The Philippine Army told Shephard Media as far back as 2014 that it harboured ambitions to procure main battle tanks within the 2020-28 period. However, a more realistic and immediate plan is to acquire lighter AFVs.
Thus, the army’s Horizon 2 procurement plan proposal (covering 2018-22) features light tanks with a budget allocation of PHP9.484 billion ($185 million). A total of 44 units are needed to equip three tank companies of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) of the Philippine Army, which is based at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac.
However, following the bloody urban combat in Marawi last year, Shephard understands that the desire for tracked tanks has been eclipsed by a requirement for wheeled armoured vehicles. Two types are being eyed: a tank destroyer armed with a 105mm gun, and a vehicle armed with a 30mm gun in an unmanned turret. Ideally, both vehicles would share a common 8×8 platform.
The Philippine-based MaxDefense blogsite explained that options for a wheeled tank destroyer from Europe, South Korea and Turkey are currently being considered.The requirement for a wheeled vehicle was made explicit when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed last August that the army was interested in armoured vehicles weighing less than 20t.
If funds do not permit a 30mm gun, the army might have to settle for a 6×6 hull carrying an RWS armed with a 12.7mm machine gun.
Whichever company is selected for the wheeled requirement would find itself in pole position to supply the extant requirement for light tanks as well. Specifications have not been finalised by the army’s technical working group yet, but the preference is for a diesel-powered, tracked vehicle weighing less than 35t and armed with a 105mm gun.
Companies are already making proposals to the army.
Therefore, of the 44 AFVs required and funded, the army will probably opt for a mix of wheeled and tracked vehicles. MaxDefense believes the procurement process ‘may start late this year or early next year’.