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, June 29, 2019

Purchase of T129 ATAK Falls Through, What's Next for the Attack Helicopter project of PAF?

In previous MaxDefense reports made through our blog entries, and social media posts, and later corroborated by reports by local and international media and defense outlets, it was reported that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Technical Working Group (TWG) has selected the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK attack helicopter for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects of the RAFPMP.

The TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter during an airshow. Credits to original source of the photo.

The Department of National Defense (DND) through Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana also supported this decision, and was the submitted request to Malacanang for approval by the President Rodrigo Duterte. Despite Pres. Duterte's preference on Russian attack helicopters, he approved the request of the DND and PAF for implementation, allowing the DND to finalize negotiations with TAI and the Turkish Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Trade.

For further reading, you may refer to a previous blog entry regarding the decision to acquire the T129 ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey, which can be accessed from the link provided below:

"Philippine Air Force Technical Group Picks TAI's T129 ATAK as its Future Attack Helicopter" - first posted on 28 November 28 2018.

The PAF, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Filipino people were all expecting the release of Notice of Award (NOA) in favor of Turkish Aerospace Industries, and eventually a Contract Signing between them and the DND, which was planned to be made sometime between March and May 2019.

A scale model of the T129 during the Philippines-Turkey Defense MOU Signing last December 2018 in Manila. Photo taken from CNN Turk.

But it's already almost July 2019. No NOA has been released in favor of TAI. No contract signed.

Another helicopter acquisition project running parallel and done separately with the Attack Helicopter acquisition project went through smoothly and has completed contract signing a few months ago.

So what happened?

The Turkish S400 Triumf deal and its Implications:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to acquire the Russian-made S400 Triumf long range air defense system has placed Turkey at odds with its allies with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led by the United States of America.

NATO and the US government has been asking Turkey to re-consider its acquisition of the Russian S-400 system since it would expose vulnerabilities on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which Turkey also plans to buy as their next generation fighter aircraft.

Russia's S-400 Triumf long range air defense system, said to be among the best in the world, and Turkey wants it. Credits to original source of the photo.

The US believes that the considerable exposure of the F-35 to the S-400's radars and targeting system could transmit data to the Russian manufacturers of the system, and ultimately to the Russian military and government, which would enable them to get valuable information on the aircraft and probably create ways to counter it.

Also, the US insists that buying from Russia, specifically the state-run arms export agency Rosoboronexport is in the US government's blacklist, and dealing with them can be a reason to receive sanctions through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

But Turkey insisted on pushing through with the deal despite the US giving them a deadline of up to the end of July 2019 to cancel the deal with Russia. This is because they do not agree with the US' assessment on the S-400 affecting the F-35 aircraft, while also believing that the S-400 is a better performing product than what its western allies have or are willing to sell to Turkey.

The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter - unknowingly the Philippines was indirectly affected by issues regarding this aircraft. Photo taken from the National Interest website.

The US threatened sanctions to Turkey if the deal proceeds, including cancellation of sale of the F-35 JSF, as well as economic and trade sanctions through CAATSA including elimination of Turkish suppliers and manufacturers from the F-35 supply chain.

This sanction may also include export of technology, equipment and components, spare parts, weapons and munitions by the US and its allies who support the program against the Turkish government and industrial sector.

Turkey's TAI would be greatly affected by any sanctions triggered by the government's decision to buy the Russian S-400 Triumf air defense system. And it will affect not just the production of the T129 ATAK but also almost all of TAI's aircraft products until new sources of components and new certifications can be received. Credits to original source of the photo.

The Philippines' planned T129 ATAK acquisition:

While these political events are happening in Turkey, the Philippines selected the Turkish made TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter for its own requirements.

The T129 ATAK is the result of Turkey's program to create an indigenous attack helicopter that they could manufacture and use for their armed forces, as well as for export to other countries. Technology was based mostly from the Agusta (later AgustaWestland) A129 Mangusta attack helicopter from Italy, which uses several components from the US and other allies.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana in the background of a  TAI T129 ATAK scale model during the Defense MOU signing last December 2018 in Manila. Photo taken from CNN Turk.

The T129 ATAK is an improvement over the original A129 Mangusta, replacing minor Italian or foreign-made components with equivalent Turkish made ones while continuing the use of foreign made components that are not yet available in Turkey's own facilities. This is while also increasing performance values including the use of more powerful engines to support the new aircraft.

While Turkey is very much willing to sell the TAI T129 ATAK to the Philippines, the problem now lies on the effects of CAATSA to the ability of TAI to secure the components needed to build new T129 ATAK attack helicopters and other products, as well as providing spare parts and support once these aircraft are delivered.

The T129 ATAK attack helicopter of the Turkish Army. Credits to original source and owners of the photo.

Based on information gathered by MaxDefense for the last several months through sources from the DND, PAF, and friends from local and international defense industry and aviation industry, it turns out that everything looks gloomy for the DND's deal with TAI and its Turkish counterparts.

Due to TAI and the Turkish government's inability to provide assurances that US-made component including the LHTEC CTS800-4A turboshaft engines and many other components, it was decided by the DND and the PAF TWG and leaders to STOP the deal with TAI and the Turkish government.

The LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engine, the same engine powering the T129 ATAK and the AW159 Wildcat helicopters.
Photo taken from Honeywell Aerospace's website.

It was also decided that since TAI may be unable to deliver the T129 ATAK to the Philippines, the PAF TWG was requested to re-open its evaluation and selection process for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project.

In short, it could be safe to say that the acquisition of TAI T129 ATAK is practically dead.

It is probably also safe to say now that the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project is rebooted, or may even be put on-hold for now.


While the PAF TWG was asked to start re-evaluating the products previously offered to them, the process may take some time before a new model gets selected.

This also means re-opening the door to previous offers made to the PAF which may include the Bell AH-1Z Viper, the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-28 Havoc and Mil Mi-35 Hind, and other helicopter models.

Previously, the PAF TWG's findings on not selecting these helicopters were attributed to different things: the AH-1Z and AH-64E were both too expensive, and may take a considerable time to deliver due to the long process of getting approvals for buying American products. While the Mi-28 Havoc and Mi-35 has inter-operability, compatibility, and support issues, not to mention CAATSA issues on both helicopters, and size and performance issues on the Mi-35.

Other new offers were made to the PAF, including that from Sikorsky with their S-70i Battlehawk proposal, which is strongly being considered due to its commonality in parts, logistics, training and everything else with the S-70i Black Hawk Combat Utility Helicopters ordered by the PAF a few months ago.

The Sikorsky S-70i Battlehawk armed helicopter was also offered to the PAF when the deal for the T129 ATAK fell through. Photo credits to original source.

Currently, the only solution that is coming the PAF's way is the delivery of two (2) AH-1S Cobra helicopters from the Kingdom of Jordan, which were donated to the PAF although requires some work that the PAF and DND needed to shoulder.

The AH-1 Band-Air Solution?

 The incoming AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters donated by Jordan are the only thing that is closest to the Attack Helicopter or T129 ATAK that is arriving for the PAF. Despite previous posts by MaxDefense naming these helicopters as AH-1F (Foxtrot), it appears that they are actually older AH-1S (Sierra). But it does not matter since these AH-1S have the same performance as the newer AH-1F.

An info-graphic of the upcoming AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters of the PAF. And it turns out they are actually ex-IDF AH-1 Tzefas! Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source.

According to MaxDefense's sources, these helicopters are actually former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft that were among the 14 units donated by Israel to Jordan. In short, we are getting 3rd hand helicopters. But its not bad after all.

These helicopters are actually ex-IDF AH-1 Tzefa attack helicopters, which are either AH-1S or AH-1F Cobra helicopters but brought to a common standard by the Israelis to simplify things by having commonality along the entire fleet. The only way to know the difference between a Foxtrot and Sierra Tzefas was looking at the body serials plate.

Ever wonder why the ex-Jordanian AH-1 Cobras can fire Spike-ER missiles as mentioned in the info-graphic above? Because these are Tzefas!!!

An Israel Defense Force AH-1S/F Tzefa attack helicopter, which were among those donated by Israel to Jordan, and now being donated by Jordan to the Philippines. Credits to original source of photo.

With only two (2) units arriving, these helicopters are obviously not enough to cover the delays in the Attack Helicopter acquisition project. And this could be a good reason for the PAF to consider the acquisition of more AH-1S/F Cobra attack helicopters from either Jordan, Israel, or other friendly countries as a temporary solution, and to give meaning to the introduction of Cobra attack helicopters into the PAF's fleet.

Having 2 AH-1S Tzefa Cobra attack helicopters isn't enough. How to solve this? By getting more of the same helicopters to make the earlier decision to accept 2 helicopters become relevant and reasonable.
Credits to original source of photo.

For further reading regarding the discussions, you may refer to our previous blog entry discussing the Jordanian donation of AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippines, you may refer to an old blog entry discussing this, which can be accessed on the link provided below:

"Is the Philippine Air Force Getting Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters from Jordan?" - first posted on 21 August 21, 2017

What's Next for the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project?

And if our sources is correct, it appears that the PAF TWG may wait until the 2 AH-1S Tzefa Cobra helicopters arrive late this year before they make a new decision. This is for the PAF, specifically the 15th Strike Wing, to evaluate the helicopters to decide if they really would go for a purpose-built attack helicopter, or re-consider the Battle Taxi option like the S-70i Battlehawk offer.

But the PAF TWG should decide quickly. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already released the funds for the PAF's Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project for 2019. And if the DND and PAF do not make use of the funds for the project by the end of 2019, the funds will have to be transmitted back to the DBM, with the PAF and DND again requesting for its release. And everyone following the defense modernization knows how lengthy this process is.

So the only way to go now for the PAF and DND is forward - make a new selection soon, award the project and complete the procurement phase within the year.

MaxDefense's only concern is that this also opens a new door for Pres. Duterte and his friends to push again their preferences, like those from Russia.

Its sad that the Philippines lost an opportunity to have a promising attack helicopter, but in this case, its not our fault but the fault of others - Turkey to be exact.

Any updates regarding the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project will now be posted also in our MaxDefense Resource Page portal under the Philippine Air Force Modernization Program Projects.

This could be accessed through the link provided below:

"Attack Helicopter (Horizon 2) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force" - to be updated continuously.

Project Summary:

Attack Helicopter (Horizon 2)Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 29 June 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)

Quantity: no specific quantity, cost dependent

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal, originally with Turkish Ministry of Defense (cancelled)

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) process.

* SARO Release/s:

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFAHAcquisition 

* Status: for re-evaluation by PAF TWG after deal with Turkish Ministry of Defense and TAI fell through.


First post, edit and release: 29 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Philippine Army to receive 12 more upgraded M113A2 with Elbit 12.7mm RCWS this June

As part of the Department of National Defense's (DND) deal with Israel's Elbit Systems Land & C4I, the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) would be receiving another batch of upgraded M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers (APC) this June 2019, fitted with the Elbit Systems 12.7mm overhead remote controlled weapon stations (ORCWS).

12 newly rehabilitated and upgraded M113A2 tracked APCs equipped with Elbit's 12.7mm ORCWS. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source.

The deal is part of the Philippine Army's M113 Firepower Upgrade Project, which is a Horizon 1 Phase 2nd List Project of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. The projects aims to deliver the upgrade for 44 M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers that include installation of the Elbit Systems 12.7mm ORCWS and other systems, and conversion of 5 M113A2 to armored mortar carriers and installation of the Soltam Cardom 81mm Recoil Mortar System.

