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Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 5 - Combat Engineer Vehicle Acquisition Project of the Philippine Army

The Department of National Defense (DND) has raised the requirement for new Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEV) for the Philippine Army, as part of plans of improving the service's combat engineering capabilities.

Under the Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 5 - Combat Engineer Vehicle Acquisition Project, which is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, it aims to procure at least 3 combat engineer vehicles to support armored and mechanized combat units in providing mine and obstacle clearing and other engineering functions, as an engineering hub, for transport of combat engineers into combat, and even provide fire support due to it being armed.

The ASCOD-based Pizarro II Castor combat engineering vehicle. 

Project Summary:

Combat Engineering Equipment Lot 5 - Combat Engineer Vehicle Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of  04 February 2024.

* End User: Philippine Army (Combat Engineering units)

Quantity: Originally 4 units, reduced to 3 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: TBC

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: TBC

* Product for Delivery: TBC

* Contract Price: TBC

* First post by MaxDefense: 22 September 2022 (this post)

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PACEECEVAcquisition 

* Status: Originally proposed to be awarded to China's Poly Technologies under G2G agreement between PH DND and PRC MND. Proposal was said to be poorly supported within Philippine Army. Project moved to Public Bidding, with ITB released September 2022. 2nd bid attempt was republished on 21 September 2022 with SOBE scheduled on 14 October 2022, and pushed back to 26 October 2022. Tender appears to have failed as the another bid attempt was republished on 12 November 2022 with new SOBE scheduled on 05 December 2022. 2nd Bidding  attempt was declared failure as of 06 February 2023. 3rd bidding attempt opened on 09 August 2023, with SOBE scheduled on 01 September 2023. Bidding failed. No update as of 04 February 2024 although it appears that the DND could be considered to conduct the acquisition through direct negotiations / negotiated procurement, and potentially adjust the budget.


The Combat Engineering Vehicle was one of the equipment that was found to be needed by the Philippine Army based on experiences it had before and during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.

But it was not very evident until 2017 when armored vehicles were used extensively in combat, but encountered difficulty due to obstacles that hinder their movement.

When it was raised as part of the Combat Engineering Equipment requirements of the Philippine Army, the Department of National Defense (DND) originally wanted the Combat Engineering Vehicle to be sourced from the People's Republic of China through a Government-to-Government (G2G) transaction, together with other Combat Engineering Equipment.

For some reason, the proposal did not push through and instead was pushed to be procured through Public Bidding.

Based on the technical specifications of the project, the Philippine Army is looking to have a combat engineering vehicle with the following features:

* Tracked vehicle;
* Equipped with a Common Interface Fitting Kit on the front for different kinds of equipment;
* Equipped with a Surface Clearance Device, more specifically Mine Rollers for clearing landmines and threats found within its path;

The Pizarro II Castor equipped with a mine clearing device. Photo credits to Defense.com

* Can pull a trailer-mounted Mine Clearing Line Charge System;

* Equipped with an Obstacle Marker System;

* To include a Multi-Rotor Drone with Magnetometer System
* Mine protection compliant with STANAG 4569 Level 3a under the tracks;
* Armor protection against up to 14.5mm AP, and capable of provision for add-on applique armor or bar armor cage;
* Overhead protection against 155mm HE fragmentation;
* Can be equipped with a turret capable of mounting 25mm autocannon, 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and 40mm automatic grenade launcher;
* A length of at least 4,800mm, width of at least 2,600mm, height of at least 2,000mm, ground clearance of at least 400mm, and a weight between 5 to 20 tons.
* Powered by diesel engine V6 turbocharged with an output of at least 275 horsepower;
* Automatic transmission with 4 forward and 2 reverse gearings;
* Capacity for at least 8 personnel;
* Fully amphibious with bilge pump, capable of speed of at least 5 km/h on water (without attached surface clearance or mine roller attachments);
* Integrated to common C4ISR system including 3D mapping, blue force tracking, common operational picture sharing.

Looking at the technical specifications, it looks like it was "copied" from the product description of the General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) ASCOD armored vehicle.

But this makes sense, since the Philippine Army has chosen the ASCOD for its light tank platform, and for its command and control vehicle platform. Choosing the ASCOD for its combat engineering vehicle requirement allows for commonality advantage in terms of training, maintenance, logistics support and others.

Since the Philippine Army's ASCOD-based Sabrah Light Tank is actually based on the Pizarro II platform produced by GDELS subsidiary Santa Barbara Sistemas for the Spanish Army, it is highly possible that the desired model of the Philippine Army is the Pizarro II Castor sappers combat vehicle, which was designed for the Spanish Army and has the same mission profile as a combat engineering vehicle.

The Sabrah light tank for the Philippine Army (top) was based on the ASCOD Pizarro II armored vehicle for the Spanish Army. The same is true for the Pizarro II Castor sappers combat vehicle (above), which is essentially a combat engineering vehicle variant of the ASCOD Pizarro II. Photo credits to Ronkainen @ Twitter, and Defensa.com.

But since this is a public bidding, it remains to be seen if other companies would be able to match the technical specifications using their own products.

The killer requirement raised on the project could be on the ability of the vendor to integrate its product with the Philippine Army's existing C4ISR system, which is based on Elbit Systems' C4ISR technology. While other vehicles can be integrated to it, that would only be possible through the participation of Elbit Systems.

And if Elbit Systems decides to participate in the tender on its own, then it means it will not make itself available to assist other vendors on either using Elbit's own C4ISR products, or integrate their product's C4ISR with that of Elbit Systems.

Also, if Elbit decides to join on its own, chances are it would be offering the ASCOD Pizarro II platform which it already did with the Light Tank Acquisition Project with their ASCOD Pizarro II-based Sabrah light tank. And if all these happens, chances are, Elbit Systems might win the tender not because of price but because of the ability to deliver all requirements.

We expect vendors from other countries like South Korea, Turkey, Czech Republic, Germany, France, among others would also try to see if they can participate and meet the technical requirements of the project.

In particular, Turkey and South Korea have been very active in the Philippine defense market lately, and it would be interesting to see what FNSS, Otokar, Hanwha Defense, and others would be offering.

The first attempt to tender this project has a Submission of Bids scheduled on 14 October 2022, and it remains to be seen if this would be extended based on requests by vendors.


15 October 2022:

A Supplemental Bid Bulletin No. AFPMP-PACEEL5-10-22-01 was released, moving the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) from 14 October to 26 October 2022.


31 October 2022:

While the tender's Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) appears to have proceeded as scheduled, a Supplemental Bid Bulletin actually came out on 17 October 2022.

Based on the queries and replies, the following were clarified on top of what were already specified in the project's specifications:

1. The DND requires the bidder that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the Combat Engineer Vehicle can certify any modification / integration / use of associated accessories.

2. The vehicle will come with a turret with 12.7mm heavy machine gun and 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

3. The specs of the project calls for a platform based on a light armored vehicle, not a main battle tank platform, which we mentioned in our analysis as part of this resource page's overview.

The SBB can be read from this link:

DND Bids and Awards Committee 2 - Public Bidding


16 November 2023:

It appears that the 1st bidding attempt, which has the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelope (SOBE) held on 26 October 2022, has failed due to the re-opening of another bidding attempt that has its SOBE scheduled on 05 December 2022.

We expect the same tenderers to submit their bids, although the quick turnaround may not allow them to provide their best offers. We believe that this is a tactic for the procurement process to change to Negotiated Procurement or G2G per procurement laws.


13 March 2023:

The tender for this project was declared a failure by the DND as of 06 February 2023.

It now remains to be seen if the procurement process will change to Negotiated Procurement with a foreign country considering two succeeding bidding failures, and the change could simplify and speed up the procurement of these vehicles.

This is especially true if the Philippine Army has a supplier and model in mind, which we believe would be based on the ASCOD 2 Pizarro from General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS).

The vehicle could either be supplied directly by GDELS - Santa Barbara Sistemas of Spain, or could go through Israel's Elbit Systems which is supplying the Sabrah ASCOD 2 light tanks to the Philippine Army.

The Sabrah ASCOD 2 light tank uses the same platform as the ASCOD Pizarro II Castor sappers vehicle. Photo credits to unknown original source.


27 August 2023:

In a surprise move by the DND, a 3rd public bidding attempt was opened last 09 August 2023, instead of moving to a Negotiated Procurement with proponents which can be made as per RA 9184.

The new SOBE is scheduled on 01 September 2023, subject to changes if proponents request for time extension.

Changes have been noted in the technical specifications:

1. Instead of a Route-Opening Mine Plough system, the specs now calls for Mine Rollers. It appears that Mine Rollers are cheaper, and clears a lesser area compared to a mine plough due to its coverage width of only around the same width as the roller system. The failure of biddings may be attributed to proponents unable to meet the budget allocated by the DND/Philippine Army, and this may help in reducing the cost.

Examples of Mine rollers (top) and mine plough (above) as attached with the Pizarro 2 sappers vehicle. Mine rollers appear to be lighter and cheaper, although less capable. Mine Ploughs can be procured by the Philippine Army later on.

2. The specs added the supply of a Drone with Magnetometer System (DMS), which is a multi-rotor drone that can be used for low level aerial survey and capable of UXO, landmine or metallic IED detection in unreachable, flooded, or mined areas.  It appears that this would be attached with the vehicle's crew which to allow for wider search area by having "eyes in the sky".

An example of a multi-rotor UAV with Magnetometer System attached. Photo credits to UGCS Integrated Systems.

These changes are probably made to reduce the overall cost of the vehicles, since it appears that the Mine Plough system is expensive and has not allowed proponents to meet the Approved Budget of Contract (ABC). 

Hopefully these changes would allow the project to push through considering it has been delayed already for a year due to bidding failures.


04 February 2024:

After several attempts to publicly bid the project, the last attempt which was raised on 09 August 2023 and scheduled for SOBE on 15 September 2023 has been declared as another failed bid as of 19 December 2023.

No update has been made as of 04 February 2024 although it appears that the DND could push the project to be acquired via direct negotiations rather than public bidding.


First edit and release: 22 September 2022
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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