Saturday, January 29, 2022

Thailand plans to procure 1 Offshore Patrol Vessel, 2 Patrol Gunboats, OPV upgrades in 2023


 A Krabi-class offshore patrol vessel of the Royal Thai Navy. Photo c/o RTN.

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has confirmed that it has requested for the acquisition of additional vessels as part of the naval budget requested for Fiscal Year 2023.

According to the RTN's social media page, the service has submitted a request for funding approval for a new Offshore Patrol Vessel, as well as two patrol gunboats.

These ships will supplement the existing patrol fleet assets of the RTN, in accordance to its goals to have six Offshore Patrol Vessels and more patrol gunboats under its medium term goals.

It was also reported in 2021 that the RTN was planning to submit a request for a new OPV with a proposed budget of THB6.5 billion (US$194 million).

Currently, the RTN operates 2 Krabi-class offshore patrol vessels, which were built locally by the Mahidol Adulyadej Naval Dockyard, with the design based on the Improved River-class design from UK's BAE Systems. 

It also operates 2 Pattani-class offshore patrol vessels that were procured and built in China.

The RTN also operates several patrol gunboats, with the M58-class being the latest type in its fleet. The M58-class are built by local company Marsun Co. Ltd.

Aside from new ships, the RTN has also requested for funding to upgrade the Pattani-class offshore patrol vessels, including the installation of MBDA MM40 Exocet Block 3 anti-ship missiles, and additional guns.

[1] AAG_Th Thai Defense Page
[2] Navy Recognition

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Philippines receives 1st tranche of military equipment donation from China


Some of the engineering equipment delivered by China to the Philippines. Photo c/o DND.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) has confirmed that China has donated 2 batches of military equipment to the Philippine Government, with a total worth of PHP1 billion (US$19.6 million).

The first batch, worth RMB76 million (US$12 million) arrived in the Philippines on 16 January 2022, and includes non-combat equipment that can be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations including engineering and rescue equipment, water purification vehicles, X-Ray machines, ambulances and firetrucks, bomb disposal suits and EOD robots, and drone systems.

A formal turnover of these equipment is scheduled on February 2022. 
Another batch of equipment is expected to be delivered at a later date.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana mentioned that these donations were part of a pledge made by Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe during his visit to Manila in 2020.

Secretary Lorenzana also confirmed that these donated equipment would help bolster its capacity to provide assistance during disasters, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a shortfall of HADR, engineering, and counterterrorism equipment.

According to Philippine defense website MaxDefense Philippines, this is China’s second major donation of equipment to the Philippines, after delivering US$14.4 million worth of firearms, ammunition, small boats and rocket propelled grenades in 2017.

The Philippines has also purchased military engineering equipment from China, which were acquired through Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between the Chinese and Philippine governments, and were delivered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2019.

[2] Shephard Media
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Malaysia receives first batch of 2 leased Leonardo AW139 helicopters


Handover of 2 AW139 to RMAF. Photo c/o RMAF.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has formally received the first batch of two leased Leonardo AW139 helicopters.

The helicopters were received by the RMAF on 04 December 2021 and are part of an order to lease a total of four AW139 helicopters from Westar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, and will temporarily replace the RMAF’s recently retired Sikorsky S-61 Nuri helicopters.

These helicopters will be operated by the RMAF’s No. 3 Squadron, which operated the S-61 Nuri for more than 50 years.

The 2 other helicopters are scheduled to be handed over to the RMAF on 22 February 2022, and 22 April 2022.

According to the RMAF, the helicopters are part of an interim solution and acquired under a chartered concept based on “Government Operated, Company Owned and Maintained” (GOCOM) system, with the RMAF planning to lease the helicopters between 4 to 5 years while the service is processing the procurement of 24 new helicopters in 2 batches.

The RMAF plans to acquire 12 new helicopters under the 13th Malaysia Plan (RMK13) from 2026-2030, and another 12 helicopters under the 14th Malaysia Plan (RMK14) from 2031 to 2035.

[1] New Straits Times
[2] Defense Security Asia

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Malaysia to add more Pendekar tanks, Gempita armored vehicles in 2022


A PT-91M Pendekar main battle tank of the Malaysian Army. Photo c/o Lowyat Forum.

The Malaysian Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein confirmed that the the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is acquiring additional tanks and armored vehicles for the Malaysian Army under its 2022 Action Plan (PT22).

These involves the delivery of 7 units Pendekar main battle tanks and 31 units Gempita 8x8 armored vehicles, to strengthen the Malaysian Army’s capabilities.

Not much details have been provided, although the Malaysian Army already operates both the Pendekar tank and Gempita armored vehicle, and the acquisition plan appears to be additional orders.

The PT-91M Pendekar main battle tank is the Malaysian variant for the Polish-made PT-91 Twardy tank, which in turn is a development of the Russian T-72M1 main battle tank.

Differences with the standard PT-91 include use of Sagem Savan-15 fire control system, a new 1,000hp powerpack matched to a Renk automatic transmission, use of a ZTS 2A46MS 125mm main gun, 7.62mm FN MAG co-axial machine gun, and 12.7mm FN Browning M2HB machine gun.

The Pendekar also uses a Sagem panoramic sight and laser gyro inertial navigation system, the Obra-3 laser warning system, Thales communications equipment, ERAWA-2 explosive reactive armor, and tracks from Diehl Defence.

The DefTech AV8 Gempita is the Malaysian variant of the Turkey’s FNSS PARS armored vehicle, and was manufactured in Malaysia by DefTech in cooperation with FNSS.

The Malaysian Army operates several variants of the Gempita including armored personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicle, tank destroyer with the Denel LCT30 anti-tank missile, signals intelligence vehicle, and recovery vehicle.

[2] New Straits Times

Monday, January 17, 2022

Philippines selects Sikorsky - PZL Mielec to supply 32 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters


One of the PAF's S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopter. Photo c/o PTV News.

The Philippines’ Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on 16 January 2022 that the country’s Department of National Defense (DND) released a Notice of Award (NOA) for the acquisition of 32 new combat utility helicopters.

The NOA was released on 29 December 2021 and issued to Sikorsky Helicopters’ Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec, with the deal expected to be worth PHP32 billion (US$627 million) and will involve the supply and delivery of 32 new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, as well as Initial Logistics Support Package and training for pilots and maintenance crew.

According to Secretary Lorenzana, a contract is already being prepared and the DND, after which a  Notice to Proceed will be issued to officially commence the contract agreements between the 2 parties.

The helicopters will be delivered to the PAF in 4 batches, with PZL Mielec delivering 5 helicopters by 2023, 10 units by 2024, another 10 units by 2025, and a final batch of 7 helicopters by 2026.

PZL Mielec previously supplied 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to the Philippine Air Force (PAF), which were all delivered as of December 2021 and are assigned with the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.

The PAF has started transitioning to replace its ageing fleet of UH-1 Huey combat utility helicopters, with the PAF formally retiring 10 German-made UH-1D helicopters last December 2021.

It has also withdrew its UH-1H helicopters from service, although some units were returned to service as of late December 2021 to assist in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, as well as COVID-related logistics support and other non-combat roles.

Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
[2] PTV News
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Friday, January 14, 2022

Philippines awards Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System project to India’s Brahmos Aerospace


BrahMos missile mobile firing units of the Indian Army. Photo c/o Financial Times India.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) has released a Notice of Award (NOA) for the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.

The document, which was awarded to Indian company Brahmos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, was received by the company’s representatives on 31 December 2021.

Brahmos Aerospace’s proposed price was worth US$374,962,800, will be used as basis for the contract, which is expected to be signed between the two parties very soon.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, Brahmos Aerospace offered the BrahMos Maritime Coastal Batteries, which has been in offer since 2017, and is believed to include at least 3 batteries as part of the agreement.

A battery will have at least 3 to 4 mobile firing units, plus attached command and control, radar, and support vehicles and units. 

Each mobile firing unit has 3 ready-to-fire PJ-10 BrahMos anti-ship supersonic missiles, with the export variant having a maximum range of around 290 kilometers, reduced from the original of at least 400 kilometers due to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) limitations.

MaxDefense Philippines also confirmed that aside from the Philippine Navy, a separate acquisition is being pushed for the Philippine Army’s own requirement for a Land-Based Missile System, which may include land attack and anti-ship variants.

The introduction of the BrahMos Maritime Coastal Batteries will be the first for the Philippines, which has been pushing to improve its maritime defense and anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities with the increased threats from China and its claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippines won an international arbitration case against China that invalidated its 9-Dash Line claims that includes the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, but enforcement of the maritime law has been problematic for militarily weaker countries like the Philippines as China does not acknowledge the arbitration ruling despite being incorporated as basis for international maritime laws.

Vietnam was also said to have shown interest in the BrahMos Maritime Coastal Battery system although no agreement has been reached.

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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thailand to finance 4 new fighter aircraft after announcing interest in F-35A


The F-35A Lightning II JSF, these examples with the Royal Australian Air Force. Photo c/o RAAF.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has confirmed that the Thai Government has supported a plan to procure at least 4 new fighter aircraft starting fiscal year 2023.

The Thai cabinet is looking at appropriating a budget worth THB13.8 billion (US$413.6 million) for the proposed plan, to be spread in a 4-year period.

While no specific aircraft model was mentioned, this plan came as the RTAF’s chief Air Chief Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya announced that they are interested in procuring 8 new 5th-generation F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from American aviation giant Lockheed Martin.

The RTAF is looking at replacing their ageing fleet of F-5E/F Tiger II and F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, most of which have been in RTAF service since the 1980s.

The service currently has a squadron of Sweden’s JAS-39C/D Gripen, which is currently the RTAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

It was believed that the JAS-39C/D Gripen was originally intended to replace the RTAF’s F-5 fighter fleet, but no additional aircraft were ordered after delivery of the first 12 units.

But the RTAF said it has found that the F-35A Lightning II is actually cheaper than the latest JAS-39E/F Gripen as the American fighter has started to mature and production in full scale for several years now.

The RTAF will formally evaluate different fighter aircraft to determine their suitability to their requirements, with two committees tasked to provide their assessment.

US Government approval is needed for the acquisition of F-35A Lightning II fighters, which has not been provided so far, and there are no confirmation of any request from the Thai Government for an approval of sale.

Nikkei Asia
[2] Reuters
[3] Bangkok Post

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Taiwanese F-16V Viper crashes, suspends training flights


One of the RoCAF's upgraded F-16V Viper fighters during routing flights. Photo c/o Liberty Times.

One of the upgraded F-16V Viper fighter aircraft of the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) has crashed into the sea during a routine training mission.

The fighter, from the RoCAF’s 4th Tactical Fighter Wing with serial number 6650 and piloted by Flight Officer Chen Yi, was reported to have disappeared from radar screens at around 3:23pm local time on 11 January 2022, 30 minutes after taking off from Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan and flying over the Shuixi Shooting Range.

Eyewitnesses have reported that the fighter aircraft crashed into the sea off Aogu Wetlands in Chiayi’s Donshi Township.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has ordered to spare no efforts on the search and rescue missions to find the pilot and determine the cause of the accident.

RoCAF Inspector General Liu Hui-chien confirmed that the aircraft was one of the F-16A Block 20 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft that was recently upgraded to Viper standards, with improvements made on avionics and weapon systems.

The RoCAF has ordered the indefinite suspension of all combat training missions for its F-16 fleet as the service determines the accident’s cause.

The RoCAF started receiving its first upgraded F-16V Viper fighter aircraft in 2018 as part of the Taiwan’s Phoenix Rising program, with upgrades including the installation of Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scaleable Agile Beam Radar, new mission computers, upgraded electronic warfare systems, use of the Rockwell Collins-Elbit Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, a new Identification Friend or Foe System, and improvements in munitions carried.

These aircraft were part of the original F-16A/B Block 20 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, 150 units of which were bought from the United States in the 1990s.

Focus Taiwan
[2] Reuters
[3] The Guardian

Philippines receive M125A2 armored 120mm mortar carriers from Israel


M125A2 armored mortar carriers being unloaded during delivery at Subic Bay port. Photo c/o Philippine Army.

The Philippine Army (PA) confirmed that it has received a delivery of 15 M125A2 armored mortar carriers with 120mm Mounted Mortar System.

The vehicles arrived in the country on 29 December 2021, and were delivered to the Philippine Army’s Armor “Pambato” Division.

The delivery was made by Israeli defense company Elbit Systems, which was the designated supplier under a Government-to-Government deal between the Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) and Israel’s Ministry of Defense worth PHP1.094 billion (US$21.88 million) signed in 2019 for the delivery of 15 armored mortar carriers.

According to Philippine defense website Philippine Defense Resource, the vehicles are equipped with the Soltam Cardom 120mm Mounted Mortar System, as well as Elbit’s Combat NG fire control and command solutions.

The Cardom 120mm MMS is an autonomous, computerized system that can be operated by 4 crew members, has an effective range of up to 7,000 meters, and a maximum fire rate of 16 rounds per minute.

The Philippine Army already operates 5 M125A2 armored mortar carriers which were converted from existing M113A2 vehicles and were delivered in 2019. But these were armed with the Soltam Cardom 81mm MMS. 

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, Elbit System’s contract also includes the conversion of Cardom 81mm MMS to 120mm by replacing the mortar’s barrel.

Philippine Army Armor Division
[2] Philippine Defense Resource
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Pakistan's 4th Type 054AP Tughril-class frigate launched by Chinese shipbuilder


The 4th Type 054AP Tughril-class frigate for the Pakistan Navy during launch on 23 December 2021. Photo c/o Naval News

Chinese shipbuilder Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard has launched the Pakistan Navy's forth Chinese-built Type 054AP Tughril-class guided missile frigate.

The ship was launched on 23 December 2021 at the company's shipyard near Shanghai, together with the 34th Type 054A frigate for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and a Type 071E landing platform dock for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN).

The ship is part of a 2-unit follow-on order made by the Pakistani Government on June 2018, after ordering 2 frigates in 2017.

The first of class PNS Tughril (F261) was commissioned on 8 November 2021, while two other ships of the class are in different stages of construction, also with Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard.

The Type 054A/P Tughril-cass displaces at over 4,000 tonnes, is 135 meters long, and are are armed with a 32-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS), equipped with the HHQ-16 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and the Yu-8 anti-submarine rockets (ASROC), 2 quadruple CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile launchers, a PJ-26 76 mm main naval gun, 2 triple Anti-Submarine Torpedo launchers, 2 Type 87 Anti-Submarine rocket launchers, two Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers and two Type 1130 close-in weapon systems (CIWS).

[1] Naval News
[2] Asia Pacific Defense Journal
[3] The News Pakistan

Philippines starts receiving delivery of ATMOS 155mm self-propelled howitzers


One of the ATMOS 155mm self-propelled howitzer mobile firing units as seen during deliveries at Subic Bay port. Photo c/o MaxDefense Philippines.

Israel's Elbit Systems has started delivering the Soltam ATMOS 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers for the Philippine Army.

Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines first posted photos of made confirmation of the arrival of at least 8 ATMOS 155mm/52 caliber mobile firing units, plus an undetermined number of support vehicles at Subic Bay Port, north of Manila as of 30 December 2021.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) ordered 2 batteries worth of artillery systems in 2020 from Elbit Systems under a PHP2.386 billion (US$122 million) Government-to-Government contract with Israel's Ministry of Defense.

The ATMOS self-propelled howitzers will be assigned with the Philippine Army's 1st and 2nd Field Artillery 155mm Self-Propelled Batteries, which according to the Philippine Army, will be incorporated into a future 1st 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer Battalion.

The ATMOS artillery system are the Philippine Army's first self-propelled howitzers in almost 70 years, with the service having the World War 2-era M7 Priest 105mm self-propelled gun in the 1950s.

It is believed that the Philippine Army is planning to acquire additional units under its modernization plan for 2023-2028.

Elbit Systems' Soltam ATMOS is described as a highly versatile, high mobility, high performance artillery system, which can be made into multiple configuration including mounting on any 6x6 or 8x8 in-service truck, capable of rapid deployment and first round fire within 30 seconds, and capable of firing NATO-compatible 155mm ammunition.

It can be integrated with smart ammunition, complete electronics suite, command and control at all levels, and can be made fully-compatible with the customer's exisitng C4I system.

Maximum range of 40 kilometers can be attained using the ERFB-BB ammunition with suitable propellant charge.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Elbit Systems
[3] Philippine Defense Resource