More details can be found on an earlier blog entry posted specifically for this project, which can be accessed through the link below:

"Elbit Systems Wins Contract to Upgrade Philippine Army M113A2 with RCWS and Mortars" - first posted on 14 June 2018

For this batch for delivery this June 2019, twelve (12) units are programmed. These are former US Army M113A2 tracked APCs that underwent rehabilitation works with the Mechanized Infantry Division's maintenance battalion, and were modified to allow the installation of Elbit Systems' 12.7mm ORCWS on the commander's hatch, replacing the manually-operated armored open mount usually found on standard PA M113s.

M113A2s armed with the 12.7mm ORCWS will be undergoing Technical Inspection and Acceptance Tests prior to handover to the Philippine Army. Photo exclusively shared by a MaxDefense source.

Aside from up-arming, these vehicles were also installed with Elbit Systems' Combat NG Battlefield Management System (BMS) allowing them to be integrated into a network with other similarly-equipped units of the Philippine Army.

While the electronic and mechanical systems like the weapon mounts and computers were all imported from Elbit Systems, the rehabilitation and modifications of the M113s, as well as the installation works of the RCWS and computer systems were all made by the Mechanized Infantry Division with technical assistance provided by Elbit Systems. This means the MID now has the know-how and capability to not just install, but also conduct maintenance works of these complicated systems.

Originally, Elbit Systems was supposed to deliver 17 units for the first batch, but the Philippine Army requested for an initial 5 units to be delivered earlier in April 2019 to allow the vehicles to be deployed to Jolo, Sulu before the 2019 Mid Term Elections last May.

The examples above are the first batch of M113A2s that received the new 12.7mm ORCWS and vehicle upgrades. They were set to Sulu last May 2019 to provide security during the 2019 Mid Term Elections. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a community member who wish to remain anonymous.

The vehicles underwent the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Tests a few days ago. Once they are rated by the project's Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) as passed, the vehicles will then be prepared for official hand-over to the Mechanized Infantry Division.

This would mark the delivery of a total of 17 upgraded vehicles with the 12.7mm ORCWS under this M113 Firepower Upgrade Project.

In total, the Philippine Army already has 11 units of M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers equipped with a 12.7mm RCWS system (if one would include the delivery made by Elbit Systems in a separate project in 2016), and the delivery of 12 more will make the total go up to 23 units.

The difference between the M113A2 tracked APCs that received upgrades to install 12.7mm RCWS:
Left photo shows those delivered by Elbit Systems in 2016 using a ex-Belgian Army M113A2+ and an earlier model variant of Elbit's 12.7mm ORCWS. The right shows a US-made M113A2 equipped with the latest variant of Elbit's 12.7mm ORCWS. 
Photo provided by a community member based on photos from other sources.

MaxDefense was informed that aside from the 12 units for delivery this June, another batch of upgraded M113s are scheduled for acceptance tests and hand-over this coming July 2019, and it would include some of the converted Armored Mortar Carriers armed with the Soltam Cardom 81mm Recoil Mortar System.

Rehabilitation, upgrade and installation works were all done in MID's facility in Camp O'Donnell in Tarlac, allowing MID to gain experience in the process. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source form the PA.

More updates will be coming in probably by July once the next batch of deliveries are ready. Meanwhile, our readers can also access our resource portal for this project which can be found on the link below:

"M113 Firepower Upgrade Project (Horizon 1) of the Philippine Army" - continuous updates ongoing.

Project Summary:

M113 Firepower Upgrade Project

Note: Edited as of 22 June 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)

* Quantity: to upgrade 49 M113 tracked APCs.

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 2nd List Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php1,051,650,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with the Israel Ministry of Defense-SIBAT

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0022354 dated 28 November 2017 worth Php1,051,650,000.00 (full amount), released 29 November 2017.

