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Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

The Department of National Defense (DND) has released the bid documents for the Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge for the Philippine Army.

This project is a Horizon 2 phase Priority Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program, and is one of several sublots of the Combat Engineering Equipment Project.

Photo credits to MaxDefense PH community member who wish to remain anonymous.

The Rhinemetall Panzerschnellbrücke 2 AVLB from Germany, with the Leopard 2 chassis and bridging system from MAN Mobile Bridges GmbH. Photo from Wikipedia.

Project Summary:

Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 13 April 2024.

* End User: Philippine Army (unspecified Army Engineering Brigade)

* Quantity: at least 2 units, with armored tracked platform

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php1,600,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement, through Government-to-Government process between Philippines DND and Israel MOD-SIBAT

* Source of Funding: GAA funded, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-21-0001686 dated 20 April 2021 (2nd of 3 MYCA funding)

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land & C4I - Israel Military Industries JV (Israel)

* Product for Delivery: Sources describes as lengthened version of Leonardo DRS-IMI Joint Assault Bridge using Mantak Merkava IV tank platform
* Contract Price: US$27,727,188.00, converted to Php1,407,459,790.10

* Expected Delivery Date: late 2021 based on 550-day Delivery Deadline from NTP release

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PACEEAVLBAcquisition

* Status: Elbit Systems declared sole bidder, passed PQI on December 2019 and awarded NOA on 26 December 2019. Contract Signing said to have been made before 24 January 2020. 2nd MYCA allocation released 20 April 2021.Arrived on 12 July 2022, for post-delivery inspection prior to acceptance. Seen as of April 2024 to already be in service and extensively used for training. Vehicles are believed to have been already formally accepted and inducted into service as early as late 2022. PROJECT COMPLETED.

An example of an Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge (AVLB). Credits to original source of photo.

Technical Specifications:

The bid documents included the technical requirements for the project, which MaxDefense summarizes as follows:

The Rhinemetall Panzerschnellbrücke 2 AVLB from Germany, with the Leopard 2 chassis and bridging system from MAN Mobile Bridges GmbH. Photo from Wikipedia.

U P D A T E S:

24 October 2019:

The bid documents for the Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge was released on 23 October 2019.

This is surprising since originally the plan was to procure these under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal.

During Pre-Procurement Phase, this was among those being tossed up if it will be assigned as a 

G2G deal with either China or the United Kingdom. Prevailing heads in the Philippine Army successfully placed this project as a G2G project with the United Kingdom, with British bridge company WFEL Ltd. supplying the product.

It was expected that since WFEL does not make its own AVLBs, they will be getting another supplier to provide the product on their behalf. MaxDefense expected that WFEL would offer the BAE Systems Titan AVLB, which uses a launching vehicle platform based on the Challenger 2 main battle tank, and the BAE Systems BR-90 Modular Bridging System. This is the foremost AVLB of the British Army. Another proposal was using a French design

According to MaxDefense sources, the plan apparently hit a snag, with WFEL and the UK side unable to make a solid offer based on the Philippine Army's requirements.

This is probably the reason why it was shifted from a G2G deal with the UK, to a Public Bidding. Apparently the Philippine Army was against having the project shifted to a G2G deal with China with Poly Group being the preferred contractor.

A Pre-Bid Conference is scheduled on 30 October 2019, and the Bid submission is scheduled on 13 November 2019.

The BAE Systems Titan AVLB based on the Challenger 2 MBT platform a d BR-90 modular bridge system. Credits to original source of photo.


25 October 2019:

MaxDefense has started gathering potential suppliers for this project, considering it has been shifted to public bidding.

The usual bidders are expected to join in, including Elbit Systems of Israel, Larsen & Toubro of India, and likely Hanwha Defense of South Korea. 

Others like Excalibur Army of the Czech Republic are also expected. It would be remembered that MaxDefense posted photos of DND officials touring Excalibur Army's facility including the AM-50EX bridgelayer. With the requirement being a tracked armored vehicle platform, Excalibur can simply shift the bridging equipment to a different platform like the T-72 tank platform instead of using a military wheeled truck.

DND officials checking the AM-50EX bridgelayer at Excalibur Army's facility in Czech Republic last May 2019. Excalibur has a variant using a T-72 platform. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a defense source.


18 November 2019:

The DND has released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) declaring the movement of Submission and Opening of Bids, from 20 November 2019 to 27 November 2019.

The earlier date was already the result of an earlier movement, wherein the Submission and Opening of Bids was moved from 13 November 2019 to 20 November 2019.


01 December 2019:

The DND released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) on the AVLB Acquisition Project, wherein two potential bidders, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) of India and Elbit Systems of Israel submitted their queries and requests regarding the tender. No date was written on the SBB but it appears that this was before the Pre-Bid Conference.

L&T is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of bridging equipment for the Indian Armed Forces, while Elbit Systems is also an OEM of bridging equipment used by the Israel Defense Force.

While most of the queries were related to the administrative and financial portions of the tender, it would be noted that both companies requested some changes on the technical requirements, particularly on the material of the bridge, the suspension of the carrier vehicle, and on use of NATO standards.

While requests to allow alternatives for the bridge material and vehicle suspension was allowed, L&T's request to avoid NATO standard was rejected.

Delivery deadline was still set to 550 days from release of Notice to Proceed (NTP).

An Indian Army AVLB using the Arjun tank platform. Credits to original source of the photo.


05 December 2019:

MaxDefense received confirmation from sources that only Elbit Systems was able to submit a bid for the Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB) Acquisition Project, which was held on 27 November 2019.

Larsen & Toubro did not submit a bid, as well as other potential bidders.

It remains to be seen if Elbit Systems will pass the Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) for the tender, which will become the basis if the tender would be awarded to them.

According to our sources, the project will be rushed to have an award before yearend to keep the project's funding from being returned to the national treasury.


10 January 2020:

First update for the year for this project, and it already appears to be promising.

MaxDefense/PDR received confirmation that the Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) was already concluded with Elbit Systems, and that Elbit passed the inspection conducted on December 2019.

So far, these are the information we received on the product to be used, considering there is not much information on Elbit's participation on an AVLB product.

1. Elbit will be using a brand new Main Battle Tank platform with a diesel engine - so far there are only a few companies with an open production line for Main Battle Tanks.It is not expected to be from Russian, Chinese or any other country that does not use NATO standards.

Although the Israeli Merkava tank is a possibility, it appears that the tank has not been used before as an AVLB platform. The same is true for the South Korean K2 Black Panther and Japanese Type 10 tanks. 

2. Elbit's only venture on AVLBs was with its subsidiary Israel Military Industries (IMI) which participated in the design of the Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) for the US Army and US Marine Corps. The JAB uses an M1A2 Abrams chassis, which is not acceptable to the Philippine Army due to its powerplant being a gas turbine rather than diesel engine.

It is possible that Elbit through IMI division has developed a longer version of the JAB, as the current US variant is only 11 meters long versus the 18 meters span requirement of the Philippine Army.

The US Joint Assault Bridge, developed by Leonardo DRS and IMI could be a potential base design for the Philippine Army AVLB. Changes are possible by increasing span length of the bridge, and replacing the M1A2 Abrams platform with an MBT platform using a diesel engine. Photos taken from Military.com.

3. Nonetheless, MaxDefense/PDR believes that the AVLB in total would exceed 60 tons in weight, as the bridge itself is expected to already weight more than 15 tons, and the MBT platform would definitely be around 45 to 55 tons.

This breaks the weight barrier that has been the issue on the Philippine Army's decision to acquire main battle tanks. Whatever the AVLB platform would be will potentially affect the Philippine Army's future decision on main battle tank acquisition for commonality reasons.

Further updates are expected on the project as it nears Notice of Award release, which is expected to happen on or before February 2020.


14 January 2020:

MaxDefense received word from sources that the Philippine Army's Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge Acquisition Project was awarded to Israel's Elbit Systems Land & C4I sometime between late December 2019 and January 2020. We are expecting to receive a copy of the Notice of Award (NOA) from the DND soon.

As for what product was offered, MaxDefense already have information but will let our readers discuss about it in our social media page.


24 January 2020:

Finally, after keeping silence on the developments of this project, MaxDefense can finally speak up as the Department of National Defense (DND) has made the developments public.

The DND has finally awarded the Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1: Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB) Acquisition Project to Israel's Elbit Systems Land & C4I - Israel Military Industries Joint Venture, with a Contract Price worth US$27,727,188.00 officially converted to Php1,407,459,790.10.

The NOA released by the DND in favor of Elbit-IMI JV. Photo taken from PhilGEPS.

Based on MaxDefense's sources, Elbit Systems - IMI Joint Venture (which is a weird venture considering IMI was already procured by Elbit Systems last year and is just now a division within Elbit Systems) will be providing an extended length version of the Leonardo DRS - IMI Systems Joint Assault Bridge.

The Joint Assault Bridge is a scissor-type bridging system with a Military Load Capacity (MLC) rating of MLC-85, which means it can withstand loads of up to 85 tons. This means it can support even the heaviest main battle tanks which weigh around 65-70 tons. Leonardo DRS is the prime contractor while Israel Military Industries (IMI) is one the main partners of the project and development of the bridging system.

In the US Army and US Marine Corps, the Joint Assault Bridge will use the General Dynamics M1 Abrams tank platform, and is seen as a less expensive alternative to the M104 Wolverine, and a replacement to the old M60 AVLB system that requires replacement.

MaxDefense sources confirmed that Elbit-IMI JV might supply an lengthened version of the Leonardo DRS - IMI Joint Assault Bridge being developed for the US Army and US Marine Corps. Photos from Leonardo DRS website. 

Since the Philippine Army specified a diesel-engined tracked tank platform, it will not use the General Dynamics M1 Abrams tank platform, and will instead use a different platform.

If MaxDefense sources are correct, the platform will be based on the latest Leopard 2 main battle tank chassis called the Panzerschnellbrucke 2 from Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), or Israel's Merkava IV from the Israel's MANTAK (Merkava Tank Office) which are the only tank platforms that meets the specified requirements of the Philippine Army.

Currently the Leopard 2 platform is used by the German Leguan bridging system, although sources confirmed that the Leopard 2 could also be modified to carry the JAB system.

The Leopard 2 tank platform is said to have been proposed by Elbit-IMI JV for the AVLB acquisition project. This would be supplied by Germany's KMW. Photo taken from KMW's website.

This means that the Leopard 2 could become more likely for the Philippine Army to consider in its future Main Battle Tank requirements, although this is more speculation due to the Philippine Army's planned MBT acquisition still in the process of being justified as part of the Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, and also the procurement process still unknown.

MaxDefense will discuss more about this possibility in future blog entries.

With Elbit being the winning proponent, it is also expected that the vehicles would be equipped with new communications equipment using Elbit-Tadiran's product line. MaxDefense believes this will include also the E-LynX mobile ad-hoc network communication system which is said to be introduced to some of the Philippine Army's newer armored vehicles supplied by Elbit System like the M113A2 Mortar Carriers, in addition to standard combat net radio systems like Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) used by NATO countries and the US, including its allies like the Philippines.

Elbit E-LynX (top) and SINCGARS (above) are expected to be included as the communications system of the AVLB. Photos credited to original sources.

With a delivery period of 550 days from Notice to Proceed (NTP), MaxDefense expects the delivery of this project to be completed only by late 2021. This is reasonable enough, and MaxDefense even believes that the Philippine Army should acquire additional units as 2 units may not be enough for its current and future requirements.


29 April 2021:

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released funding under SARO-BMB-D-21-0001686 worth PHP529,097,693.00 dated 20 April 2021 and released on the same day. This amount covers for the 2nd of  3 Multi Year Contract Contractual Authority (MYCA) budget allocations for the project.

This means that the project continues to proceed as plan, after being awarded to Elbit Systems Land C4I – Israel Military Industries Joint Venture in 2019.

It remains though if the project will proceed with the planned delivery by late 2021 or early 2022 deadline.


14 July 2022:

The Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB) bound for the Philippine Army was reported to have arrived in Batangas on 12 July 2022.

Contrary to our previous report, the armored vehicle platform used is not Germany's Leopard 2, but is the Merkava IV from Israel. We believe this is the first time the Merkava IV has been exported outside Israel.

According to our source, there were changes made from the previous proposal to use Leopard 2 platform, as the Merkava IV platform is more beneficial considering the product is being delivered by Elbit Systems Land & C4I.

The use of Merkava IV chassis actually opens a door to what could be the potential main battle tank for consideration by the Philippine Army, although this is a surprise considering the tank's heavy weight, a boon to Philippine Army planners.

The bridge remains the same as previously proposed, based on Israel Military Industries (now part of Elbit Systems) & Leonardo's design, said to be a long version of the Joint Assault Bridge being delivered to the US military.

Photo credits to Philippine Army.


22 October 2022:

A photo of one of the Merkava AVLB was shared by a community member, said to be taken in Israel before the delivery to the Philippines.

Photo credits to MaxDefense PH community member who wish to remain anonymous.


13 April 2024:

Finally some new photos of the Philippine Army's Merkava AVLBs, which confirms that they have started using them for training its operators with the Combat Engineers, which we presume are from the 525th Combat Engineering Battalion.

Photo credits to 525th CEB, PA.

Since the vehicles are already in use for extension training, it is safe to assume that the vehicles have already been accepted to service, and the Philippine Army probably just decided not to publicly announce their formal acceptance and introduction to service.


With the Merkava AVLB already delivered by Elbit Systems, and formally inducted with the Philippine Army, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 1 - Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army as COMPLETED.

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First edit and release: 24 October 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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