical Working Group (TWG). One involve a brand-new offer from a larger helicopter company. Since we believe the formal offer is yet to be provided, MaxDefense will keep the information for now until it is clear and confirmed good for public consumption.

Until then, keep tab of this blog entry which we will also use should this plan become a reality.

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects