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Light Tank Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

To provide a starting point for the Philippine Army's goal of re-establishing its lost armored / tank capabilities, the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) has proposed the acquisition of Light or Medium Tanks to enable them to re-learn the operation and use of tanks in different combat situations.

The Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project was born after a long study and debate within the organization on whether to go for heavy main battle tanks whose combat weight is between 55 to 70 tons, or light and/or medium Tanks whose combat weight would be less than 42 tons. While plans to acquire main battle tanks remain, the MID would like to learn first from operating modern light/medium tanks to determine if they're suitable enough to meet their current and future requirements.



The General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT), one of the contenders for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project. Photo taken from Jane's.

Project Summary:

Light Tank Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 02 November 2019.

* End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division)

* Quantity: 18 tracked and 10 wheeled "tanks", 1 armored command vehicle, 1 armored recovery vehicle,

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php9,484,332,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with Israeli government

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

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery: 

    - Tracked Light Tanks with 105mm gun: 18 units, model TBA
    - Wheeled Light Tanks (8x8) with 105mm gun: 10 units, model TBA

    - Armored Command Vehicle tracked or wheeled: 1 unit, model TBA
    - Armored Recovery Vehicle, tracked or wheeled: 1 unit, model TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALightTankAcquisition

* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing. Senior Defense Leaders approval said to have been made on 30 October 2019, to proceed with G2G deal with Israeli government.



The Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 Light Tank is another contender for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project. Photo taken from Army Recognition.



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U P D A T E S:
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15 November 2015:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing possible options in the acquisition of new armored or mechanized assets for the Philippine Army, including light or medium tank proposals.

The link to the blog entry can be accessed from below:

"The Philippine's Options for New Tanks & Wheeled IFVs for RAFPMP Horizon 2 Phase" - first posted on 15 November 2015.



MaxDefense made use of the Hanwha Systems K21-105 as an example for the PA's requirement for new armored assets. Credits to original source of photo.


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07 August 2017:

As posted on our MaxDefense community social media page:

When MaxDefense mentioned before how fluid the AFP Modernization Program is, especially those still in line for implementation, we mean it. Here is one example to show how changes keep on happening in the AFP's procurement plans.

Just after we posted information of the Philippine Army's interest to buy an initial 14 Medium Tanks for Php3.948 billion, one of our source corrected us saying that this info was only valid until last week.

The new plan is actually for 15 Medium Tanks, with a smaller budget at Php3.233 billion. And based on how it was presented, MaxDefense believes that there could already be certain model being eyed for acquisition, and the DND or Army might just be looking for alternatives to compare it with.

Considering this is just one of a potentially hundreds of modernization projects, it goes to show how difficult (or unclear) it is to do the prioritization of projects using the funds available (or expected to be pushed forward). We wonder, what would be the changes again in the next few weeks? 


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24 March 2018:

MaxDefense posted a blog entry discussing the Philippine Army's planned acquisition of armored assets including Light Tanks for the Mechanized Infantry Division.

The blog discussed several issues including experiences in the Battle of Marawi, importation issues on turrets and equipment from Belgium, and concerns on lack of sufficient armor and firepower due to use of the smaller 105mm gun instead of 120mm gun.


The blog entry can be accessed through the link provided below:


"
Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase" - first posted on 24 March 2018


The Otokar Tuplar from Turkey, which is said to have been offered to the Philippine Army.


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05 May 2018:

As posted on our MaxDefense community social media page:


In our blog entry titled "Philippine Army's Planned Acquisition of Tanks and Armoured Assets for Horizon 2 Phase" dated 24 March 2018, MaxDefense mentioned that Turkish defense company FNSS and its partner, Indonesian defense company PT Pindad, offered the FNSS-Pindad Kaplan MT medium tank to the Philippine Army for its Light/Medium Tank requirements under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The photos below reinforces our report, as its seen here that FNSS and PT Pindad officials, together with their local representative met with Philippine Army officers regarding the said offer. It is believed the meeting happened a few months ago, as the Philippine Army officers in the photo are still using the old BDU instead of the PHILARPAT issued to most top Army officers since last month.

The Kaplan MT, also known as the Harimau Hitam in Indonesia, is a new armoured vehicle jointly developed by FNSS and PT Pindad, and was originally designed to fulfil the medium tank requirements of the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD). While it is still being tested by the TNI-AD, it is expected to be in full production by next year, and may fulfil the Philippine Army's own requirements.

The Kaplan MT is also being developed as an Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle armed with a medium caliber autocannon.

Thanks to one of our community member from Indonesia for sharing these meeting photos to us, said to be first posted in an Indonesian defense page.Photo of Kaplan MT being tested in Indonesia for reference only, credits to owner of the photo.



FNSS and PT Pindad officials meeting with officials from the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division and Light Tank project TWG. Credits to owner of the photos.

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13 June 2018:

Eurosatory 2018 marked the introduction of General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT), which is a refreshed variant of the original ASCOD-105 light tank of the 1990s.

In his article, IHS Jane's Christopher Foss described the ASCOD 2 MMBT as follows:

"The ASCOD medium main battle tank (MMBT), with a gross vehicle weight of 42 tonnes, is fitted with the Italian Leonardo Defence Systems HITFACT 120mm turret. This is also armed with a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, a 7.62mm pintle-mounted gun and a 12.7mm remote weapon station on the roof. The 120mm smoothbore gun is coupled to a computerised fire control system, with the commander and gunner having stabilised day/thermal sights incorporating a laser rangefinder."

The requirement for the Philippine Army is using a 105mm gun, but with the same of everything else as the 120mm variant. So it's safe to say that we can replace all the "120mm" words in the description above with "105mm" and everything else would be the same.

It would be best to note that the ASCOD 2 is the vehicle used for the British Army's new Ajax family of next generation armored fighting vehicles.



The ASCOD 2 medium main battle tank from General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS). Photo taken from Shephard Media.

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18 August 2018:

As posted on our MaxDefense community social media page:

Indonesian armored vehicle manufacturer PT Pindad confirmed that tests on their Kaplan / Harimau Hitam (Black Tiger) medium tank has been successful and meets the requirements of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).

The article also confirmed PT Pindad's desire to supply 30 of the tanks to the Philippine Army, and 100 tanks to Bangladesh. A live fire test of the Harimau Hitam medium tank will be held on 27 August 2018 in Indonesia and will be attended by Philippine and Bangladeshi officials.

The Philippine Army is planning to acquire a total of 44 light/medium tanks as part of its Horizon 2 Priority Projects under the RAFPMP.

MaxDefense previously explained in its blog that the Philippine Army is dividing the acquisition to 2 companies of tracked light/medium tanks worth around 30 tanks, and a company of wheeled tank destroyers comprising aroind 14 vehicles. PT Pindad, backed by Turkish manufacture FNSS, was among those interested to supply for the project.

Thanks to a community member from Indonesia for highlighting this report to us.

The report from Kompas.com can be accessed on the link HERE.



The FNSS/PT Pindad Kaplan / Harimau Hitam medium tank during tests in Indonesia. Photo taken from Kompas.com.

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22 September 2018:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing all the upcoming projects pertaining to mechanized or armored units of the Philippine Army. This includes the Light Tank acquisition project


The blog entry can be accessed from the link provided below:


"5 Upcoming Projects for the Philippine Army's Mechanized Infantry Division under the RAFPMP Horizon 2 Phase" - first posted on 22 September 2018


The Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 light tank. Credits to original source of photo.

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25 November 2018:

As posted on our MaxDefense community social media page
:

Indonesia's PT Pindad recently hosted members of the Philippines Army's Technical Working Group for the Light Tank acquisition Project, which are mostly members from the Mechanized Infantry Division, as PT Pindad provided a product demonstration for it's Harimau Hitam (Kaplan MT) medium tank in Indonesia.

MaxDefense previously mentioned that PT Pindad has allocated a schedule somewhere between 19-25 November 2018 for such demonstration. Based on the photos, it appears the demo did happen on 22 November.

PT Pindad is among the front runners for the Light Tank project, which looks at acquiring between 30 to 44 units of tracked light or medium tanks armed with a 105mm tank gun, enough to equip a battalion. The numbers still carry due to the possibility of dividing the numbers into tracked and wheeled platforms, depending on the PA MID's final decision.

Photos all taken and credited to Windu Paramarta of PT Pindad. Thanks also to one of our community members from Indonesia for the heads up.





Photos taken during the live-fire demonstration by the FNSS/PT Pindad Harimau Hitam medium tank to Philippine Army MID officials and TWG members. Photos all credited to Windu Paramarta.


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21 May 2019:

As posted on our MaxDefense community page in social media:


Yesterday (20 May 2019) we posted about the DND delegation to the Czech Republic visiting Excalibur Army's facility. We showed them checking out the RM-70 Vampire multiple launch rocket launcher, and the upgraded T-72 Scarab main battle tank.

Below shows them with the Pandur 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle and the AM-50 EX bridgelayer, both of which are offered to the Philippine Army for a number of projects.

The Pandur 8x8 is among those offered as a platform for the wheeled tank component of the PA's Light Tank acquisition project.


Thanks to one of our community members for exclusively sharing the photos to us!


Philippine officials visit the facility of Excalibur Army in Czech Republic. Credits to a community member who wish to remain anonymous for sharing this photo.

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20 June 2019:

MaxDefense received information from sources that the Philippine Army is close to finalizing the decision on selection of proponent for the Light Tank Acquisition Project.


A decision is expected to be made in the next few weeks, although it was already confirmed that the project would be a Government-to-Government deal between  the DND and the selected proponent's country of origin.

But based on one of source's information, it appears that there is already a consensus on where to get the Light Tanks from, despite continuous serious offers made by others as recently as this month to supply the vehicles.


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16 July 2019:
MaxDefense released a blog entry on the updates on the Light Tank Acquisition Project, wherein we discussed the shortlisted models for the tracked and wheeled "tank" model, and which one MaxDefense believes will bag the project based on deduction.

For tracked tank, the offers are:
* ASCOD 2 MMBT medium main battle tank from Elbit Systems-General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS), 

* K21-105 medium tank from Hanwha Defense Systems,* Kaplan / Harimau medium tank from FNSS-PT Pindad 




From top to bottom: ASCOD 2 MMBT, K21-105, Kaplan / Harimau MT. Credits to original sources of photos.

For wheeled tank:

* Arma 8x8 with 105mm gun from Otokar Otomotiv
* Centauro 2 8x8 with 105mm gun from Iveco Defense
* Pandur II 8x8 with 105mm gun from Elbit Systems-Excalibur Army



From top to bottom: Arma 8x8, Centauro 2 8x8, and Pandur II 8x8. Credits to original sources of photos.


After deduction based on the requirements, MaxDefense believes that Elbit Systems will bag the project due to their ability to supply both tracked and wheeled tank requirements, using platforms that are proven and used by the country of origin and other countries, and not using turrets from Belgium.

The blog entry can be accessed on the link provided below:

"
Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project is getting closer to the finish line" - first posted on 16 July 2019

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20 July 2019:
MaxDefense received confirmation that the planned acquisition of 44 units of tracked and wheeled light tanks is not attainable.


This is due to the offerings made by the shortlisted companies not reaching the numbers required due to costs and inclusions on the deal. For example, Hanwha Defense Systems was said to have offered only less than 30 tanks for the same budget of Php9.484 billion.

Should the Philippine Army request for more funds, it would take a lot more time to wait. 

Instead of requesting for additional funds, the Philippine Army is said to have decided to push through with the budget that they have and settle for less than 44 units of light tanks, but gaining an armored command vehicle and an armored recovery vehicle, plus other inclusions. The tanks will still come with a 105mm gun though.

MaxDefense will provide more details in the future as we try to get more information on the deal as it gets closer to being awarded to a proponent.


In our last blog, MaxDefense mentioned that it believes Elbit will win the tender. With the ASCOD 2 generally similar to the British Army's Ajax family of tracked vehicles, is it possible that the Philippine Army will be offered something similar to the Apollo and Athena vehicles for armored recovery and armored command vehicles, respectively?
Photo taken from GDELS website.
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03 September 2019:

The DND released a new Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) for the Tank Gunnery Simulator Acquisition Project dated 03 September 2019, answering queries made by at least two interested proponents.

The two companies were Singapore-based company Wolfberry Asia Pte. Ltd. and local-based Precision Munition Inc.

Both companies represent companies that supply and manufacture tank gunnery simulators. If MaxDefense sources are right, these could be the only two companies who are interested in the project, with each of them representing a South Korean company and another Asian company.

Based on the replies made by the DND, it was apparent that while they did not specifically mention the tank models despite a query on it, the Tank Simulator must be referenced to tanks with Oto Melara’s Turret System., and gunner and driver controls should appear like those in tanks with Oto Melara Turret System.

So far in all of MaxDefense’s post for more than a year now, we mentioned that only one company out of many offered tanks using Oto Melara’s turret. And that is Elbit Systems, which offered the GDELS ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT) for the Tracked Vehicle, and the Czechoslovak Group Pandur 2 8x8 wheeled vehicle for the Philippine Army’s Light Tank Acquisition Project.

This confirmation from the DND’s SBB for the project further solidifies out earlier assessment that the Philippine Army’s Technical Working Group and the DND has selected Elbit Systems to be the winning supplier for the Light Tank Acquisition project, which would mean it is going to be a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with Israel.

All we’re waiting for now is for the DND to formally announce the winner of the Light Tank Acquisition Project, as well as the bid opening for the Tank Gunnery Simulator Acquisition Project which has now been rescheduled to 17 September 2019.



So far, only Elbit has offered to use tanks using Oto Melara's Hitfact turret with 105mm gun. These would be installed on the GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT and Czechoslovak Group Pandur 2 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle. Credits to original sources of photos.
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02 November 2019:
MaxDefense received confirmation from sources that the Light Tank Acquisition Project was among those discussed upon and approved for implementation during the Senior Defense Leader's Meeting on 30 October 2019.

Despite push by a certain DND Assistant Secretary to move the deal from a Government-to-Government (G2G) procurement to Public Bidding, the project was approved to proceed as planned under G2G deal.

Another confirmation we received is that Hanwha Defense of South Korea actually teamed-up with Turkish armored vehicle manufacturer Otokar for the Light Tank Acquisition Project. The plan was for Hanwha to supply the K21-105 Light/Medium Tank for the tracked component, while Otokar will supply the Arma 8x8 for the wheeled component. Both were to use a 105mm gun and tank turret from CMI Defence Cockerill of Belgium.




Hanwha Defense and Otokar teamed-up for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, with Hanwha offering the K21-105 Medium Tank, and Otokar with the Arma 8x8 Tank Destroyer. Credits to original sources of photos.

Previously MaxDefense reported that the other proponents were FNSS-PT Pindad JV with the Harimau Medium Tank and FNSS Pars 8x8, and Elbit Systems with the GDELS ASCOD 2 MMBT and Excalibur Army Pandur 2 8x8.

Such arrangement was needed since the project was supposed to be awarded to an entity who can delivery both wheeled and tracked vehicles, despite both vehicles separated into 2 lots.



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First edit and release: 23 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines





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