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Sunday, June 27, 2021

Multi-Role Fighter Munitions Systems Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

As the Philippine Air Force proceed with plans to acquire a new Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) to become its most capable combat aircraft, requirements for systems related to the new aircraft are also pushing forward.

This includes the acquisition of air-launched munitions consisting of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and smart bombs which the MRF are capable of delivering.

This would all be acquired under the PAF's Multi-Role Fighter Munition Systems Acquisition Project, which is a project under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

The MRF Munition Systems would be acquired almost at the same time as the MRF itself, although there are several lots within the project which could be awarded to different companies depending on the decision of the PAF.

The Saab JAS-39C Gripen with its mix of munition load-out. Photo credits to Flying Knights @ Instagram.

An example of potential load-outs of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, this example with the Turkish Air Force. Photo credits to the Turkish Air Force.


Project Summary:

Multi-Role Fighter Munition Systems Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 31 December 2023.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (5th Fighter Wing)

* Quantity: several lots

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Priority Projects of RAFPMP, moved to Re-Horizon 3 Phase.

* Project ABC: originally Php11,995,830,000.00, set for increase as project is shifted to Re-Horizon 3 Phase.

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement 

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA)

* SARO Release: TBC

* Winning Proponent: TBC

* Product for Delivery: TBC

* Contract Price:

* Residual Price: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: TBC

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status: To be procured in close coordination with the Multi-Role Fighter Acquisition Project, as it would be dependent on the aircraft to be selected. The project is expected to be made of several lots which will include beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, short range air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, smart bombs, and targeting pods.



The acquisition of new Multi-Role Fighters will definitely raise the need to acquire munitions that would be used by these new fighters.

Currently, the PAF is looking only at the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper, and the Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen, which means that munitions that the PAF may intend to acquire should be compatible and ready for use by the selected Multi-Role Fighter model.

Among those being considered for acquisition are Advanced Short and Medium-range air-to-air missiles, air-launched anti-ship missiles, air-to-ground missiles, smart bomb kits for free fall bombs, and Advanced Targeting Systems (ATS).

These requirements reflect the mission profile being considered for PAF MRFs, which would probably focus on Air Intercept and Air Superiority missions, with a secondary role of anti-shipping and strike missions.

The PAF is already in possession of some types of guided and smart munitions including the Raytheon AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile and the AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and the GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bomb. All these are compatible with both the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Viper.

For Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen:

The JAS-39 Gripen takes advantage of its wide range of compatible air-launched munitions coming from different sources, as well as those made by Saab. Aside from American-made munitions, the Gripen is capable of using European munitions especially those made by MBDA.

For short range air-to-air missiles, the Gripen appears to have a wider range of missile selections including the Raytheon AIM-9 and AIM-9X Sidewinder, the Diehl Defense IRIS-T, MBDA's AIM-132 ASRAAM, Denel Dynamics A-Darter, and Rafael's Python 4 and 5 missiles. 

For medium-range air-to-air missiles, the Gripen is compatible with the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, the MBDA MICA and Meteor (considered to be the best in its class), and the Rafael Derby and I-Derby missiles. 

The standard anti-ship missile for the Gripen is the Saab RBS-15.

Illustration on compatible munitions that can be used by the JAS-39 Gripen. Photo credits to original source.

For the F-16C/D Block 70 Viper:

The F-16 Viper's munition compatibility is mostly focused on American-made munition systems, or those commonly used by the US Air Force. While it is possible for the Viper to be integrated with other missiles, it would probably need more time, money and effort to do so.

Standard short-range air-to-air missile includes the Raytheon AIM-9 and AIM-9X Sidewinder, the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM, and the Rafael Python 4 and 5 missiles.

For the medium range air-to-air missile, the standard is the Raytheon AIM-120C AMRAAM, although it is also capable of using the Rafael Derby and I-Derby missiles, and the older AIM-7 Sparrow. The F-16E/F Block 60 Fighting Falcons of the United Arab Emirates Air Force have shown the F-16's ability to also use the MBDA MICA missiles from France.

The standard anti-ship missile for the F-16 Viper is the Boeing AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missile, although it is very rare for the aircraft to be equipped for anti-shipping roles.

Compatible munitions with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It is possible that the list could be longer for the more advanced F-16 Block 70 Viper. Photo credits to original source.

Approvals on AIM-9X and AGM-84L missiles:

With the recent approval by the US State Department on the potential sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder off-boresight short-range air-to-air missile, as well as the Boeing AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missile, these would benefit the PAF considering the AIM-9X is compatible with both the Gripen and Viper, although the Harpoon missile is only currently compatible with the Viper.

While it is potentially possible to equip the Gripen with the Harpoon Block II missile, it is not feasible as it may need development costs to be shouldered by the Philippines. Thus it is more logical to acquire Saab's RBS-15 Gungnir missile in case the PAF selects the JAS-39 Gripen as its future MRF.

A JAS-39 Gripen fighter of the Swedish Air Force shown here with 4 RBS-15 Gungnir anti-ship missiles. Photo credits to Naval Technology.

Another missile that appears to have been approved for the Philippines is the Raytheon AIM-120C-7 or AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missile, although its approval was tied with the F-16 Block 70 Viper's approval.

It is possible that the US Government may sell the AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM to the PAF even if the PAF selects the JAS-39 Gripen for its MRF needs, but that remains to be seen, considering selecting the Gripen may not be taken lightly by the US Government.

A USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon with three AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles in one of its wings. Photo credits to Military Watch Magazine.

Israeli Missile Options:

Another possibility is the acquisition of missiles made by Israel's Rafael Advance Systems, which includes the Python 5 short-range air-to-air missile, and the I-Derby medium-range missile.

The Python 5 and Derby missiles can be seen in this photo during a display in Israel. Photo credits to

Both are being introduced with the PAF, although in surface-to-air missile variant as part of the Rafael SPYDER Air Defense missile system.

It would not be difficult for the PAF and Israel to approve the acquisition of the Python and I-Derby missiles, and it would not be difficult for the PAF to bring in the missiles as the PAF may have already have the knowledge base for the missiles by then.

There are also talks that both the Python and Derby missiles may also be acquired to equip the PAF's fleet of FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft, so using them for MRFs may eventually happen even if they are not selected in this specific project's acquisition.

Python 5 missiles attached on an F-16 fighter of the Israeli Air Force. Photo credits to Jane's.

It remains to be seen what the Philippine Air Force will select, considering they are still not completely finalized with the fighter aircraft they would be procuring.

U P D A T E S:

18 December 2019:

Starting this week, US defense and company officials including those from Boeing and Lockheed Martin met with Philippine defense and military officials. Boeing was in discussion related to the MRF Munitions Acquisition Project which is closely related to the Multirole Fighter project. Boeing's discussions were specific on munitions for the F-16 Fighting Falcon/Viper, among them the Harpoon anti-ship missile and JDAM precision guided bombs. 

Contrary to claims made by fake news propagators, both the Harpoon and JDAM are plug-and-play munitions for the F-16 fighter, especially those variants the PAF is interested in having.

Boeing's presentation may touch on these products, and probably their other aviation products too including those for civilian and military aviation.

AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles carried by an F-16 fighter. Photo credits to original source.


21 May 2021:

We received several information from sources confirming that the Philippine Air Force has been in negotiations with American defense companies Raytheon and Boeing regarding the planned acquisition of munitions for the PAF's future Multi-Role Fighter. This was being done concurrent with the negotiations for the Multi-Role Fighter project itself.

And based on the information that we received, the basis for the munitions to be acquired was specifically for the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 70 Viper.

Among those being negotiated are Raytheon's AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, and Boeing's AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, and JDAM smart bomb kits for 500lb and 1000lb bombs.

Should the PAF proceed with acquiring the F-16 Viper, the munitions would be included in the package, considering both will be acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program.

The PAF has allocated Php12 billion for MRF Munition Systems, which is separate from the budget allocated by the PAF for the Multi-Role Fighter itself. 

According to our sources, they do not see any issues with the US Government approving the munition acquisitions, as the PAF was said to be cleared from acquiring the AIM-9X, AIM-120C, and AGM-84 Harpoon being a US Major Non-NATO ally.

Top: The AIM-120C AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Bottom: the AGM-84D -1 Harpoon anti-ship missile. Photo credits to original sources.


25 June 2021:

Still related to the earlier news on US Government's approval to sell the F-16 Viper to the Philippines, two other approvals were made recently: the potential sale of the AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missiles, and the AIM-9X off-boresight short-range air-to-air missile.

The potential sale of Harpoon Block II missiles include 12 missiles plus 2 exercise missiles, and all other spares, support and training with an estimated price of around US$120 million.

Top: The AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II air-launched anti-ship missile. Bottom: News release from DSCA on approval to sell Harpoons to the Philippines.

The potential sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles include 24 AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles, 24 AIM-9X Captive Air Training Missiles, and 10 captive air training missile guidance units, plus all other spares, support etc. Estimated cost is US$42.4 million.

Top: The AIM-9X Sidewinder off-boresight short range air-to-air missile. Bottom: DSCA new release on approval to sell AIM-9X Sidewinder to the Philippines.

Obviously these approvals are intended for the F-16 Block 70/72 Viper, in case the Philippine Air Force selects it for its MRF needs.

But it remains to be seen if this approval remains should the PAF decide to go with the Saab JAS-39C/D MS20 Gripen fighter, considering the AIM-9X Sidewinder is compatible with the Swedish fighter aircraft.


31 December 2023:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines received strong confirmation from sources that the Philippine Air Force has indeed received an offer for the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM and Meteor BVRAAM.

The only potential roadblock for acquiring the Meteor, which is considered one of the most capable air-to-air missiles in the world due to its long range and flight characteristics, will be the price. Apparently the Meteor is also very expensive, even compared to the already-expensive Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM C7 being offered to the PAF regardless if it chooses the JAS-39C/D Gripen or F-16C/D Fighting Falcon / Viper.

The Meteor is said to have a maximum range of 200 kilometers, although sources confirmed that it is higher although exact figures are confidential. In comparison, the most advanced air-to-air missile with China's People's Liberation Army Air Force, the PL-15 Abaddon has an estimated range between 200 and 300 kilometers.

The MBDA Meteor as seen mounted on a Rafale F3 of the French Navy. Photo credits to the French Navy through Naval News.


First edit and release: 28 June 2021
Copyright Philippine Defense Resource / MaxDefense Philippines

Sunday, June 20, 2021

ORD PABAC2 002-01-2021 General Purpose Vehicle (Pick-up) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

The Philippine Army is in need of more non-combat general purpose vehicles which can be used for non-combat operations in support of combat and support units.

The General Purpose Vehicle (Pick-up) Acquisition Projects of the Philippine Army are to provide these vehicles, which would provide additional mobility to combat and support units without relying on military vehicles.

Being commercial vehicles, these can be easier to maintain due to availability of numerous servicing shops and spare parts, compared to military vehicles.

For 2021, a requirement for 250 units of high-riding pick-up trucks was raised, which will be provided to army combat and support units. This will be in addition to more than 250 units already delivered to the Philippine Army since 2018.

Project Summary:

General Purpose Vehicle (Pick-up) Acquisition Project (2021):

Note: Edited as of 18 October 2021.

* Project Number: ORD PABAC2 002-01-2021

* End User: Philippine Army (multiple units)

Quantity: 225 units

* Modernization Phase:
 GAA 2021 Procurement Projects of the Philippine Army

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: Government Appropriations Act (GAA) 2021 funding of the Philippine Army

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: Toyota Balintawak

* Product for Delivery: Toyota Hi-Lux Twin-cab 4x4 Pick-up

* Contract Price: Php477,675,000.00

* Residual Amount: Php17,325,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 20 June 2021

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAGPVPickup2021Acquisition

* Status: Project was implemented through Public Bidding, with SOBE held on 07 January 2021. Toyota Balintawak was declared the Lowest Calculated and Responsive Bidder, and awarded the tender on 15 February 2021. MaxDefense PH believes pick-up to be supplied is Toyota Hi-Lux 4x4. Contract signed on 04 June 2021, NTP received on 11 June 2021. Vehicles appears to have been delivered as of October 2021. PROJECT COMPLETED.


The Philippine Army is in need of additional utility vehicles which can be deployed with front-line units for general transport requirements including as staff vehicle, or for non-combat transport requirements.

Based on a new set-up started by the Philippine Army a few years ago, each battalion are provided with a few 4x4 pick-up trucks which the battalion commander can use as staff vehicle, which means freeing units of using military vehicles like the Kia KM450 truck for staff transport and other non-combat transportation needs.

The Philippine Army has started deploying Toyota Hi-Lux 4x2 high-riding pick-up trucks for these task starting in 2018, which won an earlier tender for more than 200 units to be assigned in most combat battalions in Mindanao.

First batch of Toyota Hi-Lux pick-up trucks delivered in 2018 to the Philippine Army. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense PH.

These vehicles were seen used also as troop carriers for small-unit urban operations or for standard troop movement. Being un-armored, the Philippine Army avoids using them for ferrying troops in rural areas, to avoid risk of ambushes.

Apparently the system, together with assigning light motorcycles for liaison duties, was deemed workable and was accepted very well, giving more mobility to Army battalions without relying too much on combat vehicles. This means the Philippine Army would probably order more pick-up trucks for similar duties, as many more battalions are in need of such vehicles, while battalions that currently have such vehicles may need more.

Photo shows one of the Philippine Army's Toyota Hilux pick-up truck used as a troop carrier in urban areas. Photo credits to Ranger Cabunzsky (Col. Harold Cabunoc) Youtube channel.

U P D A T E S:

20 June 2021:

The General Purpose Vehicle (Pick-up) Acquisition Project (2021) of the Philippine Army was awarded to Toyota Balintawak, one of the dealerships of Toyota Motors in the Metro Manila area. The Notice of Award (NOA) was released in favour of Toyota Balintawak on 15 February 2021.

This means that the vehicle to be delivered will be a Toyota model, most likely the Toyota Hilux in 4x4 variant. Previously the model delivered to the PA was the Hilux 4x2G, and its most likely that Toyota Balintawak will supply the same model.

So far, no contract has been awarded although it is expected that this could happen anytime soon, with the vehicles most likely delivered before the end of 2021.

Photo screenshot from PhilGEPS website.


18 October 2021:

It looks like Toyota Balintawak has delivered the Hilux 4x4 vehicles to the Philippine Army, with hundreds of vehicles parked at the Army Support Command's compound in Fort Bonifacio.

Rather than having just one color which is usually black, it appears that Toyota delivered the vehicles in several colors including black, red, white and others.

Vehicles as seen at ASCOM's compound in Fort Bonifacio. Photo credits to MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

It remains to be seen when the vehicles will be distributed to frontline units. But it is safe to assume that all vehicles have been delivered, and that the project is completed.


With the Toyota Hilux 4x4 general purpose vehicles already delivered to the Philippine Army as of October 2021, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the ORD PABAC2 002-01-2021 General Purpose Vehicle (Pick-up) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 20 June 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, June 11, 2021

Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 6 - Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

The Philippine Army has embarked on the acquisition of new assets capable of conducting mine detection capabilities for its growing combat engineering forces.

As part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, the Philippine Army has included the acquisition of Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detectors, and Mini Mine Detectors, both of which can be used for mine detection depending on the situation. 

While Mini Mine Detectors are handheld can be used directly by combat engineering or combat personnel, the Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector that will be discussed in this resource page, are larger, and are to be used with sufficient safety distance between the operator and the mine or IED itself.

The first 2 ArmTrac 100-350 Mk. 2 VMMDs as seen in a military base in somewhere in Luzon. Photo credits to MaxDefense community member who wish to remain unnamed.

Project Summary:

Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 6 - Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 07 January 2024.

* End User: Philippine Army (Combat Engineering units)

Quantity: 4 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between Philippine DND and UK Ministry of Defence.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA) from FY2020 to FY2022.

* SARO Release/s: 
SARO-BMB-D-21-0003095 worth Php55,200,000.00 dated 10 June 2021

* Winning Proponent: Armtrac Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: Armtrac 100-350 Mk.2 VMMD

* Contract Price: Php110,400,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PACEEVMMDAcquisition 

* Status: Project was implemented through G2G with UK government. Armtrac Ltd. received NOA on January 2021, contract and NTP release expected by June or July 2021. First 2 vehicles delivered as of March 2022, for induction after TIAC post delivery inspections and testing. Final 2 vehicles scheduled for delivery by July 2022, although MaxDefense Philippines confirmed that the vehicles arrived on September 2022. Sources confirmed that the vehicles have been accepted and inducted into service before December 2022. PROJECT COMPLETED.


The intention to improve mine detection capabilities were evident in the acquisition plans the Philippine Army has forwarded for priority implementation under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covering years 2018 to 2022.

These were included in the Combat Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project, which includes 2 lots for mine detection capabilities.

1. First is the Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detector (MMD) Acquisition Project which will provide handheld mine detection systems for small scale and space-restrained environments. The project is currently in the procurement phase but has encountered delays. This project has been discussed in our extension's resource page which can be accessed on the link below:

"Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 7 - Mini Mine Detectors Acquisition Project" - first posted at Philippine Defense Resource on 25 October 2019.

2. The second one, which is one of the main topics of this blog entry, is the Lot 6 - Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector (VMMD) Acquisition Project, which intends to bring in a mine detection capability to cover larger areas to protect operators.

Four (4) vehicle systems are planned, including all necessary accessories, integrated logistics support (ILS), and support for the vehicles, 
with a budget of Php138 million. This is very important since the PA does not have experience operating similar or same vehicles or equipment in the past.

According to MaxDefense Philippines sources from the Philippine Army, the Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded the project last month to UK-based Armtrac Ltd under a Philippines - United Kingdom Government-to-Government (G2G) deal supported by the UK's Ministry of Defence.

While no specific model was mentioned by our sources, Armtrac actually has four mine detection vehicles in its product offerings, only different from each other in terms of size and overall capability.

But based on the technical specifications from the DND and Philippine Army, we believe that the closest product to it is the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 vehicle mounted mine detector.

The Armtrac 100-350 Mk.2 (above) is the closest to the specs of the specs of the project provided by PA sources to MaxDefense Philippines. Photo taken from Armtrac's website.

According to the product information of both equipment, the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 is armored and have protected cabins, can be operated manually or via remote controlled system. It uses a Ground Probing Radar (GPR) for search and detection of IED, mines, and bombs. The GPR is used with a robotic arms, and also includes a vegetation cutter.

An example of how the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 is utilized for mine detection using 2 robotic arms. Photo taken from Armtrac's website.

Aside from mine detection, the vehicle can actually be used also for route proving and clearing against mines, IEDs and bombs, and create safe passage ways for combat troops and vehicles. This can be done by installing the system's 3-meter Tiller and Flail header, as well as the Armtrac C-IED mine roller system.

Status of Projects:

The Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector and Dry Support Bridge Acquisition Projects were said to have the Notice of Award (NOA) released only in early January 2021, and it remains to be seen when the contract would be signed and the Notice to Proceed (NTP) released. But it is expected that delivery would be made by 2022, and full delivery by 2023.

U P D A T E S:

11 June 2021:

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released what is believed to be half the total contract amount of the Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector Acquisition Project, with a SARO released on 10 June 2021 with an amount of Php55,200,000.00.

It is expected that a contract would be signed between the DND and Armtrac Ltd, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) assisting in the deal due to the Government-to-Government (G2G) nature of the deal.


01 April 2022:

MaxDefense Philippines received photos and information confirming that the delivery of the ArmTrac 100-350 Mk. 2 vehicle-mounted mine detectors (VMMD) have arrived in the Philippines, and were delivered to the Philippine Army several days ago.

2 vehicles and other equipment were delivered from the United Kingdom, and are currently undergoing post-delivery inspections and testing by the Philippine Army’s Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC), before these new assets are inducted to the Philippine Army.

Based on the photos, it appears that the Philippine Army did not procure the mine clearing roller attachment, although these can be procured later using a different budget.

This makes the vehicle technically a mine/IED search and detection vehicle and not a mine clearing vehicle.

The ArmTrac 100-350 Mk.2 is made by ArmTrac Ltd of the United Kingdom, and is described as a cost effective, heavily modified and armoured to STANAG 4569 Level 1, multi-purpose C-IED/demining machine, and is built around the JCB Fastrac 8000 tractor.

Delivery of the last 2 vehicles is expected on or before July 2023.

The ArmTrac 100-350 Mk.2, shown here being transported from the port of arrival to the Philippine Army's facility. Photo credits to MaxDefense PH contributor who wish to remain anonymous.


24 September 2022:

MaxDefense Philippines has confirmed from its sources that the second batch of two ArmTrac 100-350 Mk.2 vehicle-mounted mine detectors are expected to arrive either by last week of September 2022 or early October 2022.

Both vehicles will undergo localized inspection and testing before formally accepted by the Philippine Army.

Once accepted, it can be considered that the project is complete as only the Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package would be remaining for a certain duration based on contract.

The first 2 ArmTrac 100-350 Mk. 2 VMMDs as seen in a military base in somewhere in Luzon. Photo credits to MaxDefense community member who wish to remain unnamed.


With the Armtrac 100-350 Mk. 2 vehicle-mounted mine detectors already delivered  already delivered to the Philippine Army as of September 2022, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 6 - Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army as COMPLETED.

x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 10 June 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, June 4, 2021

Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has embarked on the acquisition of Heavy Lift Helicopters as part of its 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase projects.

This project will provide the PAF with larger helicopters than what it currently has, to fit certain combat and peacetime requirements in tactical airlift and heliborne operations.

The CH-47F Chinook, the latest variant of the Chinook heavy helicopter family. Photo credits to Boeing.


Project Summary:

Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 15 November 2022.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (still being determined if 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing or 220th Airlift Wing)

* Quantity: 16 units (plus potential 1 free unit), for re-evaluation as of June 2022.

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php12,800,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Originally Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement with Russian government (Sovtechnoexport), cancelled and for re-evaluation as of June 2022.

* Source of Funding: Multi-Year Contractual Authority for 3 years, using General Appropriations Act (GAA) from FY2020 to FY2022.

* SARO Release: 
    - SARO-BMB-D-20-0018320 worth Php1,919,626,490.00 (15% initial payment) dated 29 October 2020, released 04 November 2020, placed on hold.
    - new SARO with same amount released on 27 May 2021, confirmed to have been paid to Russia's Sovetechnoexport.

* Winning Proponent: Originally awarded to Sovtechnoexport on behalf of Russian Helicopters,cancelled and for re-evaluation as of June 2022. 

* Product for Delivery: 

    - Originally 16 Mil Mi-171, exact variant still being confirmed although most like Mi-171Sh, plus unconfirmed report of 1 Mil Mi-171 in VIP configuration, most likely Mi-171A2. Cancelled and for re-evaluation as of June 2022.

* Contract Price: Php12,797,509,932.00, cancelled.

* Residual Price: Php2,490,068.00, cancelled.

* First post by MaxDefense: 28 June 2019

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:

* Status:  SARO for initial 15% funding was released on 04 November 2020, but was put on hold due to unspecified issues believed to be related to CAATSA. New funding for 15% initial payment released on 27 May 2021, with contract signing expected by 3rd quarter 2021. Defense Sec. Lorenzana confirmed on 24 February 2022 that the initial payment has been made to Russia on January 2022, confirming NOA and Contract has been signed and released as of November 2021. Project was cancelled as of June 2022 by former Pres. Duterte according to former SND Delfin Lorenzana due to fear of US sanctions. American alternatives are being re-considered, specifically Boeing CH-47 Chinook, although it is also possible for the DND/PAF to use the funds for additional S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, or the larger S-92 Superhawk.



The Philippine Air Force has been eyeing heavy lift helicopters since the 1970s, with the Boeing CH-47 Chinook already being considered during modernization programs for the last 40 years.

In 1978, the US government actually considered selling the CH-47D Chinook, which was a new variant back then, in lieu of a request for 36 units of DHC-5 Buffalo medium lift aircraft. According to US declassified reports, if contract was signed for the CH-47D Chinook, they were projected to enter service with the PAF by 1981. But this did not push through due to the Philippine economy's poor performance.

The CH-47D Chinook of the Spanish Army. Photo credits to original source.

The 1995 AFP Modernization Program also listed a requirement for Heavy Lift Helicopters, with a total of 4 units requested to enter between 1995 to 2010. The CH-47D Chinook was also eyed by the PAF to meet this requirement. Again, due to the poor performance of the Philippine economy, the entire program did not push through, including the acquisition of  Heavy Lift Helicopters.

A requirement for Heavy Lift Helicopters again surfaced when the AFP Modernization Program was revised and extended to cover years 2013 to 2027. But it was programmed to be included in the Horizon 3 phase of the new project.

Since the AFP and DND have an option to frontload projects depending on requirements, the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project was moved to the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase, which is an offshoot of the Horizon 2 phase depending if the government has extra funds available to frontload Horizon 3 projects.

Again, the CH-47 Chinook family was in eyed by the Philippine Air Force, this time a newer variant called the CH-47F being available fresh from the factory. Other helicopters were also considered including the AgustaWestland AW101, as well as Medium Helicopters like the Airbus H225M Caracal, and the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171Sh Hip.

Also considered was the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin. This example is with the Danish Air Force. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Originally, the PAF's Technical Working Group decided that the CH-47F Chinook was the only helicopter that met the PAF's requirements for heavy lift helicopters, which made it closer for the PAF to acquire the CH-47F Chinook.

The CH-47F Chinook, these examples with the Indian Air Force. Photo credits to IAF.

But it appears that this was overturned by the Department of National Defense (DND), which asked the PAF to reconsider its specifications due to political reasons. According to MaxDefense Philippines, the president himself could be involved in the decision of the DND to push the PAF to reconsider.

It was reported by MaxDefense Philippines that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was not in favor of the Philippine Air Force and DND's decision to select the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk for its Combat Utility Helicopter requirements, wherein 16 units were ordered for less than Php13 billion. But in the end, the president allowed the deal with Sikorsky to push through under one condition - that the PAF should also order helicopters from Russia, either transport or attack helicopters, or both.

With the PAF in a tight situation, the Heavy Lift Helicopter project was again re-evaluated with changes in the specifications, and it was recommended in the end that the Mil Mi-171 meets the PAF's revised requirements and is the most ideal due to the number of helicopters (quantity) the Russians have agreed to sell based on the Php12.8 billion budget.

While Russia agreed to sell 16 Mil Mi-171 helicopters, with a potential donation of 1 Mi-171 helicopter for VIP requirements, apparently Boeing was only able to offer 4 units under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, or 5 units under Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program.

The Mil Mi-171, this example with the Russian Army. Photo taken from Avia Russia.

Negotiations with Russia's Rosoboronexport commenced in 2018, although issues related to the US' Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was deemed to be an obstacle to a deal being reached between the DND and Rosoboronexport.

It was noted that as of March 2019, a new Russian state shell company SOVTECHNOEXPORT appears to be the one handling the deal between the Philippines DND and Russia on the potential acquisition of the Mil Mi-171 helicopter.

As of 3rd quarter 2020, a Notice of Award (NOA) was awarded in favor of the Russian government, although it remains to be seen if it was through SOVTECHNOEXPORT or ROSOBORONEXPORT.

But due to recent global events, specifically the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, sanctions against Russia and those who support Russia by buying their arms and equipment has become too strong that it was decided by the Philippine Government under former President Rodrigo Duterte last June 2022 to cancel the contract with Russia.

As of August 2022, it was confirmed that the DND and PAF are re-looking at offers made by the US to supply Boeing CH-47 Chinook, as confirmed by Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

U P D A T E S:

20 June 2018:

Russian media outlet Sputnik reported that National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon talked to them on matters, including plans to acquire the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171 helicopter, which also goes in line with an earlier interview by Sputnik with Defense Usec. Cardozo Luna.

Previously, MaxDefense reported that the Medium and even the Heavy Helicopter Acquisition plans by the Philippine Air Force were already given an in-principle approval by Pres. Duterte on one condition - that they be bought from the Russians, specifically the Mil Mi-171Sh. This was despite the PAF being more in favor of going for the Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk and the Boeing CH-47E Chinook for the medium and heavy helicopters, respectively.

This was said to have been the pre-condition of Pres. Duterte as well when he agreed to go ahead with purchasing the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk for the PAF's Combat Utility Helicopter requirement despite his opposition to going for American products.

So in MaxDefense's opinion, there is indeed a strong chance that the DND would push to acquire the Mil Mi-171Sh, although the Medium and Heavy Helicopter acquisition projects are still among those being pushed as part of the proposed 2nd List of Horizon 2 if the government finds more funds beyond the Php300 billion approved by Pres. Duterte for implementation under the Horizon 2 Priority Projects last June 2018.

Now, the DND has to do something on how to go around CAATSA, since its proven that its real.

From left: Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters from Russian Helicopters. Photo taken from Sputnik.


28 June 2019:

On the sidelines of the ongoing Russian ARMY 2019 International Military-Technical Forum in Moscow, Russia, Defense Usec. Raymundo Elefante told Russian media outlet Sputnik that the acquisition of Mi-171 helicopters from Russia is a priority and is being pushed to be finalized this year.

This supports earlier statements made by Defense USec. Cardozo Luna that the Philippines is interested in acquiring 16 to 17 Mil Mi-171 medium helicopters from Russia.

A few days ago MaxDefense mentioned that the procurement of Russian helicopters was a direct order from the president himself, as he made a pre-condition of approving the acquisition of the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk to fulfil the Philippine Air Force's requirement for Combat Utility Helicopters only if the DND and PAF would buy the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171Sh for the Medium Helicopter and/or Heavy Helicopter requirements of the PAF.

In fact, the acquisition of Medium and Heavy Helicopters for the PAF are not really part of Horizon 2, but were being front-loaded to justify the acquisition. Based on DND documents obtained by MaxDefense, the Medium Lift Helicopter and the Heavy Lift Helicopter project was among those proposed for the 2nd List of Horizon 2.

Its still a question how Duterte will go head on with CAATSA, as its now proven to be real.

The Mil Mi-171Sh medium helicopter, which was displayed in ARMY 2019 Expo in Russia. Photo credits to original source.

24 July 2019:

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez confirmed in an interview that the Philippines has shown interest in potentially acquiring the Boeing CH-47 Chinook for its heavy lift helicopter requirements.

MaxDefense PH previously mentioned that the Philippine Air Force has shown interest in acquiring the Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters from the US, as the US offers them not just to the PAF but also to the Philippine Army.

This is in case they find a way to front load the PAF's planned Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project which is a 2nd List of Horizon 2 project, which is separate also from the proposed Medium Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project under the Horizon 3 phase. 

The problem is that Pres. Duterte is insisting to go Russian with the Mil Mi-171Sh Hip, which is actually a Medium Lift Helicopter. It would be best if the government can find funds for BOTH projects instead of using the funds for the Heavy Lift Helicopters project to fund the Mi-171Sh.

The CH-47 Chinook. Photo taken from Wikipedia.


01 October 2019:

A report was released by the Manila Bulletin confirming that a freebie Mi-17 helicopter that Russia promised should the DND order 16 helicopters would be configured as a VVIP Helicopter  (Presidential Helicopter). If this is the case, it is definitely going to be operated by the PAF's 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, which currently operates 8 Bell 412HP/EP VVIP helicopters.

But the report also confirmed that Manila Bulletin's sources from the AFP are "concerned about the speed with which the close to P13-billion project is being rushed". MaxDefense also received this feedback yesterday, considering the project was just frontloaded and is not really a priority based on the Philippine Air Force's own procurement plan.

Currently, the variant being marketed by Russia for VIP helicopter based on the Mi-17 platform is the Mi-171A2, which was designed for government or offshore oil and gas companies.

The Mil Mi-171A2 VIP helicopter. Photo taken from Russian Helicopters.


24 October 2019:

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev confirmed that Russia and the Philippines are still working on reaching a contract to acquire Mil Mi-171 helicopters from Russia, and that final numbers are yet to be finalized.

So far, MaxDefense has also confirmed that no contract has been reached yet, because of issues regarding CAATSA still hindering a potential deal.

The Mil Mi-17, this example with the Indonesian Army. Photo credits to original source.


14 March 2020:

Officials from the DND and Philippine Air Force led by Defense Asec. Jose Gaverza and PAF BGen. Rene Honasan inspected the Ulan Ude Aviation Plant in Russia. This is the same plant that produces the Mil Mi-171 Hip helicopter that the Philippine government plans to acquire from Russia.

Reports are varying on the quantity the government is after, from 12 as mentioned by Pres. Duterte, to as many as 16+1 as reported by BusinessMirror's Rene Acosta.

So far, the Philippine government has been pushing to acquire something major from Russia, with the Mil Mi-171 being the one planned to be absolutely awarded to Russia. According to one our contributors who is a high ranking defense official, this order came from Pres. Duterte's personal wishes himself, who wanted the DND to accept an equivalent order of Russian helicopters for him to allow the acquisition of 16 S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters from Lockheed Martin, considering he made a promise to Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin to acquire a significant amount of helicopters from Russia.

No doubt the Russian Mi-171 is a capable helicopter, while also the cheapest in the market that would allow the measly budget of the PAF to acquire more than what it can get from Western equivalents. But CAATSA remains an stumbling block.

As for CAATSA, MaxDefense learned from trade and defense sources that both Russia and the Philippine governments have come to an understsnding on the availability of a 3rd party financial institution has been made available to transact the deal and fund transfers, without the institution being affected by American trade sanctions.

And if this is proven to be effective, apparently more Russian arms orders will be made. Let's see if this would be effective enough, considering other countries like Indonesia and even India and Thailand seem to have stumbled on CAATSA concerns.

Surprisingly, the Philippine Embassy in Russia made use of the word "Sovtechnoexport" in describing "Rosoboronexport".

All photos from the Philippine Embassy in Russia.


06 November 2020:

MaxDefense has finally confirmed that the DND has released the Notice of Award (NOA) for the Philippine Air Force's Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project in favor of the Russian government in a deal worth Php12.797 billion, that will involve the supply of the Mil Mi-171 Hip helicopter.

The NOA was released by the DND several weeks ago, and the DBM releasing the SARO for the initial 15% of the contract cost last 04 November 2020. A contract is expected to be signed soon, although it remains to be seen how the DND would skirt the CAATSA issue, which according to a MaxDefense source, could have been done with the help of a French financial institution.

Philippine Defense Resource's Youtube channel has posted a new video regarding this development, which can be seen below.


02 June 2021:

According to MaxDefense PH's sources, the funding for the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project that was released by the DBM was November 2020 was placed on hold due to the DND's inability to finalize the deal with the Russian government due to CAATSA-related issues.

Apparently, no financial institution was interested in doing the transaction between the Philippine and Russian governments for fear of being imposed with CAATSA sanctions.

Because of this, a contract was not signed between the DND and Russian government for the project.

But in a surprise move by the DBM, it has again released the 15% initial funding worth Php1,919,626,490.00 under a new SARO dated 27 May 2021.

According to MaxDefense PH's sources, the project is still for the procurement of 16 Russian-made Mil Mi-171 medium lift helicopters, which Russia and the Philippines are still pushing to go ahead.

MaxDefense PH mentioned that the DND targets to sign a contract with the Russian Government in the next few months, to allow the delivery of a first batch of helicopters before Pres. Duterte's term ends in June 2022.

Funding for additional S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters won't be coming from this project.

Mil Mi-171 medium helicopter.


09 December 2021:

On the sidelines of the formal takeover of Maj. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas as the new Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that the downpayment for the acquisition of Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopters from Russia will be released soon by the Department of Budget Management (DBM).

It would be remembered that the DBM already released a SARO supporting the downpayment of the Mi-171 Hip helicopters back in 2020, but was said to have been among those reverted back to the DBM due to the government's decision to spend it for COVID pandemic response.

Another issue was CAATSA, which was also confirmed by Sec. Lorenzana back in 2020. It now remains to be seen how the PH government will go through with the deal with Russian agency Sovtechnoexport, which is believed to be proxying on behalf of Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport which is currently slapped with a CAATSA blacklist.

The Mi-17 helicopters worth around Php16 billion are being acquired under the PAF's Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project, part of the RAFPMP's 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase.

More on the PNA's report below.


Down payment for PAF's Russian heavy-lift choppers out soon: DND
By Priam Nepomuceno
December 8, 2021, 3:11 pm

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the down payment for the Philippine Air Force (PAF)'s Russian-sourced heavy-lift helicopter acquisition program will be released soon.

"Also, the down payment for the heavy-lift helicopters, I think will be paid soon so that we will have the heavy-lift helicopter, Mi-17, of Russia. Malaking helicopter po iyon (that is a big helicopter)," Lorenzana said on the sidelines of the assumption ceremony of Maj. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas as the new PAF chief on Tuesday night.

Canlas replaced Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, who retired from the service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The PAF earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring heavy-lift helicopters as part of efforts to beef up its helicopter fleet.

A heavy-lift helicopter is a type of rotary aircraft capable of lifting large numbers of personnel or cargo. The Mil Mi-17 is a Soviet-designed Russian military helicopter family in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude.

It is known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service. The helicopter is mostly used as medium twin-turbine transport helicopter, as well as an armed gunship version.

It has a maximum speed of 280 km/h (170 mph, 150 knots) and a range of 800 km. The Mi-17 has a crew of two pilots and one engineer and is capable of transporting 24 soldiers or 12 stretchers internally. (PNA)


24 February 2022:

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that the acquisition of 16 Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopters from Russia is still a go, despite the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

He also confirmed that the Philippine Government already paid the initial payment to start the production of the helicopters for the Philippine Air Force.

The helicopters are said to start arriving in 2024.

This is so far the 1st confirmation from the DND that the project has moved beyond an award and contract signing, since payment is only made after those processes.

Previously the last news regarding this project was when the DND was still waiting for the DBM to release the funds so they could start the Notice of Award release.

The Mil Mi-171Sh helicopter. Photo taken from AIN Online.


12 March 2022:

More information was released by the DND regarding the status of the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project, as there are mounting calls of concern on the timing of the deal considering Russia's situation due to its invasion of Ukraine.

According to the latest statement by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, the contract for the helicopters was signed between the DND and the Russians on November 2021, and the 15% initial payment was made by the Philippine government on January 2022.

He also confirmed that the first batch of helicopters is scheduled to be delivered to the Philippine Air Force in 24 months, or around January 2024.

With the situation Russia is considering the massive sanctions it received from most major economies of the world, plus its potential requirement to build more helicopters for its own use, it remains to be seen if Russia can meet its commitments to the Philippines DND to deliver the helicopters on time and completely as per contract conditions.

A Mil Mi-8/17 Hip helicopter of the Indian armed forces. Photo credits to


27 July 2022:

Former Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana was quoted by a report saying that the deal between the Philippines and Russia to procure Mi-17 Hip helicopters have been cancelled for fear of US sanctions under CAATSA. 

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines have been saying that this could potentially happen years ago because it was an obvious situation that the Philippines would be affected by CAATSA. 

As we said before, getting back the money already paid to the Russians would be the difficult part now. It is expected that Russia won't be returning the money anytime soon. 

While we wait for official confirmation from the DND and AFP/PAF, former SND is a credible source so the chances that this is true is indeed high. The PAF should start reconsidering the Boeing CH-47F Chinook at this point in time.


15 August 2022:

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez confirmed that the Philippine Air Force is now looking at the Boeing CH-47 Chinook for its heavy lift helicopter requirements after a contract to purchase 16 Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopters from Russia was decided to be cancelled by the Department of National Defense, citing recent global events and fears of sanctions from CAATSA.

The Chinook is a larger and far more advanced and expensive helicopter so we do not expect the Philippines to able to procure 16 units based on its current budget for 16 Mi-17 helicopters.

Based on the project's allocated budget, it is believed that the PAF may be able to acquire between 4 to 5 units only, unless the budget for the project is supplemented/increased. 

But Ambassador Romualdez said that the Americans are willing to put in their best offer by offering as much helicopters as possible.

The good thing with buying American is it will definitely have full support, and will be acquired together with spare parts , and direct and indirect support from the US military. Unlike Russian helicopters which are known for poor after sales support despite the Mi-17 being widely used around the world.

The CH-47F Chinook, the latest variant of the Chinook heavy helicopter family.


15 November 2022:

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines mentioned in its social media post that the Heavy Lift Helicopter Acquisition Project may be among those that will be moving again forward as negotiations with the US have started, with the Boeing CH-47F Chinook, Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk and the S-92 Superhawk among those being considered.

This is the first time the S-92 Superhawk was mentioned as a potential candidate for the Philippine Air Force, since it is larger than the S-70i Black Hawk and is closer to the lift capabilities of the Mil Mi-171 Hip helicopter, while being cheaper than the CH-47F Chinook.

A CH-148 Superhawk, which is the Canadian military version of the S-92 Superhawk. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

First edit and release: 07 November 2020
Copyright Philippine Defense Resource / MaxDefense Philippines