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Sunday, December 27, 2020

C-130 Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

As the Philippine Air Force push to improve its overall airlift and transport capabilities with the limited funds allocated to them, the service has included the acquisition of surplus but refurbished Lockheed C-130 Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft from the US government as part of its shopping list under the Horizon 2 phase priority projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covering Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022.

Being an existing and long-time user of the C-130 Hercules, the PAF found it logical and practical to purchase surplus C-130 aircraft with its meager budget, rather than push for brand new, similar sized aircraft.

Two surplus but refurbished and upgraded C-130T Hercules were procured under the Horizon 1 phase, and another 2 similar units are being procured under the Horizon 2 phase. Photo credited to CNN Philippines.

Project Summary:

C-130H Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS Acquisition Project

Note: edit as of 26 May 2024.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (220th Airlift Wing)

Quantity: 2 aircraft

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php2,080,000,000.00

Acquisition Mode: US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Program

* Source of Funding: Majority through GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA), and US FMF funding.

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: US Department of Defense

Product for Delivery: C-130H Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft, refurbished and upgraded by US-designated contractor.

* Contract Price: approx. Php2,500,000,000.00, but PAF only paid only US$35,603,026.00 (approx Php1,780,000,000.00).

* First post by MaxDefense: 15 August 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag/s: #PAFC130Acqisition 

Status: Originally scheduled for delivery starting early 2019, delays pushed delivery to 2020. DND confirmed delivery of 1st aircraft by July 2020, 2nd aircraft before end of 2020. Delays encountered due to COVID-19, delivery of 1st aircraft pushed back to December 2020, 2nd aircraft by 1st quarter of 2021. First aircraft with tail number 5125 delivered on 29 January 2021, inducted on 18 February 2021, crashed and written off on 04 July 2021. Second aircraft with tail number 5157 expected for delivery by December 2021, arrived on 16 February 2024 at Clark Air Base, and formally handed-over and inducted into service with the 220th Airlift Wing on 23 May 2024. PROJECT COMPLETED.

One of the PAF's C-130T acquired from US EDA. Credit to original source of photo.


The acquisition of refurbished and upgraded Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, together with Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, is among those included in the Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects that was given in-principle approval by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

Originally, the plan calls for the acquisition of a single C-130H/T Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft from US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) at an overall cost of Php2,080,000,000.00. The huge budget is due mostly to the upgraded avionics, the spares and logistics support, and other ancillary costs rather than the airframe itself.

Air transport has long been a problem of the PAF, and the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) Philippines has recommended to the US Department of Defense to assist the PAF in building this capability.

For this project, the US stepped in to assist by providing assistance through US Foreign Military Financing (FMF program, which now allowed the PAF to acquire two (2) refurbished and upgrade C-130 Hercules aircraft instead of just one. The overall cost of the project went up to Php2.5 billion, but the PAF is now just shouldering less than Php1.6 billion plus other expenses worth more than Php170 million, while the US Department of Defense paid for Php900 million worth of the project. This allowed the PAF a savings of around Php400 million which is was able to use in other modernization projects that encountered shortfall in funding.

The original delivery date for the C-130s was supposed to have happened earlier, with the first aircraft expected in early 2019, and the second aircraft before the end of 2019. This was confirmed in a speech made by former Commanding General Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar (ret) in September 2018, and again reiterated in another speech during the service's Christmas Party in December 2018.

MaxDefense Philippines reported that the reason for delays was due to the delayed release of funding from the Philippine government, which has always been a problem in most modernization projects.

The Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed in a press release last week that based on their status reports, the first C-130 Hercules will be arriving within July 2020, and the second will arrive before the end of 2020.

Since the statement was based on a status report rather than an updated field information, there is still possibility that the arrival of the first aircraft will be delayed as COVID-19 has made things difficult globally. Although at best, we can still possibly expect its arrival within this 3rd quarter of 2020.

