Saturday, February 29, 2020

Fibreglass-Reinforced Plastic Watercraft Acquisition of the Philippine Navy (Marines)

The Philippine Navy has raised a requirement for the procurement of sixteen (16) Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) Watercrafts, which are essentially small multipurpose speedboats to support operations by the Philippine Marine Corps' Assault Boat Battalion.

Take note that this project is different and separate from an earlier project to acquire FRP watercrafts for the Philippine Navy's Naval Special Operations Group, which we would tackle in a separate resource page.

One of the FRP Watercraft undergoing sea trials in Subic Bay. Photo credits to Frances Mangosing.

Project Summary:

Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic Watercraft Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 13 April 2023.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Philippine Marines Corps - Assault Boat Battalion)

* Quantity: 16 units

* Modernization Phase: Special Projects outside Horizon 2 period

Project ABC: Php340,632,603.36

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding through Philippine International Trading Corp (PITC), after 2 Negotiated Procurement attempts failed, Originally for Public Bidding with three attempts made.

* Source of Funding: Philippine Navy 2018 GAA Funds

* SARO Release: TBC

* Winning Proponent: Joint Venture of Propmech Corporation and Safehull Marine Technologies Inc.

* Product for Delivery: Propmech-Safehull FRP Watercrafts

* Contract Price: TBC

* Residual Amount: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: 28 October 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFRPWatercraftAcquisition #PMCFRPWatercraftAcquisition 

* Status: still for procurement, after another attempt for tender last December 2019 was cancelled. New tender attempt was made on November 2020, with SOBE on 15 December 2020. Awaiting results of latest tender.

The concept is similar to the Special Operations Craft - Riverine (SOC-R) used by the US Marines Special Operation Group, although less armed and less expensive than its American counterpart. Photo taken from Wikipedia.


In 2017, the Philippine Navy called for the acquisition of Fast Boats which would be used by the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) to patrol littoral areas especially for counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations in the Sulu-Basilan-Tawi-Tawi-Zamboanga area. This was highlighted during the Marawi City crisis when reports that the ISIS-inspired Maute Terrorist Group were said to have been reinforced and resupplied via gaps in the waterways around Marawi City, as well as by forces scattered in the Western Mindanao area.

Another requirement came out, this time in 2018 calling for additional boats to be acquired for the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). Sixteen (16) units are planned with a proposed budget of Php340,632,603.36 (or around Php21,289,537.71 per boat) inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT).  It is still unknown why the Philippine Navy decided to reduce the average budget per boat considering the earlier contract to build boats was priced at an average of Php1 million higher per boat than the current budget.

Only local ship or boat-builders licensed by MARINA will be entertained, thus giving the local boat-building industry an exclusive priority for the project.

The design and technical requirements were mostly retained.

Initially it was proposed to be acquired through Public Bidding, with the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) responsible with the bidding process through its own Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

An initial Public Bidding attempt was made on 25 January 2019, and this was considered a failed bidding. A second attempt was conducted on 02 April 2019, and this was again another failed bid.

For the third attempt, the PITC and PN decided to go for a Negotiated Procurement mode which may increase the chances of having a winning proponent after 2 failed attempts.

The submission of proposals or offers was scheduled on 17 May 2019, and so far it appears that there was no changes made on the deadline.

A new tender attempt was made in November 2020, with the submission of bids scheduled on 15 December 2020.

Technical Requirements:

Based on the project's bid documents, the boats are to have the following technical requirements:

* Length: 11 to 12 meters --> revised to "not less than 11 meters"
* Breadth: at least 3 meters
* Draft: between 0.70 to 1.10 meters 
* Cruising Speed: at least 35 knots --> revised to minimum of 30 knots
* Maximum Speed: at least 45 knots --> revised to 40 knots
* Acceleration from 0 to cruising speed: not more than 30 seconds
* Capacity: 4 crew members, and space for 2 Marine Fire Teams of 4 troops each; --> revised to "not less than 12 personnel"
* Payload: not less than 6,800 lbs
* Survivability: Full function at Sea State 2, Survive at Sea State 3;
* Weapon Mounts: 1 forward, 2 aft, with universal adaptor to allow mounting of either .50 caliber heavy machine gun, M60 7.62mm general purpose machine gun, of 40mm automatic grenade launcher;
* Radar: 36 nautical miles range
* Communications: Marine VHF, should be compatible with existing MILCOMM Harris Falcon III Vehicle/Base VHF Radio System (RF-7800V-V51X)
* Boat Trailer: included, 16,000 lbs GVWR minimum rating.

The Philippine Marines is expected to provide the weapons itself, as the proponents are only required to supply the platform itself without any weapons.

Delivery of the first batch of eight (8) units are expected to be made within ninety (90) days from release of Notice of Produce (NTP), while the second batch of eight (8) units shall be delivered within ninety (90) days from the delivery of first batch. 

The bid documents provided this illustration to guide proponents on the requirements. Photo taken from the PITC's Bid Documents for the Project.

U P D A T E S:

28 October 2018:

MaxDefense released a blog entry on the planned acquisition of sixteen (16) fibreglass reinforced plastic watercraft by the Philippine Navy for the Philippine Marine Corps' Assault Boat Battalion.

Most of the details on the project were discussed, including the technical requirements which were also highlighted in this resource page.

The bid opening is scheduled on 23 November 2018, and it is expected that the bidders for the Philippine National Police's requirement for High Speed Tactical Watercraft would be participating in this tender (which includes Propmech Corporation, Als Marine, and Josefa Slipway).

MaxDefense believes that the base requirements of the Philippine Navy is similar to those of the Philippine National Police, thus the same proponents are expected to submit their bids. Above is a fibreglass speedboat built by Als Marine for the PNP Maritime Group. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.


20 January 2019:

The PITC released updates on the project, with the tender now scheduled to to have the bid opening by 25 January 2019.

No changes were made on the bid documents and requirements.


30 March 2019:

It appears that the bidding for the project failed, as a new deadline for bid submission and opening was posted by PITC, this time by 02 April 2019.

As expected, no changes were made on the bid documents, technical requirements, and budget.


10 June 2019:

Based on the new bid documents posted by PITC, it now appears that the 2nd bidding attempt on the project also failed.

The new requirement now calls for a Negotiated Procurement, with interested proponents given to submit their proposals or offers by 17 May 2019.

So far MaxDefense has not receive any information if a decision has been made or if a proponent was already confirmed the lowest compliant bidder.

PITC posted an amended invitation, this time calling for Negotiated Procurement after several failed bid attempts. Photo taken from PITC's posted Bid Documents.


11 July 2019:

With the reintroduction of a new Re-Bidding Document set at the website of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), it only means that the previous Negotiated Bid for the project failed in some point.

This should be the 3rd bid failure for this project. Surprisingly, they are still going for a 4th attempt instead of going for direct negotiations.

The Submission and Opening of Proposals and Offers is scheduled on 17 July 2019, although there is no schedule yet on the date of Negotiations with the preferred proponent.

New schedule as per Bid Docs released in July 2019.


15 October 2019:

MaxDefense received word that the project was being negotiated with Solinda Enterprises Inc. - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies Joint Venture. Both are local companies, with Pacificfortia actually involved in several supply and delivery projects involving FRP fast boats for the Philippine Navy, as well as the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.

It remains to be seen if the discussions will be successful, as the project is already experiencing delays due to its inability to be able to be awarded.


06 December 2019:

It appears that negotiations with Solinda Enterprises - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies has bee unsuccessful, as the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) has released another Invitation to Bid for the project last November 2019.

This would be the 3rd attempt to publicly tender the project, although no changes were made on the budget and requirement. The new SOBE was scheduled on 12 December 2019

MaxDefense believes that the short delivery time and sampling requirements may have been the reason why the discussions failed, but it is surprising that the decision was to have it re-tendered rather than do another round of negotiations that considered changing the reasons why the bidding and earlier negotiations failed.


16 February 2020:

The 3rd bidding attempt for the project was cancelled. No reason was provided on why but this is not a good sign for the project. MaxDefense is still trying to get confirmation if the bidding even pushed through.

It would be remembered that this project is being funded by Philippine Navy General Appropriations from 2018, which means this project is already almost 2 years in the making and is already delayed by so much. And considering the PITC already conducted both public bidding and negotiated procurement and still failed means that the procurement process is not the problem.

It remains to be seen if the project will still proceed a few months from now, and what procurement method will be used.

The ITB for the 3rd bidding attempt, showing that the tender was cancelled. Photo taken from PhilGEPS.


01 January 2021:

A new 3rd re-bidding was scheduled was held last November 2020, with the new SOBE deadline on 15 December 2020.

Based on the Pre-Bid Conference minutes that was released, potential bidders may include the following companies:
1. Stoneworks Specialists International Corp. - the company manufactured and is delivering the Philippine Army's FRP-hulled Riverine Light Boats, with more than 50 boats for delivery.
2. Propmech Corp. and Safehull Marine Technologies Joint Venture - both companies were involved in the supply of more than 20 FRP High Speed Tactical Boats to the Philippine National Police Maritime Group, not to mention the Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts for the PN.
3. Pacificfortia Marine Technologies - another company that specializes in FRP boats, and is currently supplying the PN's Fast Boats for the Naval Special Operations Command.
4. Hexagon Distributing Corp.
5. Dynacast Shipbuilding & Repairs Inc. - a Cebu-based shipbuilder which also recently supplied 22 FRP-hulled High Speed Tactical Watercraft to the PNP-Maritime Group.
6. Herma Shipyard Inc. - has been participating in naval projects and has ventured into small boat production.
7. S&S Enterprises Inc.
8. Sustainable Charters Inc. - a local supplier of yachts and private boats

In addition, the Supplemental Bid Bulletin issued later on showed that another company, Bangkapro Aquatics Inc. which submitted queries on the tender.

Also as shown on the Supplemental Bid Bulletin, the requirements for delivery was changed compared to previous tenders, giving more time for the winning bidder to deliver the boats.

Some changes were made to the specifications, which are now highlighted on the "Technical Requirements" portion of this resource page.


22 April 2021:

The PITC has posted that they are recommending the awarding of contract for the project to the Joint Venture of Propmech Corporation and Safehull Marine Technologies as of February 2021, although no further details were provided on how much did the joint venture offer for the project. 

Since this was done through PITC, we expect minimum information to be posted by the DND and the Philippine Navy regarding this procurement.


13 April 2023:

Propmech Corporation has invited the media to view their facility and in conducting testing of one of the upcoming High Speed Tactical Watercraft for the Philippine National Police's Maritime Group.

And with this, we are able to view for the first time the FRP Watercrafts being manufactured for the Philippine Navy by the said company.

The footage from CNN Philippines shows 6 of the boats being manufactured, with the hull almost complete and will be completing fitting-out works soon.

Six of the new FRP Watercrafts for the Philippine Navy (Marines) as seen in Propmech's facility as of April 2023. Photos screengrabbed from CNN Philippines' video.

It also included the trailers that will allow the movement of the boats over land.

The design also appears to be different from the drawing included in the tender documents from the Philippine Navy, which probably means that negotiations happened between the Philippine Navy and Propmech-Safehull JV before finalizing the design.

It also looks totally different from the US Marines' SOCR boat.

The six boats shown on the video appears to be ready for delivery in a few months time. 

According to the post of's Frances Mangosing, there are seven boats that are scheduled for delivery next month (May 2023), which all appear to be undergoing sea trials and are completed.

One of the 7 completed FRP Watercrafts undergoing sea trials prior to delivery to the Philippine Marine Corps by May 2023. Photo credits to Frances Mangosing.

She also confirmed that Propmech-Safehull JV intends to deliver all 16 boats by September 2023.

The photos below show some of the boats still under construction, which probably is part of the last batch. 

Hull construction of the FRP Watercraft. Photo credits to Frances Mangosing.

First edit and release: 11 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, February 21, 2020

Rocket Launcher Light Phase 2 Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

To further improve the firepower of infantry units while replacing ageing existing assets, the Philippine Army embarked on the acquisition of more rocket-propelled grenade launchers to follow on with the success of the initial batch acquired from Bulgaria starting 2016.

The Rocket Launcher Light Phase 2 Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army was among those approved for implementation in 2013 as one of the nine original projects for the Philippine Army under the Horizon 1 Priority Projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

A Russian-made RPG-7V2 rocket propelled grenade launcher. Photo taken from the collection of Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

Project Summary:

Rocket Launcher Light (Phase 2) Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 21 February 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)

* Quantity: 744 units 40mm Rocket Launcher + associated accessories and ammunition

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal with the Russian government

* Source of Funding: 
GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-18-0013668 dated 13 June 2018

* Winning Proponent: Rosoboronexport (Russia), but apparently it was instead awarded to a reseller.

Product for Delivery:
  - 744 nos. RPG-7V 40mm Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers
  - Bipod Assembly, Iron Sights, and Optical Sights
  - unknown quantity of ammunition, including 40mm HE Fragmentation Anti-Personnel Grenade, HE Anti-Tank Grenade, and 40mm Thermobaric Grenade
  - Assorted accessories, tools, and others.
  - Integrated Logistics Support package

* Contract Price: 

* Residual Amount: Php0.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 
05 November 2016

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PARLLPhase2Acquisition

* Status: 
Sources confirmed first batch were delivered before July 2019. Another batch delivered on December 2019.

U P D A T E S:

05 November 2016:

In a Facebook Note we posted, we included the Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project as among those included in the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). This is actually the Phase 2 of the project, as the first phase was actually the one approved for acquisition under the last phase of the old RA 7898-based AFP Modernization Program between 2005-2010.

The note can be accessed on the link below:

"Monitoring of Philippine Army’s Horizon 1 Phase Projects" - first posted 05 November 2016


14 June 2018:

As posted on MaxDefense's community social media page:

The Department of Budget & Management (DBM) approved yesterday 13 June 2018 a new SARO (SARO-BMB-D-18-0013668) worth Php408 million pesos for funding the Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

This project involves the acquisition of 744 units of shoulder-fired Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers from Russia's Rosoboronexport under a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the 2 countries. This is the same deal which was signed by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and Rosoboronexport last October 2017, as reported by Russian news outlet TASS ( ). 

This is also the first time that the Philippines will actually buy arms from Russia, since the AKM rifles and Ural trucks received last year were actually donated by the Russian Government.

This project is actually an extension of the Rocket Launcher Light acquisition project made under the old AFP Modernization Program RA7898 which led to the acquisition of around 250 units of ATGL RPGs from Arsenal JS Co. of Bulgaria through the US Foreign Military Sales program.

Despite the project only approved for fund release yesterday, this project is actually a Horizon 1 project (which can be confirmed in the SARO listing itself) which was approved for acquisition by the previous administration.

The updated SARO list can be downloaded in the link below:

A Russian soldier with an RPG-7V rocket propelled grenade launcher. Credits to original source of photo.

The line on the SARO list showing the SARO provided for the RLL Phase 2 Acquisition Project. Screenshot taken from DBM's SARO list for 2018.


29 July 2018:

It now appears that the Php408 million deal to acquire 744 RPG-7V from Russia's Rosoboronexport may be affected by the US government's new policy of sanctioning countries that acquire arms from blacklisted Russian companies, which includes Rosoboronexport. This acquisition is part of the Philippine Army's Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP.

Surprising that this might be affected considering the deal was signed in October 2017 before the new policy was imposed by the US, and the contract price is very minimal at around US$8 million only, which isn't considered a major defense deal. 

Nonetheless, is it really worth the risk pushing through and facing economic sanctions from a major trading partner and ally? Also, considering that the deal is actually overpriced anyway according even to some senior DND officials whom we got our info from. They are again pointing at the same DND officials involved in the frigate deal with HHI as the one involved in this RPG-7B acquisition from Russia. Fishy if you ask me.

MaxDefense made a check with some RPG suppliers that we know, and here is a comparison: each RPG-7B from Rosobornexport costs around Php548,000, since the deal does not involve ammunition. At least 2 RPG suppliers confirmed to MaxDefense that they can sell one with similar or prpbably even better quality for more or less Php200,000 each. It means we can buy 2 RPGs and atill have change for every RPG-7B from Rosobornexport. What's the point of buying from Russia if its expensive anyway?

Here is the full script of the report from Reuters.


Exclusive: Philippines could breach U.S. sanctions if Russia arms deal proceeds
Manuel Mogato  - Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines is at risk of breaching sanctions imposed by the United States if it proceeds with the purchase of grenade launchers from a blacklisted Russian firm, a deal that could test its longtime security alliance with Washington.

A senior Philippine general familiar with the deal said Manila had agreed in October last year to a 400 million peso ($7.48 million) purchase of 750 RPG-7B rocket propelled grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned Rosoboronexport, but the transfer had yet to be completed.

U.S. sanctions were imposed last year against any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

The law is designed to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s government and alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russia has donated assault rifles and trucks to the Philippines but the grenade launchers would be Manila’s first purchase of Russian weapons. The Philippines has long relied on the United States as its main source of military hardware and support.

If it goes ahead, the deal could add strain to a nearly 70-year-old security alliance that Washington has described as “ironclad”, despite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s disdain for the relationship with the former colonial power.

