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!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Philippine Air Force plans to acquire at least 21 surplus Bell UH-1H Hueys from South Korea

The Philippine Air Force's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing (205th THW) celebrated its 58th Founding Anniversary today, 24 September 2020.

As part of the program celebrating this milestone, PAF Air Mobility Command Commander Maj. Gen. Simeon Felix confirmed that the Philippine Air Force is intending to acquire additional air assets from South Korea, in the form of used Bell UH-1H Huey combat utility helicopters previously operated by the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA).

One of the Bell UH-1H Huey combat utility helicopters of the Republic of Korea Army. Photo taken from and credited to Hoon114's Blog.

This coincides with reports from South Korea that the South Korean Ministry of Defense has recently approved the potential transfer of retired military helicopters to the Philippine government, which MaxDefense Philippines posted on its Facebook community page last 15 September 2020.

The Republic of Korea Army operated the UH-1 Huey since December 1968, with more than 120 units operated over the years. The ROKA finally retired the type last 31 July 2020, and will be replaced by the locally-made and larger KAI KUH-1 Surion combat utility helicopter

The Republic of Korea Army has retired the UH-1H Huey helicopter last 31 July 2020, and will be replaced by the KUH-1 Surion helicopter. Photo taken from and credited to Bemil Korean Defense Page.

This is a needed boost since the Philippine Air Force is grappling with lack of sufficient utility helicopters that would allow it to provide support to military units around the country.

According to Maj. Gen. Felix, the PAF's Technical Working Group will be conducting an inspection of the helicopters being offered by the South Korean government by November 2020. It still remains to be seen in funding is available. Despite donated, the Philippine Air Force will still need to pay for other expenses including logistics and shipping, repair, training, and other ancillaries and administrative costs. This might still be worth a few hundred million pesos, unless if the Philippine Navy could assist in bringing in the helicopters using their Tarlac-class landing platform docks to help reduce the cost.

Since these helicopters were from the US, approval to transfer the helicopters to another country is needed from the US government. MaxDefense Philippines expects the US government to have no objections to transferring these helicopters to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing currently operates a mixed fleet of former US Army Bell UH-1H Hueys, former German Army Dornier-Bell UH-1D Delta and Super Delta Hueys, and new Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters.

The PAF currently operates the Bell 412EP (top), the UH-1D Delta Huey (above) and the UH-1H Huey combat utility helicopters. Photos credited to original sources.

But the recent fatal incident involving one of the Dornier-Bell UH-1D Delta Huey helicopter in Cauayan, Isabela province last July 2020 has stressed the entire fleet since the Delta & Super Delta helicopters have been grounded while investigations continue on the crash.

The PAF's Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes also confirmed during the recent congressional hearing on FY2021 for the Department of National Defense (DND), the 205th THW has 10 more UH-1H Hueys that are in need of funding to allow their rehabilitation and retire to service.

Despite expecting 6 brand new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters this year and 10 more Black Hawks in 2021, the Philippine Air Force is still desperately short of combat utility helicopters considering its ideal quantity is at least 130-140 units to make sure that 100 combat utility helicopters are available at any given day.

The PAF is preparing to receive its first batch of 6 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters by October-November 2020, although these helicopters are not expected to be fully operational until 2021. 10 More S-70i Black Hawks are arriving in 2021. Photo shared to MaxDefense by aviation photographer Marcin Bobro.

The PAF also plans to acquire 16 brand new Mil Mi-171 transport helicopters from Russia, but has hit a roadblock due to inability to go around the sanctions posed by the US government's Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Apparently the Russian and Philippine governments have failed to find a way for the Philippine government to pay for the helicopters since banking institutions are not willing to assist for fear of backfire from CAATSA.

Thus, acquiring surplus UH-1H from South Korea, which MaxDefense Philippines learned to be at least 21 units, would definitely help the PAF reach a higher operational capability in the short term.

MaxDefense expects that these helicopters won't be operating for too long considering their age, but it could be good enough to provide an interim solution while the Philippine government is looking for ways to acquire more brand new Combat Utility Helicopters to eventually replace all their ageing UH-1 Huey fleet.

This early, MaxDefense Philippines thanks the South Korean government for assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines in improving its capabilities.

Congratulations to the Philippine Air Force and the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing for reaching a new milestone in serving the Filipino people. Photo taken from 205th THW's Facebook page.

With relation to this new development, the planned transfer of surplus helicopters for the Philippine Army's Army Aviation Regiment (PA AAR) is still in the planning stage, although MaxDefense Philippines previously received information that the PA AAR is also interested in acquiring surplus combat utility helicopters as an interim measure while it starts building up its fleet.

