2017: What’s happening with the AFP modernization?

While this is the first full year of the Duterte administration, many of the projects completed this year actually had their genesis in either the Arroyo or Aquino administrations. Among the capabilities that the AFP acquired this year are:

  • Additional supersonic assets
  • Continued increase in cargo transport capability, both by air and sea
  • Situational awareness assets (e.g., radars, etc.)
  • Armored, night-fighting-capable, mobility for mechanized troops

To give a more complete view of the state of the modernization program, this year’s article is divided into the following sections, presented here in reverse order:

  • Pending acquisitions – these are acquisitions that have been publicly announced, either in conventional media or on the DND Website, that are still in various stages of completion. These include projects for which Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) have been issued. Some are still awaiting results of bids or re-bids. Notable examples of projects in this state are the Philippine Navy Frigate and Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) projects.
  • Awaiting delivery – these are are projects for which the acquisitions have reached the “Notice to Proceed” stage and are in the process of being built from scratch, or are currently undergoing mandatory refurbishment, and have yet to be formally turned over to the AFP for operational use. Notable examples of this category are the long-delayed CN-212 light-lift aircraft that have been photographed in-hangar for months now, but have still not been delivered, and recently-awarded Close Air Support Aircraft project that has been awarded to Embraer.
  • Acquisition list – these are items that are officially in the possession of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
  • Diversified sourcing – these are controversial equipment drawn from non-traditional sources and are in the process of being assimilated into the Table of Organization & Equipment.

In addition to the various official acquisitions:

  • South Korea has committed to providing the Philippines with one surplus Pohang Class corvette (see here). To this date, details of this project have not been firmed up.
  • The reported 24 additional Attack Helicopters has been omitted from this list. For more about this development, see here.

Discuss this article on the DRP forum here: http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=108.msg8934#msg8934

Companion discussion on the DRP forum Facebook extension here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1532038013548707/

Diversified sourcing

This year also marked the first deliveries of equipment from non-traditional sources as part of the administration’s controversial balancing act between traditional allies and regional rivals.

Chinese weapons

A variety of Chinese firearms were donated to the Philippines as part of China’s fence-mending initiatives in the post-Aquino era in July 2017. However, contrary to initial reports about these donations being given to the AFP, these weapons were actually donated to the Philippine National Police.

Russian weapons

Efforts to foster closer ties between the Russian Federation and the Philippines bore fruit on on October 25, 2017 when the guided missile destroyer Admiral Panteleyev delivered a shipment of 5,000 assault rifles, one-million rounds of ammunition, 20 army trucks, and 5,000 steel helmets. The process of assimilating these equipment into the AFP is ongoing. Photos below are care of Inquirer.net particularly Nestor Corrales.


Note: This article is also available on the DefensePH.net forum on the long standing What’s happening with the AFP Transformation Roadmap / Modernization Program thread that’s been documenting the progress of the up-arming effort since 2003.

The acquisition list

The following list focuses on actual deliveries of equipment that were made in 2017.

PAF_mod  Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-In Fighter Trainer   FA-50PH deliveries were completed in May of this year, bringing the SAA/LIFT fleet to 12 aircraft. See DefensePH discussion here. Photo c/o PAF.

A number of these aircraft were used in combat against ISIS sympathizers in Butig in January of this year, and more prominently — and more openly — in the Battle for Marawi in June. This earned the Philippines the distinction of being the first country to use these South Korean aircraft in anger.

001 & 002 November 28, 2015
003 & 004 December 1, 2016
005 & 006 February 21, 2017. See here
007 & 008 March 29, 2017. See here
009 & 010  April 25, 2017. See here
011 & 012 May 29, 2017. See here

Note: In June, a self-described anti-corruption group filed a complaint with the ombudsman alleging the FA-50 actually lacked combat capability. This, however, was before the AFP revealed that it had quietly acquired precision guided munitions for which the FA-50 perfectly suited to use.

Cessna 208   The Philippine Air Force received two Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from the US on July 28, 2017. These aircraft were assigned to the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Group (300 AISG). See here.
AIM-9 Sidewinder The SAA-LIFT Munitions acquisition project has been divided into multiple lots. The DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) on August 8, 2017 for Lot 1 worth P1,016,787,204.00. On December 29, Public Affairs Officer Arsenio Andolong announced that a Notice to Proceed was issued to Diehl Raytheon of Germany for the missiles on August 31, 2017, and that the contract had already been signed. See here.
AGM-65 Maverick   This is a component of the SAA/LIFT munitions project. The PAF revealed the existence of AGM-65 Maverick training rounds during the 70th PAF anniversary. The PAF has yet to officially confirm the existence of live equivalents. See here.
Air defense radar acquisition project   Situational awareness capabioity is a matter that the Philippine Air Force refuses to discuss openly. Periodically, however, it will provide “bread crumbs” that enthusiasts can leverage. A PAF sanctioned video showed a video of the EL/M-2288 AD-STAR radar, thus confirming a SIPRI.org report that indicated that the PAF was already in possession of this equipment. A notice of award for the project was issued in January 2016 to the Israeli company Elbit. See here.
Elbit ELM-2106NG   Situational awareness capability is a matter that the Philippine Air Force refuses to discuss openly. So while select members of the DefensePH / Timawa community have been aware of these Israeli-made mobile radar units for some time,  Operational Security (OPSEC) considerations these have hitherto kept them out of forum discussions. However, an editing oversight included a photograph of this radar unit on an official PAF publication.  Additional details are for the PAF PIO to explain. See here.
Squad Designated Marksman Rifle & Mid-length Carbines   PAF receives 50 upgraded rifles on February 28, 2017. Forty-six (46) were in the form of 5.56mm Mid-length Carbines with Aim-point optics, and 4 were Squad Designated Marksman Rifles with ACOG sights.
PN_mod BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) The second Tarlac class Strategic Support Vessel was launched on September 29, 2016 at the PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia and christened the BRP Davao del Sur. It arrived at the Port of Manila on the 7th of May and was commissioned on May 10. See here.
Multipurpose Assault Craft (MPAC) Mk.3   The three Mk.3 MPACs were slated to be the first missile-equipped vessels in the Philippine Navy. These were unveiled — without the Rafael Spike missiles they were designed to carry — on the 119th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy on May 22, 2017. See here.
Cessna TC-90   The Philippine Air Force initially leased five Cessna TC-90 aircraft from Japan for use as interim maritime patrol aircraft (see here). The first of 3 batches of PAF aircrews arrived in Japan for training in December 2016. As per PAF press releases, the training syllabus included 90 hours of ground and 170 hours of flight training. The first two aircraft arrived on March 26, 2017. The DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order for this project in May 31, 2017 worth P155,066,057.00. Later in October, Japan announced that it was converting the lease into a donation.
Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS)   The Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group in the Philippines, formally transferred a 28M Class Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) on August 22, 2017. The 28M Class TARS is a self-sustained, rapidly deployable, unmanned lighter-than-air platform which can rise to an altitude of 5,000 feet while tethered by a single cable. Photo c/o US embassy. See here.
Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support Systems (MITSS)   This P684.32M project sought to acquire 6 sets of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, 9 sets of Target Acquisition Devices, and 12 kits of Tactical Sensor Integration Subsystems. Details here.
RQ-11B Raven   On January 27, the Philippine Marines received three units of hand-launched RQ-11B Ravens and associated support equipment from the United States as part of a counter-terrorism grant. See here.
Ford F-550 trucks   On July 7, the NAVSOG received 12 units of Ford F-550 trucks from JUSMAG for mobility purposes as well for transport Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) of the unit. Photo c/o US embassy. See here.
Elbit Soltam 155mm Howitzer   A Notice of Award for this project was issued to Elbit System on June 17, 2015 for 12 units to be issued to both the PA’ and PMC. Finally delivery of the final 9 units was made on July 17, 2017. See here.
M134D gatling guns   JUSMAG turned over a variety of anti-terror equipment to the PMC including  four M-134D Gatling-style machine guns. See here.
M40A5 sniper rifles On January 27, 2017, the Philippine Army and Marines received 85 units of M40A5 sniper rifles from the United States. See here.
M-4 Carbine   JUSMAG turned over a variety of anti-terror equipment to the PMC including 300 M-4 carbines. See here.
Glock 21 pistols JUSMAG turned over a variety of anti-terror equipment to the PMC including 200 Glock 21 pistols. See here.
M203 grenade launchers   JUSMAG turned over a variety of anti-terror equipment to the PMC including 100 M-203 rail mounted grenade launchers. See here.
Rubber boats with outboard motors   JUSMAG turned over a variety of anti-terror equipment to the PMC including  25 units of combat rubber raiding craft. See here.
71155_327179393712_8339928_n RPG-7 Rocket Launcher acquisition The Bulgarian Arsenal won the bid to supply the AFP with RPG-7 rockets, thus satisfying the Rocket Launcher Acquisition Project that had been on various modernization reports since 2008. Six launchers and 800 rockets were available for use when the Battle of Marawi broke out. See here.
M-203 grenade launchers   On January 27, the Philippine Army and Marines received 400 units of M-203 grenade launchers from the United States. See here.
ga Initial & Final Forming Units and Bullet Assembly
  The GA took delivery of  Initial Forming Unit (IFU) (250 ppm), Final Forming Unit (FFU) (250 ppm) & Bullet Assembly Machine (BAM) (125ppm) procured from Waterbury Farrel of Canada and delivered at the Case & Bullet Division in Bataan Plant on March 23, 2017. These machines will be used in the production of 5.56mm M855 bullets.

