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Saturday, September 22, 2018

5 Upcoming Projects for the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division under the RAFPMP Horizon 2 Phase

Last 20 September 2018 during the 12th Activation Anniversary of the Philippine Army Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte announced in his speech that the MID is bound to benefit from 5 modernization projects worth around Php13 billion under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

The MID is a major unit that needs massive modernization, due to their lack of modern assets and capabilities compared to infantry units that can be addressed faster due to cost considerations. Being an material-dependent unit, the MID was left behind as modernization budgets from decades ago was not enough to allow the acquisition of expensive to acquire and sustain armored and mechanized assets, resulting to the MID's fleet remaining less capable than contemporaries in the region.

The Horizon 1 and 2 phases of the RAFPMP actually addresses these shortcomings, with a modest upgrade plan that would allow the MID and the Philippine Army in general to transition to a more mechanized army in the future.

MID Projects Under The Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects:

Pres. Duterte mentioned that there are 5 Horizon 2 projects that will benefit the MID. And these are the projects that he was referring to, contrary to claims by fake defense pages:

1. Light/Medium Tank Acquisition Project

This involves the acquisition of a battalion worth of at least 44 units of tanks or tank destroyers with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) of Php9,484,332,000.00. In our previous blog entry and Facebook posts, MaxDefense mentioned that the project will be divided into the acquisition of two different platforms sharing the same gun and turret. One platform will be tracked and can be considered as a light or medium tank, while the other platform is wheeled 8x8 armored vehicle that appears to be similar to a mobile gun system or a tank destroyer. The tank gun will be at least a 105mm caliber capable of being used against other tanks and armored vehicles, soft and hardened structures, and bunkers.

MaxDefense expects that out of the 44 units to be acquired in total, around 28 to 30 (equivalent to 2 tank companies) will be using the tracked platform, while around 14 units (equivalent to a tank company) will be for the wheeled variant. 

MaxDefense also mentioned that among those being considered for the tracked tank are the Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 from South Korea, the FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT/Harimau Hitam medium tank made by a Turkish-Indonesian venture, the Otokar Tulpar from Turkey, and a European model, which MaxDefense found out to be offered by Israel's Elbit Systems. Apparently Rosoboronexport of Russia also offered their BMP-3 IFV and T-90 main battle tank, while Ukraine also tried to offer their T-84 Yatagan main battle tank.

For the wheeled tank destroyer, among those considered are the Hyundai Rotem K808 of South Korea, FNSS Pars III 8x8 and Otokar Arma 8x8 from Turkey, and another European model offered by Elbit Systems of Israel.

MaxDefense received information lately that there was already a decision made by Senior Leaders of the on the procurement process, and it won't be undergoing public bidding but will be acquired instead through a negotiated Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with a particular country. MaxDefense will discuss about this update in future blog entries of posts.

Three of the offers made to the Philippine Army's Light/Medium Tank requirement include the FNSS-PT Pindad Kaplan MT (Harimau Hitam) medium tank (top), the Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 light tank (middle), and the Otokar Tulpar 105 Light Tank (above).
Credits to owners of all photos.

2. Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier Acquisition Project:

This is another project that was discussed by MaxDefense in the previous blog we posted last March 2018, and involves the acquisition of around 28 units of new wheeled armored personnel carriers, possibly a 6x6, with an ABC of Php 2,265,200,000.00, and will become the initial acquisition of new wheeled APCs in the future. Initially planned to be equipped with a manned or unmanned turret armed with a 30mm autocannon, the budget appears to be not enough and the specifications were changed to just use a manned turret for a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a grenade launcher.

Originally the plan was to use this project to upgrade the weapons and mechanical/electrical systems of existing wheeled APCs of the MID including the V-150 and Simba fleets. But the plan changed due to availability issues, and probably because of the reality that the V-150 and Simba fleets are already worn down and needs replacement soon.

The project is closely related to the Wheeled Tank/Tank Destroyer acquisition project as the potential suppliers for both projects are the same companies offering the same family of platform. Based on our previous blog, the offers include the Hyundai Rotem K806 6x6 from South Korea, FNSS Pars III 6x6 and Otokar Arma 6x6 from Turkey, and an offer based on a European-made 6x6 armored vehicle by Elbit Systems of Israel. Other offers made known to MaxDefense later on include the PT Pindad Pansir Anoa 6x6 from Indonesia, Czechoslovak Group's Pandur II 6x6 and (Nexter) Titus 6x6 from Czech Republic, Gaia Automotive's Amir 4x4 and 6x6 MRAP from Israel, and the Kamaz Typhoon-K 6x6 from Russia's Rosoboronexport, and Ukraine's BTR-4 8x8.

This project is still in the pre-procurement stage, and is still being determined on how the project will proceed and what procurement process will be used, although MaxDefense expects a significant movement to happen on this project once the Philippine Army decides on the wheeled tank/tank destroyer that it will acquire.

More of  the Light/Medium Tank acquisition of Wheeled APC Acquisition projects can be read from our previous blog entry with the link below:

"Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase" - posted on 24 March 2018

Three of just several offers made to the Philippine Army for their Wheeled APC Acquisition Project. The Otokar Arma 6x6 (top), FNSS PARS III 6x6 (middle), and Czechoslovak Group's Pandur II 6x6 (above).
Credits to owners of all photos above.

3. M113 Upgrade to Armored Mortar Carrier:

This is an upcoming project that MaxDefense expects to be awarded soon. The project involves supply of 15 units of upgraded M113A2+ tracked armored vehicles installed with a 120mm mortar system, to provide mechanized and infantry forces with quick firing indirect fire support in the battlefield.

The ABC for this project is Php1,094,570,175.00, and is to be acquired through a negotiated Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with Israel, through Elbit Systems Land & C4I, which offered to supply upgraded M113A2 installed with the their Soltam Cardom 120mm Mortar System. The project is still in its Pre-award and Post Qualification Inspection stage, and if everything goes well, MaxDefense expects the project to be awarded to Elbit Systems before the year ends.

This is actually the 2nd time that the Philippine Army is procuring self propelled Armored Mortar Carriers, the first one being the ongoing M113 Firepower Upgrade project, which is a Horizon 1 project awarded also to Elbit Systems Land & C4I and involves the upgrade of 5 existing M113A2 to Mortar Carriers with the Soltam Cardom 81mm Mortar System (which can be upgraded later on to take the larger Soltam Cardom 120mm Mortar System).

Elbit Systems is poised to be awarded with the contract for the M113 Upgrade to Armored Mortar Carrier project if they pass the Post Qualification Inspections that is expected to happen soon.
Photo for reference only, credits to owner of the photo.

4. M113 APC Firepower Upgrade Project:

Another upgrade project involving the existing M113 fleet of the Philippine Army, the project involves the acquisition and installation of 25mm manned turrets for around 32 units of the MID's M113A2 tracked armored vehicles. The ABC for this project is worth Php288,000,000.00.

Originally the plan was to acquire 7.62mm M163 Miniguns and installing them on armored cupola shields or manned turrets, but it was found to be excessively wasteful of ammunition, and instead a more powerful gun in a manned turret will be used instead, converting these armored personnel carriers into infantry fighting vehicles.

This is also in the pre-procurement phase at the moment, and is expected only move forward probably by either late 2018 or early 2019.

Elbit's UT25 turret previously supplied to the Philippine Army's M113A2+ armored vehicles actually have a manned version, which is called the MT25. It can use the same turret design and gun as the UT30, although it won't have the remote system that is present on the UT25.
Photo credited to the late John K Chua, a MaxDefense community member.

5. Tank Gunnery Simulator Acquisition Project:

While this project doesn't involve an actual armored vehicle, it is equally important to the MID as it will be used to train future tank crew using an almost realistic, computer-based simulation system similar to those used by aircraft pilots.

The ABC for this project is Php36,200,000.00 and involves the acquisition of two (2) Tank Gunnery Simulators, which should be compatible to the light/medium tank that the MID will acquire. Thus, this would be dependent on the success of the Light/Medium Tank acquisition project and will only move forward once a decision on that project has been made.

No updates yet on this project although it should be among those for implementation in the coming months. MaxDefense expects that the delivery of this system should be made before the actual tanks, considering this would be use to train the future tank crews of the MID.

The example above is the one used by the Singaporean Army, which can be configured also to different armored vehicles and tanks used by the enduser.
Photo taken from StraitsTimes website.

MaxDefense's Observations:

In all projects, it is worth noting that the Israelis actually have a strong chance of bagging them all due to the recent pronouncements by Pres. Duterte and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana on preference to acquire arms from Israel. And coincidentally, all 5 projects have entries made by Israeli companies with the assistance from the Israeli Ministry of Defense - SIBAT.