It still remains to be seen though if the PA AAR will also be getting helicopters from South Korea, or from other countries like Japan and the US. 

The recent news wherein Senator Francis Tolentino mentioned about the donation of 4 UH-60 Black Hawk combat utility helicopters and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippine Army still remains a plan, as the Philippine Army contingent to inspect the condition of the helicopters have not yet been cleared to travel to the US for the inspection.

First edit and release: 24 September 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Philippine Naval Special Operations Group receives 1st batch of new Fast Boats

The Philippine Navy (PN) has recently received the initial deliveries of new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) that it acquired for the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) under its Fast Boat Acquisition Project.

Three of the six newly delivered RHIBs that arrived as the first batch of Fast Boats for the Philippine Navy. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

The project, which is funded under the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase, was meant to provide the NAVSOG's Special Boat Unit (SBU) with new additional boats to complement older fast boats in service, while also increasing its operational capabilities.

The Fast Boat Acquisition Project:

The Philippine Navy included the acquisition of thirty (30) brand new fast boats for the NAVSOG SBU under the proposed PATROL BOAT LIGHT ACQUISITION PROJECT as part of the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase, with a proposed budget of Php450 million., or around Php15 million for each boat.

This was later revised due to budget issues, with the Philippine Navy renaming the project as the FAST BOAT ACQUISITION PROJECT, with a reduced budget of only Php300 million for twenty (20) brand new boats.

The initial basic technical requirements were as follows:

* Length:                    Function of design
* Beam:                      Function of design
* Draft:                       0.50-0.60 meters
* Displacement:         Function of design
* Speed:                     Not less than 45 knots at full throttle at full load
* Range:                    150-200 nautical miles
* Complement:          3 boat crew + 8 passengers
* Gun Mount:             1 x .50 cal machine gun (front)
* Hull Type:                Function of design (not wooden)
* Propulsion:              At least 2 diesel-powered outboard motors
* Seaworthiness:        Operate at Sea State 2, Survive at Sea State 3
* Delivery Period:      12 months

This requirement will become the basis although it can be further improved. One example is the gun mount, which was later on increased from one mount to three mounts (1 front, 2 rear).

Several proposals were floated during the planning stage, which includes options using a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) design, and several options using Fibre-Reinforced Plastic (FRP aka Fibreglass) and Aluminium hull designs.

All options vary in size, displacement, speed, range, complement, propulsion, delivery times and cost.

The cheapest appears to be similar to the FRP-hulled boats, made locally and used by Philippine National Police Maritime Group (PNP-MG) with 3 outboard motors, which can be acquired for less than Php4 million each. The most expensive option includes the US-made Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC) which is used by the Philippine Marine Corps and US Marine Corps, and the US Special Operations Craft - Riverine (SOC-R) used by the US Navy which cost around Php35 million each.

Among the options raised by the Philippine Navy include locally-made FRP hulled boats similar to those used by the PNP Maritime Group (top), the Small Unit Riverine Craft SURC (middle), and the Special Operations Craft - Riverine SOC-R (bottom). Credits to original sources of photos.

In the end, it appears that the Philippine Navy settled with their original plan to acquire RHIBs. But it remains to be seen if the quantity was reduced from 20 units to less than that. This is because there was a request made in 2017 to reduce the quantity from 20 units to just 10 units, using the same budget.

But since RHIBs of this size does not cost more than Php12 million each, it is possible that the proposal remains at 20 units, subject to further confirmation.

Use of Diesel-Powered Motors:

Another point of interest will be the decision of the Philippine Navy to specify the use of diesel outboard engines rather than petrol powered as most boats today.

Apparently the decision of the Philippine Navy has strong ties to experience by the US Navy, which has specified the use of diesel-powered motors for boats carried by US Navy ships, instead of petrol powered motors that can produce higher power output and allow higher operating speeds.

As explained to MaxDefense by one of our contributor from the defense industry, the US Navy started implementing the use of diesel fuel for small boats after a ship accident in 1995 that caused an explosive gasoline fire. This made the US Department of Defense directive to remove all gasoline powered engines and gasoline fuel tanks about US Navy ships from 2010.

With the Philippine Navy following suit for safety reasons, it only means that the chances of these new fast boats being deployed aboard larger Philippine Navy ships like the Strategic Sealift Vessel / Landing Platform Docks, or even Offshore Patrol Vessels or other current and future surface combatants are quite high.

