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Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortar of the Philippine Navy (Marines)

The Department of National Defense (DND) has started the procurement process for the acquisition of Mortars for the Philippine Navy (PN), which in turn will be provided to its sub-unit, the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).

These additional new mortars will help improve the firepower and fire support capability of each of the Marine Battalion Landing Teams (MBLT), which are considered by many as under-equipped in terms of fire support assets.

To project, called the Mortar Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy, is among the Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects under the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), as covered by Republic Act 10349.

Project Summary:

Mortar Acquisition Project Lot 2 - 81mm Mortar

Note: Edited as of 08 January 2020.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Philippine Marine Corps)

* Quantity: 30 nos. 81mm Mortar + associated accessories

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: EXPAL Systesms S.A.

Product for Delivery:
  - 30 nos. EXPAL M-98 81mm Mortar

  - 40 sets Ballistic Computer
  - 8 sets Forward Observer System

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
June 2019 (see MD's AFP Modernization Program List)

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PN81MortarAcquisition #PMC81MortarAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of EXPAL Systems S.A as of 16 December 2019. Contract Signing and release of Notice to Proceed expected on or before February 2020.


The Philippine Navy has originally planned to procure a total of 420 units of infantry mortars of different sizes, consisting of 240 units of 60mm mortars, 120 units of 81mm mortars, and 60 units of 120mm mortars, as part of the Horizons 1 to 3 program of the RAFPMP.

All 420 mortars were programmed for acquisition under the Horizon 2 Phase.

But the final version of the Horizon 2 Priority Projects list approved by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and released in June 2018 significantly reduced the budget to just Php694,452,000.00, and quantity of the mortars to be acquired. MaxDefense believes that the quantity dropped to just 25% of what was originally requested.

This can be confirmed with the release of the Invitation to Bid (ITB) and Bid Documents for the first lot to be tendered, Lot 2 - 81mm Mortars, which is only after 30 units of 81mm mortars rather than 120 units.

It now remains to be seen if the Philippine Navy / Philippine Marine Corps will be pushing to have the balance quantity acquired under the Horizon 3 Phase, or the 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase which is still being prepared as of this writing.

With the procurement phase of the 81mm mortars starting, the acquisition of the 60mm and 120mm mortars will be done separately, although it is still unclear if these would be tendered, or acquired through negotiated deal with a foreign government especially for the 120mm mortar.

The most recent acquisition of 81mm mortars by the AFP was made by the Philippine Army, acquiring 100 units of M69B 81mm mortars from Serbia. Photo taken from Philippine Army Research and Development Center's Facebook page.

Based on the bid documents released by the DND for the project, the acquisition of 81mm Mortars was described in brief as follows (with grammar corrections made), and I quote:

"The Philippine Marine Corps units in its performance of littoral and at times, Internal Security Operations (ISO) throughout the country will make use of the 81mm Mortar System. 

It (will be) was employed on areas with varying terrains and environmental conditions where the temperature is relatively the same throughout the country except for high altitude which (has) was usually cooler climate than in the lowlands. Due to climate change, rainfall is now abundant in most part of the country throughout the year with certain months experiencing relative humidity. 

It (will be) is principally used against traditional threats to our national security such as local secessionist groups, terrorist and other lawless elements which are equally armed with high caliber weapons, rocket propelled grenades (RPG), sniper rifles and similar crew-served weapons which makes the mortar unit of the rifle company susceptible and vulnerable to heavy volumes of fires, both direct and indirect. The present technological advancement which is now also made available to the enemies of the government likewise poses a serious threat to mortar positions.

Lessons learned from previous encounters prompted the Corps to pursue the need to employ a mortar system in order to have the capability to easily provide the necessary combat power for the Marine Rifle Company in support of its units waiting for, or in absence of the Battalion combat support. 

Another reason is that apart from being vintage, the current 81mm mortar system in the PMC inventory have been used overtime which makes its quality no longer the same as it was before. Technological advancement is also a prime factor that was considered for this procurement. The advent of the Ballistic Computer will enable our mortar crews to react faster than the manual computation which gives the end user a quick and responsive indirect fire support "

The Philippine Marines still use the old M29 81mm mortar, which has been in service since the 1960s. Photo taken from Sputnik.


At the moment, the standard 81mm mortar of the Philippine Marines is the American M29 81mm mortar, which is in service with the AFP since the 1960s. This would be the first time that the Philippine Marines will have a brand new mortar in decades.

Technical Requirements:

30 units of 81mm Mortars will be acquired, each with its barrel assembly, bipod assembly, base plate assembly, and sight assembly. The mortars will have its own Ballistic Computer, and each Mortar Fire Support Battery will have a Forward Observer System set.

A total of 40 Ballistic Computers (including spares), as well as 8 Forward Observer System sets (including spares) are required as part of the project.

An Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) worth Php185,891,600.00 was allocated for the project, out of the Php694,452,000.00 approved for the entire Mortar Acquisition Project. 

Here's a summary of the Technical Requirements of the 81mm Mortar Project:

Mortar:Caliber: 81mm
Condition: Brand New
Weight: not exceeding 52.6 kilograms

Range: at least 4,512 meters
Rate of Fire: at least 12 rounds per minute (sustained)
Crew: can be operated by at least 4 men.
Durability: 10,000 rounds minimum tube life, and can withstand adverse conditions
Ammo: compatible to fire all types of NATO 81mm mortar ammunition

Ballistic Computer:

Hardware: Intel i7-7Y75, with 16GB RAM
Screen Size: 7" WXGA LCD 1200x800
Weight: 1.15kg with battery
Operating System: Windows 10

The ballistic computer being acquired appears to be a tablet-based computer due to the small size of its screen, and being touch-screen as well. Photo snipped from Elbit Systems' website.

