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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 Elbit Sabrah light tank system mounted on an ASCOD 2 platform during Eurosatory 2022 in Paris, France. Photo credits to Army Recognition.

Project Summary:

Light Tank Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 18 December 2022.

* End User: Philippine Army (Armor 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: 
   - 1st Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-20-0017126 dated 15 October 2020, released 21 October 2020, worth Php1,422,649,800.00 for 15% initial payment.
   - 2nd Tranche: SARO-BMB-D-21-0001551 dated 15 April 2021, released 15 April 2021 worth Php2,986,725,292.00
   - 3rd Tranche: scheduled for release in 2022. 

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems Land

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 18 Sabrah ASCOD 2 tracked tanks
    - 10 Sabrah Pandur II 8x8 wheeled tanks
    - 1 ASCOD 2 Armored Command Vehicle 
    - 1 ASCOD 2 Armored Recovery Vehicle
    - All tanks to be equipped with Elbit turret and 105mm gun, E-LynX SDR, Torch-X BMS
    Additional items provided by Elbit Systems Land:
    - 100 rounds of 105mm tank gun ammunition
    - 3 tank transporters
    - 2 6x6 or 8x8 armored vehicles
    - 5 sniper detector systems

* Contract Price: US$172,220,000.00 (Php8,553,501,000.00 excluding exchange rate differentials).

* Residual Price: Php930,831,000.00, to be used to cover for any exchange rate differential.

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 November 2015

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PALightTankAcquisition

* Status: Notice of Award (NOA) released in favor of Elbit Systems Land & C4I on September 2020. Contract and Notice to Proceed (NTP) signed in 2021.First two units of ASCOD Sabrah light tanks were delivered in December 2022.

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.

U P D A T E S:

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.


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? 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

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.

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.


11 December 2019:

MaxDefense received confirmation that PT Pindad sent the Pindad-FNSS Harimau medium tank and the Pinad Anoa 6x6 wheeled armored vehicle to the Philippines, both of which will be for viewing by Philippine military and defense officials, as well as for possible testing in Philippine conditions.

This is despite the DND already sticking to the Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) it released a few months ago wherein they will be sticking to a Government-to-Government (G2G) mode of procurement, most probably with Israel.

This is a problem for PT Pindad since the Philippine and Indonesia has no mechanism that allows G2G procurement between the two countries. All procurement of Indonesian products are through commercial procurement, either direct or through public bidding.

PT Pindad appears to be fighting on until a contract is signed between the DND and the winning proponent, as it hopes that changes can still be made to its favour.

Photo sent by an Indonesian community member showing the Harimau tank and Anoa armored vehicle being transported in preparation for its voyage to the Philippines. Photo shared by a community member who wish to remain anonymous.

12 December 2019:

Confirmation of the arrival of the PT Pindad-FNSS Harimau medium tank and Pindad Anoa 6x6 armored vehicle, as videos were shared of the vehicles being unloaded in front of the Philippine Army headquarters as of 11 December 2019.


17 December 2019:

Our recent report on Indonesia's PT Pindad sending over a sample of their Harimau medium tank and Anoa 6x6 wheeled armored personnel carrier made more sense, with both vehicles being displayed during the AFP's founding anniversary celebrations.

The Harimau MT in Philippine Army olive drab paint scheme, and named "Mt. Apo". Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense Philippines.

The vehicles can be seen in the photo below as they were positioned as part of a static display at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, together with other existing AFP assets. The presence of the 2 armored vehicles is a representation of what the AFP aspires to have within the Horizon 2 phase of the AFP Modernization Program.

Photos of the Harimau MT and Anoa 6x6 APC shared exclusively to MaxDefense Philippines by our contibutors.

The presence of the vehicles are not indicators that PT Pindad already won both the Light Tank and Wheeled APC Acquisition Projects, but are merely marketing moves by PT Pindad to showcase their products to the Philippine political, defense and military leaderships who were present in the important event of the AFP.


06 October 2020:

Elbit Systems has unveiled its Sabrah Light Tank family, which is the latest offering made by the Israeli company to the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, replacing an earlier offer. But there is actually a reason why Elbit Systems made changes in their offer.

The Sabrah light tank system uses the GDELS ASCOD 2 tracked and Excalibur Army Pandur II wheeled armored vehicles as platforms. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

With Elbit Systems unveiling the Sabrah Light Tank system only recently (the Sabrah was not in Elbit's online portfolio until recently), it appears that there were positive movements on the project that pushed Elbit to publicly announce the inclusion of this product in their portfolio. Let us discuss some of the recent updates on the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, as well as why Elbit Systems developed this new Sabrah Light Tank System.

Originally, Elbit Systems offered a derivative of the ASCOD 2 Medium Main Battle Tank (MMBT) and Pandur II tank destroyer to the Philippine Army to meet the requirements of the Light Tank Acquisition Project. It was competing with the Hanwha-Otokar Joint Venture with their K21-105 tracked light tank and Arma 105 tank destroyer, and PT Pindad with their Harimau medium tank.

Elbit Systems' original offer used the same Oto Melara Hitfact 105mm tank turret found on the ASCOD 2 MMBT, but with the gun and subsystems from Elbit Systems. Elbit also integrated the ASCOD MMBT's turret with the Pandur II wheeled armored vehicle to meet the wheeled tank requirement of the PA.

Both Hanwha-Otokar JV and PT Pindad uses guns and turrets from Belgium's CMI Defence (now John Cockerill), specifically the C3105 105mm tank gun and turret.

Based on Hanwha-Otokar JV's offer, these are the advantages they pointed out to the Philippine Army versus their competitiors:

1. The C3105 turret of the K21-105 tracked and Arma 105 wheeled tanks can have a maximum gun elevation arc of -6 to +36deg. elevation, compared to the ASCOD and Pandur II using Oto Melara Hitfact which can only have a maximum of -7 to +16deg. 

The John Cockerill C3105 turret and tank gun, used on the Hanwha K21-105, Otokar Arma 105, and PT Pindad Harimau MT. Photo c/o PT Pindad.

Hanwha pointed out that Elbit's offering cannot hit targets requiring a higher elevation like buildings as seen during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.

2. The C3105 turret uses an autoloading system, which they believe allows for a higher rate of fire during crucial combat operations, capable of firing 6 rounds in the first 1 minute based on having 12 ready rounds in the autoloading conveyor.

The Oto Melara Hitfact 105 used by Elbit's offering uses a manually-operated loading system, which means there are 4 crew members instead of 3 in the Korean and Indonesian tanks.

3. Compared to the Harimau, the K21 and Arma are both in service the country of origin (South Korea and Turkey, respectively), and in the case of the Arma armored vehicle, also with other export countries (Bahrain). 

Meanwhile the Harimau is not yet in service with the Indonesian Army or any other country, which could breach Philippine Revised Government Procurement Act RA9184 and the Revised AFP Modernization Program Act RA10349.

4. Hanwha-Otokar JV also offered to assist in supplying surplus MD500 Defender light armed helicopters and provide a few Otokar Cobra light armored tactical vehicles. 

According to documents seen by MaxDefense, Hanwha-Otokar JV offered to assist in lobbying for the transfer of retired MD500 Defender scout helicopters previously owned by the Republic of Korea Army, while also providing a few brand new Otokar Cobra light tactical vehicles. Photos credited to original source.

The MD500 Defender helicopters were previously from the Republic of Korea Army and several were already decommissioned and awaiting disposal. Meanwhile the provision of a couple of Otokar Cobra could provide the Philippine Army with samples for evaluation for their own Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition Project which Otokar is also interested in being selected.

With these issues, both Elbit Systems and PT Pindad moved to address issues, as the Philippine Army used these reasons to give Hanwha-Otokar JV the lead for the project.

PT Pindad's main selling point is pricing, as they are currently offering the most number of units compared to both Elbit Systems and Hanwha-Otokar JV. PT Pindad also offered for a potential local assembly of some of the tanks, and joint development if the Philippine Army opts to order more tanks and armored vehicles in the future.

PT Pindad has also tied the Harimau tank to their offer for the Philippine Army's Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier Acquisition Project with the Pindad Anoa 6x6.

Meanwhile, Elbit Systems revised its offer by creating the new Sabrah Light Tank System, ditching the Oto Melara Hitfact turret and developing a new turret with assistance from the Israel Ministry of Defense, Israel Defense Force Merkava Directorate, and a South African turret manufacturer. The new Sabrah Light Tank still uses both the ASCOD 2 tracked and Pandur II wheeled armored vehicles as platforms, but now with a higher elevation arc and autoloading system that matches those found in the K21-105, Amra 105, and Harimau MT.