But it would also be dependent on the platform to be acquired. It is expected that, to reduce logistics and support issues, the Tracked Tank and Wheeled Tank Destroyer could be awarded to a single proponent, which means the vehicles, turrets and guns would be supplied by the same companies and enjoy commonality and compatibility. The same is true with the Wheeled Tank Destroyer and the Wheeled APC, considering both projects can use the same platform, except that the tank destroyer will be in 8x8 configuration while the APC can be in the cheaper 6x6 platform.

Elbit also has an advantage with regards to supplying the manned turrets for the M113, considering that MID already uses their UT25 unmanned turret, and the manned version MT25 uses several parts that is similar to the UT25. Again, logistics, maintenance, and training can be simplified, while compatibility would be met.

The surprise offer actually came Ukraine, which came in later than the rest of the contending proponents, and has said to have offered an interesting package which involves their T-84 Yatagan main battle tank, said to be priced competitively as the light/medium tanks offered by other proponents but being in a higher class on its own. Bigger, better armor, more firepower. But they came in too late that if their offer is considered, the project to acquire tanks would be delayed by more than 1 year. Besides, Ukraine has a history of not meeting delivery schedules and poor after-sales support, as in the case of Thailand's T-84 Oplot acquisition which is delayed by several years, prompting the Thai Army to cancel succeeding orders and instead acquiring the Chinese VT4 main battle tank.

Russia is another supplier that is being considered, but appears to be less appreciated by the people in the MID and the Philippine Army in general.

As the projects are already either ongoing, or lined-up for implementation, MaxDefense will provide updates on these projects either here or in a separate blog, or through our Facebook community page. MaxDefense expects updates especially on the Mortar Carrier acquisition very soon, being the project in the most advanced stage of procurement.

MaxDefense thanks its sources for providing timely and surprisingly accurate information for us to provide the general public. MaxDefense intentionally did not include information that may be considered to create negative effect on the security of the AFP in general. 

For more information regarding the speech of Pres. Duterte, please refer to the video below, credits to RTV Malacanang's Youtube page.


  1. is it the renault from france that being offered platform by the israeli?

  2. Is this project different from the previous upgrade of 44 M113A2 tracked armoured personnel carriers by installing Elbit System's Dragon 12.7mm RCWS and Elbit's Combat NG Battlefield Management System (BMS) ? Or is the same that instead of 12.7mm RCWS it would be a manned 25mm ? If so, instead of 44 units its reduced to 32 units

  3. Wow! I see significant firepower now for the MID... To name a few like initial 44medium tanks with 105mm turrets, 120mm mortar apc's, more units of MT25/UT25 turrets, more upgraded M113apc's, new units of highly mobile tank destroyers.. These are significant acquisitions to boost AFP firepower. Acquisition of Simulators are a smart move also, these will make our MID people really expert in their fields... Am suggesting maybe they can put up a serious Training Academy for MID. I am still waiting for the update regarding acquisition of Used korean MLRS, Sir Max?? Hmmm... Interesting offer by Ukraine... If these will work out fine(maybe in 3rd horizon)... Like if the Ukraine will improve their post sales services and availability of parts... We can acquire a big number of MBTs through them. Maybe our officers and serious people will sit and talk formally about this. Kudos!

  4. If I remembered we assembled our simba tanks in subic. I thought that the next logical step was for us to design and built our local version we can call our own. My, how stagnant it is for the army not to move forward all these years even ask for a small budget just for research and development. Now is a wise move to build our locally own especially when israel has clout in hand for our mechanized unit. Dont waste another opportunity. My wish for the best. Mabuhay Philippine Army.

  5. Apologies for being off-topic, Sir Max, but...what the heck's going on with your FB page?

    When I tried to go to your FB page today (Sept. 25, 2018), all I got was the "Page Not Found" error. Call it paranoia if you must, but I'm sensing something fishy...

  6. Why are the Russians and Ukrainians offering main battle tanks when the Army's asking for light tanks?

  7. Which Israeli tank is being considered ?

  8. T-84 120 Yatagan is interesting...what I have heard is that the reason Ukraine was not able to fully deliver Thailand's T-84 Oplot order was because of the recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia/Russian-backed seperatists...but it seems the conflict has waned down, hence Ukraine could probably give proper customer support/services this time...I think AFP should really consider getting this MBT if the cost is just the same as the light tanks that are being offered by other countries

  9. Kaplan Medium Tank has V-hull which is good and was tested against IED...but there seems no info on K21-105 with regards to IED protection.

  10. why not give chance to ARMATA tanks which is cheaper and durable

  11. Ever consider the Rabdan Ifv? It's both a tank destroyer and Ifv in one. A multirole platform that can adapt to 2 different situation


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