Forward Observer System includes:* Digital Giniometer & Computer
* Tripod
* Hand-held Laser Range Finder
* Hand-held Thermal Imager

Thermal imaging camera is required for the forward obeserver system. Photo snipped from Elbit Systems' website.

Delivery is expected to be made within 360 days from issuance of Notice to Proceed (NTP), which usually happen around a month or less after the contract has been signed.

So far, MaxDefense received confirmation from several sources that among those interested in submitting a bid include proponents from Serbia, Czech Republic, Israel, Spain, and some unnamed European and Asian countries.
Proponents are required to be able to manufacture, supply and deliver 120mm and 60mm mortars, ballistic computers, and other components to be able to qualify. This means a manufacturer will have to be able to supply components without relying on other manufacturers or subcontractors. So far, MaxDefense can only think of a few companies capable of such, which includes Israel's Elbit Systems Land & C4I which is already supplying self-propelled mortars (Soltam Cardom) and artillery fire control systems (Combat NG) to the Philippine Army, while is also capable of manufacturing its own hand-held thermal imagers (Coral series) and ammunition.

Based on the bid documents, a Pre-Bid Conference will be held on 13 August 2019, and the bid submission and opening will be on 27 August 2019. Take note that these dates might still change due to circumstances or requests from proponents.

Copy of the Technical Specifications of the project can be downloaded from the link provided HERE.

U P D A T E S:

03 August 2019:

The Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) is tentatively scheduled on 27 August 2019. So far, no changes on that schedule.


25 August 2019:

The DND released a Supplementary Bid Bulletin (SBB) for the project, showing queries made by possible bidders regarding certain provisions of the bid documents.

Among those who made queries are:

Hafid N' Erasmus Corporation - no information about this local company although MaxDefense sources confirmed that they are representing Austria's Hirtenberger Defense Systems, which could be offering the Hirtenberger Werfer M8.

The Hirtenberger Werfen M8 81mm mortar. Photo taken from Hirtenberger Defense System's website.

Firepower Defense Conrtractor Inc.- a local company representing South Africa's Rhinemetaal Denel and Brazil's Companhia Brasilera de Cartuchos. In this case, MaxDefense sources confirmed that they are representing Spain's EXPAL S.A. and could be offering EXPAL's M-98 81mm mortar.

EXPAL could be offering the M-98 81mm mortar. Credits to original source of photo.

Elbit Systems - well known Israeli defense contractor, and OEM manufacturer of mortars. MaxDefense believes they are offering their B499 81mm mortar.

Elbit Systems may offer the B499 81mm mortar. Photo taken from Elbit's website.

Changes were made on some technical requirements of the tender which includes the following:

1. The requirement that the bidder should be Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars, its sight assembly, ballistic computer, command ballistic computing solution, forward observing system and training rounds, was replaced.

While the requirement for the bidder to be an OEM of 60mm, 81mm and 120mm mortar and sight assemblies, it now allows bidders to not be necessarily an OEM for ballistic computers, but should supply ballistic computers as long as these are compatible with the mortars being supplied.

2. Confirmation that the mortars would be muzzle-mounted, which means this are manually-operated mortars, not automatic breach-mounted models which are more expensive.

3. Training will now be done within 30 days after delivery of the mortars, instead of 180 days.

No changes on the bid submission date, although MaxDefense believes that this would be another failed bidding as there are issues on the technical requirements of the project. Apparently the technical specifications and requirements was skewed to benefit a specific bidder (one of the 3), which MaxDefense would not name for now and will discuss later on once the bid submission is done.

The SBB from the DND can be accessed from the link HERE.


09 November 2019:

MaxDefese received initial information that the bidding proceeded as planned last August, and that only one company was considered as qualified - Firepower Defense Contractors representing Spain's EXPAL S.A.

We are still trying to get more specific information on what happened and if why only EXPAL's bid was considered qualified, although the initial general information above is most likely accurate.


08 January 2020:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing the win of EXPAL Systems S.A. for the project, which is being represented locally by Firepower Defense Contractors Inc. The blog entry can be accessed through the link provided below:

hilippine Marines to acquire RPGs from Bulgaria, 81mm Mortars from Spain" - first posted on 08 January 2020.

EXPAL's M-98 mortar is expected to be the one to be delivered to the Philippine Marines. Credits to original source of photo.

The Notice of Award (NOA) for the project was released in favor of EXPAL Systems S.A. on 16 December 2019, after being declared as the Single Calculated & Responsive Bidder.

Based on the BAC Resolution released last November 2019, EXPAL Systems and Hirtenberger Defense International were the ones the submitted a bid for the project, while other interested proponents like the Elbit Systems Land & C4I and Arsenal JSCo. did not submit a bid.

Based on information gathered by MaxDefense, it is most likely that the product to be supplied by EXPAL Systems are the M-98 81mm mortar, and the EXPAL's own ballistic computer and forward observer systems.

MaxDefense also received report that there was anomaly on the technical requirements as the requirement on ballistic computer was said to have been skewed in favor of the one offered by EXPAL Systems, the Techfire Fire Information Control System.

With the project having a short turnaround time, EXPAL Systems is expected to deliver all the products within 1 year after the release of Notice to Proceed (NTP) which is expected to be released on or before February 2020. This means we should expect the Philippine Marines to receive the mortars and all associated accessories on or before February 2021.

EXPAL is also expected to supply the Techfire Fire Information Control System in a 7" tablet computer version. Credits to original source of photo.

First edit and release: 02 August 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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