Manila Show Sojourn

Thales Compact Flash

SHAH ALAM: I was in Manila last week to cover the second installment of Asian Defense and Security show. It was not a big show compared to other regional defense trade shows but its significant nonetheless as the Philippines has been quiet active in the procurement front in the last few years.

For the record, the Philippines have ordered and taken delivery of transport aircraft (3 C295s); light fighter jets (12 FA-50PHs, 2 delivered) and light helicopters (12 AW109Es) and patrol boats. They also received Excess Defense Articles from the US – Coast Guard cutters, M113 APCs and Hercules transport aircraft.

PAF FA-50 model armed with mock-ups of the Maverick missiles, bomblet dispensers and Sidewinders.
PAF FA-50 model armed with mock-ups of the Maverick missiles, bomblet dispensers and Sidewinders.

They have also ordered two AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopters and looking to sign two light frigates from South Korea.

Thales Compact Flash sonar which had been selected for the PN Wildcat helicopters.
Thales Compact Flash sonar which had been selected for the PN Wildcat helicopters.

There are also plans for a multi-role fighter aircraft by 2018 but it is not known whether this will actually be implemented due to changing priorities of the new administration.

Sagem was among the companies which showcased its solutions at ADAS 2016.
Sagem was among the companies which showcased its solutions at ADAS 2016.

The current Philippine administration under President Rodrigo Duterte – who took over in June – is signaling that they might be buying Russian and China made arms soon following criticisms of the country’s war on drugs which saw some 3,000 people killed so far.

A PNP Special Forces trooper with an M60 GPMG.
A PNP Special Forces trooper with an M60 GPMG.

Duterte had also stated that the armed forces should buy arms for counter-insurgency instead of shiny new fighter planes which are only good for flypasts only. Whether or not this will actually happen is beyond me, at this stage.

A PNP Special Forces sniper with a Savage bolt action rifle.
A PNP Special Forces sniper with a Savage bolt action rifle.

But enough of politics for now. So what’s the most interesting at the show? Honestly, it was the number of M16 or its derivatives that was in display. They were not from the arms maker but courtesy of the Philippine Armed Force and the National Police.

A Philippine Army Special Forces operator with the Remington R4.
A Philippine Army Special Forces operator with the Remington R4.

And although the Philippine is standardising to the Remington R4 Carbine, the Colt M4A1 Carbine and the HK416s remained the mainstay of the Special Forces. There is also also the Ferfrans M4 but I saw only one with the Philippine National Police Special Action Force unit.

PNP Special Action Squad. The weapons from left are M4A1 Carbine, Savage 7.62mm bolt action rifle and a Ferfrans M4
PNP Special Action Squad. The weapons from left are M4A1 Carbine, Savage 7.62mm bolt action rifle and a Ferfrans M4

The army, marines and air force Special Forces operators displayed only R4s, M4A1s and the HK416s apart from a number of .50 calibre rifles and sniper rifles.

A Filipino Army Special Forces operator with a Colt M4A1 Carbine.
A Filipino Army Special Forces operator with a Colt M4A1 Carbine.

Its also interesting to note that the Defence Department own ammo factory, the Government Arsenal, also manufactured copies of the M16s from carbines to sniper variant.

Government Arsenal 7.62mm X 37mm Musang CQB Carbine.
Government Arsenal 7.62mm X 37mm Musang CQB Carbine.

They also made a carbine chambered in 7.62mm x 37 cartridge for CQB operations, which they had produced since 2011. The case used is the M16 5.56mm x 45, which is shortened so the round can fit into a modified M4, also called Musang.

A KIA military ambulance.
A KIA military ambulance on show at the Manila show.

Apart from the Israelis, the South Koreans had the biggest country pavilion at the show. South Korean firms are supplying fighter jets, trucks, ambulances, APCS and soon, frigates to the Philippines so it was logical for them to expand their footprint in the country.

A model of the Meko Flex. An interesting design to look at as the RMN looks to build more of the Kedah-class.
A model of the Meko Flex. An interesting design to look at as the RMN looks to build more of the Kedah-class.

Thyssenkrup, one of the companies which designed the RMN’s Kedah class, displayed a model of the Meko Flex, a new derivative of the Meko A100. The model is an interesting reference point for us as RMN set out to build an improved version of the Kedah class.

A detail look of the front end of Meko Flex. The two VLS launchers are just behind the main gun.
A detail look of the front end of Meko Flex. The two VLS launchers are just behind the main gun.

The Meko Flex is equipped with two VLS launchers on both sides of the deck, behind the main guns.

A close up of the Meko Flex. Note the wrap-around bridge and twin stacks.
A close up of the Meko Flex. Note the wrap-around bridge and twin stacks.

According to a representative, the Meko Flex was a lot different from the Meko A100 design being manufactured for the Israeli Navy, which is among others are more heavily armed. the Meko Flex is no slouch either in the weapons department. The proposed weapons are the 76mm main gun, two VLS launchers, four SSMs, a RAM and two 30mm guns.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

5 Comments

  1. For additional OPV’s, going for Meko Flex means that we need to buy the licenses for the new design, while the Meko A100 kedah basic design is already paid for and therefore “free”.

    About the AW159 ASW helicopters. It is basically just a “cosmetic” update of the superlynx that TLDM have, having the same engine, transmissions and rotor blades. The ASW suite for the AW159 theoretically could be fitted to the superlynx and would perform similarly.

    As for the PAF multi-role fighter quest, there is a push by SAAB to promote the Gripen. Personally I believe there is only a small capability advantage of going for the Gripen, compared to the FA-50. It sould be either more FA-50, or something like used SU-27 maybe for a fighter with good range and loiter time.

    Out of topic. There is a chatter about Japan donating patrol boats to MMEA. What kind of boats is it and how many? MMEA should also look at buying used Japan Coast Guard patrol boats, they usually sell them off after 15-20 years.

    Reply
    I am not saying we should buy the Meko Flex but we can used it as a reference for the update of the Kedah class. They won’t buy second hand boats as this will reduce the budget for new ones. If its donated for free that’s another story.

  2. Certain modifications would have to be performed if our Super Lynxs were to be fitted with dipping sonars. First would to to increase the power supply, then modify the cockpit interface and then install the equipment in the cabin. Not hard to do sure but should we? At the end of the day there is a need for more helos as the ones we have are overstretched. Fitting the Super Lynxs with dipping sonars would mean that there’re not very useful for anything else as already cramp cabins would be more cramp; we would have to rely more on the Fennecs. The Wildcat shares common features with the Lynx/Super Lynx but there are also other improvements that go beyond cosmetic.

    It remains to be seen if the PAF gets follow on FA-50s. The deal wasn’t popular in the first place, being a matter of get what you can rather than get nothing for the PAF. There was a lot of local debate on the wisdom of getting FA-50s but to be fair, its a good training platform and perfect for various peacetime or low intensity roles.
    Originally the plan was to get pre-owned F-16s but upgrade costs was the factor. Given the PAF’s infrastructure and budget; getting pre-owned Su-27s would not be a good idea; being maintenance intensive. In the late 1990’s the PAF was offered Su-27s and MiG029s. At one point even pre-owned Kfirs were considered but were later rejected.

    The Meko model is the same displayed at DSA several years ago when Thyssen was competing for the LCS programme.

  3. BTW, I’m not sure about the actual numbers but the Model 56 is still used by the Philippines army. There are a pair of gate guards outside the army’s HQ at Fort Bonifacio [Taguig City].

    Reply
    They also recently got Soltam 155 howitzers for the army and marines

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