Duterte wants closer ties with China and Russia and has ordered the army and police to engage with countries which do not impose conditions on weapons sales. Some U.S. legislators campaigned to block sales of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines in May 2017 because of human rights concerns over an anti-narcotics campaign that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

Duterte scrapped that deal, as well as the purchase of $233 million worth of Canadian helicopters, over concerns by the sellers about how they would be used.

A U.S. State Department official said foreign governments and private sector entities had been put on notice that “significant transactions with any of the 39 listed entities will result in sanctions”. Rosoboronexport was blacklisted in April.

American allies who buy weapons and equipment from Russia, the world’s second-largest arms exporter, would also be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.

The State Department official declined to say what specific sanctions the U.S. could impose on the Philippines if it goes ahead with the deal with Rosoboronexport, while a spokesman for the Treasury Department said it “does not telegraph sanctions or comment on prospective actions.”

A senior Philippines defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, told Reuters the United States has not officially notified Manila about the restrictions on Rosoboronexport.

“It’s still a go until we are informed,” he added.

The army general familiar with the deal declined to comment on possible sanctions.

Jose Antonio Custodio, a Philippine security expert, warned the Russian arms deal may affect Manila’s security relations with allies, not only with its former colonial master the United States, but also with Japan and Australia.

“If the Duterte administration keeps on elevating the military-to-military relationship with Russia, it may lead to push back from these allies given international sanctions on that country for bad behavior,” he said.

Editing by Martin Petty and Raju Gopalakrishnan


21 July 2018:

As posted on MaxDefense's community social media page:

Still regarding the acquisition of 744 units of RPG-7B rocket propelled grenade launchers by the Department of National Defense (DND) from Russia's Rosoboronexport to fulfil the Rocket Launcher Light acquisition project of the Philippine Army under the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP.

Below photo taken from an DND RAFPMP Status Report used during a Senior Leaders Meeting last year shows that the RPG-7s acquired by DND from Bulgaria's Arsenal JS Co. numbered 250 launchers and 3,272 rounds of assorted HE and HEAT ammunition with a total worth of Php81,726,230.00. 

In simplistic calculation, for every 1 RPG launcher and 13 rounds of RPG ammunition, the DND paid Php326,905. These are the same RPGs used by the Philippine Army during the Marawi campaign.

For the ammo round price, we'll take this from PhilGEPS website which posted a bidding for RPG rounds acquisition for the Philippine Army. Based on the upcoming bidding for RPG ammo, the cost of High Explosive (HE) RPG round may cost around Php249,000,000 for 31,150 rounds, or an average of Php8,000 each. For for 13 units of HE rounds, it will cost around Php104,000.

If the cost of the Bulgarian deal averages at Php326,905 per launcher including 13 rounds, it means the launcher's average price is approximately Php222,905 each. This is within the quoted price provided by suppliers to MaxDefense earlier, which is between Php189,000 to Php240,000 each depending on the supplier. Not bad actually.

As I mentioned earlier, the Russian deal with DND is worth Php408,000,000 for 744 units, or an average of Php548,387 for each Russian RPG-7.

Do the calculations yourself people. Make your own assessment based on these amounts. Its quantifiable if you know simple math.

This is the report on the Phase 1 of the Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project. One can use this as basis on pricing of RPGs + Ammunition, compared to the Phase 2 which was awarded to the Russians. Photo taken from DND report exclusively provided to MaxDefense.


14 July 2019:

MaxDefense received information last week on the impending arrival of RPG-7s from Russia within July 2019, despite Russia not receiving any form of payment yet from the Philippine government due to banking issues related to CAATSA.

It also appears that the Philippine and Russian sides will discuss further on how to settle the issue of payments, with among those mentioned to MaxDefense includes using Euros instead of US dollars for payment and involvement of a 3rd party European bank.

MaxDefense posted a blog entry on the topic, which can be found on the link provided below. 

An RPG-7V2. Photo taken from the collection of Vitaly V. Kuzmin.


21 July 2019:

Apparently the "delivery coming soon" actually happened already recently. The shipment was said to have arrived in a port somewhere in Luzon which MaxDefense won't name, and were already transported to the Philippine Army's storage yards for inspection, audit and distribution to Philippine Army units.

Good news is that the Philippine Army units will now be getting their hands on RPGs to replace the 90mm recoilless rifles soon.