In addition to acquisitions via bidding, South Korea has committed to providing the Philippines with one surplus Pohang Class corvette, and a landing craft. These and the aforementioned Korean acquisitions have yet to be delivered and have therefore been omitted from the list above.

Awaiting delivery

A significant number of high-profile projects remain pending, and have been omitted from the acquisition list. These are listed immediately below.

Service Ongoing projects



 Close Air Support Aircraft acquisition project – the contract for the acquisition of six Embraer Super Tucano aircraft for this project was signed on November 30, 2017. The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2019.  See here.
Light-Lift Aircraft acquisition project – This is an P814M project to acquire two brand-new Light-Lift aircraft to supplement or replace the PAF’s existing Nomad aircraft. This project went to PT Digantara of Indonesia which will be supplying two CN212 aircraft. Delivery issues, however, have plagued this project. See here.

Gozar Air Station – on January 16, 2017, the DND allocated supplemental funding for the implementation of Radar Basing Support System Project Lot 1 (Gozar Station). See here.

PN_mod Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition –  Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) SARO-BMB-D-17-0006000, worth P4,559.198,336.00, was issued for this project on May 3, 2017. Agustawestland was the only company that qualified to take part in the bidding in November 2015. The DND announced in January that post-qualification of the company and its offering: AW-159 Wildcat. See here.

Spike ER / Spike NLOS – the AFP is awaiting delivery of Spike ER and Spike NLOS missiles from Israel. These are due to be used with the MPAC Mk.3 and incoming AW159 helicopters respectively. See here.

ex-ROKN Mulkae class (LCU-78) – South Korea promised this EDA item in June 2014 and quietly delivered the boat in July 2015. A refit project costing P27,138,295.51 was approved for the vessel, but remains non-operational. Unverified reports suggest that the vessel might actually be Beyond Economical Repair (BER). See here.

Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) – Samsung Techwin was declared the lowest single calculated bidder for the P2.5B AAV project. Details here.

40mm automatic grenade launcher – the DND issued a Notice To Proceed (NTP) in favor of Advanced Material Engineer / ST Kinetics, represented locally be Floro International Corp, to supply and deliver eight (8) units of 40mm automatic grenade launchers for the contract price of P19,750,672.00 on March 4, 2014. Details here.

2 1/2 Ton Truck Troop Carrier & Wrecker – Notice to Proceed was issued to Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency for the acquisition of 227 units of 2 1/2 Ton Truck Troop Carrier and 10 units of 2 1/2 Ton Wrecker at the cost of P1,419,821,000.00 for the Philippine Marine Corps on October 18, 2017. See here.

1 1/4 ton Truck Troop Carrier – Notice to Proceed was issued to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency for the acquisition for 108 units of 1 1/4 ton Truck Troop Carrier, worth P313,956,000.00 for the Philippine Marine Corps on October 18, 2017. See here.

71155_327179393712_8339928_n KM-450 1/4-ton truck acquisition – on October 19, 2015, the DND issued a Notice to Proceed to Kia motors for the supply of 717 trucks to the Philippine Army. See here.

KM-451 ambulance acquisition – on October 19, 2015, the DND issued a Notice to Proceed to Kia motors for the supply of 60 units of Field Ambulances to the Philippine Army. See here.

Force protection equipment – Notice to Proceed was issued to MKU Limited for the acquisition of 3,480 units of Force Protection Equipment at a contract price of P120,435,000.00 on April 17, 2017. A rival company, U.M. Merkata DOO was initially declared the Lowest Calculated Bidder, but was unable to pass Post Qualification, leading to the award to the 2nd LCB. See here.

Tactical Engagement Simulation System (TESS) – the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P52,251,959.00 for the purchase of the Tactical Engagement Simulation System Acquisition Project on May 29, 2017. A Notice to Proceed in favor of SD Systems Co., Ltd, Ziwoo Information & Technology, Inc, and AR Vision Inc. was issued on September 2017. See here.

ScanEagle UAS – a Janes.com article reported a pending follow-on purchase of 6 additional Insitu Scan Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for the AFP. This confirmed that an undisclosed number of these aircraft were already in Philippine service. See here.

Civil Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project – the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order worth P150,315,000.00 to fund Lot 3 of the Civil Engineering Equipment Acquisition Project. Lot 3 consisted of 32 units of 5-ton dump trucks and 3 units of 20-ton dump trucks. A notice of award was issued to Hino Motors Philippines for this project on Juney 14, 2017. See here.

Laser etching machine. The Government Arsenal is acquiring three additional laser etching machines in support of the AFP’s ammunition accountability efforts. See here.  

Pending acquisitions

A significant number of high-profile projects remain pending, and have been omitted from the acquisition list at the bottom of this article. These are listed immediately below.


Service Pending projects
PAF_mod Long Range Patrol Aircraft acquisition project – the previous bid for this project was closed in July due to disqualification of all bidders. A new bid was opened in September.  See here.

Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) – on December 20, 2017, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P12,073,122,578.00 was issued to fund the acquisition of 16 Combat Utility Helicopters. The SARO, however, did not identify the specific model selected. But in the recent past, the PAF acquired the W-3 Sokol and Bell 412 for its CUH requirements. Details here.

SAA/LIFT munitions – the ordnance that SAA-LIFT aircraft will carry are being acquired via a separate acquisition project. These include Air-to-Air Missiles (312 Pieces), Air-to-Surface Missiles (125 Pieces), 20mm ammo (93,600 Pieces), and Chaffs/IR Flares. A SARO for Lot 2 worth 3,292,926,550.00 was released June 20, 2017, and another for Lot 1 worth P1,016,787,204.00 was released on August 8, 2017. A Timawan / DefensePH shoulder-tap hinted at the selection of AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles for the air-to-air missile component. Inert versions of the AGM-65 Maverick were revealed during the 70th PAF anniversary thus identifying the Air-to-Surface component of the package. Details here.

See also the following thread: Teddy Locsin: Letting the cat out of the bag re the SAA/LIFT Munitions project?

Miscellaneous PAF munitions – the DND issued SARO-BMB-D-17-0010323 which released P267,888,300.00 for the acquisition of “air munitions”. The SARO gave no additional details about this acquisition, which was issued in July 12, 2017. Another SARO (SARO-BMB-D-17-0011782) worth P312,077,200.00 was used to acquire “special munitions”. See here.

Full-motion flight simulator (FA-50) – in 2014, the DND announced the opening of a P246M project to acquire a full-motion simulator for for the FA-50 SAA/LIFT aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. On August 17, 2017, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order worth 362,904,800.00 for the acquisition of the FA-50 simulator with Integrated Logistics Support (ILS). See here.

Full motion flight simulator – in June 2017, the PAF issued a bid invitation for the construction of a full-motion flight simulator worth P13,879,340.00. See here.

FA-50 ComSec requirements – on September 8, 2017, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P53,350,000.00 for FA-50PH ComSec Requirements. See here.

PN_mod Frigate Acquisition Program – this P18B project seeks to acquire two brand new multi-role frigates in a complicated two-stage bidding process. Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd of India was initially declared the Lowest Calculated Bidder. However they were rejected during Post Qualification due to concerns about the bidder’s financial capacity and ability to implement the order. The contract was eventually awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries. Details here.

Flag-level politics surrounding this acquisition broke onto the national spotlight with the unceremonious relief of the Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC). See here.

Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC) – on December 15, 2017, the DND issued a Special Alottment Release Order (SARO) worth P269,799,999.99 for the acquisition of three (3) additional Multi-Purpose Assault Craft for the Philippine Navy. As of writing, it is unclear which of the three existing MPAC models this batch would be based upon. See here.

AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe 3D Air Search Radars for the GDP class frigates – on December 14, 2016, the US State department approved the sale of two AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe, explicitly, for use on two ex-Hamilton class cutters in PN service. See here.

Jacinto Class Patrol Vessel Upgrade Phase 3 – this project sought to upgrade the weapons and electro-optical systems of all three ships of the class. See here.

Jacinto Class Patrol Vessel Upgrade Phase 2 – this is a sought, among other things, to overhaul and improve the main propulsion system, electrical, and various auxiliary systems of BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37). Other members of the class had already been upgraded to this standard. See here.


71155_327179393712_8339928_n Shore-Based Missile System – arguably, the AFP modernization controversy of the past year was the deferral of the Philippine Army’s Shore-Based Missile System (SBMS) to an as yet undisclosed “horizon” of the AFP Modernization Program. This was discussed on the DefensePH forum on the following thread. Funds for the P6.5B project — which originally became public in 2011 and  — were realigned to acquire force-protection equipment instead. It was a stunning reversal of a territorial defense initiative that drew boisterous condemnation on defense social media and earned the Chief of Staff AFP, General Hernando Iriberri, the monicker “General Helmet”.

M113A2 Firepower Upgrade project – on November 28, 2017, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P1,051,650,000.01 for the “Firepower Upgrade of M113A2” project of the Philippine Army. See here.

Thermal sights and cameras – on November 23, 2016, the DND issued bid documents for a P240M acquisition of thermal optical sights and thermal camera. On September 18, 2017, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P136,809,543.00 for this project.See here.

60mm Mortar Acquisition project – 150 mortars are being acquired. Details here.

Ballistic helmet (standard & special operations) – the DND issued a bid invitation worth P1,189,605,000.00 for standard and special operations ballistic helmets on November 22, 2017. See here.

0.50 cal Machine Gun Red Dot Sight System – the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order, in favor of the Philippine Army, worth P80M to cover the procurement of a .50 Cal Machine Gun Red Dot Sight System. See here.

  Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Equip’t (Lot 1) – on November 16, 2017, the DND issued two Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) with a combined value of P109,569,777.00 for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment Acquisition Project (Lot 1). See here.

Pag-asa Island Beaching Ramp – responding the President’s instructions on April 6, 2017 to improve facilities in KIG, SND Lorenzana conducted a personal tour of facilities on Pagasa Island on April 21, 2017 an announced a plan to improve Rancudo Airfield and to build a long-awaited beaching ramp to facilitate the offloading of cargo. On June 6, the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P231,272,837.00 for the construction of the beaching ramp. According to Defense spokespoerson Arsenio Andolong, the ramp is scheduled to be completed in “early 2018”. See here.

Marine Intelligence Acquisition Project – the DND issued a Special Allotment Release Order worth 73,537,500.06 for a “Maritime Intelligence (MARINT) acquisition project” on June 8, 2017. See here.

 ga Indigenous assault rifle production –  the Government Arsenal is in advanced negotiations with ST Motive of South Korea to acquire equipment for local manufacture of assault rifles based on the M-16/M-4 design. Similar arrangements with other manufacturers, such as Colt’s Manufacturing Company are also being explored, but none are as advanced at ST Motive.

Related articles:

2016: What happening with the AFP modernization program

2015: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

2014: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

2013: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

2012: What’s happening in the AFP capability upgrade program

Flashback: AFP modernization – 2003 to 2006

Flashback: The AFP’s modernization plans in 1995