The arrival of these C-130s will certainly boost the PAF's existing fleet of three (3) operational C-130s operated by the Mactan-based 220th Airlift Wing, although only 2 aircraft are available at any given time since the third unit, a C-130T, is undergoing Inspection and Repair As Necessary (IRAN) procedures in Europe. The PAF also has a non-operational 1960s model C-130B which is expected to be retired from service soon, and a written off C-130H, which was cannibalized for parts after suffering damage from a fire in 2019.

One of the PAF's C-130T Hercules, which is a former US Marine Corps KC-130T, refurbished, upgraded and acquired by the PAF but without the refuelling capability. Photo credits to Jon Melo through

U P D A T E S:

03 October 2018:

Another confirmation made by the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force, Lt.Gen. Galileo Kintanar, is that the PAF is expected to receive 2 more C-130 Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft by next year.

Since the PAF has only allocated budget to acquire one pre-owned refurbished upgraded C-130 Hercules as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP, the arrival of 2 C-130s next year is actually something new and could be separate from the acquisition of 1 refurbished C-130. Due to the nature of the acquisition and the lack of information about this, it is most probably coming as grants by either the US government, or by other friendly governments. 

Credits to original source of photo.


28 July 2020:

As expected, due to COVID, the delivery of the refurbished C-130H Hercules acquired from the US was moved to October 2020 for the 1st aircraft (instead of July 2020), and the second unit is now for delivery by early 2021 (from late 2020).

COVID was said to have disrupted the schedules, and may have affected the availability of parts, or even manpower doing the refurbishing works.


09 December 2020:

The first of two refurbished C-130 Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft that was ordered from US Excess Defense Articles (US EDA) was mentioned by visiting US Acting Defense Sec. Christopher Miller as scheduled to arrive on 17 December 2020.

The 2 aircraft was jointly paid for by the Philippine Air Force's Horizon 2 phase modernization program, and US military assistance thorugh US Foreign Military Financing (US FMF) program to the Philippines. Originally in the Horizon 2 program, only 1 will be procured, but US assistance allowed the PAF to procure 2.

While it is not yet 100% confirmed what model will be arriving, previous info says it is a refurbished C-130H.

The 1st aircraft was originally scheduled to arrive last July, but its refurbishing works was delayed due to COVID issues. The 2nd aircraft is expected to be delivered in early 2021.

Photo credits to Kit Anad. 


27 December 2020:

MaxDefense Philippines checked its sources and found that the first C-130 aircraft that was said as scheduled for delivery this December 2020 has not yet arrived in the Philippines.


18 January 2021:

Photos have been made available on the 1st C-130H Hercules transport aircraft acquired under this project. The C-130H Hercules, with tail number 5125, can be seen here landing at San Diego North Island Naval Air Station in California, US, most likely in preparation for its delivery trip to the Philippines. 

Photo credits to Tyler J, through Jetphotos.

C-130H with t/n 5125. Photo credits from Tyler J through Jetphotos.

Another photo of the aircraft can be seen below, also shown on the same day also approaching the same airfield but taken from a different angle.

PAF C-130H with t/n 5125. Photo credits to SBGrad.

The aircraft, with serial number 87-284, was formerly a US Air Force C-130H Hercules transport aircraft built in 1987 and delivered in 1988. It was converted to a MC-130W Combat Spear special operations aircraft used for infiltrating, exfiltrating  and resupplying US Special Operations forces. It also has capability to act as an aerial refuelling tanker for special operations helicopters and and aircraft.

While the aircraft was retired in 2016 and its special operations equipment removed, it is possible that the internal plumbing for the aerial refuelling system could be intact, which will allow for easier conversion to a tanker aircraft in the future.

Being spec ops aircraft, it is also expected that the airframe did not suffer too much stress on carrying heavy cargo, although other factors need to be considered.

The Philippine Air Force's technical team probably know more about the reason why they selected this specific airframe, so we'll just have to trust their expertise on the matter.