Not only will the boats be conforming to the directive on removing gasoline powered engines and fuel tanks aboard Philippine Navy ships, but it also allows for the ease on storing fuel since most Philippine navy ships are diesel powered and have sufficient diesel fuel stored. Fast boats using diesel fuel allows for simplicity and commonality in fuel logistics.

The use of 4 outboard motors instead of 3 as originally planned could also be due to the use of diesel motors, which have lesser power output than gasoline powered motors. 

Delivery to the Philippine Navy:

After a public bidding conducted without fanfare, the winning bidder was Solanda Enterprises - Pacficfortia Marine Technologies Joint Venture, with a bid amount of Php228,130,000.00. This is Php71,780,000.00 lower than the allocated budget. A Notice of Award (NOA) was released in favor of the winning proponent on 27 February 2018, with the Notice to Proceed (NTP) released on 01 March 2018.

Solanda Enterprises is the local distributor of Mercury marine engines, while Pacificfortia Marine Technologies carry the Treton brand of RHIBs. This means that based on their products, it can be assumed that the boats with be made by Treton and would be powered by 

Based on the contract, the products should be for delivery within 1 year, or by March 2019.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the full amount of the contract on 08 March 2018, which enables the winning proponent to start the construction of the boats.

It appears that Solanda Enterprises - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies JV failed to deliver the boats by March 2019, as we have noted that the first batch of 6 boats were delivered only last August 2020.

The new boats are seen here being delivered to the Philippine Navy's Sangley Point Base in Cavite last August 2020. Photos exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

It still remains to be confirmed if the boats were indeed from Treton, since MaxDefense sources mentioned that the boats were probably built in South Korea.

From the photos, it shows that the boats are powered by 4 outboard motors, most likely diesel-powered Mercury motors.

The boats appear to be not yet inducted to the Philippine Navy, as training is still ongoing although it is expected to happen in the next few months. The NAVSOG SBU afterall are already training and experienced in operating these type of boats, and are familiar with the equipment installed on the boats.

NAVSOG operates several RHIBs in its fleet, although the new one appears to be larger than the one shown above. Photo taken from and credited to VJNorz's Flickr page.

It also appears that the Philippine Navy procured several new automatic grenade launchers and machine guns which would be installed on these new fast boats. We received photos confirming this, although we were asked not to post them to protect our source.

It remains to be confirmed though if these were acquired separately, although most likely they were.

It also remains to be seen on when the rest of the boats will be delivered to the Philippine Navy. So far, no new deliveries were confirmed to MaxDefense by our sources, although it is expected that more boats will arrive within the year.

Congratulations to the Philippine Navy for these new additions to the fleet!

Note: MaxDefense tried to delay the release of this blog hoping that more boats would be delivrered. But it appears we have to wait for sometime for the rest of the new boats to arrive.

Project Summary:

Fast Boats Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 23 September 2020

* End User: Philippine Navy (Naval Special Operations Group)

* Quantity: at least 10 boats (exact quantity still for confirmation)

* Modernization Phase: Second List of Horizon 1 Phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding
GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-18-0004636 dated 08 March 2018

* Winning Proponent: Solanda Enterprises - Pacficfortia Marine Technologies Joint Venture

* Contract Price: Php228,130,000.00

* Residual Price: Php71,870,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 27 July 2018 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:  #PNFastBoatAcquisition

* Status: Awarded to Solanda Enterprises - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies JV on February 2018, and Notice to Proceed was released on March 2018. Delivery scheduled for March 2019, delayed. First batch delivered on August 2020. More batches expected.

First edit and release: 23 September 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Philippine Air Force receives full delivery of Elbit Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 medium altitude long endurance UAVs

MaxDefense received confirmation from military and industry sources that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has received full delivery of all nine (9) Hermes 900 and four (4) Hermes 450 medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (MALE UAV) from Israeli defense company Elbit Systems Ltd.

A Hermes 900 UAV during demonstrations at Fernando Air Base in Lipa, Batangas. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense.

The Philippine Air Force was expecting the delivery of 3 Hermes 900 and 1 Hermes 450 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) each comprising 3 UAVs, ground control system and support equipment, plus a spare used Hermes 450 UAV included by Elbit Systems as part of the deal, bringing a total of 13 flying UAVs.

MaxDefense was first to report on the existence of the Philippine Air Force's Unmanned Aerial Systems Acquisition Project and the planned procurement of Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 UAVs back in August 2017, as part of the Horizon 2 phase priority projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The PAF UAS Acquisition is actually the first big-ticket project of the Philippine Air Force under the Horizon 2 phase, as it was pushed even before the Horizon 2 phase was approved by Pres. Duterte in 2018.