But here's the bad news:

MaxDefense received new information that still needs further verification that the RPGs delivered recently to the Philippine Army were not from Rosoboronexport as believed, and that the DND actually awarded the contract to a private company, to the dismay of Rosoboronexport.

It was also mentioned that Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana thought that this private company was part of Rosoboronexport, when in fact the company is not in any way connected to Rosoboronexport nor to the Russian government. And the worse part it, Sec. Lorenzana signed the contract believing it was for Rosoboronexport.

MaxDefense is still trying to get more information on what's happening, since it appears that there are many other issues surrounding this deal, and that Sec. Lorenzana was really so mad with what happened according to DND sources.

So who supplied the RPGs??? MaxDefense is still trying to get more information as we received more confirmation just before we posted this. Stay tuned.

12 February 2020:
MaxDefense received confirmation from sources that another batch of RPGs from Russia arrived last December 2019. And apparently, the delivery was almost screwed up but just got lucky.

According to information we received, the customs agent assigned to process the delivery failed to secure the necessary paperworks to allow the RPGs and ammunition from being released and picked-up by the Philippine Army. Which means the RPGs and ammunition stayed in Customs' stockyard for several days.

This could have been dangerous considering the shipment could have been compromised. which may result to security issues. It could have also been unsafe since these are explosives that should have been stored in a safe, secured place.

It remains to be seen though if there are still shipments being expected from Russia, as we do not have the exact count of how many RPG launchers and ammunition arrived last December 2019.

===============First edit and release: 14 July 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

As part of the Horizon 2 Priority Projects phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Navy (PN) has started the bidding process for the acquisition of one (1) Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft.

The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) for this project is at Php1,333,333,333.33 (US$24.69 million based on US$1=Php54), and bidders are expected to deliver the aircraft within 730 days (2 years) from signing of Contract and receiving the Notice to Proceed (NTP).

The end user for the aircraft is the PN’s Naval Air Group (NAG), which currently operates the Beechcraft C-90 King Air & Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander surveillance and utility aircraft, and Cessna 172 Skyhawk trainer aircraft, aside from helicopters.

The DHC-6 Twin Otter Guardian 400. Photo taken from Viking Air's website.

Project Summary:

Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 31 May 2023.

* End User: Philippine Naval (Naval Air Wing)

* Quantity: 1 aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php1,333,333,333.00

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: From General Appropriations Act (GAA) annual funding, to be paid one time.

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-18-0013736, released 18 June 2018.

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery: TBA
* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 16 November 2013

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:
 #PNMPAAAcquisition, #PNAmphibianAircraftAcquisition

* Status: First bidding attempt failed. No attempt made yet to restart project. Philippine Navy prefers the Canadian-made VIking AIr DHC-6-400 Twin Otter Guardian 400. Project has been temporarily cancelled for failing to reach re-bidding phase as of end of 2022. So far this project has not been included under Horizon 3 Phase 1 procurement list as submitted by the DND to Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for in-principle approval on May 2023.



Based on the Bid Documents and Technical Specifications released by the DND for the project,  the aircraft can be considered as a brand new, Twin-Engine, multipurpose seaplane which is large enough to be capable of maritime surveillance, search & rescue, and Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) and Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).

The aircraft itself should have the following features:
- Twin Turbine Engined;
- Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) capable;
- With a cruising speed of at least 150 knots in full mission configuration;
- Payload of at least 1,500 kilograms in amphibian configuration;
- Endurance of at least 6 hours;
- Range of at least 900 nautical miles:
- Can take-off and land at Sea State 3 condition

For Maritime Surveillance, the aircraft is to be equipped with the following:

a. Electro-Optical / Infra-Red sensor – retractable to protect from sea landings, capable of multi-sensor imaging and lasing, and in high definition output.

b. Radar – Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) using X-Band Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology capable of surface, air, and weather surveillance, with a maximum range of 120
nautical miles, and weighs not more than 40 kilograms.

c. Fitted for but not with Tactical Data Link 16, and permit 2-way exchange of tactical data with other TDL-equipped AFP units.

d. Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) / Selective Identification Feature (SIF)

e. Bubble-type Windows on both sides – to allow eyeball observation, including suitable use of DSLR camera and digital handheld video cameras.

As a Utility or Passenger Aircraft, the aircraft should have the following:

a. 4 Stretchers for MEDEVAC missions;

b. Seats for at least 19 passengers excluding the pilots:

c. Detachable Static Line for Para jump operations.

The supplier is also required to provide Integrated Logistics Support (ILS), including spares for 1200 hours of operation (an equivalent of 3 years worth of flying hours), Support Equipment and Structures including the tools, ground support equipment, and even the aircraft’s hangar that can accommodate 3 aircraft of the same model at any given time, and conversion training for pilots and ground crew.

PAF Search & Rescue Seaplanes Version 2?

Based on the requirements for the Philippine Navy’s Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft, it is almost exactly the same as the requirements made by the Philippine Air Force a few years ago for their proposed Search & Rescue (SAR) Seaplane, which was later on shelved due to funding diverted to other requirements of the PAF during the Horizon 1 phase of the RAFPMP.

Even the budget for this PN project, which is Php1,333,333,333.33, is exactly the same budget allocated by the PAF for each seaplane.

Dimension size, range and endurance, engine requirements, and other aircraft feature requirements are also almost if not exactly the same as the PAF’s. The radar and EO/IR sensor requirements are also almost the same.

Previosuly, MaxDefense posted a blog entry regarding the PAF’s Search and Rescue Seaplane acquisition project, which can be accessed on the link below:

Details and Analysis of the PAF's Search and Rescue Seaplane Acquisition Project” – first posted on 16 November 2013.

You can see from the blog entry above and from the current requirements that there are not much differences from each other's requirements, both for the platform/aircraft and the onboard equipment. And it seems that it’s also pointing to the same aircraft as before, which MaxDefense believes is the Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter Guardian 400.

There isn’t too many available amphibian aircraft in the market that fits the requirements provided by the PN’s technical specifications. Other minor features indicated in the specs, like a need for a lavatory, makes it more specifically pointed at the Twin Otter Guardian 400.

The Viking Air Twin Otter Guardian 400:

This is a special missions version of the standard DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 currently being manufactured by Viking Air of Canada.

The Twin Otter Guardian 400 without the amphibian floats. Photo taken from Viking Air website.

It has all the bells and whistles that the Philippine Navy is looking for based on the aircraft specs it made publicly available.

The aircraft itself is powered by 2 turbine engines, has a surveillance range of 970 nautical miles (vs 900 nautical miles), and surveillance time on station of 7 hours (vs 6 hours).  And aside from having floats to make it amphibian, the landing gear can be configured also to use standard wheels.

It has a 19-passenger seating (meets requirements), a lavatory, and can be configured to carry up to 8 stretchers (vs 4 stretchers).

A typical cabin configuration of the Twin Otter Guardian 400 in martime surveillance mission profile.

It is equipped with a CarteNav AIMS-ISR Data Management System that controls and integrates the mission sensors, which includes the Selex Seaspray 500E AESA surface search radar, and a retractable EO/IR sensor using either the FLIR PolyTech UltraForce 350 or L3 Wescam MX-15HDi EO/IR sensor equipment. An Automatic Identification System (AIS) can also be installed as an option (required by PN), and several other features.

One of the Data Management System console aboard the Twin Otter Guardian 400. Photo taken from Viking Air's website.

The only problem we see here is the aircraft being from Canada, which could be an issue after what happened to the G2G deal between the DND and Canadian Commercial Corporation. The export license may be an issue, considering that the aircraft is military in nature although it is obviously not armed and cannot be used to kill people.

But if this pushes through without too much drama, this opens up the window again for defense acquisitions from Canada, although probably limited only to unarmed systems.

Impact on the Naval Air Group:

Once this aircraft comes into service, this would effectively become the Naval Air Group’s most capable maritime patrol aircraft, considering that the plan to upgrade their existing Beechcraft C-90 King Air fleet by installing surveillance equipment is has not moved beyond the planning stage yet as of this writing, while MaxDefense believes that there is only 1 of their BN-2 Islander aircraft that was upgraded with a limited maritime surveillance capability.

One of the 5 Beehcraft C-90 King Air of the Naval Air Group. MaxDefense have reasons to believe that if more of these birds can be provided by Japan, the NAG might convert some of them into ELINT platforms. Credits to owner of photo.

It would also lay the groundwork for the acquisition of more Amphibian Aircraft for the PN-NAG, considering that despite only 1 was requested in this Horizon 2 phase, originally the PN-NAG was requesting for at least 3 aircraft worth Php4 billion (still based on a budget of 1 aircraft for Php1.33 billion). The PN-NAG is targeting to have 6 aircraft by the end of Horizon 3 phase, which means up to 5 more will be acquired.

Together with the Beechcraft C-90, these will form the Philippine Navy’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet covering short-medium range requirements of the AFP, while the Philippine Air Force will cover the long range requirement using their still pending Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their upcoming Hermes 900 unmanned aerial systems.

The disadvantage of these air assets are their lack of capability in anti-submarine warfare (ASW), as well as munitions delivery capability. It is expected that these assets will act as eyes and ears for the fleet, as well as part of the overall AFP C4ISTAR system interconnecting all AFP units into a more cohesive fighting force.

Procurement and Bidding:

The bid opening is currently scheduled on 16 October 2018, although this could change depending on request by potential bidders for time extension or further clarifications. But due to the requirements leading too much for a specific product, MaxDefense doesn’t expect a lot of drama coming out from this project.

Viking Air is apparently represented in the Philippines by Asian Aerospace Corporation (which requested for the bid documents based on PhilGEPS page of the project), although previously, Viking Air appears to have made their own representation during the PAF SAR Seaplane Acquisition Project.

With the project still in the pre-bidding stage, MaxDefense expects a lot of updates coming out in the next several weeks leading up to an award. Hopefully, the DND would at least release the Notice of Award to the lowest calculated bidder before the end of the year.

U P D A T E S:

20 February 2019:

MaxDefense learned that the Public Bidding for the Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft acquisition for the Philippine Navy FAILED. This is due to no bidders submitted a bid when it closed last October 2018.

The worrying part is that the Department of National Defense (DNd), which is undertaking the bidding process on behalf of the Philippine Navy, has not reopened the project for another re-bidding.

Re-Bidding is expected to happen since the country's procurement laws under RA9184 only allows going into negotiated procurement after the DND fails again in another public bidding attempt.

The decision to go for public bidding is actually a funny decision by the DND, since it is very clear that the Philippine Navy is after a specific aircraft, which is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter from Viking Air. They are being represented in the Philippines by only a single company.

Should they have just went for a negotiated mode of procurement, this project should already be rolling by now.

Just for the sake of discussion, is the Philippine Navy really urgently needing to acquire this, considering only a single aircraft is involved? 

While it is highly possible that this is a prelude to the acquisition of several more (as the PN is looking at having at least 6 of them for a squadron) and that this unit is to prepare them for it, there are several projects in the Philippine Navy that MaxDefense and several of it's contributors believe to be underfunded. 

Among them are the following:
1. Del Pilar-class Frigate Upgrade Project - MaxDefense was told by people involved that the budget is too low that even the cheapest product being offered many not meet the requirements!!

2. Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition - the mission modules needed for other important missions like minehunting may not be funded as the project's budget is already too tight for additional items. Also, the additional budget may allow the PN to specify a better sensor suite (i.e. a 3D radar instead of 2D) for all 6 ships.

3. Frigate acquisition (Horizon 1 Jose Rizal-class) - is the PN not considering the installation of 2 units of 30mm machine gun system instead of just having 1 unit per ship? Normally 1 gun system covers 180 degrees of the ship, and 2 are needed to cover most, if not all sides of the ship from surface threats like small suicide boats. Why not install 1 gun system each at port and starboard side, just like what they did on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz?

These are just questions that we hope the Philippine Navy can see, as we believe these proposals could be also in the minds of some of their officials.

MaxDefense will provide more updates on this Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft acquisition project as more information comes in.


17 August 2019:

So far, no schedule was also provided if there will be a re-bidding for the project. And considering that it is almost 1 year since the bidding failure, it remains to be seen if the Philippine Navy will proceed again with this project, or if there will be changes going to be made.

The introduction of the Beechcraft C-90 King Air donated by Japan actually provided a stop-gap measure on the lack of surveillance and utility aircraft for the Philippine Navy's Naval Air Wing (NAW) since its current fleet of Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander aircraft are being prepared for retirement gradually.


31 May 2023:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from its sources that this project has been scratched-off the Horizon 2 phase procurement project's list as of 2023, as it has not reached rebidding phase as of end of 2022.

Instead, the project will be included at a still unconfirmed phase under the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP. So far, Phase 1 which was submitted for in-principle approval to Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. this month did not include this project.

It would be remembered that while the project did proceeded to tender stage a few years ago, the project tender failed and the Philippine Navy and the DND did not continue pursuing the project until now. 

This has become a factor for it being removed from the Horizon 2 phase procurement plan.

First edit and release: 17 August 2019
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