Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project is getting closer to the finish line

With the Light Tank Acquisition Project appearing to be nearing a final selection, MaxDefense would like to discuss the selection for the vehicles based on our analysis of the situation and the information on hand.

The Light Tank Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army is one of those given an "in-principle" approval by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last June 2018 as part of the Php300 billion Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

MaxDefense was informed that the Light Tank Acquisition Project was also among those green-lighted for immediate implementation in the AFP-PNP Joint Command Conference last 07 May 2019. This means the project can be finalized and awarded to whoever the PA TWG and DND believe to have provided the best offer.

For further reading, you may give some time to read our previous blog entry discussing the Light Tank acquisition as well as other acquisitions of the Philippine Army for the Mechanized Infantry Division, which can be accessed below:

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

The General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT) during Eurosatory 2018. Photo taken from Armada International.

The Shortlisted Proponents and Products:

It appears that we now have a final list of which ones were shortlisted by the Philippine Army for their Light Tank Acquisition Project, which is also based on the proponents that submitted a serious offer.

For the Tracked Light Tank, the following were said to have been considered:

1. Hanwha Defense Systems (South Korea): K21-105 Medium Tank;

2. Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems (Israel-Austria): ASCOD 2 MMBT Medium Tank;

3. PT Pindad-FNSS (Indonesia-Turkey): Kaplan (Harimau) Medium Tank

From top to bottom: Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 Medium Tank, Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank, and PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan Medium Tank. Credits to original sources of photos.

For the Wheeled 8x8 Tank Destroyer are the following:

1. Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army (Israel-Czech Republic): Pandur 2 8x8 with 105mm gun;

2. IVECO (Italy): Centauro 2 8x8 with 105mm gun;

3. Otokar Otomotiv (Turkey): Arma 8x8 with 105mm gun

From top to bottom: Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army Pandur II 8x8 105mm, IVECO Centauro II 8x8 105mm, and Otokar Otomotiv Arma 8x8 105mm. Credits to original sources of the photos.

All other perceived potential proponents and products appears to have not been able to participate, or did not submit a serious offer to the Philippine Army despite receiving the Request for Information (RFI) from the PA Technical Working Group.

Perceived Winner by Deduction:

To be able to determine who we believe would win the tender based on the shortlist above, MaxDefense would base what it believes as the possible winning bidder by identifying the possible reasons for being removed from the selection, and taking out any shortlisted proponent and product and reduce the selection.

1. First off, MaxDefense will reduce the shortlist based on which one may not meet Philippine laws based on the Revised Government Procurement Act under RA 9184, and the Revised AFP Modernization Act under RA 10349.

According to these RAs, a product should already be in service with the origin's armed forces, or as an alternative, at least in service with 2 foreign armed forces.

For tracked vehicles:

* The Hanwha K21 armored fighting vehicle is in service active service with the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).

* The GDELS ASCOD armored fighting vehicle is in service with the Spanish Army as the ASCOD Pizarro, the Austrian Army as the ASCOD Ulan. The ASCOD is also being introduced to the British Army as the Ajax. 
* The PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan/Harimau medium tank is not yet in service, but is being introduced to the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD), with deliveries expected to happen in a few years.

While the K21 and ASCOD were used as armored fighting vehicles and were armed with medium caliber guns instead of a tank gun, it appears that the RA9184 and RA10349 allows its selection. Meanwhile, while the Kaplan/Harimau was designed as a medium tank, it is currently not in service with any military even by its origin (Turkey and Indonesia). This means the Kaplan/Harimau could be disqualified.

For the wheeled vehicles:

* The Excalibur Army Pandur 2 is currently in service with the Czech Army, Portuguese Army, Austrian Army, and the Indonesian Army. 

* The IVECO Centuaro is being used by the Italian Army, Spanish Army, plus the Royal Jordanian Army and the Royal Omani Army.
* The Otokar Arma is only in use by the Royal Bahraini Army.

Like in the tracked vehicles, the Pandur 2 and Centauro both meet the requirements of RA9184 and RA10349 for being in service with the country of origin or at least 2 foreign users. But Otokar's Arma is only in use by 1 foreign user, and not in use by the country of origin (Turkey). This means the Otokar Arma 8x8 could be disqualified.

The PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan/Harimau medium tank has the most potential among the tracked vehicles shortlisted as the Indonesian Army intends to acquire them by the hundreds. But its development was too late to meet the Philippine requirements of being a proven product. Credits to original source of the photo.

2. Of all the tracked and wheeled vehicle offerings, there were only two suppliers of turrets: either CMI Defence Cockerill from Belgium, or Oto Melara from Italy.

The Hanwha K21-105 and PT Pindad-FNSS Kaplan, and the Otokar Arma 8x8 all use turrets made by CMI Defence Cockerill, while the Elbit-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT, Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur 2 8x8, and the IVECO Centauro 2 8x8 all use an Oto Melara-made turret.

