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Squad Automatic Weapon (Phase 1) Joint Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army and Philippine Navy (Marines)

The Philippine Army (PA), together with the Philippine Navy on behalf of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) requested for the acquisition of new 5.56x45mm light machine guns which would be used as squad automatic weapons (SAW), and distributed to special units of both services like the First Scout Range Regiment and Special Forces Regiment, and the Philippine Marine Corps Force Recon Battalion (now Marine Special Operations Group), which are the foremost front-line units,

This would allow individual squads to have increased firepower, while relying less on the M60 7.62x51mm general purpose machine guns provided by heavy weapon units with Army Infantry and Marine companies.

One of the first projects of the AFP Modernization Program - Capability Upgrade Program, the Squad Automatic Weapon Joint Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army and Philippine Navy (Marines) called for the purchase of 402 new SAWs as an initial procurement. 

The FN Minimi 5.56mm LMG, as shown here after refurbishing by the Government Arsenal after years of use. Photo taken and credited to DRP Forum page.

Project Summary:

Squad Automatic Weapon (Phase 1) Joint Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 30 April 2020.

* End User: Philippine Army and Philippine Navy (Marines) (multiple units)

Quantity: 402 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Capability Upgrade Program of the AFP Modernization Program (RA 7898)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition ModePublic Bidding

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

* Winning Proponent: FN Herstal (Belgium)

Product for Delivery: FN Minimi 5.56x45mm Light Machine Gun

* Contract Price: Php117,432,000.00

* Residual Difference (Savings): Php4,893,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PASAWP1Acquisition

* Status: Completed delivery as of 18 March 2003, declared completed by DND as of March 2003. Philippine Army received majority of the LMGs although no specific distribution was confirmed by MaxDefense. PROJECT COMPLETED.


The special and forefront units of the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps were in need of new light machine guns that can be used as Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) to replace the heavier and cumbersome M60 7.62x51mm general purpose machine guns (GPMG), which was back then the standard SAW in both PA and PMC units. 

Considering the smaller physical size of Filipino soldiers, it would be practical to carry a lighter weapon that can offer a similar firepower delivery.

Philippine Marines with a modified M60E3 during the Battle of Marawi in 2017. Some units still use the M60 even after deliveries of lighter 5.56x45mm LMGs like the FN Minimi. Photo taken from The Firearms Blog.

Back then, the Philippine Army only has a few light machine guns in service, with fire support instead provided by M60 GPMG, which are also not available to all units.

A few LMGs existed in Philippine Army service, like the CIS Ultimax 100 5.56mm LMG, which were acquired in limited numbers years ago.. And with the Philippine Army planning to standardize the 5.56x45mm SAWs for infantry squads, it was expected that procurement of more SAWs will happen.

The CIS Ultimax 100 5.56x45mm light machine gun, which was availability in very limited numbers in PA service. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

A public tender was opened by the Department of National Defense (DND) in 2001, with 11 bidders submitting their tenders in 2012. As expected, Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS), the maker of Ultimax 100, also submitted a bid, together with other companies like Belgium's FN Herstal and South Korea's Daewoo Precision Industries with the K3 LMG.

Belgium's FN Herstal was declared the winning bidder, and a contract was signed in May 2002. 402 units were for delivery, with the Philippine Army expected to take at least 90% of the units. 
All deliveries were completed as of 18 March 2003.

With only over 400 units acquired by both services, it was expected that both the PA and PMC would request for the acquisition of more LMGs, and this was later on fulfilled under the two more contracts signed in 2007 and 2009.

Majority of the machine guns are still in service, with the Government Arsenal providing support to maintain these machine guns. Below photo shows some of the units belonging to the Philippine Marine Corps after being refurbished by the Government Arsenal.

Refurbished FN Minimi LMGs by the Government Arsenal. Photo from Government Arsenal's Facebook page.


With the Minimi SAWs already delivered and formally activated with different units of the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps, MaxDefense officially consider the Squad Automatic Weapon (Phase 1) Joint Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army and Philippine Navy (Marines) as COMPLETED.


First posted and released on 30 April 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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