29 January 2021:

The Lockheed C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft with t/n 5125, arrived at Villamor Air Base in Manila today 29 January 2021, after flying in from Guam.

The aircraft is expected to be officially transferred and inducted soon with the Philippine Air Force's 220th Airlift Wing.

As we explained before, this aircraft was a former MC-130W Combat Spear special operations aircraft of the US Air Force, and was retired a few years ago. It underwent rehabilitation, refurbishing and upgrade in the last 2 years, before the aircraft was delivered to the PAF.

It has upgraded avionics, a partial glass cockpit, and it also appears to have SATCOM retained as PAF is starting to standardize that with all its existing and future C-130 aircraft.

The aircraft was jointly funded by Philippine and US governments, as originally the PAF was only after 1 aircraft. The assistance from US allowed the PAF to get 2 aircraft instead.

Photos below credited to's Frances Mangosing.


13 February 2021:

The C-130H Hercules with tail number 5125 was among those new air assets presented to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Clark Air Base.

No scheduled has been made yet on when the aircraft would be officially inducted with the Philippine Air Force, which would allow it to be used for standard operational requirements.

Photo credit to PTV4's Facebook page.

The C-130H Hercules with t/n 5125 can be seen behind other PAF assets. Photo credits to PTV4.


18 February 2021:

The first C-130H Hercules with tail number 5125 was formally accepted and inducted to the Philippine Air Force during ceremonies today, 18 February 2021 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana led the honors together with PAF and US officials.

Still no word though on the delivery of the 2nd EDA C-130H Hercules, although expected delivery was said to be by mid-2021.

Photos below from the DND's Facebook page.


04 July 2021:

The C-130H Hercules with tail number 5125, the same aircraft that was handed over to the PAF on February 2021, crashed today in Jolo, Sulu.

The aircraft is a total loss, with rescue and recovery operations ongoing to retrieve the 92 passengers and crew of the aircraft.

According to the DND, there were 3 pilots, 5 crew members, and 84 passengers, mostly Philippine Army troops from the 4th Infantry Division.

As of this writing, 40 injured personnel were said to have been recovered, while 17 were confirmed dead. There are also reports from MaxDefense Philippines contributors saying all 3 pilots survived and have been accounted for.

Although no investigation have been made yet, reports from DND says that the aircraft flew from Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City, and tried to land at Jolo Airport. The aircraft was said to have missed the runway, and tried to recover but failed.

Photos from crash site as provided to MaxDefense Philippines. Credits to original sources.

More information would be made available in MaxDefense Philippines' Facebook pages.


12 October 2021:

MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation from Philippine Air Force sources that the second C-130H Hercules from the US is scheduled to arrive before year end, most likely by December 2021.

A PAF contingent bringing home a newly repaired C-130T Hercules from Portugal is scheduled to visit AMARG as part of their ferry trip. The visit is most likely related to the upcoming C-130H for delivery within the year.

No details have been provided on the upcoming C-130H Hercules. But it is highly expected to be an ex-US Air Force model similar to the first one with t/n 5125 that arrived in 2020 (and crashed and destroyed on July 2021).


18 February 2024:

Finally a publicly available photo of the upcoming C-130H Hercules transport aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.

The aircraft, was photographed in Waco, Texas in late January 2024.

The C-130H with t/n 5157 in Waco, Texas. Photo credits to John H


19 February 2024:

The second aircraft procured under this project has finally arrived in the Philippines on 16 February 2024, flying in from Waco, Texas and flown by American pilots.

The aircraft, with tail number 5157, is scheduled to be formally handed-over and inducted into service with the Philippine Air Force's 220th Airlift Wing by somewhere near the end of February 2024 or early March 2024.

The aircraft was partly paid for the US Government, with the procurement made through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) and US Excess Defense Articles (US EDA).

The C-130H with t/n 5157 upon arriving at Clark Air Base on 16 February 2024.


