Possible Russian Weapons Options for AFP

In the recent events unfolded where the Russians and the Filipinos are starting to know and improve their relations altogether, it is as well worthy of discussing the possible Russian weaponry options that are based on affordability and having likely to acquire them.

Disclaimer: The options provided in this article are just a mere perspective made by the Author at the time it was published and is no way reflecting current events or situations taking place such as the U.S. implementation of the CAATSA or the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act wherein it took effect eight months later from the date this webpage has published. (Edited 11-06-2020).

Admiral Tributs docked in Pier 15, Manila Harbor.
Courtesy of Reuters.

The Russians just recently have their warship Admiral Tributs, a Russian destroyer together with an oiler Boris Butoma assigned in the Russian Pacific Fleet docked in Manila for a goodwill visit in which it pursues the strengthening of ties among two sovereign states (Philstar). 

These in which it signifies the good intention of this nation to pursue a better relationship to the Philippines brought by President Duterte's Independent Foreign Policy where the government engages in some sort of "Charm offensive" to other powers aside from the US like Russia and China where it gives an idea that pragmatic relations in terms of diplomacy and trade are indeed a good thing. 

Then here comes Ambassador Igor Khovaev, Russian envoy to the Philippines having a press conference on board the ship where he signifies the intention of the Russian government to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with various Russian weaponry (Reuters) in which it is a bit different in the ecosystem than those from NATO which gives an interoperability headache for the military where customization will be made. 

But then again, it is still possible for the AFP to adapt, adjust and procure Russian weaponry on hand wherein in deals such as this, it gives the Philippines the capability it needs as well as the benefits it brings out from the deal.


The Russian weapons and systems are a bit different in format and ecosystem than those in the west. Also parallels with that there are different ways the equipment is maintained and operated. These in which are the result of the different paths undertaken by two nations during the cold war where different standards on the weapons systems vary among these nations in which the systems evolve as part of the arms race among two nations. 

At present, both countries and the allies which rely on them are using either NATO-based weaponry or the Russian, Eastern-bloc weaponry, with several countries diversify on these nature of weapons systems with the prominent examples of India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In this discussion, it will pertain to the military weapons that Russia may offer to the Philippines where the downsides are also coming into the picture.

Sukhoi Su-35. This jet is a creation out of Russian Ingenuity.
From Wallpapercave.com
Russia has a lot to offer for the Philippines to have. Their weaponry as resulted from the researches made as well as the Cold War industrial complexes of the former Soviet Union, Russia inherited and continues to improve their weaponry in which they hope can compete with other nations like the United States. Among notable post-Cold-War weapons that they are being built are the S-400 surface to air missile platforms, Borei-class ballistic submarines, Admiral-Gorshkov-class frigates, T-14 Armata tank, PAK-FA T-50 jet, and several others.

Speaking of those, the Philippines has no plans to procure those weapons mentioned above due to their costly acquisition as well as their maintenance just like the Cold War-based weapons in which the AFP will be facing upon acquisition. These in which may be solved through customization where Western-based mechanisms can be integrated but all of that is not enough to get it comparable to the Western-based weaponry. Despite all that, it is still as hopeful that the weapons offered will still be a force to get reckoned with, where it will give leverage against foreign aggressor there is.

Now, let us present the possible Russian weaponry that is feasible as well as capable enough for the AFP to get enticed and has the interest to procure on. 

In this case, the first will be presented are the ones that the government really is interested in -- guns, helicopters, and drones.

Guns and Rocket Launchers
Avtomat Kalashnikov AK-101
From Modern Firearms
The AK-101 will be seen as an ideal firearm for the AFP since it bears 5.56x45 NATO cartridges in which it is a standard for the NATO on which the AFP is based on. Given its similarities as well as being a standard-issue in the Russian military alongside AK-74, this firearm will definitely be one of the weapons offered to the AFP where interoperability will be less or, not much of a problem since its ammo uses the ones that the M-4 rifles obtain. This in which may give the AFP the exact firepower it needs where multiple sources of firearms is a better thing to have. (Multi-source firearm, PDA)

SV-98 Sniper Rifle
The SV-98 Sniper rifle that can be loaded with 7.62x51mm NATO
rounds if being customized. Via Wikimedia Commons
These Izhmash-produced snipers that seen action in Russian theaters of war like in Chechnya (link), such said weapons are known to be loaded with 7.62x54mmR which is prevalent in the Russian arsenal. This in which can be customized a bit into the NATO-standard 7.62x51mm which only several millimeters to spare. Given the circumstances, the DND seeks to have such firearms in line with drones and helicopters where this sniper rifle will be a good candidate for an ideal weapons options to the AFP.

Dragunov SVD rifles
The Dragunov SVD Sniper Rifle. Via Wikimedia Commons
This sniper rifle, like it's SV-98 cousin, these Izhmash-produced weapons are also loaded with the same 7.62x54mmR cartridge that is prevalent in Russia. These in which can also be customized to the NATO standard 7.62x51mm cartridge that will definitely minimize or eliminate any interoperability issues with the NATO-based AFP weaponry. This in which may help the AFP's Sniper Corps in different branches to get their jobs done.

An Afghan soldier firing an RPG-7 Rocket launcher.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Considerably, this weapon has deemed the replacement of Philippine Army's recoilless weapons as this MaxDefense Article is saying considerably that such weapons, albeit being designed by Russian bureaus, is being produced in the United States through the company named Airtronic USA where such rocket launcher was found out to be easy to produce considering its open-source license for each and every producer to use. 

It was then found out in the later updates that Airtronic will not be the one who will produce the RPG-7 to the AFP via Foreign Military Sales (FMS), but rather it is a Bulgarian Company Armaco JSC. Details from the article setting aside, it is a good thing for the Russians to offer such weaponry to the AFP where such rocket launcher is badly needed upon replacing the old ones. Albeit the official sources not reporting about this, but upon analysis, it seems that having RPG-7 on the table will be an interesting offer for the AFP to decide in due time.

Mil Mi-17
A fully-armed Mil Mi-17. Courtesy of Pinterest.

Codenamed "Hip" by NATO, this transport helicopter made by Kazan Helicopter Plant is something that the Philippine Air Force has its eyes on, even before Pres. Duterte rises to power. 

This helicopter is seen as an improved and more powerful version of Mil Mi-8 which is also codenamed as "Hip" where its improvements will be seen as an enticing offer to the AFP which it will complement the UH-1 choppers the Philippine Air Force have wherein a certain division of troops will be airlift across the archipelagic nation where such helicopters are badly needed.

Mil Mi-24
It is nicknamed a flying tank by its Soviet Pilots.
From Battle Machines.

This is one of Russia's multipurpose helicopters there is. Codenamed "Hind" by NATO, this helicopter is primarily used as a gunship specialized in Close Air Support or Counter-Insurgency missions like the missile and gun suppression on key targets on the ground. 

With the counterinsurgency operations in the south, the Philippine Air Force may have opted for it where it's primarily gunship features will help them succeed in the operations where it is presently done by AW109 and MD-520 light attack helicopters. 

Moreover, it can be also used as a transport helicopter like the Mi-17 and definitely may augment or complement the UH-1 choppers and Bell 412s the Philippine Air Force obtains. Used by 50 other users across the world, logistics will be less of an issue for this case where the same will apply on the Mi-17 with about 60 users. Its operational history can be seen here.

Russian UAVs.

Russian UAVs such as Kamov Ka-132 (link), Mikoyan Gurevich Skat (link), Yakovlev Pchela (link) and several others can be a good option for the Philippine Air Force, with the Skat being less armed or definitely not a good option where the AFP is looking for small surveillance drones that give an overview of the battlefield. These in which may help the air force a bit based on the deals. However, such deals may be taken over by Israel where IAI may offer better drones or UAVs for the air force. Speaking of which, it will be on the Defense department's disposal with regards to such decision...

Other possible weapons deals

The Russians have more to offer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the circumstances that the Department of National Defense (DND) may opt to have soon. Albeit the confirmations that helicopters, UAVs, and firearms, other weapons may give benefit the AFP upon the basis of affordability, maneuverability, and performance that entices the eyes of the decision-making people in the DND. In this case, however, like any other deals with the Indonesians and South Koreans, there will be a sort of Memorandum of Understanding where both sides agree on a deal (InterAksyon).

In this case, this "other possible Russian Weapons Candidates" will be determined by three things: Affordability, feasibility, and the willingness the Russians to sell those weapons based on recent pronouncements that will aim at these things: jets, submarines, and other weapons the Philippines can afford aside from helicopters, light weapons and drones. 

Kilo-class Submarines
B-265 Krasnodar, a Kilo-class submarine of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Via Wikimedia Commons

Price: $200million ~ $350million (est) per unit, depending on contract terms. Source: [link][link]

The ship is seemed to being offered by Russia to the DND Secretary Lorenzana where in turn such deal was turned down for now due to the prioritization of weapons mentioned before this part. Albeit the rejection, it is still not dismissive that the submarines will once again be offered to the DND where chances of being acquired are still there, in a sense that customization can be made to minimize interoperability issues. 

However, such deals can also get compromised by the offers from other nations such as South Korea's Chang Bogo class which can be out from the deals of FA-50PH and Hyundai Heavy Industries missile-fired frigates or the Gotland-class of Sweden that is also considered by the Philippine Navy and DND. All of which, remains to be seen where submarines are to be procured in between the second and third horizons of the Navy's Sail Plan 2028.

Fighter & Trainer Jets
MiG 29/35
MiG 35 - An advanced version of MiG 29.

Price: ~$29Million/unit (approx). Source: [link]

Aside from submarines, it is also imperative for the Russians to a possible offer of such jets to the Philippine Air Force. The fact there is that, it already took place in the 90s whereupon the downfall of the Soviet Union, the newly-formed Russians offer MiG fighters to PAF that a deal seems to be probable on sight. However, the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 puts the whole plan to scrap where procuring MRFs are no longer prioritized until 20 years later as well as putting the Old AFP Modernization Program (RA 7898) out of worth. This does not stop the Russians in having the possibility of offering it again to the Philippines albeit there is no official news about it, yet. This may remain to be seen in due time since for now, the administration is keen to eliminate the insurgent threats where these mighty interceptors are not yet that relevant, at least until they change the focal point to pure territorial defense.

Sukhoi Su-30/Su-35
Russian Air Force Su-30. Via Pinterest
Su-27: $37.5 million/unit approx (MKI variant: $38million each), depending on contract terms and variants given. Source: [link][link][link]
Su-35: $65 million/unit approx. Source: [link]

Like the MiG 29s, the Russians may be keen on pursuing these assets where this platform is proven to have integrated with western avionics the same way as the Indians did with their Su-30MKI and the Malaysians with their Su-30MKM. Speaking of which, these Su-27-derived and upgraded aircraft may also give the Philippines the force to get reckoned with having a true blue MRF flying over the skies. However, just like the MiG 29s as well as the other jets in the arsenal, overhauling for the engines may take more often than their western counterparts in which it will make the maintenance more expensive. That is, despite having customization just to minimize the interoperability issues where Murphy's Law is perfectly applied to scenarios like this one.

Yakovlev Yak-130
It was then a competitor against the FA-50PH in which it lost.
Via Airplane Pictures.
Price: $15million, depending on contract terms given. Source: [link]

This combat training aircraft was then offered in the bidding for a squadron of Lead-in fighter trainer jets way back in 2012. However, it was then lost to the Korean Aerospace Industries' TA-50 deal (which eventually becomes the FA-50PH deal). Despite all that, the Russians may still consider these trainer jets since such fuselage is affordable as well as having closer relations to Russia making this a mere possibility. But in this, there's the downside which is that the FA-50PH will probably more reliable in the sense that the AFP may not consider these jets due to logistical efficiency practices within the armed forces. That means having lesser types of jets operated in its inventory. With these matters, such a jet will definitely put on the sidelines in a while unless official news breaks out.

Infantry fighting vehicles
BMP series (BMP-1/2/3)
A Russian BMP-2 in a 2009 parade. Via Wikimedia Commons

Price: BMP-3 = $3.2 million ~ $4 million. Source: [link]

Another possible purchase will be this infantry-fighting vehicle where several defense outlets a long time ago have been discussed at. (Timawa is down but it was also used to discuss there). This in which provides good weaponry in which the Russians may provide to the AFP. However, the Philippine Army already has its M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers or APCs in its arsenal with several modified into Infantry Fighting Vehicles or IFVs where it was armed with remote-controlled guns modified with the help from Israel's Elbit Industry. This which, like the Yak-130, will be put on the sidelines unless the government really is interested in it where official reports about it will get out.

Other Options

Other Russian military options are also possible but the probability for purchase regarding it is either low or non-prioritized. Included in this option is the more sophisticated weaponry like S-300, S-400, Gepard-class frigates, Steregushchy-class corvettes, Su-34, Su-37, nuclear weapons, and other lesser-probable weaponry. Take note that such procurements are remote considering the provisions on the constitution banning nuclear weapons in the country as well as the sophistication of these said weapons that make such procurements less possible to be procured.


Speaking of Russian military weapons for the AFP, it may give an advantage when it comes to territorial defense. But all of it comes at a cost. In other words, having an affordable procurement that may suffice in the short term may be a costly thing in the long term for these weapons. Speaking of which, these weapons are different in format from its western counterparts where maintenance, logistics, and interoperability may face a problem in a NATO-standardized Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Take this IHS Janes Article for instance about the reported diversification of weapons system by procuring helicopters from Airbus which is a western-based company. Accordingly, as per analysis, this pertains to the Russian military weapons and its problematic aftersales program where maintenance, logistics, and interoperability-wise, gives an armed force the problem in which it is deemed costly.

Accordingly, we may quote the things about Russian weaponry in this article with the same author on another website about defense matters...

Technically-wise, Russian weapons are indeed one of the best there is in the market where its performance equates to its mere industrial value way back to the Cold War years where in-depth research and arms race do the work. Hence, the fruits of such technological advancement are benefited by the Russian Federation from the now-existent Soviet Union. The hallmarks of its weapons are ranging from tanks to SAM (Surface-to-air missile), attack helicopters to attack jets and submarines to battlecruisers.

However, these things throughout the 1990s dwindled a lot since the downfall of the Soviet Union. And it is also the mere fact that the newly-formed Russian Federation offered its weaponry to the then Philippine Government under Pres. Cory Aquino and is considered on the old AFP Modernization Program drafted by then-Pres Ramos at that time. The sad news there s that no Russian weapons have been successfully made within the Armed Forces as the Modernization Program goes to foil during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Now, the Russians are at it again, offering their best weapons there is to the President whose intention is at a striking change from its traditional ally, the United States into the what so-called the independent foreign policy. And that means looking what the Russians, as well as the Chinese and other suppliers have to offer.

So, here's the thing about the Russian weaponry -- they are economically speaking, affordable to purchase. And that is advantageous to the Russians upon selling those to the countries whose economy is at its normalistic pace like the Philippines. However, the problem with these weapons comes at three points - compatibility, logistics and maintenance.

1. Compatibility (or interoperability) - Russian-based hardware is different in ecosystem than those on NATO-based western weaponry. It was like having an Apple computer using Mac OS as its software as comparable to the mainstream Microsoft-based systems. As far as Philippines is concerned, its weapons are primarily Western-based since through the years it aligns to what the Americans and most of the Europeans have. These in which, must be cope up first since this issue is detrimental to the next two points. (This is something that the AFP shall consider where adjustment period is high unless the tech gap was narrowed due to customization/integration with western properties.)

2. Logistics - One of the issues must be fixed upon is logistics. In the event of problematic failures on any of Russian-based systems, one must either send it back to Russia for repairs or buying spares to the adjacent territories who offer such necessity like Vietnam. The primary solution to this problem is for the Russians to set-up shop in the Philippines or, better yet, find a local partner who can do such repair and spare support stuff for them. These in which saves a lot of money when it comes to logistics.

