Category Archives: Weapons

Russian Smart Weapons for the FA-50PH?

A Soviet R-13 (AA-2 Atoll) missile on the outermost right hull pylon of a Saab J-35 Draken fighter aircraft. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Aside from China, the other country that this new Administration under President Rodrigo Duterte is “pivoting” to is Russia, and as part of that initiative, the Department of National Defense (DND) is considering the possibility of using Russian made Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) on our FA-50PH Fighting Eagles.1

A PGM or “Smart Weapon” is a weapon that is able to adjusts its flight path to hit its target. It can either be guided towards the target, or has its own independent guidance system.2 Note that this is at least the second time that the DND was reported to be pursuing such possibility,3 so they seem to be really serious about doing it. The big question now though is whether this is even possible at all?
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The RPG-2s of Marawi

RPG-2s captured during a clearing operation in Marawi. Photo courtesy of Raymund Dadpaas’ official Twitter account.

One of the big surprises for me about the Battle of Marawi of 2017 (also known as the Marawi Crisis, Marawi Siege, Siege of Marawi, etc.) was the use and effectiveness of RPG type weapons by the terrorist Dawlah Islamiyah Ranao (DIR) group (also known as the Maute Group, Maute ISIS Group (MIG), A Bunch of Fakking Idi@%s (ABFI), etc.).

Local Islamic insurgent groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has long been known to have such weapons in their arsenal, but they used them only sparingly over the years, certainly not anywhere near the same amount of quantity they were used in Marawi.
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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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