The Hermes 900 (top) and Hermes 450 (above) as seen in PAF markings. Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense.

Delivery Completion by 2020:

According to our sources, the last batch of Hermes 900 UAVs arrived in the Philippines last August 2020, although Elbit Systems' contract with the Department of National Defense (DND) is not yet complete as Elbit will need to complete all other requirements including establishment of ground facilities, training, logistics support and spares.

Hermes 900 production line in Elbit's facility in Israel. Photo taken from and credited to Elbit Systems Ltd.

It would be remembered that in the Philippine Air Force's "Lead as One" publication released in mid-2020, it mentioned that the PAF is expecting the delivery of 2 UAS composed of 6 UAVs and ground support equipment.

PAF outlining the upcoming delivery of Hermes 900 UAVs within 2020. Photo cropped from Lead As One PAF Publication.

Aside from surveillance, the PAF's Hermes 900 fleet can also be deployed for maritime search and rescue. While Elbit Systems has not identified the customer for their new Life Raft deployment capability, MaxDefense sources confirmed that it is indeed the Philippine Air Force.

This could be useful in assisting ships in distress on the high seas, or even within Philippine territorial and archipelagic waters, allowing faster response in saving lives. Below is a video from Elbit Systems showing this new capability for the Hermes 900 UAV.

Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 in PAF Service:

The UAVs will be operated by the PAF's 303rd Aerial Reconnaissance Group of the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing. The 303rd ARG divided the deployment of these new UAVs as well as existing ones like the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle 2 UAVs to different bases around the country, and training being conducted at the Philippine Army Aviation Regiment's base in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

The badge of the 303rd Aerial Reconnaissance Group, 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing, Philippine Air Force. Photo taken from 5th Fighter Wing, Philippine Air Force.

Location of bases where the UAVs will be deployed are confidential, although it would be remembered that sightings of the both Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 were confirmed in several locations in the Philippines.

While the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAVs are already delivered, they will all undergo operationalization. According to sources, only 1 Hermes 900 unmanned aerial system with 3 UAVs  and the sole Hermes 450 UAS with 4 UAVs are partially operational, while the 2 other Hermes 900 UAS with 3 UAVs each will probably reach partial operationalization by 2nd quarter of 2021.

Full operationalization of 1 Hermes 900 UAS and 1 Hermes 450 UAS is expected by mid 2021.

Once operational, the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAS can be utilized for several surveillance missions, including tracking down terrorists in jungle and urban areas; battlefield surveillance and real time surveillance; and maritime surveillance in the West Philippine Sea, northern borders with Taiwan, Japan and the Bashi Channel, southern triborder with Indonesia and Malaysia, and the Philippine Rise, and other missions like search and rescue.

The UAS could also cover for the lack of sufficient manned maritime patrol aircraft, although there are certain missions that a manned maritime patrol aircraft are capable of doing that these UAS may not be able to do, including anti-submarine warfare, and munitions delivery.

Horizon 2 Still Far From Complete:

With the deliveries completed, this marks the completion of the first major project of the Philippine Air Force under the Horizon 2 phase. While this is major milestone, the delays in several other Horizon 2 major projects for the PAF is disappointing, considering the end of Horizon 2 is just a little over 2 years away.

MaxDefense hopes that the DND and PAF to speed up their other projects, like the already delayed Attack Helicopter and the slow moving Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Projects.

Project Summary:

Unmanned Aerial System (Level 3) Acquisition Project - Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 MALE UAS

Note: Edited as of 09 September 2020

* End User: Philippine Air Force (300th Air Intelligence & Security Wing)

* Quantity: 3 Hermes 900 systems (9 UAVs and supporting systems), 1 Hermes 450 system (3 UAVs and supporting systems).

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
 Php8,470,000,000.00 (whole project)

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) between Philippine Department of National Defense and Israel Ministry of Defense

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

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Ltd.

* Contract Price: Php8,470,000,000.00 for entire project

* Residual Price: Php0.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 08 August 2017

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:  #PAFUASAcquisition #PAFHermes900UAS #PAFHermes450UAS

* Status: First Hermes 900 UAV delivered September 2019, first complete system of 3 Hermes 900 UAVs and 3+1 Hermes 450 UAVs completed before November 2019. Two other Hermes 900 systems (6 UAVs) delivered as of August 2020. Delivery of UAVs completed, minor contract requirements remain, to be completed by 4th quarter 2020.

First edit and release: 09 September 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects