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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Is Philippine Army leaning on Thailand's Chaiseri First Win 2 MRAP for its Light Tactical Vehicle requirements?

 

The recent news regarding the signing of a Defense Industry Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and Thailand was an important milestone for the two neighbouring countries, as Thailand's local defense industry takes off and is looking for partnership with other countries to allow the export of its products, while also allowing potential joint ventures to improve its own technology and industrial capabilities.

This is definitely good news for both countries, considering the Philippines is considered to be Thailand's closest friend in the region. Both countries are expected to gain from this Defense Industry MOU.

It would be remembered that the Philippines is pushing hard to restart its Self Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) program, which used to be the most advanced in Southeast Asia, but failed to take off due to the reduced investment in the Armed Forces of the Philippines over the years from the early 1980s up to 2013.

Thailand's Chaiseri First Win is among the Thai products offered to the Philippines. Photo credits to Chaiseri Defence. 


Benefits of  Philippines-Thailand Defense Industry MOU:

A Defense Industry MOU between Thailand and the Philippines allows a framework to be made to allow for a more complex agreement between the 2 countries. In the end, this would allow the 2 countries to engage in bilateral defense trade, joint research, development and production of defense equipment and technology.

From our point of view, Thailand appears to be in a better position to take advantage in its agreement with the Philippines, being the one with a more advanced local defense industry and technology.

It stands to gain by using its capabilities to sell its products to the Philippines, which is currently undertaking a defense modernization program that includes importing defense products that it cannot produce on its own.

Thailand definitely wins in an agreement with the Philippines, as it means a higher chance of exporting its defense products to a country that needs them a lot.

While at a disadvantage, the Philippines will also benefit as it could take advantage of Thailand's capabilities by using its current acquisition plans to get Thailand to share its knowledge and technology at a price.

At a price means the Philippines paying for it as part of acquisition of Thai defense products and materiel. In these cases, technology transfer could be part of a contract to export products, and may even include a requirement for the seller to jointly produce some of the the products in the Philippines.

Now that its clear that this agreement paves a way for a defense acquisition by the Philippines from Thailand, what is the Philippines probably after?

Thailand's Major Defense Products:

Unlike the Philippines, Thailand has its own government agency overseeing the development of military and defense technology and products. Thailand's Defence Technology Institute (DTI) is an agency under the Thai Ministry of Defence handling Thailand's own version of our SRDP. 

Thailand DTI's cover photo. Photo credits to DTI.

While not the same as South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) or Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) which have acquisition management oversight in addition to research and development, the Thai DTI is already a good start that the Philippines should have.

Thailand's DTI does not directly handle development projects of local private companies, but it helps in pushing for their improvement and development as part of an overall scope covering the Thai defense industry.

The Thai defense industry has quietly been moving forward in developing its own defense materiel and technology, at it also gained technology from transfer agreements it had with other countries.

In the naval forefront, Thailand received technology to produce Offshore Patrol Vessels from UK's BAE Systems. This allowed Thailand to locally produce a derivative of the BAE Systems' River-class OPV, which is now called the Krabi-class in the Royal Thai Navy. It was already confirmed that Bangkok Dock and BAE Systems are jointly offering the Krabi-class design to the Philippine Navy for its Offshore Patrol Vessel requirements.

The Krabi-class OPV is being offered to the Philippine Navy, competing with Australia's Austal for the OPV Acquisition Project. Photo credits to BAE Systems.

Another company making waves in Thailand is Marsun Public Company Limited, which is engaged in designing and constructing boats and crafts for defense and security requirements. This includes assault boats similar to the Philippines' own Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC), patrol boats of different sizes, landing crafts, and other models. MaxDefense PH already received confirmation that Marsun plans to offer its products to the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and other security agencies.


Marsun's M36 patrol boat (top) and M58 patrol gun boat (above) are just among their products that could be offered to the Philippine Navy. The M36 patrol boat is larger than the PN's Jose Andrada-class, while the M58 is slightly longer than the PN's Cyclone-class littoral patrol vessel.

In the rocketry field, Thailand has benefited a lot from technology transfer from China, and recently it has signed agreements with Israel. 

DTI has been handling most of the development of rocketry programs and this is something that the Philippines' Department of National Defense, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the AFP could be interested in partnering with. This is considering the DOST and DND are sponsoring development of rocketry technology, which includes the program supervised by DOST Balik Scientist CDR. Leo Almazan USN (ret) featured previously in MaxDefense Philippines' Facebook page.



The DTI-1 300mm rocket system (top) and the DTI-2 122mm multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) (above), both developed by the Thai DTI. Photo credits to original sources.


In land defense systems development, Thailand has achieved much due to the active participation of private companies like Chaiseri Defence, which started as a repair company for armored and military vehicles. Chaiseri Defence is known for their First Win family of wheeled 4x4 armored vehicles, which includes the First Win and First Win 2 MRAP, the smaller First Win E light armored vehicle, and the First Win amphibious vehicle.

Chaiseri's stand at Defense and Security Thailand 2019 defense expo featuring the First Win family of armored vehicles. Photo credits to Lacroix Defence.


Another company, Panus, is developing the R600 8x8 armored vehicle it intends to market to the Royal Thai Marine Corps and Royal Thai Army, and the Phantom 380X-1 wheeled armored vehicle.

Also, DTI is developing its own armored vehicles including the Black Widow Spider 8x8 armored vehicle which is being pushed for the Royal Thai Army.

Of all the products featured above, the two most prominent that are being actively marketed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and DND are the Krabi-class OPV from Bangkok Dock-BAE Systems, and the Chaiseri First Win armored vehicles.

MaxDefense Philippines sources from the DND and Philippine Navy did confirm that the Krabi-class OPV is indeed among those being considered for the Offshore Patrol Vessel Project, but at the moment, Australia's Austal OPV is said to be leading the pact due to its confirmed ability to build the vessels at their Balamban, Cebu shipyard.

Even Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, during the commissioning of BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) last 19 March 2021, confirmed that Austal is currently leading the selection.

The Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project:

Which brings us to Chaiseri.

Chaiseri is said to be among those leading in the selection for the Philippine Army's Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project.

The project, which aims to deliver new 4x4 wheeled armored vehicles with mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) capabilities, is now being prioritized by the Philippine Army as it already awarded major projects like the Light Tank, Wheeled APC, and Self Propelled Howitzer projects.

Based on the original submission made by the DND to Malacanang, at least 200 vehicles are eyed by the Philippine Army. These vehicles would be used for infantry transport and support, convoy escort, base and facility defense, and fire support on checkpoints and other emergency situations. This would also take out the Philippine Army's wheeled armored personnel carriers assigned for such duties and return them for mechanized missions.

As indicated in the Technical Specifications of the LTV Acquisition Project which was not made available to the public due to the project being acquired through Government-to-Government (G2G) process rather than public bidding, the basic requirements are the following:

* Crew Capacity: 11 crew and dismounts
* Engine: diesel with at least 300ps
* Drive Mode: 4x4 with Automatic Transmission
* Length: maximum of 6,250 meters
* Gross Weight: maximum 14 tons
* Ballistic Protection: STANAG 4569 Level 2
* Mine Protection: STANAG 4569 Level 2
* Main Weapon: 7.62mm GPMG on Manned Turret and RCWS (on some vehicles), option for 12.7mm heavy machine gun.

MaxDefense Philippines won't be posting all other specifics as requested by sources.

Aside from Chaiseri's First Win, MaxDefense Philippines was informed that other competitors for the project are companies from Israel, Turkey, South Korea, Ukraine, India and a few others.


Both the Daeji DAPC-2 Promoter (top) and the Hanwha Barracuda (above) were said to have been offered by South Korea for the Philippine Army's LTV Acquisition Project. Photo credits to Daeji P&I and Hanwha Defense.


But why Chaiseri First Win could be the preferred model?

1. The signing of the Defense Industry MOU is actually a clue on its own. 

So far, the Philippines already have similar agreements with Israel, Turkey and South Korea. Which means that selecting their offered light tactical vehicle / armored vehicle will not require a new agreement to be signed.

And since the Krabi-class OPV is currently not the leading choice for the Philippine Navy's OPV requirement, it doesn't warrant the need for a rightly-timed signing of Defense Industry MOU.

Meanwhile. the timing of the Defense Industry MOU between the Philippines and Thailand appears to be spot on with the planned push to select a winner for the LTV Acquisition Project.

The Chaiseri First Win 2 MRAP. Photo credits to original source.

2. Aside from that, some sources also confirmed that the Philippine Army is indeed interested in the First Win 2 4x4. The local company appointed by Chaiseri Defence to be its representative in the Philippines has been active in promoting the First Win not just to the Philippine Army, but also to the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).

Chaiseri Defense has developed an amphibious-capable version of the First Win, which can be used up to Sea State 2 and can cross rivers and streams without installing additional accessories. This could be a potential product for offer to the Philippine Marines. Photo credits to Thai Armed Force defense page.

3. There was also a previous report from Thailand wherein it was mentioned that the Thai government is nearing a G2G agreement with the Philippines to supply 200 units of First Win 2 wheeled armored vehicles. This obviously pertains to the Philippine Army's requirement which is also at 200 units.

These are the reasons why MaxDefense Philippines believes that the Philippine Army is leaning more on Chaiseri's First Win 2 for their LTV requirements.

But since the Philippine Army's Technical Working Group for the Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project has not finalized their selection, it remains to be seen of Chaiseri's lead could be maintained. As our sources confirmed, other companies are polishing their offers too.

It remains to be seen what model will be finally selected, which MaxDefense Philippines would definitely discuss in a separate blog or in its Facebook page.

Chaiseri Defence in the Philippines:

The Philippine Army's Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project is not the first time Chaiseri Defence has tried to enter the Philippine market.

Back in 2015, it was reported that Chaiseri's First Win 4x4 was selected for a requirement by the Clark International Airport Authority for airport security. This was later cancelled for still unknown reasons. This could have been Chaiseri's first First Win vehicles in left-hand drive variant.

Another attempt was tried, this time with the PNP-SAF as they tendered for a total of 16 vehicles. Chaiseri offered the First Win, which lost to Stoone of David Corporation representing Gaia Automotive of Israel with its Gaia Amir 4x4. The vehicles are currently for delivery as of this writing.

The LTV Acquisition Project of the Philippines is the third attempt by Chaiseri, and now it hopes to win the project, considering this is the biggest of the several attempts made with 200 vehicles up for grabs.


What's Delaying the Project?

With the selection phase ongoing, the next question is the availability of funding. Is money already there for at least the initial requirement of the project?

The Philippine Army's Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) for the project is Php4 billion. 15% of that amount is Php600 million. This is probably the minimum amount the DND should have once it starts awarding the project to the winning manufacturer.

But based on the FY2021 AFP Modernization Fund allocation as submitted by the DND to the Senate last year, no amount has been allocated for the Philippine Army LTV Acquisition Project. This means that, either it would be funded by Unappropriated Funds, or it would only be funded in the following year FY2022.

If the later is the case, then we can't expect an awarding of the project to anyone within the year. Funding allocation is necessary as this would make sure that the Philippine government can afford to buy the armored vehicles.

x x x x x x x 

Until then, we could only watch what happens regarding this project. MaxDefense Philippines will continue monitoring the project, especially since 2021 could be an interesting year for this project as we expect other companies and countries to improve their offers while the DND has not signed a contract with anyone.


Project Summariy

Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 20 March 2021.

* End User: Philippine Army (different frontline units)

Quantity: 200 units


* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php4,000,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between Philippine DND and still undetermined country.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for still unspecified number of years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA) from still undetermined year.

* SARO Release/s: 
TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


* Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: TBA


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALTVAcquisition 


* Status: Project pre-procurement process ongoing. Officially, the Philippine Army has no decision yet, although MaxDefense Philippines believes that a decision was already made but not announced.

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First release: 20 March 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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