The Sabrah Light Tank System can be upgraded easily with existing and future technologies including add-on armor, modern ammunitions, etc. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

Despite proving to the Philippine Army that a well-trained loader can beat 6 rounds per minute, and that having a 4th crew member is more beneficial and less risky than removing him in favor of an autoloading system, it decided to just follow according to the Philippine Army's requirement.

One of Elbit Systems' main selling point, which apparently gave them the lead in the project is the use of the Elbit's C4 system, including the Torch-X Mounted Battle Management System (BMS), and the Combat NG fire control and command system, which are already in service with the Philippine Army's upgraded M113A2 and 155mm towed howitzers, and the upcoming M113 Armored Mortar Carriers, and ATMOS 155mm self-propelled howitzer systems. 

The Sabrah Light Tank system will be equipped with the same battlefield management system and fire control management systems already used by other platforms of the Philippine Army that were also supplied by Elbit Systems. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

MaxDefense also heard that Elbit made a commitment to add something to their offer to match what Hanwha and PT Pindad did. We do not have details but MaxDefense believes it has something to do with tank and artillery ammunition.

The recent win of Elbit Systems to supply the E-Lynx software defined radios, which are compatible to the C4 systems installed on the Sabrah Light Tanks, made it even more apparent.

The Sabrah light tank will benefit the most among the tank offerings, with the recent purchase of the Elbit Systems E-Lynx software defined radios (SDR) by the Philippine Army. Photo credits to Elbit Systems.

All 3 offers from Elbit, Hanwha-Otokar JV and PT Pindad are good offers, and all of them were able to come up with good reasons to be selected. 

As already mentioned before in our previous posts, MaxDefense received information from Philippine Army and DND sources confirming that Elbit Systems was selected by the DND and PA TWG back in early 2020, and that final negotiation was suppose to take place when COVID-19 has become a full-blown pandemic and restricted the movement of Israeli and Philippine officials.

It remains to be seen though if this decision will remain, considering a lot of things may have happened within the last 8 months since a decision was made. The Light Tank Acquisition Project was among those included in FY2020 funding with the first MYCA allocation worth Php1,422,649,800.00.


13 October 2020:

We have posted a new video in our Youtube channel, as we briefly report on the offer made by Elbit Systems Land & C4I, the Sabrah Light Tanks.

The video discusses some of the items already posted in this resource page, and reinforces the new information from the past week that pertains to this project.

We ask our readers to please support our new Youtube channel by subscribing and sharing our videos.


21 October 2020:

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a SARO (SARO-BMB-D-20-0017126) dated 15 October 2020, and released on 21 October 2020, worth Php1,422,649,800.00 for the initial payment 15% of the contract price.

This would support the release of the Notice to Proceed (NTP) to start the contract obligations of Elbit Systems Land & C4I.


23 October 2020:

Finally, MaxDefense Philippines confirmed the issuance of a Notice of Award (NOA) for the Light Tank Acquisition Project in favour of Elbit Systems Land, which was said to have been awarded by the Department of National Defense several weeks ago.

With the DBM already releasing the initial funding requirements worth 15% of the project contract cost, it is only a matter of time for the DND to sign a contract with Elbit Systems Land & C4I, and provide the Notice to Proceed (NTP) to start the contract obligations.

Please see our updated Project Summary at the near top of this resource page.

MaxDefense's blog entry can be accessed on the link below:

"Philippine Army's Light Tank and Wheeled APC Projects awarded to Israel's Elbit Systems" - first posted on 23 October 2020.

Meanwhile, Philippine Defense Resource released its own Youtube video, summarizing the milestone reached for the project, which can be seen below.


02 November 2020:

A copy of the Notice of Award (NOA) and DND Bids and Awards Committee Resolution were leaked through unofficial online sources, confirming MaxDefense Phlippines' earlier information that Elbit Systems won the Light Tank Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army, and that a NOA was released in their favor several weeks ago.

