Defense Expansion: Philippine Marines take positions after disembarking from a US-made fast craft at the beach of the Philippine Marines training school during a mock assault simulation in May. (TED ALJIBE/ / AFP/Getty Images)
TAIPEI — Defense contractors will gather this month in Manila to compete for a piece of the estimated $1.5 billion budgeted for phase one of a three phase modernization program for the Philippines armed forces.
Asian Defence & Security 2014 will be held July 16-18 at the World Trade Centre, Manila. The show is the first defense exhibition in decades, said Sandy Wong, a show organizer.
Exhibitors include big name companies from Europe, Israel, South Korea, and US: AgustaWestland, Beechcraft, Bell, Brahmos Aerospace, Elbit, Israel Aerospace Industries, Korea Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Poogsan, Saab, Sikorsky and Thales.
The revised 2013 armed forces modernization program illustrates market potential and a renewed need for a defense show of this type.
According to the defense budget report, the revision zeroes in on four key defense upgrades: air, naval and ground defense and general headquarters capability.
By 2027, Manila hopes to have control of the air space over land and sea, maritime patrol capabilities that include patrol and surveillance coverage up to 200 nautical miles of the exclusive economic zone, and a land force that can perform a spectrum of capabilities from peacetime development, to low intensity conflict and limited conventional warfare.
The first phase of procurements has already begun and lasts until 2017. The Navy has awarded a contract to PT PAL of Indonesia for two strategic sealift vessels. The Navy is also looking at the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopter, but no official decision has been made.
The Philippine Navy needs new frigates, anti-submarine helicopters, multi-purpose attack craft, amphibious assault vehicles, marine forces imagery and targeting support systems and basing support systems. There are a number of refurbishment and acquisition programs for local shipyards, including new landing craft utility vessels, fast craft ferries, riverine assault craft, rigid-hull inflatable boats and rigid raider craft. Local control over refurbishments include older PKM-fast attack vessels and unidentified patrol vessels.
The Philippine Air Force needs air surveillance radar, fighter aircraft, long-range patrol aircraft, close-air support aircraft, combat utility helicopters, flight simulators and basing support systems for radars and aircraft. The Air Force also has a wide range of munitions requests: short-range air-to-air missiles, 20mm ammunition, air-to-ground missiles and countermeasure systems. The Air Force has already received 12 Korean-built FA-50 light attack aircraft and is awaiting the delivery of eight AgustaWestland AW109 helicopters for light attack.
The Philippine Army recently signed a contract for 142 upgraded M113A2 armored personnel carriers, with a number of them fitted with 76mm Scorpion turrets, Wong said.
The general headquarters, armed forces and the headquarters, armed forces wide service support units have requirements for command, control, communication, computer system, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, along with civil engineering equipment. The general headquarters also has a specific requirement for a light utility vehicle.
The Philippines is also dealing with requirements such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) issues, crisis management, humanitarian and disaster response, and anti-terrorism issues.
The main motivation behind all these requests is China’s assertive claims in the South China Sea. This has raised alarms in the region and in the US. The result was a decision by the Philippines to give the US and Japanese navies more access to Philippine naval facilities, “creating an additional demand for navy-related systems and equipment for facility upgrades and enhancements,” an Asian Defence & Security 2014 press release said.
A number of workshops illustrate the armed forces’ new shopping list and requirements, Wong said. Dynamit Nobel Defence will illustrate a new shoulder-launched weapon system with multi-target capabilities. Thermoteknix Systems will exhibit the advantages of fused night-vision technology. Airbus Defence is launching a new product — the GEO-Intelligence Programme Line — along with its X-band satellite communications products. Unmanned systems, such as ECA Robotics’ man-portable ALISTER 9 autonomous underwater vehicle, will be on exhibit.
Speakers at the crisis management workshop include Oscar Valenzuela, acting executive director, Anti-Terrorism Council; Col. Mike Wylie, US Marine Corps, senior military adviser at the Joint US Military Assistance Group, Philippines; Col. Lim Wee Teck, Singapore Armed Forces; and Col. Dave Lindsey, US Army Pacific, CBRN division chief. ■