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M113 Firepower Upgrade Project (Horizon 1) of the Philippine Army

 The Philippine Army, through the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) embarked on the upgrade of its fleet of M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers, with the goal of rehabilitating and modernizing these vehicles to be able to keep up with the pace of 21st century warfighting.

The Philippine Army's M113 Firepower Upgrade Project was born our of their satisfaction on the performance of upgraded M113A2+ armored vehicles delivered earlier by Elbit Systems Land & C4I as part of an earlier project.

The upgrades made into those armored vehicles are being emulated into the Philippine Army's existing fleet of standard M113A2 tracked APCs, which includes the conversion of these vehicles to allow the installation of Elbit Systems' 12.7mm Overhead Remote Controlled Weapon Stations (ORCWS), and other systems including a battlefield management system to allow networked operations with other units.

The project also involves the conversion of 5 M113A2 tracked APCs into the Philippine Army's first successful Armored Mortar Carriers, by installing the Soltam Cardom 81mm Recoil Mortar System.

Photo from 22 October 2019 showing some of the upgraded M113s delivered by Elbit Systems for presentation to new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Noel Clement. Photo taken from AFP's FB page.

Project Summary:

M113 Firepower Upgrade Project

Note: Edited as of 06 February 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army (Mechanized Infantry Division/Armor Division)

* Quantity: to upgrade 49 M113 tracked APCs.

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 2nd List Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php1,051,650,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with the Israel Ministry of Defense-SIBAT

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

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0022354 dated 28 November 2017 worth Php1,051,650,000.00 (full amount), released 29 November 2017.

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land & C4I (Israel)

* Product for Delivery:
    - Modification of 49 M113A2 tracked APCs to accommodate upgrades:
    - Upgrade of 44 M113A2 with installation of Elbit Systems 12.7mm ORCWS and other related systems
    - Upgrade of 5 M113A2 with conversion to Armored Mortar Carriers, with the Soltam Cardom 81mm Recoil Mortar System

* Contract Price: Php1,051,650,000.00

* Residual Amount:

* First post by MaxDefense: 31 October 2016

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAM113FirepowerUpgrade

* Status: 1st batch of 5 units delivered April 2019, 2nd batch of 12 units for delivery June 2019. 3rd batch of 12 units delivered August 2019. 4th batch of 5 units (mortar carriers) delivered as of October 2019. 5th and 6th (final) batch scheduled for delivery within November 2019. Confirmed by MaxDefense sources as completed as of December 2019. PROJECT COMPLETED.

U P D A T E S:

31 October 2016:

As posted on MaxDefense's Facebook community page:

In line with Pres. Duterte's policy to address the projected threat of ISIS-inspired acts of terror, the Philippine Army, based on the recent AFP memorandum on its revised initial wish list submitted to Chief of Staff AFP early this month, proposed the firepower upgrade of several more M113A2 armoured personnel carriers, as RCWS equipped APCs and IFVs, as well as introduction of 120mm mortar carriers, as part of the PA's Horizon 2 phase program. 

No numbers were provided but pre-Duterte plans mentioned several dozen units undergoing this upgrade project.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that aside from Elbit System, which did the latest M113 supply and firepower upgrade program, there are a few more companies which submitted their offers to the Philippine Army for this H2 project.

More refurbished M113s are also planned for acquisition, probably from European and American sources. 

More upgraded M113s were requested by the Philippine Army as part of their modernization efforts.


31 July 2017:

As posted on MaxDefense's Facebook community page:

Elbit Systems Land and C4I is expected to bag the contract for the Philippine Army's M113 Firepower Upgrade that will convert 44 units of the 114 standard M113A2s received from the US into platforms armed with a 12.7mm machine guns in Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) similar to those already delivered by Elibt lately, and 5 units will be coverted into Armored Mortar Carriers armed with a Soltam Cardom 120mm mortar. This is a project under the Horizon 1 Second List* under the Revised AFP Modernization Program RA 10349. MaxDefense believes that an award will be made within the next few weeks, and a contract signed before the year ends

* Horizon 1 Second List = projects funded by the cancelled SBMS.

Corrections as of 4th January 2018:

Initially the 120mm Mortar won't be installed and instead the mortar carrier will use the Soltam 81mm Cardom mortar due to doctrinal and other issues. But mountings on the vehicles will be made to accommodate 120mm mortars in the future.

The M113 Firepower Upgrade will involve the conversion of some of the M113s into Armored Mortar Carriers, similar to the one above. Credits to original source of photo.


4 January 2018: 

This is to correct earlier posts made by MaxDefense as we finally received clearer information about the upcoming project.

Initially the 120mm Mortar won't be installed and instead the mortar carrier will use the Soltam 81mm Cardom mortar due to doctrinal and other issues. But mountings on the vehicles will be made to accommodate 120mm mortars in the future.


14 June 2018

MaxDefense posted a blog entry to finally confirm the existence of the M113 Firepower Upgrade Project, while also discussing the details and coverage of the project.

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

"Elbit Systems Wins Contract to Upgrade Philippine Army M113A2 with RCWS and Mortars" - first posted on 14 June 2018


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 M113 Firepower Upgrade.

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

Credits to the late John Chua for the photo.


11 May 2019:

It was confirmed that the Philippine Army has finally received an initial batch of upgraded M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers from Elbit Systems Land & C4I, installed with a new RCWS as part of the PA's M113 APC Firepower Upgrade project under the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase of RAFPMP.

Thanks to the sharp eyes and observations of MaxDefense community members Gobi Castle and Buenabe June for raising this to our attention through our partner Philippine Defense Discussions @ Facebook page - a prime example where the community works!

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

"Philippine Army receives first batch of upgraded M113A2 RCWS-equipped APC from Elbit Systems" - first posted on 11 May 2019

Photos show the first batch of upgraded M113s from the current M113 Firepower Upgrade Project as they were deployed to Jolo, Sulu.  Top photo shows one of the vehicles disembarking from a Philippine Navy logistics support vessel, while above photo shows them before disembarkation. Top photo credited to GMA News' Raffy Tima, above photo credited to MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.


22 June 2019:

MaxDefense released a new (short) blog entry on the impending delivery of upgraded M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers now equipped with Elbit System's 12.7mm Overhead Remote Controlled Weapon Station (ORCWS). 

These vehicles also underwent rehabilitation works to allow the vehicles to serve longer and making them suitable for operations, and will also be installed with the Combat NG Battlefield Management System (BMS) also from Elbit Systems.

The blog can be accessed through the link provided below:

"Philippine Army to receive 12 more upgraded M113A2 with Elbit 12.7mm RCWS this June" - first posted on 22 June 2019

12 newly upgraded M113A2 prior to undergoing Technical Inspection and Acceptance Tests last week. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source from the Philippine Army.


19 September 2019:

The Philippine Army unveiled the first 2 units of the M113A2 converted into a Self Propelled Mortar system with the Elbit Systems Soltam Cardom 81mm recoil mortar system as part of the of Armor Division's anniversary celebrations on 18 September 2019.

The Armor Division also displayed other upgraded M113A2 armored vehicles with the Elbit Systems ORCWS 12.7mm remote weapon systems.

Photos from the demonstration by the Armor Division on 18 September 2019. Photo taken from Philippine Army's official Facebook page.

MaxDefense has received confirmation that the M113A2 self propelled mortars with 81mm Soltam Cardom mobile mortar systems that were demonstrated yesterday by the Philippine Army were in fact not yet handed over to the Armor Division.
Instead they were only showed in the demonstration although inspections v by the Technical Inspections and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) is scheduled, at best by next week.

All 5 Self Propelled Mortar vehicles are being prepared for hand-over once accepted by the TIAC at best before end of September 2019.

Meanwhile, Elbit Systems is still in the process of completing the delivery of the M113A2s equipped with the Elbit ORCWS 12.7mm remote weapon system. MaxDefense received confirmation that as of this writing, only 29 have been delivered out of the total of 44 units.

The Armor Division is expected to receive these balance either together with the 5 SPH variants, or by October 2019.

One of the M113A2 self propelled mortar with its Cardom 81mm recoil mortar system. Photo taken from the Philippine Army's official Facebook page.

Another point that was noticed during the demonstration was that all the M113s were painted in plain olive drab scheme, not the usual paint scheme of PA armored vehicles. But still retaining the white font of the vehicle's name, which are usually named after retired generals.

This means the vehicles were repainted to olive drab as part of the upgrade.

Photos below show that the vehicles were painted in standard PA armor vehicle camo scheme before and during the upgrade process. 

The M113s as they were undergoing refurbishing and upgrade under the M113 Firepower Upgrade Project in MID (now AD) facility. The paint scheme still uses the standard camo pattern, when the finished product is painted in olive drab. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source.

It would be noted that the recent surfacing of photos showing other PA MID/AD armored vehicles like the Cadillac Gage V-150 Commando and other variants of the M113A2 armored vehicles painted in olive drab suggests that the Philippine Army might be standardizing the paint scheme to all its armored vehicles.

MaxDefense believes this to be the most logical paint scheme, making it simpler to repaint if needed, as well as reducing gloss which is present in the old camo scheme.

Improving on camouflaging can be done using other means including use of camo nets,  fabrics including the new Mobile Camoflague System (MCS) used by the US Army in their Stryker armored vehicles which help distort heat signatures and the vehicle's shape.


03 November 2019:

MaxDefense received confirmation that the 5 units of M113A2 81mm Armored Mortar Carriers for delivery under the M113 Firepower Upgrade Project of the Philippine Army, were delivered and already accepted by the Philippine Army's Defense Acquisition and System Acceptance Team (DASAT) last October 2019.

Elbit Systems has completed delivery of all Armored Mortar Carriers, which are now assigned with the Philippine Army's Armor Division. Two of the vehicles were among those showcased to new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Noel Clement during his visit to the Armor Division last October.

So far, Elbit Systems is still scheduled to deliver 15 more M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers with the Elbit ORCWS 12.7mm remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS), which are said to be scheduled within November 2019. 44 vehicles will undergo the RCWS upgrades, of which 29 units were already delivered as of this writing.

Once delivered, the project can be considered as completed. 

Two of the M113A2 81mm Armored Mortar Carriers, and 3 of the M113A2 APC with RCWS are displayed during the capabiltiy display to new CSAFP Gen. Noel Clement on 22 October 2019. Photo taken from AFP's FB page.


06 February 2020:

Based on information we received from our sources, the Philippine Army's Armor Division has finally received all 44 upgraded M113A2 armored personnel carriers, and all 5 converted M113A2 armored mortar carriers from Elbit Systems Land & C4I as of December 2019.

It would be remembered that MaxDefense previously revealed that the work was made in the Armor Division's own maintenance facility in Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, with assistance coming from technical personnel of Elbit Systems.

Elbit Systems shipped the components, weapon systems, and other equipment, but were all installed in the Philippines by Philippine Army personnel. This allowed the Philippine Army to receive technology and knowledge on installation and sustainment of these equipment from Elbit Systems.

In a recent video from the Armor Division, it showed all 5 of the Armored Mortar Carriers armed with the Soltam Cardom 81mm recoil mortar systems and handed-over to the Philippine Army last October 2019, conducting weapon firing tests. 

Video above was cropped to show the important parts only, original video was posted and credited to the Philippine Army Armor "Pambato" Division's official FB page.


With the equipment all delivered, installation works and modifications on the vehicles also done, and the vehicles delivered to the end user, MaxDefense believes we can now consider the M113 Firepower Upgrade Project of the Philippine Army as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 22 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource.

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