The Naval Defense 2019 Exhibit

I attended the Naval Defense 2019 Exhibit held at the SMX Convention Center of the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, Philippines last June 18 to 20, 2019, and it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected it to be.

I also attended the 2018 edition of the exhibit, but there were fewer defense companies then so it wasn’t as interesting to me. The Naval Defense Exhibit is actually bundled with the larger Philippines Marine (Philmarine) Exhibit which has been going on annually for the last six years.

Below are some of the defense or law enforcement related booths that caught my attention the most.

The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was there with Full Scale Mock Ups of a couple of weapons, including the Spike NLOS and Spike ER missiles which our Navy is using. The most eye catching ones though were a Naval Gun and a Missile Launcher.

It did cross my mind that these weapons could be related to the Fast Attack and Interdiction Craft (FAIC) vessels that Admiral Empedrad mentioned in his speech sometime before the exhibit,1 but the Israeli representatives at the booth were pretty tight lipped about that when I asked them about it.

’Mk-30C Gun’
The Typhoon Mk-30C Naval Gun is similar to the Mk 38 guns used a number of Philippine Navy’s (PN) ships, but uses the more powerful 30 x 173 mm caliber gun which has a longer range and more hitting power. It is also a pretty new system, having been only introduced in 2017.

Side view of a Full Scale Mock Up of a Typhoon Mk-30C Gun made by Rafael. Photo taken during the Photo taken during the Naval Defense Philippines 2019 event at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines.

One unique feature it has is its ability to be aimed at a higher elevation than similar guns, up to 70 degrees up. This enables it to engage aerial targets better. It has a maximum rate of fire of 200 rounds per minute (or around 3 rounds per second) and has an ammunition capacity of 200 rounds.2

’Typhoon MLS NLOS’
The Typhoon MLS NLOS Missile Launcher on the other hand holds eight Spike NLOS Multi-Purpose Missiles that has a maximum range of 30 km,3 giving it pretty good firepower. That eight missile load is twice that of the Spike MLS ER launchers that our Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mk III vessels have.

Front view of a Full Scale Mock Up of a Typhoon MLS-NLOS system made by Rafael. Photo taken during the Photo taken during the Naval Defense Philippines 2019 event at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines.

Like the Mk-30C, the MLS NLOS also has its own Electro-Optical (EO) sensor, enabling it to zoom and/or record targets whether day or night. It is also remotely controlled giving its Operators better safety and comfort since they can just sit in front of a console from inside the vessel.

I forgot to ask the Rafael representatives what is the smallest boat that the MLS NLOS can be mounted on, but as of now the MLS NLOS are being used on the Sa’ar 62 vessels of the Cypriot Navy4 and the Azerbaijan Coast Guard.5

The local shipbuilding company Austal Philippines was also there with a scale model of their Philippine Navy (PN) Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) which they are offering to build for the PN.6

They had already unveiled this vessel during the Asian Defense and Security (ADAS) event last year, but the model they presented this time seemed bigger and now with an Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) as its Main Gun. They had used what seemed like an AK-176 Gun before on their previous scale model.7 For details of the ship, you can access the brochure I got from the ADAS event here.

One thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of Executives in very formal Coat and Tie at their Booth, at least half a dozen, who were talking to various uniformed personnel from our Armed Forces. I think this just goes to show how important the PN OPV Project is to them.

’New Version SSV’
Next up is the Indonesian shipbuilder PT Pal which showed a number of scale models at their booth. First is the improved version of the Tarlac class of Landing Docks (LD) which they call as the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) – New Version. This design they confirmed is the one they are offering for the PN’s acquisition of two new LDs.

A scale model of a Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) – New Version made by PT Pal. Photo taken during the Photo taken during the Naval Defense Philippines 2019 event at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines.

By studying the pictures/videos of the Tarlac class and this new model, the external differences I can tell is first on the front area of the ship, the Bow now starts directly from under the Platform of the Main Gun on the new model whereas with the Tarlac class it was lower.

Also there now is a bigger compartment between the Funnels that also serves as platform for a Secondary Gun or a Close In Weapons System (CIWS). The Overall Length of the Ship is still the same at 123 m.

’Cobalt 110’
A local company called Safer PH displayed two very interesting drones, the first is a medium sized drone they call the Cobalt 110. What’s interesting about this drone is that it is able to take off and land vertically without the need of any special equipment to do so.

It has vertical propellers to accomplish this, but it also has a Pusher Propeller at the rear and Fixed Wings enabling it to travel faster and farther then an equivalent Rotary Winged aircraft. The company claims thru its brochure that the drone has a Cruising Speed of 50 knots, Endurance of more than 10 hours and a maximum range of 500 Nautical Miles (NM).

Another interesting feature about the drone that it can be armed with weapons as can be seen from the video. Not much details were revealed in the brochures or thru interviews with the company representatives, but from what I can see, it seems that the typical load of the aircraft is one 60 mm Mortar round at the center and two 40 mm Rifle Grenades on the sides.

Both the Mortar round and the Grenades have been modified to act as “Free-Fall Bombs”, with Mortar round even having an Arming Vane that arms the round only after it has rotated a certain number of times, much like some of the bombs used in World War Two (WW2).8

I don’t know the model of the rounds they used, but a typical High Explosive (HE) 60 mm Mortar round like the M49A4 has a Lethal Radius (LR) of 10 m9 while a similar 40 x 46 mm caliber M381 Rifle Grenade round has an LR of 5 m,10 so these could do significant damage to enemy personnel.

’Modified Mavic 2 Drone’
The most interesting item that I saw for me at the exhibit was Safer PH’s second drone, which was a modified Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual (M2ED) drone. First off, just some introduction about the Mavic 2, it is made by the Chinese company Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI).

A DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Drone modified by Safer PH to be able to carry and launch a modified 40 mm Grenade round. Photo taken during the Photo taken during the Naval Defense Philippines 2019 event at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines.

DJI is the leading Consumer Drone manufacturer with a 74% market share as of 2018,11 and that’s because they make quality drones that are easy to use, of good quality and good performance.

The Mavic 2 is their latest top of the line model series, it is a very compact drone that weighs less than a kilogram without accessories and has folding arms that when folded results in a drone that is only 214 mm x 91 mm x 84 mm (L x W x H), or about the size of a Size 9 Shoe.

The Enterprise series on the other hand are specialized models designed for Public Safety and Inspection operations.12 It is distinguished externally by their ability to mount accessories like a Beacon, a Search Light or a Spotlight on their front top portion.

They also come in two models, one with a Zoom Camera and the other that I saw at that exhibit has a Dual side-by-side Visual and Thermal Camera.13 The Thermal Camera is important because it enables the drone to effectively operate at night, or search more easily individuals and features during the day.

SaferPH made some modifications on the M2ED, the first of which was to paint it with Digital Camouflage on top of the Dark Gray original color of the drone. For me this improves its looks and at the same time highlights the now military nature of the unit.

The second modification they did was to incorporate a mechanism that would allow the M2ED to not only carry a Rifle Grenade round, but release it also. Just like on the C110 drone, the grenade here has been modified to act as a Free Fall Bomb, meaning it is released and allowed to fall on its own and then detonates upon impact.

The combination of a Night Vision system and a Grenade allows this drone to hunt targets at night where it won’t be easily visible, and then attack them if necessary.

‘Parting Shot’
Below are more pictures and videos I took from the event:
* Rafael Mk-30C Naval Gun (Youtube)
* PT Pal Offshore Patrol Vessel (Youtube)
* PT Pal Strategic Sealift Vessel – New Version (Youtube)
* Naval Defense 2019 (Facebook Photo Album)

I hope to see more of the same in the succeeding editions of this exhibit from hereon, good luck to the organizers, then.


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