Thursday, January 30, 2020

Philippines retires another legacy patrol vessel, fast attack craft

BRP Rizal and BRP Nicolas Mahusay during decommissioning ceremonies. Photo c/o

The Philippine Navy (PN) formally decommissioned two naval combat assets during ceremonies held on 29 January 2020 at its primary naval base in Cavite City.

During the ceremonies, PN chief Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad said that the PN needed to retire these ships as they have become more difficult to maintain, and make way for new assets.

The Rizal-class patrol vessel BRP Rizal (PS-74) has been decommissioned after serving the PN for more than 54 years. The former US Navy Auk-class fleet minesweeper USS Murrelet  (AM-372) was transferred to the PN as part of US Military Assistance to the Philippines, and has been in service with the PN since June 1965.

The ship was launched in 1944 and was first commissioned with the US Navy in August 1945.

Also, a Tomas Batilo-class fast attack craft, the BRP Nicolas Mahusay (PC-119) was decommissioned at the same day, after serving the PN for more than 21 years.

The BRP Nicolas Mahusay was previously a Chamsuri-class patrol killer medium of the Republic of Korea Navy, before it was donated to the PN in 1998. Originally planned as a spare parts hulk for similar ships in service with the PN, it was later on rehabilitated and commissioned in June 1998 due to need for more naval assets.

 In addition, the PN also decommissioned a Britten Norman BN-2A Islander twin-engine light naval aircraft, which is used by the PN for maritime surveillance and general utility roles.

The PN announced that the BRP Rizal will be replaced by the upcoming new frigate acquired from South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, the Jose Rizal (FF-150) which is scheduled for delivery in May 2020.

Meanwhile, the BRP Nicolas Mahusay’s intended replacement is still being prepared for procurement as the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) is preparing funds to acquire Shaldag fast attack crafts from Israel.

PN fleet commander Rear Adm. Giovanni Bacordo also mentioned that more ships are scheduled for retirement within 2020 to early 2021, including all remaining World War II-era ships.

[2] Manila Bulletin
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Laos receives another batch of T-72B1 tanks, armored vehicles, upgraded airfield from Russia

The T-72B1 White Eagle MBT. Photo c/o Army Recognition.

The LPLA received a delivery from Russia of another batch of T-72B1 “White Eagle” main battle tanks, and a batch of BRDM-2M 4x4 wheeled armored reconnaissance vehicles. In addition, the Lao People’s Armed Forces (LPAF) formally received an ungraded airport built by Russia.

The deliveries were said to have been made as part of the 71st anniversary celebrations of the LPAF, with Russia’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation, Lt. Gen. Alexander Kshimovsky leading the Russia delegation. These are part of efforts between Russia and Laos to improve its long-standing defense ties.

The T-72B1 White Eagle main battle tanks and BRDM-2M armored vehicles were ordered from Russia on January 2018 as part on an agreement that involves Laos handing over around 30 World War II-era Soviet T-34 tanks which will be rebuilt by Russia and to be used for the annual Victory Day celebration parades, for museum expositions, and for making films on Russia’s Great Patriotic War (Russia’s description of World War II in Europe against Nazi Germany).

The first batch of T-72B1 White Eagle main battle tanks were delivered to the LPLA on December 2018. An upgraded version of the T-72 tank, it is equipped with a Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) kit, a PN-72U Sosna-U gunner’s sight with thermal imager and automatic target tracker, improved electronic systems, and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun on a remote weapon station.

Meanwhile, the upgraded Thongkaihin Airport located in Xiang Khuang province was improved with assistance from Russian specialists, and completed in time for the anniversary celebrations.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] TV Zvezda
[3] Defence Blog

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

India successfully tests new K-4 nuclear-capable, sub-launched ballistic missile

The K-4 SLBM during tests. Photo c/o OBN.

India has successfully conducted its test-launching of the new indigenously-built K-4 intermedite-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). 

Several tests were conducted throughout the third week of January 2020,  with the tests held  at the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Andhra Pradesh using an underwater pontoon to simulate underwater launch.

The development of the missile as well as the tests were overseen by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), and has a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers, allowing the nuclear-tipped missile to hit targets in almost all of Pakistan, and deep within China.

Indian officials believe that the K-4’s accuracy is far better than any Chinese ballistic missile.

The K-4 missile has been in development since 2010, and will be integrated with the Indian Navy’s (IN) Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submaine (SSBN), four of which are planned, and the lead ship already in service.

The DRDO is said to proceed next to develop a longer-ranged SLBM with a maximum range of 5,000 kilometers, using knowledge and experience gained in developing the K-4 missile.

[1] The Defenstar
[2] Economic Times India
[3] The Diplomat

Bangladesh in the market for six new Offshore Patrol Vessels

An Island-class OPV of the Bangladesh Navy in maneuvers during exercises. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

The Bangladesh Navy (BN), through the navy-controlled shipyard Chittagong Dry Dock Limited (CCDL) is in the market for six (6) offshore patrol vessels (OPV), with CCDL inviting foreign shipbuilders for a joint production program through an Expression of Interest (EOI) released on 16 January 2020.

The BN aims to induct these new OPVs to boost its capabilities and replace some of its older ships.

Based on CCDL’s statement, the OPVs will have a length of at least 85 meters, an overall beam of around 14 meters, and a hull draught not exceeding 4 meters. It will also have a full-load displacement of around 2,000 tons and a maximum speed of 12 knots.

The ships are also expected to have a helicopter landing deck suitable for helicopters up to 11 tons, and will have space and allowances to carry two containerized mission modules.

The BN intends to use the ships to perform maritime law enforcement missions including maritime patrol, surveillance, fishery protection, and anti-smuggling operations within Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters.

[1] Naval Today
[2] Jane’s Defence Weekly

Monday, January 27, 2020

Indonesia retires one of its troop carrying ferry as more replacements arrive

The TNI Tanjung Nusanive (973). Photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) has retired its troop transport ship, the KRI Tanjung Nusanive (973) in ceremonies held on 24 January 2020 in Jakarta.

The ship, formerly a civilian passenger ferry owned by PT Pelni, has served with the TNI-AL since  2005 and has been used to transport troops and equipment around the Indonesian archipelago.

The ship was originally built in Germany by Jos L Meyer Shipyard in Papenberg, Germany, and was used by PT Pelni since 25 March 1984. It was transferred to the TNI-AL on 13 May 2005.

The ship is 144 meters long, with a maximum width of 23  meters and a draft of 5.9 meters. It displaces at around 8,583 tons at full displacement. It has a capacity of 1,556 passengers, and has VIP and VVIP suites as it is also being used by the Indonesian president and military leaders for certain occasions.

Aside from duties of military sea transport, the ship has been used also for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, and in support of the Indonesian government activities.

There was no mention on what will be the fate of the ship, although it was said to have been retired in consideration of improving efficiency within the TNI-AL as more military transport ships are being commissioned to replace older ships.

[1] Indonesian Navy Military Sealift Command

Friday, January 24, 2020

Philippines shortlists MBDA Mistral, LIG Nex1 Chiron for SHORAD requirements

The MBDA Mistral using the ATLAS mount. Photo c/o Saudi Armed Forces Report 

The Philippine Army (PA) has recently activated its 2nd Air Defense Artillery Battery during ceremonies held at the Army Artillery Regiment (AAR) headquarters in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija province.

The new air defense unit, together with the 1st Air Defense Artillery Battery activated in 2019,  are expected to train PA forces in air defense systems and prepare for the delivery of new Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) missile systems that are programmed for acquisition as part of the PA’s Horizon 2 acquisition program between 2018 to 2023.

The new air defense units will protect PA forces against aerial threats including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and low flying helicopters and aircraft.

According to MaxDefense Philippines, the PA is eyeing the MBDA Mistral air defense system from France, and the LIG Nex1 Chiron air defense system from South Korea, based on PA documents made available to the Philippine defense page.

Both systems were shortlisted by the PA after selecting from a larger pool of similar equipment.

Two batteries worth of SHORAD systems worth Php2,275,200,000 (US$44.6 million) are planned for acquisition, with the PA already evaluating both systems. A decision is expected to be made within the year, with deliveries expected to be completed on or before 2024.

The PA also plans to activate the proposed 1st Air Defense Artillery Battalion, which will administratively and operationally control both air defense batteries by 2024.

[1] Philippine Army Official Facebook Page
[2] MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bangladesh shortlists Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian for attack helicopter requirements

The Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian. Photo c/o Reuters.

American aviation giant Boeing confirmed that the Bangladesh Armed Forces (BAF) has shortlisted the company’s AH-64 Apache Guardian attack helicopter for its requirements.

A competitive bidding process was held, in which Boeing was shortlisted due to performance and pricing. Should Boeing be finally selected, Boeing confirmed that it would be acquired through US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

Boeing believes that economies of scale through thousands of units serving several armed forces globally would help the company make the AH-64E competitive even on pricing-based tenders. 16 countries are currently equipped with the AH-64 Apache family of attack helicopters, with the US Army remaining as the largest operator.

Boeing is also offering the AH-64 Apache to several more countries in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The region is home to among the newest operators of the AH-64 Apache, including India and Indonesia.

[1] Jane’s Defence Industry
[2] Nikkei Asia Review

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Philippines orders 81mm mortars, 76mm naval gun ammo from Spain’s Expal Systems

Expal's 81mm mortars are used by several countries including Spain, Italy, and recently by Switzerland.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has ordered 81mm mortars from Spain’s Expal Systems, which will be used by the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) to fill in gaps in their fire support capabilities.

Among those included in the deal worth Php175.7 million (US$3.44 million) are 30 units of 81mm mortars, together with associated ballistic computers, forward observer equipment, ammunition and and logistics  support.

The PMC is expecting the delivery of the mortars by early 2021, which would complement their existing 81mm mortars which are mostly old US-made M29 mortars obtained in the 1970s. Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines believes that the PMC would acquire more 81mm mortars in the next 8 years, while also preparing to acquire 60mm and 120mm mortars within the next 2 years.

In addition, the PN has also ordered 76mm ammunition for naval guns under a different contract worth Ph63.4 million (US$1.24 million) from the same company. Expal is expected to deliver 720 rounds of training rounds and 748 rounds of high explosive dual purpose rounds.

These would be used by the incoming Jose Rizal-class frigates that are for delivery to the PN within 2020. The said frigates are armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Philippine Defense Resource
[3] Jane’s Defence Weekly

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Philippines starts development of indigenous RCWS

The Project BUHAWI RCWS working prototype during demonstrations. Photo c/o DOST.

The Philippine Navy (PN), in collaboration with the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Mechatronics and Robotics Society of the Philippines, has started development of an indigenous remote controlled weapon station (RCWS).

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led the soft launching of Project BUHAWI on 7 January 2020 at Marine Base Gregorio Lim in Cavite province.

Under Project BUHAWI, or "Building a Universal Mount for Heavy-Barrel Automated Weapon Integration", aims to produce a RCWS allowing a .50-caliber heavy machine gun, while also becoming the basis for RCWS for larger gun calibers.

Initially the development would allow the PN to manufacture a local RCWS that it could mount on existing and future naval assets, as the PN is in the process of upgrading several of its patrol assets in the coming years.

A working prototype was displayed during the soft launch of the project, although it appears that more work needs to be done to further fine tune the system.

[1] Philippines Department of National Defense
[2] Navy Recognition
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Monday, January 20, 2020

Indonesia interested in French Rafale fighters, Scorpene submarines, Gowind corvettes

Dassault Rafale multirole fighters.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed that they are interested in acquiring several weapon systems from France, including the Rafale multirole fighter for the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), and Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarines, and Gowind-class corvettes for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).

This is to increase its defense capabilities to respond to threats especially with China being more aggressive in its claims in the South China Sea.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto was in Paris, France from 13 January 2020 for bilateral meeting with his French Counterpart Florence Parly in preparation for signing a defense cooperation agreement later this year.

Minister Prabowo also held meetings with defense companies that produce weapon systems, warships and fighter aircraft, including Dassault, Thales, Naval Group, among others.

The interest on the Rafale is on top of existing acquisitions and plans of the TNI-AU, including a pending order of Sukhoi Su-35 high performance fighters from Russia, and an existing deal with South Korea on joint development and acquisition of the K-FX fighter program.

The offer for Scorpene-class submarines is another interesting development for the TNI-AL, as France made an offer to either sell two (2) submarines off-the-shelf and built in France, or for a deal to purchase up to four (4) submarines with technology transfer to allow Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL to participate.

The interest on the Scorpene-class was said to be due to the TNI-AL encountering major issues with the Chang Bogo-class submarines they purchased from South Korea, which may push the Indonesian MOD to cancel an earlier agreement worth US$1 billion with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) to build three (3) more Chang Bogo-class submarines.

[1] La Tribune
[2] The Jakarta Post

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Indonesia requests to equip 5 existing Panther helicopters with naval warfare capability

One of the TNI-AL's AS565MBe Panther naval helicopters. 

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) has requested with the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) to equip five (5) of their existing Airbus AS565MBe Panther multipurpose naval helicopters to allow Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) capabilities in support of fleet operations.

The TNI-AL ordered eleven (11) Panther helicopters from Airbus Helicopters through Indonesian state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) in 2014. Two (2) of the helicopters were equipped for ASW missions, while the rest are standard multipurpose utility helicopter variants that could be equipped later on.

The 5 helicopters requested for upgrade will come from these multipurpose utility variants. Out of the five helicopters, 2 will be fitted with ASW capabilities, while the other 3 will be fitted for ASuW capability. 

The TNI-AL has so far received 10 out of 11 helicopters ordered, with PTDI making the final fit-out in their facility in Indonesia before delivery to the TNI-AL. Any additional work including the capability upgrade are expected to be undertaken by PTDI, similar to most aircraft of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).

Aside from 2 helicopters already fitted with ASW capabilities, all other Panther helicopters delivered to the TNI-AL are being used as multipurpose helicopters and are being operated from ships and land bases.

[1] Jane's Navy International

Friday, January 17, 2020

India receives 51 of 100 K9 Vajira-T 155mm Self Propelled Howitzers

The K9 Vajira-T SPH. Photo c/o Indian MOD through Jane's.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) has formally received more than half of the 100 units of K9 Vajira-T 155mm/52 caliber tracked self-propelled howitzer systems from Indian defense contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T), on behalf of the Indian Army (IA).

The 51st K9 Vajira-T SPH was delivered, apparently ahead of schedule, and handed over to Indian Defense Ministry Rajnath Singh on 16 January 2020 in L&T’s Armoured System Complex facility in Gujarat state.

L&T won a contract worth INR43.66 billion (US$615.70 million) in 2017 to supply 100 units of the K9 Vajira-T SPH system to the Indian Army, including engineering support package like spare parts, training, maintenance transfer of technology and others. 

The K9 Vajira-T is an Indian-spec license copy of the South Korean K9 Thunder from Hanwha Techwin, but with 50% local content with parts supplied by Indian contractors. L&T is required to delivered all 100 units by end of 2020, which L&T believes is doable.

The Indian Army has formally started using the K9 Vajira-T since late 2018.

The 47-ton K9 Vajira is equipped with a 155mm/52 caliber howitzer with a range of up to 43 kilometers depending on the projectile used. It is powered by an MTU MT881 Ka-500 V8 diesel engine paired to an automatic transmission from Allison, producing an output of around 1,000 horsepower. 

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] India Economic Times
[3] Larsen & Toubro

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

China commissions first of modified Type 052D Luyang-III class missile destroyer

the Type 052D destroyer Zibo (156). Photo c/o Loongnaval@Twitter.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned the first of the modified Type 052D Luyang-III class guided missile destroyers during ceremonies held on 12 January 2020.

The destroyer, named Zibo (156) is assigned with the PLAN East Sea Fleet’s 6th Destroyer Flotilla based at Dinhai Naval Base in Zhoushan Island.

The ship was built by Jiangnan Changxingdao Shipyard and was launched in mid-2018, completing fit-out and sea trials within 18 months. 

The modified Type 052D is 4 meters longer than the standard variant, due to a lengthened flight deck to accommodate the Harbin Z-20 helicopter, wherein a naval variant is being developed as an improvement over the existing Harbin Z-9 naval helicopter.

While unofficial, there are certain quarters that designate this “stretched” variant as the Type 052E class. A total of 12 ships were ordered by the PLAN, with several of the ships already in different stages of construction and trials.

The ships displaces at around 7,500 tons, is 161 meters long (stretched variant), a beam of 17 meters, and a complement of 280 officers and sailors. 

They are armed with 64 Vertical Launching System (VLS) cells allowing the use of the YJ-17 anti-ship cruise missiles, HHQ-9 surace-to-air missiles, and CY-5 anti-submarine rockets. It also has a 130mm main naval gun, and the Type 1130 close-in weapon system (CIWS). It also two triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes and several manually operated machine guns.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Loongnaval @ Twitter 
[3] Naval News

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

China commissions its first Type 055 Renhai-class large destroyer

The Nanchang (101) during commissioning. Photo c/o Navy Recognition.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned into service its first Type 055 Renhai-class large guided missile destroyer during ceremonies held at the Xiaokouzi Naval Base in Qingdao on 12 January 2020.

The ship, named Nanchang (101) is currently the largest and most advanced destroyer in the PLAN until its sisterships are commissioned, and is even larger than the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers.

The US Navy officially classified the Type 055 Renhai-class as guided missile cruisers.

The Nanchang was built by Changxingdao-Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, and was launched on 28 June 2017, with sea trials commencing in late 2018. It was first displayed during the PLAN’s Fleet Review as part of its 70th Found Anniversary last 23 April 2019.

It is said to signify China's advancement in naval technology and naval construction, as well as a symbol of strength of the PLAN.

The Type 055 Renhai-class, including the Nanchang, are around 180 meters long, around 20 meters wide, a draft of around 6.6 meters, and has an estimated displacement of around 13,000 tons.

The ship is powered by four (4) QC-280 gas turbine engines in Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, allowing the ship to a sprint to a maximum speed of 30 knots. 

The Type 055 will be armed with a total of 112 vertical launching systems (VLS) allowing the use of a variety of medium and long-range surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles.

The Type 055’s main armament consists of two cell blocks consisting of a total of 112 vertical launch systems (VLS) capable of firing medium- to long-range surface-to-air [SAM] like the HHQ-9, anti-ship cruise missiles like the YJ-18 missile, and land-attack cruise missiles like the CJ-10 missile. It is also armed with HQ-10 missile launcher and H/PJ-14 close-in weapon system (CIWS) for self-defense, and an H/PJ-38 130mm naval gun

The ship was also designed to allow a future anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems, as well as lasers and railguns.

[1] Jane’s Defence Weekly
[2] Asia Pacific Defense Journal
[3] Navy Recognition
[4] The Japan Times

Monday, January 13, 2020

Philippines to acquire more rocket propelled grenade launchers from Bulgaria

An Russian-style RPG. The Bulgarian ATGL-L is based on this weapon system.

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded a project to acquire more than 700 rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, accessories and ammunition to Bulgarian arms manufacturer Arsenal JS Co. 

According to MaxDefense Philippines, the RPGs are to provide a requirement by the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) for a light squad rocket launcher to increase firepower for Marine squads, allowing them to conduct assault against bunkers, structures, and armored vehicles without relying on company-level heavy weapons.

The deal, worth PHP473.8 million (US9.3 million) also includes assorted ammunition for the RPGs, training systems, optics, and other accessories. Arsenal JS Co. was said to have offered the ATGL-L series of RPGs.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has only started using RPG-type weapons since 2017, with the Philippine Army (PA) also using ATGL-L RPGs supplied by Arsenal JS Co. It has then acquired RPGs from several sources including RPG-7V from Russia’s NPO Bazalt, and a token donation of several dozen Type 69s from China.

It is expected that the delivery of the RPGs would be completed by 1st quarter of 2021.

[1] Philippines Department of National Defense
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, January 10, 2020

US State Dept. approves potential sale of F-35B Lightning II STOVL JSF to Singapore

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II JSF. Photo c/o USMC.

The US Defense Security Cooperating Agency (DSCA) has confirmed that the US State Department has approved the potential sale of up to twelve (12) units of Lockheed Martin’s short take-off and vetical landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to Singapore.

According to DSCA, the deal could potentially be worth US$2.75 billion and will include an initial four (4) F-35B platforms with options for eight (8) more units, up to 13 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines including a spare, electronic warfare systems, C4I/CNI systems, and several other combat and supporting equipment, logistics, tools and training and other inclusions.

The US considers Singapore as a strategic friend and Major Security Cooperation Partner in the Asia Pacific region, and the sale of the fighters will not alter basic military balance in the region.

As the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) already has an earlier order of F-35A Lightning II JSF in conventional take-off and landing configuration, the US expects them to easily absorb the F-35B into the force.

With an approval from the US State Department, it has notified the US Congress of the potential sale. It will still be dependent on Singapore’s government if it will pursue the deal to acquire the F-35B STOVL fighters.

Singapore previously confirmed its intentions to look at the F-35B which would allow the RSAF to operate the fighters even when its air bases are damaged, as the aircraft can operate discreetly from short roads or remote areas due to its STOVL capability.

[2] Defense News

Malaysia ordered additional Saab NLAW portable anti-tank missiles

The Saab Bofors Dynamics NLAW. Photo c/o Saab.

The Malaysian Army (MA) may have ordered another batch of Saab’s Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW), according to Malaysian defense page Malaysian Defence.

This was after the Malaysian Defence Ministry was issued a tender request for a multi-model transport operator to bring in the missile systems to Pahang, Malaysia.

The report also believes that the previous announcement by Saab of an undisclosed customer for the NLAW made on December 2016 might be Malaysia, and that deliveries could have started as early as 2018.

It also believes that the missiles will be assigned with the MA’s Grup Gerak Khas (GGK) Special Forces Regiment, to replace the MBDA Eryx anti-tank missile, and with the 10th Para Brigade.

The NLAW, also called the Main Battle Tank and Light Anti-Tank Weapon (MBT LAW) was developed by Sweden’s Saab Bofors Dynamics and the UK’s Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems). It is a shoulder-fired, fire-and-forget, disposable anti-tank system designed for infantry and dismounted units.

The system weighs 12.5 kilograms and is 1.016 meters long. It has an effective firing range of between 20 to 600 meters, although the maximum firing range is around 1,000 meters. 

It can be operated by a single operator, can be safely used in confined spaces, and is lighter than similar anti-tank systems. It can also be adjusted between Overfly Top Attack (OTA) effective against protected armored vehicles, and Direct Attack (DA) mode that can be used against other vehicles or vessels, or enemy troops inside buildings.

[1] Malaysia Defence
[2] Saab

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Indonesia to start procurement of new class of offshore patrol vessels

An OPV design from Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL. Photo c/o PT PAL.

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) has started requesting for proposals from selected shipbuilders for a new class of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) it intends to acquire.

These new OPVs will be filling in gaps between the TNI-AL’s fleet of frigates and corvettes, and smaller patrol boats and fast missile attack crafts. The TNI-AL currently has no modern OPV in its fleet, although it has a large fleet of small surface combatants.

According to a report by IHS Jane's, the budget for the first ship of the class is said to be around IDR1.09 trillion (US$78 million), although no technical specifications were released to the public so far.  

IHS Jane's previously reported that the TNI-AL is interested in procuring a first batch of around 4 ships, with an expected budget worth around US$340 million.

The ships are expected to be manufactured locally, and are expected to be around 80 meters long or more.

Among the expected mission profiles will include being a launching platform for unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles.

These ships are expected to be funded by the Indonesian government between 2020 to 2024, although the first ship would have funding provided within 2020-2021.

In an interview with the Indonesian media, Deputy Defense Minister Wahyu Sakti Tenggono said that priority will be made to order two OPVs, together with two new large frigates.

[1] Jane’s Navy International

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Philippines receive shipment of new SIG 716 7.62mm marksman rifles to replace M14

The SIG716 G2 marksman rifle, ordered by the Philippine Army.

During presentations by the Philippine Army (PA) at its Army Capability Expo 2019 held last 5-6 December 2019, it was revealed that the PA has received the shipment of SIG 716 G2 7.62x51mm marksman rifles from American firearms manufacturer SIG Sauer USA.

No quantity was revealed during the event, but Philippine defense blogger MaxDefense Philippines reported that there are more than 800 rifles delivered under the PA’s 7.62mm Designated Marksman Rifle project, which is one of the priority projects of the PA under the Horizon 2 modernization phase. A photo of one of the displayed example was posted by MaxDefense Philippines in its social media page.

According to MaxDefense Philippines, the new SIG 716 G2 rifles are equipped with the Trijicon VCOG optics system, and will replace the old M14 7.62x51mm battle/marksman rifles for frontline units. The M14 has been in service with the PA since the 1960s, and is the PA’s standard marksman rifle. Many of the PA’s M14 rifles are in need of repair or replacement due to age and wear.

There is also a possibility that the Philippine Government Arsenal (GA) will be repairing and upgrading the M14 rifles, as it has previous programs involving the improvement of existing M14 rifles for re-issuing to units while waiting for more brand new replacements to be delivered.

The delivery of US-made firearms could have effects in political relations between the Philippine and US governments, as it runs contrary to the claims of the Philippine government that the US government has been rejecting arms export to the Philippines after a separate deal for 27,000 rifles awarded by the Philippine National Police (PNP) with SIG Sauer did not receive an arms export license in 2017 due to concerns that the rifles will be used for extra-judicial matters.

APDR reported last December 2019 that the Indian Army also received their first batch of SIG 716 rifles as it starts replacing older rifles.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Philippine Defense Resource

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

South Korea decommissions two Ulsan-class frigates, one Pohang-class corvette

The three retired warships during the ceremonies last December 2019. Photo c/o ROKN.

As it continues to modernize its surface combat fleet, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) has recently retired two (2) of its Ulsan-class frigates, and a Pohang-class corvette.

The frigates ROKS Masan (FF-955) and ROKS Gyeongbuk (FF-956) and the corvette ROKS Suncheon (PCC-767) were decommissioned during ceremonies held on 24 December 2019.

The frigates are all above 30 years old in service, with the ROKS Masan commissioned on July 1985, ROKS Gyeongbuk on May 1986, while the corvette ROKS Suncheon was commissioned on June 1989. 

All ships are being replaced with new Daegu-class frigates being introduced to the ROKN, with the two more ships, the Gyeongnam (FFG-819) and Seoul (FFG-821) expected to be commissioned with the ROKN by 2021, while more ships of the class are under construction.
It is expected that all three ships would be turned over to the ROKN’s training group although its final disposal is still unknown. It is expected that the South Korean government may offer it for grant or sale to friendly countries, similar to what they have done to earlier Ulsan and Pohang-class ships.

Some Ulsan-class frigates were reportedly offered to Argentina and Vietnam, and Pohang-class corvettes are in service with the navies of Egypt, Vietnam, Philippines, and the coast guard of Peru. Both the Philippines and Vietnam has shown interest to acquire more Pohang-class corvettes from South Korea.

[1] Republic of Korea Navy
[2] Jane’s Navy International

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Bangladesh lays keel for second batch of Padma-class patrol vessels

The Padma-class patrol vessel. Photo c/o Jane's Defence Weekly.

Bangladeshi shipyard Khulna Shipyard Ltd. has started keel laying on a second batch of five (5) Padma-class patrol vessels for the Bangladesh Navy (BN).

The keel laying ceremonies was held on 2 December 2019 in the company's facilities in Khulna, and was attended by the BN's Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Aurangzeb Chowdhury.

The 50.4 meter long ships are based on a design from China's Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, which participated in building the first batch of the same ship class that entered service with the BN in 2013.

Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding operates through the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Corporation (CSOC)

Khulna Shipyard received the contract to build the second batch of 5 new ships for the BN on 20 May 2019. This was followed with a collaboration contract between Khulna Shipyards and CSOC on the same month.

The Padma-class has a displacement of 270 tons, an overall beam of 7.5 meters and hull draught of 1.9 meters. It has a crew of 31 officers and sailors, and armed with a Norinco twin 37mm guns and two 20mm guns.

[1] Jane's Defence Weekly

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Malaysia receives first of four Littoral Missions Ship from Chinese shipbuilder

The first LMS of the RMN, the future KD Keris (111). Photo c/o New Straits Times.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has formally received the first of the four Keris-class Littoral Missions Ship (LMS) that it has ordered from a Chinese shipbuilder.

The information was provided by an official from the Malaysian Ministry of Defence, confirming that the Chinese shipbuilder Wuchang Shipbuilding during ceremonies in Shanghai, China in late December 2019.

The ship, to be named the KD Keris (111), was received by Malaysia's Procurement Division - Ministry of Defence Secretary Datuk Ahmad Husaini Abdul Rahman, together with the RMN Eastern Fleet commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Pahlawan Syed Zahrul Putra Syed Abdullah and Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNSSB) chief executive officer Ee Teck Chee.

The ship was among those ordered under a MYR1.17 billion (US$265 million) contract signed on 23 March 2017. It is currently Malaysia's largest arms procurement deal with China.

The Keris-class LMS are 68.8 meters long, with a beam of 9 meters and draft of 2.8 meters. It displaces at 700 tons full load, and with a maximum speed of 22 knots and range of 2,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.

It is armed with a 20mm or 30mm remote-controlled naval gun and two manually-operated 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounts. Further up-arming can be done but is currently not among the RMN’s urgent requirement.

[1] New Straits Times
[2] Malaysia World News