October 3, 2018

Philippines Eyes Heavy Metal

The Philippine Army’s armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) are fielded by the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), which celebrated its 12th activation anniversary on 20 September. There are currently five pending projects to induct much-needed new armoured platforms, alluded to in a speech given by President Rodrigo Duterte on the anniversary.

These projects under Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernisation Program are as follows:

1. Light/medium tanks

The army wants a battalion of 44 or more tracked tanks and 8x8 destroyers with a budget allocation of ₱9.48 billion ($185 million). The two platforms, to be acquired in a ratio of around 2:1 respectively, will share a common turret and gun of at least 105mm calibre.
Expected tracked contenders include the Hanwha K21-105, Otokar Tulpar and Pindad Kaplan MT, with Russia and Ukraine also throwing their hats in the ring.

Meanwhile, potential 8x8 entries are the FNSS Pars III, Hyundai Rotem K808 and Otokar Arma. An Elbit Systems/European tie-up is thought to have entered each category too. However, this acquisition will probably be intergovernmental and will avoid a competitive tender.

2. Wheeled armoured personnel carrier (APC)

The MID needs 28 APCs, likely to be 6x6 models, with an approved budget of ₱2.27 billion. These vehicles will likely feature a manned turret with 12.7mm machine gun/40mm grenade launcher.

Contenders include an unidentified Elbit Systems offering, the FNSS Pars III, Gaia Amir, Hyundai Rotem K806, Kamaz Typhoon-K, Nexter Titus, Otokar Arma, Steyr Pandur II, Pindad Anoa and the Ukrainian BTR-4.

3. M113 APC Firepower Upgrade

The army will upgrade around 32 M113A2 APCs with a 25mm unmanned turret in an effort that has been allocated a ₱288 million budget. This project is still in the pre-procurement phase and could progress later this year or in early 2019. Elbit previously supplied UT25 unmanned turrets to the Philippine Army.

4. M113 mortar carriers

Approximately 15 existing M113A2s will have a 120mm mortar system installed. The AFP has budgeted ₱1.1 billion for this programme to be executed by Elbit Systems with its 120mm CARDOM mortar. A contract could be signed by the end of 2018. These will supplement five 81mm mortar carriers that Elbit is upgrading under Horizon 1.

5. Tank gunnery simulator

As the MID inducts more sophisticated AFVs than the current fleet of Simba, V-150 and M113 APCs, the need will grow to adequately train crews. Two gunnery simulators are thus required, for which the AFP has set aside ₱36.2 million. Obviously, this project is dependent on the platform types chosen for the light/medium tank acquisition.

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