As MaxDefense has been saying for more than a year now, Belgium's Walloon regional government has imposed an very tight export control to the Philippines due to their fear that the Philippine government may use Belgian products in Human Rights abuses or Extra-Judicial Killings. This despite the AFP's good record of not participating in HR or EJK issues.

By deduction, it means only the ASCOD 2 MMBT, Pandur 2 8x8 and Centauro 2 8x8 may be feasible for selection due to their non-usage of Belgian-made or sourced turrets and guns. Meanwhile, the Hanwha K21-105 medium tank could be disqualified as the Philippine Army is expected not to select a model that uses a Belgian-made turret and gun.

The use of a turret and gun from Belgium's CMI Defence may have costed Hanwha to be selected in the Light Tank acquisition project of the Philippine Army. Photo taken from Armored Warfare website.

3. By this time, only the Elbit Systems-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT remains as the only tracked vehicle in the shortlist. But for the wheeled vehicles, there are still two: the Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur II, and the IVECO Centauro 2.

With the ASCOD 2 MMBT probably selected, the selection of the wheeled vehicle could be a combination of performance and practicality. Since the Pandur 2 is also being offered by Elbit Systems, it is much simple to award the entire Light Tank Acquisition Project to a single proponent rather than distributing it to two proponents despite having a very small order.

In this case, IVECO's Centauro 2 may be placed in 2nd place for the wheeled vehicle requirement, with both the Elbit-GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT and the Elbit-Excalibur Army Pandur II 8x8 possibly selected for the project.

4. MaxDefense received information that since this project is being offered as 1 lot, proponents should be able to supply both wheeled and tracked tank variants.

Even if we include those deducted for not meeting the requirements discussed in items 1 to 3, it means that only Elbit Systems-GDELS-Excalibur Army team can compete for the project.

Which means from the start, there should be no more doubt that the ASCOD 2 MMBT and Pandur II 105 should be the only qualified products, unless the PA TWG and DND-BAC make some changes.

MaxDefense's Opinion:

Based on the above deduction, MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Army may select the Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems ASCOD 2 MMBT for the tracked requirements, and the Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army Pandur 2 8x8 for the wheeled requirement.

Aside from the deduction we made, we also believe that recent actions by the Department of National Defense (DND) itself may lead to such selections.

First was the recent visit of DND officials in Excalibur Army's facility in the Czech Republic, wherein the DND was able to view the Pandur 2 8x8. This was in between visits made by Excalibur Army officials to the DND office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City to further discuss their offers

Philippine officials visit the facility of Excalibur Army in Czech Republic. Credits to a community member who wish to remain anonymous for sharing this photo.

Also, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana recently called for the strengthening of defense relations between the Philippines and Spain, and an impending signing by the two countries of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on logistics, defense materiel, armaments and defense industry cooperation agreeement would further strengthen the position of GDELS.

This impending MOU was also discussed in a separate blog entry we made, which can be seen on the link below:

PAF's LRPA Project Expected to Benefit with Improvement of PH-Spain Defense Cooperation" - first posted 03 November 2018

What's Next:

While our opinion above is what we think would happen, it could be wrong as we are not the one making the decisions here.

It is still up to the Philippine Army's Technical Working Group (TWG) and Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT) on the Light Tank Acquisition Project who will make their selection, which in turn would be raised to the Commanding General, Philippine Army (CGPA) for support and recommendation to the DND.

Anything can still happen unless the PA and DND already made a final decision.

Anyway, MaxDefense wishes good luck to all proponents and to the Philippine Army on whatever selection they will make.


Project Summary:

Light Tank Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 16 July 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)
* Quantity: 44 units total in 1 lot
* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP
* Project ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00
* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement
* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).
* SARO Release: TBA
* Winning Proponent: TBA
* Product for Delivery: 

    - Tracked Light Tanks with 105mm gun: Quantity and model TBA
    - Wheeled Light Tanks (8x8) with 105mm gun: Quantity and model TBA
* Contract Price: TBA
* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015
* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALightTankAcquisition
* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing. Awaiting DND's decision and Acquisition Decision Memorandum.


First edit and release: 16 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. Please let there be an assembly facility and transfer of tech in the agreement. Mabuhay Philippine Army!

  2. ASCOD 2 MMBT Medium Tank and Pandur II 8x8 would be a great choice for the Philippine Army, and I wish PA would retain the 120mm gun on the ASCOD which will familiarize our boys to the real MBT guns just in case PA is planning to acquire MBTs in the near future. Commonality and interoperability with allies' tank ammos in time of military exercise or actual combat is also an advantage.

  3. Yes!!! I got my predictions and assessments possible because of the turret issues with CMI of Belgium... Now just see how it will come out in the final selection without political interventions of the procurement processes... 🤔

  4. indonesia in the process of licensing pandur, with the local name "cobra"

  5. How about cv-120 of sweden

  6. Just purchase the best choice, considering the durability and capability and not always on the lowest bidder. Also free from any commission from any commissioners. Mabuhay ang Army, Mabuhay ang Armed Forces at Mabuhay ang Pilipinas....


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects