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Sunday, April 19, 2020

The PNP Special Action Force introduces Russian trucks into service

The Philippine National Police - Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), the police force's military-like special operations unit, continues to receive new equipment as it modernize and expand its force.

Among those it has focused on is the acquisition of mobility assets like trucks, which is essential for the day-to-day movement of units.

Surprisingly, these requirements has become an access for non-traditional truck models to join the PNP-SAF's fleet, which were mostly acquired through public tenders by meeting the specified requirements while being the lowest priced.

Among those non-traditional models are those from Russia, which were acquired commercially and are not covered by any CAATSA restrictions.

Conequip Philippines, based in Cebu City, as well as Gazelle Motors Corp. based in Pasig City, have spearheaded the entry of Russian trucks to the Philippine market, specifically Ural and GAZ brands. And they have been successful in selling their trucks to the Philippine government, including local government units (LGU) and the Philippine National Police.

This short blog discusses the first wave of Russian trucks in service with the PNP's Special Action Force.

Photo taken from and credited to Gazelle Motors Corp.

Multi-Purpose Search and Rescue Amphibian Vehicles:

The first Russian vehicles acquired by the PNP-SAF were not actually trucks, but more of utility vehicles that can be used for Search and Rescue (SAR). These are the RM Terex GAZ-3409 amphibious all-terrain vehicle which can be used in heavily flooded areas during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

The vehicles are no different in size from regular vans, but these are amphibious which allows them to "swim" over water and reach difficult to reach areas.

Only 2 units were acquired by the PNP-SAF under the SAF-2017-65 Multi-Purpose SAR Amphibian Vehicle project with an ABC of Php14 million. 

The project was awarded to ConEquip Philippines Inc. on 21 December 2017, and was contracted to them under a Php14 million deal by 28 December 2017. Both vehicles were delivered to the PNP-SAF by mid-2018.

The RM Terex GAZ-3409 amphibian vehicle on display during a capability exhibit in August 2018. Photos taken from ConEquip Philippines' Facebook page, and shared in MaxDefense Philippines' post.

While MaxDefense believes that this is nothing more but an all-terrain vehicle, it is still worth looking at how it will perform during actual disasters. 

It still remains to be seen if the PNP-SAF is happy with their acquisition, although MaxDefense sources confirmed that the PNP-SAF may potentially acquire more, or even consider the larger models like the GAZ-3039 if they are satisfied with the vehicle's overall performance and value.

Medium Troop Carriers:

As the PNP-SAF required more transportation equipment to beef up its mobility fleet, it also gave more opportunity for Russian trucks to be considered.

The first one was a requirement for 10 vehicles, consisting of 8 Medium Troop Carriers and 2 Rescue Vehicles under the SAF-2018-85 Transportation Equipment Project, which has an ABC of Php30,200,000.00. Gazelle Motors Corp. won the tender with a bid amount of Php27,500,000.00, which received the contract on 28 December 2018.

Gazelle Motors delivered the GAZ Sadko 2.5-ton 4x4 utility truck, which are the first Russian trucks in PNP service. The difference between the troop carrier and rescue vehicle are on the exterior paint, as rescue vehicles are painted bright orange, while troop carriers were in camouflage. 

The first batch of GAZ Sadko 2.5-ton trucks were delivered to the PNP-SAF in mid-2019. Photos taken from Gazelle Motors Corp.'s FB page.

It appears that the GAZ Sadko competes with the German MAN CLA 18.300 2.5-ton trucks that are also in PNP and PNP-SAF service and in almost the same price bracket. While the GAZ Sadko appears to be smaller in size and are only in 4x4 (the MAN CLA has also 2 axles but twin tires at the rear), the Russian truck appears to be more off-road in nature with its lifted suspension and off-road tires.

Being in the 2.5-ton category also means that this could be Russia's answer to the Kia KM250 6x6 2.5-ton truck that is being used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

According to Gazelle Motors' replies on their Facebook page, the GAZ Sadko delivered to the PNP-SAF are 6.515 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and has curb weight of 3,990 kilograms, and a gross vehicle weight of 6,350 kilograms.

It is powered by a 4.43L YMZ-53442 turbo-diesel engine with intercooler with Euro 4 emission standards, with a maximum power of 135hp @ 2,300rpm, and a maximum torque of 419Nm @ 1,200-2,100 rpm. It has a 5-speed manual transmission, and has dependent leaf springs suspension.

Gazelle Motors tested the GAZ Sadko in local conditions, with the video below showing an example fording a river, and going around Crow Valley in Tarlac to test its off-road capability. Video credited to Gazelle Motors Corp.

Another requirement was raised by the PNP-SAF for Medium Troop Carriers, this time under the SAF-2019-04 Medium Troop Carrier Project, calling for 37 units with an ABC of Php119,868,800.00. 

In this case, ConEquip Philippines won the tender with an bid amount of Php119,128,800.00. ConEquip Philippines received the contract on 08 April 2019, and delivered the trucks before the end of 2019.

The trucks were among those officially accepted by the PNP on 03 March 2020. While MaxDefense counts the number of trucks handed over last March was 37 trucks for the PNP-SAF, ConEquip Philippines claims that they turned over 80 trucks to the PNP. MaxDefense has not checked yet if the PNP General Headquarters also made a separate order, since the PNP-SAF has its own Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and procurement capability separate from the PNP GHQ.

Some of the GAZ Sadko trucks handed over by Conequip Philippines to the PNP, bound for the Special Action Force. Photo taken from Conequip Philippines' Facebook page.

Heavy Troop Carriers and Command Vehicles:

Another requirement from the PNP-SAF came up in 2018, this time for larger trucks, with 6 Heavy Troop Carriers and 4 Command Vehicles under the SAF-2018-88 Transportation Equipment Project, with an ABC of Php85,600,000.00.

The specs call for trucks larger than the GAZ Sadko or MAN CLA, at around 5-ton payload capacity.

This time, Conequip Philippines again won the tender with a bid amount of Php85,575,000.00. And in this case, they decided to offer the Ural NEXT 5-ton 4x4 truck based on the Ural 43206 chassis. This is the modern version of the classic Ural 43206 truck, which is the 4x4 version of the Ural 4320.

According to a ConEquip's representative who answered MaxDefense's query, the truck are actually 4320-71. But to avoid confusion, MaxDefense decided to use the basic chassis name which is 43206.

The Ural NEXT 43206 (top) and the older Ural 43206 (above). The Ural NEXT are the new generation versions, which benefits from technology taken from their cooperation with Italy's IVECO. Photos credited to original owners.

For some reason though, MaxDefense sources confirmed that the trucks that arrived were actually for 8 Heavy Troop Carriers and 2 Command Vehicles. There could have been adjustments made internally although we are not yet privy to the arrangements.

The standard Ural NEXT 43206 heavy troop carriers arrived without rear roofing or roof framing, although it is possible that it would be installed in the Philippines before delivery to the PNP-SAF. It is no different from other troop carrying trucks of the PNP and AFP, as it has bench seating, with passengers facing each other from left and right sides.

The Ural NEXT 43206 5-ton 4x4 Heavy Troop Carriers as delivered. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by source.
Meanwhile, the Command Vehicle appears to be just a shell without any communications equipment yet. This could be filled-in by the PNP-SAF after delivery and depending on the equipment they intend to install. The vehicle has a rear enclosed cabin, and although there appears to be some parts that could be armored, it still remains to be seen if the entire cabin is armored protected. It also appears that power requirements and probably airconditioning could already be in place.

Both the troop carrier and command vehicle variants came with standard police blinker lights, and screen protection on windows and lights.

The Ural 43206 Command Vehicles, which appears to be only the shell and not including communications equipment, which the SAF would install later on according to their preference. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by source.

Again, the camouflage pattern seems out of sync with the PNP-SAF's standards, considering their other vehicles like the Commando Gage V-150 Commando and Shladot MDT Armor Tiger II armored vehicles, as well as other PNP-SAF vehicles sport a different color pattern that is different from those seen in these Russian-built vehicles.

Surprising though, is that the PNP preferred to use a short wheelbase 4x4 chassis rather than a short wheelbase 6x6 version of Ural NEXT called the Ural NEXT 5557, or the long wheelbase called the Ural NEXT 4320. The Ural NEXT 4320 is the direct descendant of the Ural 4320 trucks that were donated by the Russian government to the Philippine Army.

The Ural NEXT 43206 are powered by the YAMZ-53622.10 in-line turbodiesel engine with intercooler, with a maximum power of 240hp @ 2,300rpm. Kerb weight for the standard chassis 43206 model is 6,645 kilograms, and gross vehicle weight is 13,300 kilograms.

Basic info on the Ural 43206 4x4 5-ton truck. Photo screengrabbed from Ural's brochure courtesy of ConEquip Philippines Inc.

Opening New Possibilities and Opportunities:

Russian trucks are known as equally durable and reliable as their Western counterparts, probably even better than the South Korea KIA trucks the AFP uses as their standard utility vehicles. Being commercial vehicles, these are not really covered by CAATSA restrictions too. 

What MaxDefense worries is the parts supply and maintenance support. While both Gazelle Motors and ConEquip Philippines promised to make that a priority, it still remains to be seen how much they can do considering parts for the vehicles are not readily available yet in your local truck parts shops.

As for the PNP-SAF, their decision to introduce Russian trucks might have timed well by their formal introduction into the Philippine market. We'll have to wait for 3 years at least to see if these trucks are going well, or will they end up to be a bad experiment like what the PNP did when it bought utility vehicles from India's Mahindra through its local distributor who also has not much nationwide coverage.

It also remains to be seen though if the trend will continue, considering the PNP itself may also acquire medium and heavy troop carrier trucks for use by Regional Public Safety Battalions, which uses MAN CLA 18.300 and assorted Hino and Isuzu trucks acquired from earlier tenders. With GAZ and URAL appearing to be cheaper, chances are, the both Gazelle Motors and ConEquip Philippines may enter biddings and win them too.

Also, with GAZ and Ural already in service with the PNP, what are the chances that the PNP may acquire other versions of the vehicles, including larger 6x6 troop carrying or cargo trucks, tractor heads, wreckers, and other support vehicles?

The Ural NEXT 4320 6x6 in military utility vehicle variant. Credits to original source of photo.

Project Summary:

Multi-Purpose SAR Amphibian Vehicle (SAF-2017-65) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 18 April 2020.

* End User: Philippine National Police (Special Action Force)

* Quantity: 2 Tracked All-Terrain Amphibious Vehicles

* Project ABC: Php14,000,000.00
Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: PNP GAA 2017

* Winning Proponent: ConEqup Philippines Inc.

Product for Delivery:
      - 2 units RM Terex GAZ-3409 small tracked all-terrain amphibious vehicles

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 05 August 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNPSAF201765

* Status: NOA released in favor of ConEqup Philippines Inc. on 21 December 2017, Contract signed and NTP released on 26 December 2017. Delivered to the PNP-SAF as of mid-2018.


Transportation Equipment (SAF-2018-85) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 18 April 2020.

* End User: Philippine National Police (Special Action Force)

* Quantity: 6 Medium Troop Carriers, 2 Rescue Vehicles

* Project ABC: Php30,200,000.00
Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: PNP GAA 2018

* Winning Proponent: Gazelle Motors Corp.

Product for Delivery:
      - 8 units GAZ Sadko 4x4 2.5-ton trucks in Troop Carrier configuration

      - 2 units GAZ Sadko 4x4 2.5-ton trucks in Rescue Vehicle configuration

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNPSAF201885

* Status: NOA released in favor of Gazelle Motors Corp. on 21 December 2018, Contract signed and NTP released on 28 December 2018. Delivered to the PNP-SAF as of mid-2019.


Transportation Equipment (SAF-2018-88) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 18 April 2020.

* End User: Philippine National Police (Special Action Force)

* Quantity: 6 Heavy Troop Carriers, 4 Command Vehicles (changed later to 8 Heavy Troop Carriers, 2 Command Vehicles)

* Project ABC: Php85,600,000.00
Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: PNP GAA 2018

* Winning Proponent: ConEquip Philippines Inc.

Product for Delivery:
      - 8 units Ural NEXT 43206 4x4 5.5-ton trucks in Troop Carrier configuration

      - 2 units Ural NEXT 43206 4x4 5.5-ton trucks in Command Vehicle configuration

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 April 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNPSAF201885

* Status: NOA released in favor of ConEquip Philippines Inc.. on 03 December 2018, Contract signed and NTP released on 05 December 2018. For delivery to the PNP-SAF by April 2020.


Medium Troop Carrier (SAF-2019-04) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 18 April 2020.

* End User: Philippine National Police (Special Action Force)

* Quantity: 37 Medium Troop Carriers

* Project ABC: Php30,200,000.00
Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: PNP GAA 2019

* Winning Proponent: ConEquip Philippines Inc.

Product for Delivery:
      - 37 units GAZ Sadko 4x4 2.5-ton trucks in Troop Carrier configuration

* Contract Price: Php119,128.800.00

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNPSAF201904

* Status: Contract signed and NTP released in favor of ConEquip Philippines Inc. on 08 April 2019. Delivered to the PNP-SAF as of early 2020, officially presented by the PNP on March 2020. In service with the PNP-SAF.

First posted and released on 19 April 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, April 4, 2020

As Philippine Air Force moves away from the OV-10 Bronco as CAS Aircraft, What's Next?

The recent news posted by American civilian defense contractor Blue Air Training early this week of their acquisition of several surplus Rockwell OV-10D+ and OV-10G Broncos to beef up their fleet was the proof MaxDefense Philippines has been waiting to come out. 

This further supported our report last January 2020 that the Philippine Air Force's plan to acquire the OV-10G Broncos from the US National Aerospace and Space Administration (NASA) appears to have been cancelled.

Two of the newly acquired OV-10D+ Bronco of Blue Air Training. Photo taken from Blue Air Training's Facebook page.

Cancellation of OV-10A/G Procurement:

It would be remembered that the US government, through NASA was looking for ways to dispose its fleet of OV-10A and OV-10G Broncos, together with several million dollars worth of spare parts. And it was proposed for the aircraft and parts to be transferred to the only US ally still operating the aircraft type - the Philippines.

The OV-10G+ Combat Dragon II Broncos when in service with the US Air Force. Credits to original source of photo.
Part of the agreement is for the aircraft and spare parts to be given for free as a donation under the US Military Assistance Program. But like any other donation, part of the deal is for the Philippines to shoulder the rehabilitation of the aircraft, sending personnel to the US for training and other purposes, and to pay for the logistics and transport of the items from NASA's storeyard to the Philippines.

The amount payable after donation was said to be less than Php200 million, which means that the Philippine Air Force can actually take care of the deal without requiring the Department of National Defense (DND) to act on it and provide funding. The PAF was to instead use its own annual funding to pay for the costs.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco being prepared for an air operation. Credits to original source of the photo.

But for some reason, MaxDefense sources mentioned that the PAF appears to have failed to meet the financial obligations on time, considering NASA was in a hurry to dispose the aircraft and parts. As usual, the slow action by the Philippine side may have costed the deal from becoming successful.

Up until December 2019, MaxDefense was told that the chances of it proceeding as planned has become very low based on the Philippine Air Force's lack of action to send people to the US for anything related to the deal, and on lack of signs that a transfer is taking place.This was why MaxDefense posted about the impending cancellation after the New Year.

Now with Blue Air Training confirming that they acquired not just the OV-10Gs (only 2 of which are available globally), it means this project of PAF acquiring them is indeed dead.

Blue Air Training also confirmed to have acquire several OV-10D+ from other sources, aside from the OV-10G from NASA. Photo of OV-10D+ Bronco taken from Blue Air Training's Facebook page.

Current situation of the PAF's OV-10 Bronco fleet:

The Philippine Air Force's OV-10 Bronco fleet is currently grounded. None are flying for several months now. although the PAF is using the time to keep the fleet in the best condition possible as it plans to make them fly again by mid 2020.

Originally when acquisition of the OV-10A/G Broncos and spare parts from NASA was pushed, the plan was for the Philippine Air Force to continue flying the Broncos until 2024, together with the new Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft that it is receiving soon. The Super Tucanos will replace the SF-260TP armed trainers of the 17th Attack Squadron, which will receive the A-29B Super Tucanos, which will be transferred to other units as combat trainers. While the PAF orders for more Super Tucanos, the Broncos will continue performing close air support and ground attack missions.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco with an Enhanced Paveway II precision guided munition. Photo taken from Military Porn @ Reddit.

But the failure of the Philippine Air Force to secure the needed spare parts to keep the fleet means that these plans won't proceed.

Instead of the above plans, the PAF will fly the OV-10A/C Broncos together with the A-29B Super Tucanos in a single squadron, while the SF-260TP armed trainers will remain in service as a combat asset.

And due to the lack of spare parts needed to fly the Bronco fleets for several more years, it is anticipated by MaxDefense that the aircraft will be flown as long as the PAF can sustain them, most likely by either late 2021 or early 2022.

A PAF OV-10 Bronco dropping a bomb during the Battle of Marawi in 2017. Photo taken from Reuters.

New Plan Ahead:

With the OV-10 Bronco expected to retire from service earlier than planned, the Philippine Air Force appears to be looking ahead with a new plan.

The Philippine Air Force has started pushing for the acquisition of additional Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft to fill the numbers gap, adding to the 6 units already in service by then.

One of the Philippine Air Force's A-29B Super Tucano undergoing flight tests in Brazil last year. Photo taken from and credited to Leonardo Santana.

The goal is to have the National government approve an acquisition program for new A-29B Super Tucanos, numbering between 6 to 12 additional units under the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, which comprises projects outside the original Horizon 2 priority phase that are lined up in case the government can spare the AFP Modernization with more funding aside from the Php300 billion worth already approved in 2018.

The additional orders will increase the fleet size to between 12 to 18 aircraft, which is the optimum range for number of aircraft in a combat squadron.

One of the A-29B Super Tucano attack aircraft of the Afghan Air Force. Photo taken from National Interest.

This could cost between Php6 to Php12 billion, which is a hefty sum considering the Philippine government may have difficulty making this possible due to the devastation on the Philippine economy as an aftereffect of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

MaxDefense believes that the crisis would affect the Philippine economy until 2022, which means that the chances of having the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase program to happen has significantly become less likely.

A-29B Super Tucano aircraft of the Lebanese Air Force. Photo taken from Lebanese Air Force.

Now What?

Whether or not the request for funding for additional Super Tucanos pushes through, it still remains to be seen if the government will approve such request.

MaxDefense now believes that the PAF leadership may have made a judgement error, considering the Covid-19 pandemic was something nobody would have probably expected. MaxDefense believes that if the pandemic was foreseen by the PAF leadership, it is highly possible that it could have pushed hard to have the OV-10A/G Bronco and spare parts acquisition happen.

But this all moot now. All we can look forward is that the PAF has a serious plan to beef up its light attack aircraft assets when the opportunity comes. And since the PAF is already a future operator of the A-29B Super Tucano, acquiring additional units in the future won't be an issue in terms of the ability of the service to accept and transition to the aircraft.

An A-29B Super Tucano demonstrator dropping a Paveway laser guided bomb during tests. Photo taken from US Air Force.

Project Summary:

OV-10 Bronco Aircraft and Spare Parts Transfer Project

Note: Edited as of 04 April 2020.

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

* Quantity: 4 used OV-10 aircraft, millions of dollars worth of OV-10 spare parts

* Modernization Phase: Special Project within Horizon 2 phase timeline

* Project ABC:
 ~US$2 million ++

Acquisition Mode: US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program

* Source of Funding: PAF 2018-2019 GAA

* SARO Release: N/A

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery:
      - 2 units used OV-10G+ Combat Dragon Bronco aircraft

      - 2 units used OV-10A Bronco aircraft
      - 1 lot OV-10 spare parts worth millions of USD.

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
24 February 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFOV10TransferProject

* Status: Procurement CANCELLED. Aircraft instead acquired by American civilian defense contractor Blue Air Training.


Close Air Support Aircraft (Phase 2) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 04 April 2020.

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

* Quantity: unconfirmed, estimated to be between 6 to 12 units

* Modernization Phase: Proposed under the 2nd List oHorizon 2 Phase Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: unconfirmed, MaxDefense estimates to be between Php6 billion to Php12 billion.

* Contract Price: TBC

* Difference between ABC and Contract Price: TBC

* Expected Delivery: TBC

* Acquisition Mode: TBC, expected to be Government-to-Government between Philippine and Brazilian governments.

* Source of Funding: TBC

* SARO Release: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: 04 April 2020

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFCASAPhase2Acquisition

* Status: Proposed to be included as part of 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, still for approval to start procurement process.

First posted and released on 04 April 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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