Among the information posted were the following:

1. Contract price: the price for the project was US$172,220,000.00, which is lower than the original offer. According to our source, Elbit was able to reduce the amount due to the difference in price of the Oto Melara Hitfact turret and Elbit's own Sabrah turret, which was said to be cheaper. 

2. Freebies: the DND BAC resolution mentioned that Elbit Systems Land will be providing the following: two 6x6 or 8x8 armored vehicles (still subject to discussions), 3 tank transporters, 5 sniper locator systems, and 100 rounds of 105mm tank ammunition.

This is also different from the original offer made by Elbit Systems which include 1,000 rounds of 105mm tank ammunition and 155mm howitzer ammunitions. According to sources, 1,000 rounds of tank and artillery ammunition costs a lot more than 2 armored vehicles, 3 tank transporters and 5 sniper locator systems, although these freebies are better as ammunition can be bought through standard acquisition using annual funds of the Philippine Army.

The sniper locator systems is actually an interesting one since Elbit Systems also won a separate contract for sniper locator systems as part of the Philippine Army's C4ISTAR Lot 2 - Sniper Fire Location Detection System, which is worth Php120 million and includes the acquisition of 30 acoustic and 5 electro-optical sniper fire locator sensors.

Example of an acoustic sniper or gunfire locator system.


03 May 2021:

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released funding under SARO-BMB-D-21-0001551 worth Php2,986,725,292.00 dated 15 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 Light Tank Acquisition project.

This means that the project continues to proceed as plan, after being awarded to Elbit Systems Land C4I in 2020.

It remains though if the project will proceed with the planned delivery of the initial batch by early 2022, and complete delivery by 2023 will still proceed.


14 June 2022:

Elbit Systems presented the Sabrah light tank solution at the ongoing Eurosatory 2022 defense exhibition.

More information has been released by Elbit Systems, including the inclusion of the Iron Vision head mounted display, and the Iron Fist active protection system.

The APS, if included in the Philippine Army-bound Sabrah ASCOD tanks, could be the reason behind the high sticker price of the deal, which was comparable to buying a main battle tank.
The turret also appears to be able to use either 105mm or 120mm gun. The Philippine Army opted to use the smaller 105mm gun, although due to the upgrade acceptability of the Sabrah turret, the PA can also opt to swap the 105mm gun with a 120mm.

The photos below could already be the most likely one for the Philippine Army, as MaxDefense PH posted before that production of the Sabrah on ASCOD chassis already started several months ago.

The Sabrah light tank system mounted on an ASCOD 2 armored vehicle platform. Photos c/o Army Recognition.


04 December 2022:

Elbit Systems posted a video that showed one of the ASCOD Sabrah light tanks, most likely for the Philippine Army, on display in Israel.

First photo shows the photo grabbed from Elbit's video, while 2nd photo shows a digitally improved version.

The photo shows the tank with people around it, giving an idea how tall and big the ASCOD Sabrah tank is. Looks tall actually.

It also shows a different turret design compared to the displayed ASCOD Sabrah light tank on Elbit Systems' booth at Eurosatory 2022 in Paris, France last June 2022. It remains to be seen what turret design will the Philippine Army receive.

Photo credits to Ronkainen.


18 December 2022:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from several of its sources from the Philippine Army, defense industry, and from community members that the Philippine Army is already in possession of a couple of ASCOD Sabrah light tanks, which already underwent firing tests in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija
Photos below show the ASCOD Pizarro II tracked armored vehicle platform delivered without the Sabrah turret installed yet, and installation was made locally by Philippine Army and Elbit Systems personnel.

Based on the photos, the turret of the Philippine Army ASCOD Sabrah looks closer to the one mounted on the vehicle displayed by Elbit Systems in their facility in Haifa, Israel during the visit of Romania's defense minister several weeks ago, rather than the turret seen at Elbit Systems' booth at Eurosatory 2022.

This development is contrary to statements by Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner that the tanks would only start to arrive next year. It also appears that the vehicles were delivered to enable them to participate in the upcoming AFP Anniversary parade on 19 December 2022.

Based on different documents from the DND and other government agencies, the Light Tank Acquisition Project should start delivery by 2022, which means Elbit Systems has met the initial delivery date indicated in its contract.

Photo credits to MaxDefense Philippines community member who wished to remain anonymous.


First edit and release: 23 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource.

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