Philippine Army receives new self-propelled artillery and mortars, expecting new AFVs

ATMOS 2000

The Philippine Army (PA) has received a boost in firepower with recent deliveries of indirect fire weapons, with the delivery of 12 Israeli-made Elbit Systems Soltam ATMOS 2000 155mm/52-calibre self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) in late December.

Imagery of the SPHs were circulated on the internet following their arrival in Subic Bay, with the ordnance mounted on 6×6 cross-country trucks with a four-door armoured cab. The acquisition of the SPHs – worth around US$46.8 million – was initially announced in April 2020.

The army also received 15 Elbit Systems M125A2 armoured mortar carriers (AMCs), which are equipped with the Cardom 120 mm recoil mortar system. The Cardom is a computerised system that has a range of 7,000 m and a maximum fire rate of 16 rounds per minute.

Army spokesperson Colonel Xerxes Trinidad told state-run media outlet Philippine News Agency on 6 January that the service is also expecting 20 new Elbit Systems Sabrah ASCOD II light tanks by 2022 and 10 Sabrah PANDUR II 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) by 2023. Both platforms will be armed with 105 mm guns.

These vehicles be equipped with Elbit-supplied mission equipment including electro-optical sights, fire-control systems, as well as its Torch-X based battle management systems and E-LynX software-defined radio systems.

Colonel Trinidad also noted that the vehicles will be assigned to a newly formed unit, the 1st Tank Battalion, which will be assigned to the army’s Armor Division.

“As part of the Light Tank Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), the 20 units of Sabrah ASCOD Light Tanks are expected to be delivered this year,” he said.

Besides ground assets, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lieutenant General Andres Centino, noted in December that the army’s aviation capability will be expanded to improve the service’s air surveillance and mobility.

by Jr Ng