Category Archives: Weapons

The Spike ER and NLOS Missiles of the Philippine Navy

A full scale mock up of a Spike NLOS missile. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A full scale mock up of a Spike NLOS missile. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd revealed to the press recently that they will provide the Spike ER missiles for the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Spike NLOS missiles for our Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopters.[1] The Spike ER will likely be used on our Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mark Three (Mk3) while the Spike NLOS will be used on our AW159 Wildcat Helicopters.

Both Spike missile versions were bought as part of the packages for the MPAC and AW159, with the MPAC project awarded in February 2016[2] while the AW159 acquisition was awarded in March 2016.[3] These acquisitions are significant because for the Spike ER, it will be the very first missile system ever to officially enter service with our PN ships. The Spike NLOS on the other hand will be the first ever guided missile to enter service for use with the PN’s helicopters.
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The Elbit UT25 and ORCWS Systems of the Philippine Army

A UT30 Mk2 Remote Weapons Station (RWS) mounted on an M113 of the Philippine Army. Photo courtesy of John K. Chua.
A UT30 Mk2 Remote Weapons Station (RWS) mounted on an M113 of the Philippine Army. Photo courtesy of John K. Chua.

The Philippine Army (PA) finally entered the age of Remote Weapons Station (RWS) when such units it bought were finally delivered. An RWS is a remotely operated weapons system that can be installed on various platforms. These systems became common when the major armed forces of the world like the United States of America (USA) and the major European countries started adopting them during the last decade or so.

The Army’s RWS turrets were bought in 2014 under the PNoy Administration from the Israeli company Elbit Systems as part of an upgrade program for the PA’s M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). Four M113s were upgraded to have RWS turrets armed with 25 mm cannons while another six M113s were armed with .50 caliber Machine Guns. The .50 caliber RWS-equipped M113s were the first to arrive in September last year[1] and a year later the 25 mm RWS-equipped units were delivered.[2]
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Our Armed Forces’ Switch to the M855 Round

M855 Ball 5.56 x 45 mm ammunition with painted Green Tips. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
M855 Ball 5.56 x 45 mm ammunition with painted Green Tips. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One less publicized fact about the PNoy Administration’s acquisition of the Remington R4 Assault Rifles is how the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) can now also switch to using a newer type of ammo, the M855. This is because the R4 Rifles have barrels with 1 in 7 inch Twist Rates which allows them to do so.

’Twist Rate’
First, just an explanation on the term “Twist Rate”: A bullet when it leaves the barrel of a firearm needs to be imparted a “spin” in order for it to travel further and on a more stable trajectory. Without this spin, then the bullet won’t be able to travel as accurately or as far and will drop to the ground quicker.
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HIMARS for the Philippine Army?

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One big surprise during the recent Balikatan 2016 Military Exercise was how the United States (US) Army decided to bring and highlight their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or HIMARS. This is the first time they have brought over the system to the annual, joint US-Philippine exercises, and it literally made quite a splash as it was all over the local news. One wonders if this has something to do with the revelation made last year by Israel Military Industries (IMI) that the Philippines was set to buy a similar system, the Lynx armed with EXTRA Missiles.[1]

That deal did not push thru as the then incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Hernando Irriberi decided to cancel it in favor of buying more Force Protection Equipment (FPE) for the Philippine Army. It ended up being a “Lose-Lose” situation as not only did we not end up with the Lynx, but we also did not end up with any of the FPEs he wanted bought instead. Irriberi had the opportunity to be remembered as the AFP Chief of Staff to usher in the “Missile Age” for the Army, but instead he will be remembered as the one who had DELAYED it.
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The Mystery of Marcos’ Rocket Program

The Bongbong Rocket. Photo courtesy of mitch romero thru Youtube.
The Bongbong Rocket. Photo courtesy of mitch romero thru Youtube.

I think that every kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s knew that the Philippines under the then President Ferdinand Marcos had an indigenous Rocket Program. However, that program was some sort of an “Urban Legend” because while people talked about it every now and then, there weren’t really a lot of solid news reports about them. I personally, for example, have never seen it on newspaper or TV reports, it was something that somebody else just said via word of mouth. The strange thing is that even now, almost half a century later, in the age of internet and easy information, there is still very little information about the program.

Worst of all is the fact that there are very few surviving samples of the actual rockets and launchers themselves. You would think that with such large rockets and launchers, at least a couple would’ve survived, especially since it was such an important achievement by our country. Hence these rockets are some sort of a “mystery”. Now below are the information I was able to gather together from mostly reputable sources, but some of them may not be entirely correct because there just aren’t a lot of good information to go around with.
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EXTRA Missiles for the Philippine Army?

An EXTRA Ballistic Missile. Photo taken from Israel Military Industries' (IMI) brochure.
An EXTRA Ballistic Missile. Photo taken from Israel Military Industries’ (IMI) brochure.

The website “Israel Defense” (at http://www.israeldefense.co.il/en) recently made an interview with retired Brigadier General Eli Reiter who is currently the Head of the Advanced Artillery and Rockets Administration of the Israeli company IMI. What’s curious about this interview with regards to us is how he stated that they had already supplied a missile system to the Philippines.[1] Take note that he didn’t use a Present or Future tense like “…is supplying…”, or “…will supply…”, but used a Past tense as in “…have already supplied…”.

Now this could be related to the Philippine Army’s (PhA) Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) program which had been mired in controversy after the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Gen. Hernando Irriberi tried to cancel it and re-align its budget to buy other stuff.[2] The last news we have about this as reported last September 2015 was that President Benigno Aquino had put the re-alignment on hold for further consideration.[3] However with this latest news, it is possible that there had been some developments about the acquisition.
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Philippine Army Shore-Based Missile System Re-Alignment

A camouflaged LAROM Rocket launcher, a Romanian made version of the LAR-160. The LAR-160 in turn is a version of the Lynx Missile System. Photo courtesy of DoloresRKT thru Wikimedia Commons.
A camouflaged LAROM Rocket launcher, a Romanian made version of the LAR-160. The LAR-160 in turn is a version of the Lynx Missile System. Photo courtesy of DoloresRKT thru Wikimedia Commons.

After a long, long period of silence, news about the Philippine Army’s (PhA) Shore-based Anti-Ship Missile (AShM) program finally broke out in a big, big way recently thru an article of the Manila Standard.[1] A couple of days later, other news organizations added more details, but it was Interaksyon that released the most accurate and detailed report.[2] To summarize what was written in the articles: The budget for the missile system (now known officially as the “Shore-Based Missile System” or “SBMS”) was already approved and the supplier and the system to be bought were already chosen thru a Government to Government (G2G) negotiation with the Israeli government.

However, the Commanding General of the PhA then, Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri wrote a letter to the then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang requesting for a RE-ALIGNMENT of the project to buy Individual Equipment for the soldiers instead. Iriberri cited “issues” on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and other internal security issues as the reasons for the request. The re-alignment was subsequently approved by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and President Aquino himself.
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