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land & C4I (Israel)

* Product for Delivery:
    - Modification of 49 M113A2 tracked APCs to accommodate upgrade
    - Upgrade of 44 M113A2 with installation of Elbit Systems 12.7mm ORCWS and other systems
    - Upgrade of 5 M113A2 with conversion to Armored Mortar Carrier with the Soltam Cardom 81mm Recoil Mortar System

* Contract Price: Php1,051,650,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 October 2016

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAM113FirepowerUpgrade

* Status: Delivery ongoing, 1st batch of 5 units delivered April 2019, 2nd batch of 12 units for delivery June 2019.


First edit and release: 22 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Philippine Navy's Fast Attack Interdiction Craft OK'd for procurement, selects Shaldag V - Spike NLOS combo

Last 07 May 2019, the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), held a Command Conference with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and several cabinet members from the government to discuss defense and security issues.

Among those discussed was the status of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), including the procurement plans from ongoing Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 projects, and pending Horizon 2 projects.

MaxDefense was able to get information from the outcome of the discussions on the AFP Modernization, wherein we can confirm that several good news came out of it and we will be discussing several of those in the upcoming blog entries.

We would start with one project that suddenly popped out of nowhere - the Fast Attack Interdiction Craft - Missile Capable (FAIC-M) Acquisition Project for the Philippine Navy.

The Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards, which was pre-selected for the FAIC-M acquisition project.
Screengrab taken from PN official video, as shared by a source from PN.

The Current Assets of the  Littoral Combat Force of the Philippine Fleet:

The Philippine Navy (PN) has been operating a fleet of fast patrol boats, being the type with the most number in the Philippine Fleet. These assets are currently operated by the Littoral Combat Force (LCF), which is in charge of naval operations in the littorals including operating of coastal patrol assets like patrol boats.

The PN currently has several patrol boat classes in service, with each class different from each other in terms of size, designed capabilities, and characteristics. This includes the following patrol assets above 50 tons in displacement:

* Tomas Batilo-class: fast patrol boats acquired second hand from South Korea in the 1990s. They are the most heavily armed patrol boats in the fleet, although they are among the oldest, being in service with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) as the Chamsuri-class since the late 1970s-early 1980s before handing them over to the PN. Only four (4) boats remain as the PN decided to start retiring some of the boats in the past few years.

BRP Salvador Abcede (PB-114), a Tomas Batilo-class PKM fast attack craft of the PN. The entire class are the intended for replacement by the FAIC-M. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Kagitingan-class: currently the largest patrol boats in the fleet, although they are plagued by poor serviceability and lacklustre performance. Two (2) boats remain and will need replacement soon.

BRP Bagong Silang (PB-104), one of the Kagitingan-class large patrol boats.

* Jose Andrada-class: currently the most numerous type of patrol boats in the fleet, with 22 boats in service since 1990. Although they are the "youngest" patrol boats (over 50 tons) in service with the PN, they are already nearing 30 years and would need replacements in the next few years. These boats were acquired with US assistance, and several were built locally.

* Alberto Navarette-class: the oldest patrol boats in the PN, the 2 boats of the class were formerly US Coast Guatd Point-class patrol boats, with both ships BRP Alberto Navarette and BRP Abraham Campo being in service with the USCG starting from 1967 and 1970, respectively. That puts them at 52 and 50 years in combined total service with the US Coast Guard and Philippine Navy!

The rest of the LCS's assets are surface assets below 50 tons in displacement., which includes the Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts, Swift and De Havilland 9209-classes of patrol crafts from the US and Australia respectively, and the recently donated Type 966Y patrol crafts from China.

Just a few years ago, the LCS also operated the larger Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel and the smaller Conrado Yap-class fast patrol boat, both classes were retired without any replacement.

With the LCS becoming a smaller force due to the retirement of older assets, it was recommended that the force be provided with new assets as part of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Plans Under the Revised AFP Modernization Program:

When the Philippine government under the administration of former Pres. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was approved, the Philippine Navy submitted proposals on their programme of acquisitions from 2013 to 2028 under the Horizons 1, 2 and 3 of the RAFPMP. But over time, these proposals shifted depending on the AFP and PN leadership, the situation or challenges arising or expected, or depending on the budget approvals.