26 May 2024:

The Philippine Air Force formally accepted in inducted to service the recently delivered C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft with tail no. 5157 last 23 May 2024 at BGen Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu.

The aircraft was part of the PAF's C-130H Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS Acquisition Project, which is a Horizon 2 Priority Phase project under RAFPMP.
This is the 2nd aircraft delivered under the project, and was partly funded by US Foreign Military Financing.

The PAF still plans to procure several more used C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, with the US already planning to provide several units as part of the Secuirty Sector Assistance Roadmap for the Philippines.

This is in addition to the existing acquisition of 3 brand new C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft, and plans to acquire additional new C-130Js under Re-Horizon 3 phase.

Photo credits to the Philippine Air Force.


With both upgraded C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft already delivered and formally inducted with the Philippine Air Force as of May 2024, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the C-130 Hercules with Avionics Upgrade and ILS Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 27 December 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Frigate Lot 2A - Anti-Ship Missiles (Horizon 1) Acquisition of the Philippine Navy

To arm the new frigates acquired under the Frigate Acquisition Project under the Horizon 1 phase priority project of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Navy (PN) undertook several sub-projects under the Frigate Acquisition Program Lot 2 - Ammunitions Acquisition Project.

Among them is the Lot 2A - Anti-Ship Missile Acquisition Project, which aims to provide a long range anti-ship capability for the new frigates.

The LIGNex1 SSM-700K Haeseong / C-Star subsonic anti-ship cruise missile, launched from an ROKN warship. Photo credits to Weapons Parade.

Project Summary:

Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 2A - Anti-Ship Missile Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 24 May 2022:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 1 lot

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php1,195,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Direct Contracting with LIGNex1

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

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: LIGNex1 (South Korea)

* Product for Delivery: LIGNex1 SSM-700K Haeseong / C-Star anti-ship cruise missile

* Contract Price: approx. Php1,195,000,000.00

* Residual Amount: very minimal

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* Searching Hashtag: #PNFAPAShMAcquisition

* Status: NOA, Contract, and NTP released in favour of LIGNex1. Awaiting delivery by 2021. Delivery reported as of March 2022, scheduled for test firing by June 2022. PROJECT COMPLETED.

An Incheon-class frigate, which was the basis of the HDF-2600 design used on the Philippine Navy's Jose Rizal-class frigates, seen here firing an SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missile during exercises. Photo credited to the Republic of Korea Navy.


The Philippine Navy's new frigate was specified to have at least four (4) ready-to-fire subsonic anti-ship cruise missiles, among other weapon systems, upon delivery to them.

But due to appeal by the participating shipbuilders that normally, ammunition are purchased directly by the end-user's government, the Department of National Defense Bids and Awards Commitee (BAC), and the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (TWG) agreed to separate the acquisition of ammunition from the entire warship, thus the Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 2 - Ammunitions sub-project was made.

Due to the ammunition to be acquired are from different manufacturers requiring different contracts, each type was divided into sub-lots, with the anti-ship cruise missile requirement designated under the Lot 2A - Anti-Ship Missile Acquisition Sub-Project.

The weapon systems to be procured are all dependent on the winning shipbuilder's overall offer, with winning shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) including the use of the LIGNex1's SSM-700K Haeseong (C-Star) anti-ship missiles for its frigate offer.

LIGNex1 and its offering were pre-qualified by the PN TWG in 2017, and was found acceptable to their requirements, and no objections were made on the use of the SSM-700K missile as part of the frigate's design. Launching platforms were designed to accommodate the missiles and its launching tubes.

LIGNex1 claims that the SSM-700K C-Star missile is superior to the American-made Boeing RGM-84 Harpoon Block II missile. No exact details were provided on the specs of the C-Star missiles for the Philippine Navy, but it is believed that the missile has a range of at least 150 kilometers and a maximum speed of around Mach 0.95, is guided by inertial - terminal active radar homing system using a Ku-band radar, and has sea-skimming capabilities.

So far, users of the SSM-700K C-Star missile includes the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), which has it on some (but not all) frigates, destroyers, and missile boats; and the Colombian Navy in its newly-upgraded frigates. The Philippine Navy is expected to be its 3rd user.

Infographic from LIGNex1's website.

U P D A T E S:

27 December 2020:

There have been no recent updates on this procurement  program, although it appears that the delivery deadline of 2021 remains the same. There are also no signs that the Philippine Navy already received the missiles, since the Jose Rizal-class frigates remain without its planned anti-ship missiles as of the last public viewing of the frigate which was during the 85th Founding Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which has a fleet review involving BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

This project remains one of the most difficult to get updates, although our partner MaxDefense Philippines is trying its best to get the latest information on this procurement.

As seen during the recent Fleet Review as part of the AFP's 85th Anniversary, the BRP Jose Rizal is seen without any anti-ship cruise missile launchers, which should be found between the funnel and the hangar superstructure. Photos credited to Philippine Navy.


22 May 2022:

The Philippine Navy confirmed that it has already received the delivery of SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles to arm the Jose Rizal-class frigates, although no date was provided.

Our partner MaxDefense Philippines believe the missiles were delivered earlier this year.

Since the previous program was for the missiles to be delivered by March 2022, it is assumed that all missiles have been delivered already to the Philippine Navy.

The Philippine Navy also mentioned that it plans to conduct test firing of the missiles, most likely by June 2022.


With all SSM-700K anti-ship missiles and accessories already delivered to the Philippine Navy, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the Frigate Lot 2A Anti-Ship Missiles Acquisition Projects of the Philippine Navy as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 27 December 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Saturday, December 26, 2020

M113 APC Firepower Upgrade (One-Man Turret) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

To further improve the capabilities of its existing mechanized assets, the Philippine Army has raised a plan a project to upgrade the firepower capabilities of its tracked armored vehicles.

The M113 APC Firepower Upgrade Project was then among those included in the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. The goal was to gradually improve the firepower of its M113-based armored vehicles based on the limited budget provided to the service.

Among the goals of the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade project is to improve the firepower of the ACV-300 APC fleet by installing a 25mm gun and turret in liew of the existing 12.7mm open cupola mount. This allows the ACV-300 to be converted into an Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Photo taken from FNSS' website.


The original plan was to improve the firepower capabilities of at least 32 units of its M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers, selected from those that were not upgraded by other projects.

These 32 units will receive M134 Minigun 7.62 x 51mm gatling guns, which will be acquired from the US, and installed locally. In addition, all 32 vehicles will have protected armored canopy that can fit the barrel of the M134 Minigun, as well as improved communications equipment and other improvements.

The budget for this plan was Php288,000,000.00, which was small especially when compared to other projects. 

But lessons learned from the Battle of Marawi in 2017 made the Philippine Army rethink on its plan. It was found that 7.62mm machine gun rounds are ineffective against concrete walls, and even 12.7mm heavy machine gun rounds have the same effects.

Thus, a revised plan was made to instead use larger caliber guns, like the 25mm autocannon, which will be more powerful against concrete structures than the 12.7mm heavy machine gun, while also capable of destroying typical light armored vehicles.

Project Summary:

M113 APC Firepower Upgrade Project

Note: Edited as of 20 August 2021.

* End User: Philippine Army (Armor Division)

* Quantity: 6 units

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

* Acquisition Mode:
 Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the Turkish and Philippine governments, through the Turkey-Philippines Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement.

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

* SARO Release:

* Winning Proponent:
 FNSS Defence Systems (Turkey)

* Product for Delivery:
 FNSS Saber-40 and Saber-12.7 1-man turret, with 40mm automatic grenade launcher and 12.7mm heavy machine gun, respectively

* Contract Price:

* First post by MaxDefense: 
22 September 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status:
 Contract with FNSS Defence Systems was signed on August 2020, with deliveries, installation and integration expected to be completed by October 2021, and logistics support and training by December 2021. Delivery expected within 2022. Installation works done in the Philippines in 2022, with the upgrades completed by late 2022 and the ACV-300s re-inducted to the Philippine Army on January 2023. PROJECT COMPLETED.

Photo credits to BAE Systems.

Further Discussions (mostly taken from MaxDefense Philippines):

The Philippine Army's ACV-300 (ACV-15) tracked armored vehicles:

The Philippine Army currently has a small fleet of Turkish-made ACV-300 (now ACV-15) Advanced Armored Personnel Carrier (AAPC) acquired from Turkish company FNSS. 

These vehicles were acquired less than 10 years ago under the old AFP Modernization Program covered by RA 7898, and are considered to be the youngest armored vehicles in the Philippine Army, despite the procurement made before those assets acquired during the Horizon 1 phase.

Six (6) units were acquired from FNSS, are was supposed to be the first batch of a proposed new fleet of new tracked armored personnel carriers for the Philippine Army. While the performance of these vehicles were great, the Philippine Army realized that they are in need of hundreds of armored vehicles, yet their budget is only good for a few dozen.

Instead of purchasing more ACV-300s from FNSS, the Philippine Army decided to use the budget to acquire upgraded M113A2s (which were contracted to Elbit Systems Land & C4I), and to request the US government for used M113A2 tracked armored vehicles under the US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Part of the funds for the new APCs were used for logistics, repair, and shipping 114 M113A2 armored vehicles from the US to the Philippines.

Some of the Philippine Army's ACV-300 tracked armored personnel carriers made by Turkey's FNSS. These are planned for conversion to Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Photo taken from old forum.

While the ACV-300 appear to be similar to the M113 series of tracked armored vehicles, it is in fact closer to the FMC Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV), more commonly known as the YPR-765 after the Dutch examples, which has some minimal improvements over the M113 family, like additional armor, sloped rear section, and enclosed turret/main weapon. 

The PA MID ACV-300 tracked APCs are armed with an 12.7mm M2 heavy machine gun on an armored ACAV main mount. Aside from the six APCs, the PA MID also has 1 unit of Armored Recovery Vehicle acquired separately under an earlier deal.

A cross-section of the ACV-300 (now called ACV-15 by FNSS), in this case with the Sharpshooter turret armed with M242 Bushmaster 25mm gun. Photo taken from FNSS website.

Gun Calibre Options:

When the PA MID originally proposed the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade, the original plan was to install the M134D Minigun 7.62mm Galting gun to at least 32 units of M113A2 and ACV-300 tracked armored personnel carriers, with a proposed budget of Php288,000,000.00.

Prior to this, the Philippine Army actually requested for the procurement of at least 8 M134D gatling guns as an emergency procurement for installation on the M113 fleet, while the Battle of Marawi against Maute terrorists was happening. 

The Marawi campaign ended without getting approval for this emergency procurement plan. Instead of forgetting the plan, the MID decided to request for more M134s Miniguns and not settle for just 8 units.

The original plan was to acquire the M134D 7.62mm gatling gun and install them on at least 32 units of M113A2 armoured personnel carriers. The experiences from the Marawi crisis made military planners change their plans.

But changes were made by the MID's Procurement Board after the AFP released its collection of learnings from the Battle of Marawi in 2017, when the MID used several of its newest assets including the M113A2+ Infantry Fighting Vehicle armed with the 25mm gun mounted on an Elbit Systems UT25 unmanned turret. Among the learning made during the conflict was that the 12.7mm heavy machine gun as well as all other smaller gun calibres are practically ineffective in urban warfare, especially in penetrating concrete walls or structures that the enemy uses for protection.

This is the same for the M134D Minigun. While the rate of fire is impressive, the machine gun's munition cannot penetrate brick/block and concrete walls and structures.

One of the Philippine Army's older M113A1 armored personnel carriers tested with an M134 7.62mm Gatling gun. Results from these previous tests from several years ago were said to be not favorable, with the Philippine Army deciding to retain the standard M2 12.7mm heavy machine gun due to its greater range and power, as well as the M134's use of considerable amount of ammunition. Photo taken from old forum.

The Philippine Army also tested their newly acquired M113A2 IFVs armed with the 25mm guns on UT25 turret, and found them able to penetrate some, but not all concrete walls. But the difference with the 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine gun rounds is very apparent.

While the learnings lean more on going for a larger calibre gun than the 25mm, economies of scale kicks in since the Philippine Army does not have other quick-fire medium calibre guns in service aside from the 25mm (which are found on the AIFV, M113A2 IFV, and Simba IFV). While the 30mm calibre is desired, it was decided to stick to 25mm instead, although options to move to the 30mm round in the future will be made open.

Manned or Unmanned Turret Options:

Going for a 25mm gun means requiring for a turret mount to be used, instead of just an armored cupola. In this case, the Philippine Army has two (2) options: either going for an unmanned turret similar to the Elbit Systems UT25 turret installed on the M113A2 IFV, or it can go for an electrical-powered manned turret similar to the one installed on the AIFV YPR-765.

Based on proposals submitted to the Philippine Army TWG, the unmanned turret option is obviously more expensive than the manned turret, although the cost difference is not too far from each other despite the extra cost for the electronic weapon station to control the gun and turret.

But it appears that there were also learning from the Battle of Marawi campaign wherein pros and cons of both manned and unmanned turret were realized. MaxDefense will defer discussion of these learning for lack of authorisation to do so. But we can safely say that manned turrets have their own benefits over unmanned turrets, and that is among the reasons why the Philippine Army TWG decided to recommend the use of manned turrets.

Two AIFVs with manned turrets (top), and an M113A2 IFV with the UT25 unmanned turret (above) during military operations. Both options were considered for the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade project. Credits to original source of both photos.

Manned Turrets:

With the decision to go for manned turrets, there are a few who are possible suppliers for such products. Among those expected to have submitted their proposals include Turkey's FNSS, being the manufacturer of the ACV-300 vehicles, and other companies who had experience working with the Philippine Army like Elbit Systems and IMI Systems, and and other newcomers like Italy's Oto Melara - Leonardo, Israel's Rafael Advance Systems, South Africa's Denel Vehicle Systems among others.

MaxDefense believes that FNSS and Elbit Systems, as well as IMI Systems (which is now part of Elbit Group of Companies) have the best chance of bagging the project. 

Currently FNSS is expected to offer the BAE Sharpshooter 1-man turret, which is currently the standard 25mm turret for the FNSS ACV-300/ACV-15 and ACV-19 armored vehicles. Meanwhile Elbit Systems may offer a derivative of the Elbit MT30 manned turret, which is similar to the UT25 unmanned turret used by the Philippine Army.

The BAE-FNSS Sharpshooter turret. Photos taken from FNSS' old website.

The Elbit Systems MT30 manned turret shares the same basic structure as the UT30 unmanned turret. Photo taken from Elbit's website.

U P D A T E S:

05 January 2021:

It was reported by German defense media outlet Monch Publishing Group, that an agreement was already reached between the Philippines' Department of National Defense and its Turkish counterpart to proceed with the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade, which appears to have been re-named as the "FNSS One-Man Turret" Acquisition Project.

The project falls part of the Turkey-Philippines Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement which have been signed with Turkey in 2019. This can be considered as a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between both countries.

According to the report, FNSS would be the prime contractor, which will build the turrets in Turkey, and integrated to existing vehicles in the Philippines.

Upon checking with its sources, MaxDefense Philippines received confirmation that the contract between the DND and FNSS was indeed signed in August 2020, with the project's target is to have the turrets delivered, installed and integrated on the Philippine Army's fleet of ACV-300 tracked armored vehicles by October 2021, and complete the training and logistics support services included under the project by December 2021.

The turrets are believed to be based on the BAE Systems Sharpshooter 1-man turret. For those wondering, BAE Systems is part owner of FNSS, and has allowed FNSS to produce the turrets under license.

It also remains to be seen if the Philippine Army will stick to 25mm autocannons, or will move up to a higher caliber like the 30mm autocannons that have become the new global standard due to its 30mm ammunition's more powerful penetrating capability than the smaller 25mm rounds.

The FNSS-BAE Systems Sharpshooter 1-man turret. Photo credits to Monch Publishing Group.

It remains to be seen on how the project was funded, considering the Proposed Program of Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 submitted by the DND to the Senate, the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade Project, or any project related to this, was not among those included.

Previous DND documents indicated that the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade Project would be funded by the AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund with funding allocated from annual GAA provided by the government. It was planned to be a Multi-Year Contacting Authority (MYCA) for 2 years.


20 August 2021:

FNSS confirmed in an interview with SavunmaTR last April 2021, that the turrets being manufactured for the Philippine Army are the new FNSS SABER 1-man turret, which were developed by FNSS based on its experience with previous collaboration with BAE Systems in locally producing the BAE Sharpshooter turret.

The SABER, like the Sharpshooter, is available in different configurations, with a main weapon plus a co-axial 7.62mm general purpose machine gun. The SABER-25, SABER-40, and SABER-12.7 uses a 25mm autocannon, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher, or a 12.7mm heavy machine gun as its main weapon, respectively.

The SABER also comes with thermal imager and laser rangefinder for improved sighting and day/night operations, as well as 8 smoke grenade launchers for 

The FNSS statement mentioned that the turrets for the Philippine Army were the Saber 40 and Saber 12.7, a total of 6 were ordered. 

This means that the original plan to acquire turrets to convert the six ACV-300 (now called ACV-15) into infantry fighting vehicles was abandoned, and will instead remain as armored personnel carriers with turrets.

Currently, the ACV-300 APCs in Philippine Army service are equipped with an armored cupola with an M2 12.7mm heavy machine gun. The turret will allow for the gunner to be protected, and use improved sighting systems through the thermal imager and laser rangefinder, while also being equipped with a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun in addition to the main weapon.


19 December 2022:

Here are clearer photos of the upgraded ACV-300 tracked armored personnel carrier of the Philippine Army, which now sport the FNSS Saber 12.7 and Saber 40 manned turrets.

The Saber series of manned turrets are the Turkish version of BAE Systems' Sharpshooter manned turrets. BAE Systems partly own Turkey's FNSS, which also built the ACV-300 armored vehicles.

Saber 12.7 has a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and coaxial 7.62mm light machine gun, while Saber 40 has a 40mm automatic grenade launcher and coaxial 7.62mm light machine gun.

Installation works have been done by the Philippine Army's Armor Division with technical assistance from FNSS.

Photo credits to MDP contributor who wish to remain anonymous.


26 January 2023:

The Philippine Army has re-inducted its 6 ACV-300 tracked armored personnel carriers, which was upgraded with the installation of a new SABER-40 and SABER-12.7 1-man turrets from Turkey's FNSS.

Also re-inducted are 7 GKN Simba 4x4 armored vehicles which underwent repair and re-powering.

The modernization of the ACV-300 was the product of the Philippine Army's M113 APC Firepower Upgrade, a project under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP.
The project was inaptly named "M113" because the project was originally made to upgrade the Philippine Army's M113A2 APCs without RCWS.

SABER-40 turret is equipped with a 40mm automatic grenade launcher as main weapon, and a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun. Meanwhile the SABER-12.7 has a 12.7mm heavy machine gun as main weapon and a co-axial 7.62mm machine gun.

Photo credits to Philippine Army.


With the Saber turrets installed and the ACV-300s reinducted with the Philippine Army as of January 2023, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the M113 APC Firepower Upgrade (One-Man Turret) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army as COMPLETED.

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