For Horizon 2, originally the Philippine Navy requested for the following assets to be acquired for the Littoral Combat Force:

* 15 Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts armed with missiles
* 14 Fast Attack & Interdiction Crafts armed with missiles

But after the review of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet, the plan was reduced to just the following:

* Nothing on new surface assets;
* Combat Systems Upgrade for Multi-Purpose Attack Craft Batch 4 ordered during Horizon 1 phase.

Just imagine the disappointment of the men and women of the Littoral Combat Force when the approved Priority Projects of Horizon 2 came out last 2018!

Most of the approved Horizon 2 projects were focused on just meeting the minimum requirements of the Offshore Combat Force (OCF) and Sealift and Amphibious Force (SAF), as well as the requirements of the Philippine Marine Corps after the said groups also received cuts in their procurement plans.

For the approved Horizon 2 Priority Projects, not even a complete MPAC was included after Pres. Duterte slashed the proposal. Only included were the weapon systems and additional items for the MPAC Batch 4 that was ordered under the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Urgent Requirement Raised:

With assets being retired and no new assets on the way, the Littoral Combat Force's leadership made its voice heard and requested the Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad to assist in securing funding and approval for the acquisition of assets that can be used to patrol the southern borders of the Philippines facing Indonesia and Malaysia.

The proposal was still based on previous requirements: the acquisition of Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft (FAIC), between ten (10) to twelve (12) units and armed with small surface-to-surface missiles that are more lethal than those installed in their smaller Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mk. 3, which are based on the Rafael Spike-ER small surface-to-surface missile.

The decision to go for FAICs instead of additional MPACs was made due to earlier observations made by several groups within the PN that believes the MPAC is too small for operations far from operating bases. The MPAC lacks liveable space and facilities to allow operations of at least a week at sea including a decent toilet and shower room, and bunk spaces.

There are also calls that the MPAC's Spike-ER is too small for use against territorial defense requirements against similar-sized or larger enemy naval assets. As MaxDefense previously commented on the capabilities of the missile-armed MPAC, the Spike-ER lacks the range and the warhead size to engage other surface assets which are armed with long range guns and longer-ranged missile systems.

Up until late 2018, IAI Ramta was still pushing for the Philippine Navy to select the Super Dvora Mk. III, which is smaller but said to be more comfortable and more agile than the Shaldag Mk. V. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a community member who was in ADAS 2018.

In a radio interview conducted by military radio station DWDD on February 2019, Vice Adm. Empedrad announced plans to request the acquisition of between 10 to 12 "Fast Patrol Boats" which will be used to combat piracy and terrorism based on recent calls by Pres. Duterte.

Back then, the FOIC confirmed that he has not yet made the request with the president, nor secured the funding for these boats. But prior to that, the Philippine Navy has already been exploring the possibility of acquiring new fast patrol boats and has received several offers from friendly countries including Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the US, Netherlands, and Australia.

And the FOIC did had the chance to raise the requirement to be able to secure funding.

On 07 May 2019 during the Command Conference between Pres. Duterte, the DND, AFP, and other cabinet and agencies of the government, Vice Adm. Empedrad was said to have been given the green light to proceed with the acquisition phase, although with a smaller quantity and budget than earlier requested, with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) asked by Pres. Duterte to find funds to pay for the project.

This was later on re-confirmed during the 121st Founding Anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy, wherein Vice Adm. Empedrad mentioned it in his speech the plan to purchase eight (8) Fast Attack & Interdiction Crafts - Missile capable (FAIC-M), which was later shown as part of the video presentation of the PN during the celebrations.

No model was mentioned by the FOIC, but the video clearly shows the Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards.

A screengrab from the Philippine Navy's new institutional video for 2019, showing the Shaldag Mk. V representing the Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft - Missile (FAIC-M). Screengrab taken from PN video shared by PN sources.

In an interview with PN Spokesman Capt. Jonathan Zata, he also mentioned that the new FAIC-M will replace the eight (8) Patrol Killer Medium (PKM) fast attack crafts that they have in the fleet. He was referring to the Tomas Batilo-class fast attack crafts, which are called PKM boats when they were in service with the ROKN.

Capt. Zata also mentioned that the FAIC-Ms are intended to defend key sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu and Basilan Straits.

Despite Capt. Zata explaining that the new FAIC-Ms will replace the Tomas Batilo-class PKM fast attack crafts, MaxDefense believes that it would be more of a successor to the already retired Conrado Yap-class fast patrol boats, which are closer to the Shaldag Mk. V in terms of tonnage (75 on Conrado Yap-class tons versus Shaldag Mk. V's 95 tons and Tomas Batilo-class' 140 tons), although by length the Shaldag Mk. V is closer to the Tomas Batilo-class.  

Besides, the Conrado Yap-class were retired without a replacement coming in. MaxDefense doesn't agree that the MPAC Mks. 1 to 3 are their replacements either due to difference in size and capabilities offered.

The BRP Leopoldo Regis (PG-847), a fast patrol boat of the Conrado Yap-class. aka Haksaeng-class with the ROKN. The PN used to have ten (10) of these boats donated by the South Korean government in the early to mid 1990s. They were retired without a clear successor. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

The Project - Fast Attack Interdiction Craft:

Based on the approved plan, the Philippine Navy will procure eight (8) Fast Attack Interdiction Craft (FAIC) based on the technical requirements they submitted to the president. The budget will be Php10 billion (around US$193 million).

MaxDefense was informed by sources to not post the technical specifications, but based on what we have already seen, it appears that it was designed to suite the proposal made by Israel Shipyards Ltd to the Philippine Navy based on the company's Shaldag V fast patrol boat.

For those who remember, MaxDefense made a previous blog entry on Israel Shipyard's offer based on the Shaldag V as early as August 2016. The offer was made after a Request for Information (RFI) was released by the Philippine Navy to several shipbuilders.

For more on the Shaldag Mk. V, you may refer to an old blog entry, which can be accessed below:

"Israel Shipyard's Shaldag Mk. V Fast Patrol Boat Offered to the Philippine Navy" - first posted 16 August 2016

The Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards. Credits to original source of the photo.

Weapon Systems:

Also discussed will be the weapon systems installed on these boats - which would be acquired from a different company but would be installed once the boats are delivered.

The Philippine Navy has already selected the supplier, which would be Rafael Advance Systems Ltd (Rafael), which will supply systems mostly already familiar with the PN.

Among them are Rafael's Mini Typhoon 12.7mm  navalized Remote Controlled Weapon Stations (RCWS), the Typhoon 30mm navalized machine gun system, and the Typhoon MLS-NLOS capable of firing up to eight (8) rounds of Spike NLOS surface-to-surface missile.

The Rafael Typhoon MGS (top), and the Mini Typoon RCWS (above). The Typhoon MGS can be fitted with up to 30mm naval gun. All eight FAIC-Ms will have a Typhoon MGS armed with a 30mm gun, and two Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS. Photos taken from Wikipedia (top) and Royal Australian Navy (above).

Each of the eight FAIC-Ms will be armed with one (1) Typhoon 30mm MGS and two (2) Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS. But only four will be equipped with the Typhoon MLS-NLOS although the four other boats will be "Fitted for But Not With" (FFBNW) with the missile system.

The Rafael Spike NLOS MLS will be equipped to only four of the eight FAIC-Ms. This is probably due to budget constraints. Photo taken from Think Defence's website.

The Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) is an enhanced version and the largest and longest-ranged variant of the Rafael Spike missile family, with a 25 kilometer maximum effective range and a larger warhead than the standard Spike-ER used by the PN's MPAC Mk.3 and soon to arrive Mk.4. It is guided via a radio data link for command guidance, although it has fibre optic link up to 8 kilometers.

The Spike missile family, with the Spike NLOS (top most) being the largest and longest-ranged of the group, will be used as the missile component of the Fast Attack Interdiction Craft - Missile capable (FAIC-M).
Photo taken by MaxDefense community member Juliet XZRay during ADAS 2018.

While still unconfirmed, MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Navy may also use the Rafael Toplite Electro-Optical System (EOS), which will be installed to complement the Typhoon 30mm MGS as standard equipment. It is usual for Rafael to package it with the rest of their naval weapon system offerings especially those involving the Typhoon MGS.

The Rafael Toplight EOS is also used in patrol boats and naval ships for targeting and weapon support. Photo taken from Rafael's website.

Other Deal Inclusions:

What was not mentioned on reports is that the purchase of Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards included a Technology Transfer or License Build clause wherein the Philippine Navy shall be allowed by Israel Shipyards to license-build the Shaldag Mk. V on its own, or share the design to the PN.

To further support this, the requirement also calls for the construction of two (2) of the eight fast attack & interdiction crafts in the Philippines. Yes, local production 25% of the boats. But take note, this only involves the platforms/boats itself, not the weapon systems which would still be imported from Rafael in Israel.

And to make this happen, Israel Shipyards will also help the Philippine Navy to rehabilitate the Cavite Naval Yard (CNY), which will be the one to build the two locally-made FAIC-Ms.

The Philippine Navy's Cavite Naval Yard may not be huge enough to build larger ships, but it would start from at least being able to build smaller patrol boats or fast attack crafts like the Shaldag Mk. V. This would be beneficial to the PN in the long run to support the Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) program that the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines is trying to have, but also allow the Philippine Navy to assist other government agencies.

MaxDefene reported last year in our social media posts that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is among those interested in acquiring the Shaldag family of fast patrol boats. This was later confirmed by British defense media outlet Jane's when they reported that at the background of IMDEX Asia 2019 defense exhibition in Singapore, PCG has made known its interest in the Shaldag Mk.III, which is smaller than the Mk. V.

A local production capability for Shaldag family of fast boats could allow the PCG to specify the requirement for most if not all of its orders be constructed locally, which could give the CNY a good run for the money.

What's Next:

With the Philippine Navy FOIC himself putting much promotion on this project, it appears that the actual procurement phase would be happening very soon, and probably an award given by 3rd quarter of 2019. If this is the case, it is expected that the Notice to Proceed (NTP) and Opening of Letter of Credit (LOC) could happen before year end. 

Although we do not have figures yet, based on previous production and delivery history of Israel Shipyards, it is possible for an initial delivery to happen by late 2021 and the rest be delivered by late 2022.

MaxDefense will create a resource portal for this project, as we would start monitoring the project closely.

More of the FAIC-M will be posted by MaxDefense on a new resource page in our Modernization Program Portal.

Project Summary:

Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft - Missile Capable Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 19 June 2019:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Littoral Combat Force)

* Quantity: 8 units

* Modernization Phase: Special Projects within the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php10,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with the Israeli Ministry of Defense - SIBAT

* Source of Funding: TBA

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent:
     - Platform: no final confirmation but most likely Israel Shipyards
     - Weapon Systems: Rafael Advance Systems Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 8 units Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft (platform)
    - 8 units Rafael Typhoon 30mm MGS
    - 16 units Rafael Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS

    - 4 units Rafael Typhoon MLS-NLOS missile launchers
    - Unspecified number of Spike NLOS missile rounds

    - Integrated Logistics Support Package
    - Assistance in rehabilitating Cavite Naval Yard
    - Technology Transfer (license to produce or owning design rights)

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 16 August 2016

* Searching Hashtag: #PNFAICMAcquisition

* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing


First edit and release: 20 June 2019
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