3. Maintenance - Russian weapons in the long run are not that efficient considering that it takes more overhaul times than its Western counterparts. This is something the Russian needs to improve to have a PH-based variant where it is a improved version where it is much reliable and have a maintenance which can equate enough to the western parts.
Speaking of these points given, such downsides are needed by the AFP to consider what weapons will they get, and with that, the Russians shall consider the weapons it will offer to the AFP where it is enticing enough as well as a good thing to push and make sales running. Out of these possible weapons options given, only several will be ideal weapons based on what the DND presently needs without any obstacle given (and these are analytical in nature). These are primarily firearms, drones, and other light items such as vests and helmets.

The President, the cabinet, and the Russian dignitaries plus officers
doing the iconic Fist sign of President Duterte. Via PressReader.

The improving relations between Russia and the Philippines serve as a primary sign that the Russians may offer these said weapons in the sense that it may find ideal to the armed forces. 

However, these things will never just deal and immediately procure without any conditions like for instance, having a Mi-17 or Mi-24 may serve as a logistical nightmare wherein the PAF already runs different types of helicopters in the arsenal. In that case, though, existing helicopters such as Bell 412 and AW109s will be in favor of since those are the ones that are already in the PAF arsenal. Another is the rifles. 

It is deemed possible for the AFP to have AK-101s, RPG-7s Dragunov rifles, and drones since it seems that the Department of National Defense is after such weapons albeit that it can be changed as well as the decisions about it and the same may apply to other weapons candidate here which leaves to the perusal or rather, the decision of the Defense Department. 

But then again, these matters will never downplay the possibility for the Philippines to have such weapons considering that such a decision may be remote for today, it will be different by tomorrow or by the next day where the AFP will diversify weapons sources that have its advantages on multiple sources and a logistical disadvantage. 

Overall, the Russian weaponry, as well as the western ones, will definitely benefit the Philippines to protect its national sovereignty against any potential adversary wherein it does not favor the West nor the East, but rather for the benefit of the Filipino people who deserve to live peacefully.


Anonymous said...

I think PH should also consider the Typhoon Family of MRAP/APC's. + ToT then a PH special variant replacing Russian made components with Western sourced ones. Then setup a Production facility managed by AFP/DND to also boost the what so called "SRDP" efforts.
Nothing against the AK's but why buy it if we already have the M4 family and GA efforting to modernized the M-16's + GA with production facility capable of producing M-16/M4 deriative/ family

Anonymous said...

Sukhoi/MiG fanbois in PH will surely wish the SU-35/MiG-35 to be included in the AFP wishlist. Because it is asteeg looks and it can do Pugachev's Cobra Maneuver (Works great until an AMRAAM gets on 'ur a**). Oh wait a second, it may be a sitting duck in the hangar in AFP airbases because the maintenance will kill the PAF and its maintenance personnel.

Anonymous said...


A different perspective on how we look into the Russian offer...

IMHO- lets study the offer, there might be some advantages that can be gained if we proceed with some equipment acquisitions. We NEED all the help we can get in order to have a credible military force.

More Blogs please...

Juan the MAn

Unknown said...

If we going to acquire Russian guns, i think military officials shall look at the situation of Ukrainian guns industry. Ukrainian version of M16, the WAC47, is not standard NATO 5.56×45 mm cartridge. The ammo for the WAC47 is a 7.62×39 mm ammunition used by Soviet weapons such as the AK-47 and the AKM assault. Compatibility issues will rise if it is going to pursue. I think former Warsaw Pact members which are now currently NATO members are the good examples to illustrate compatibility issues. Among these former members, Ukraine is the best country example.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Good point John. These things are needed to be considered. However, I cannot see these things prosper properly considering the rocky relations between Ukraine and Russia over Crimea. Just hoping that such issues will definitely resolve soon.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Precisely. Maintenance on these jets alone will definitely give an headache for the AFP where it may be seem as not feasible in the long term. In these case though, it will be in their disposal as to the decisions with regards to these matter.

Pitz Orpiano said...

That's precisely the thing AFP shall and must do which is to study the offer. It will be cleared up when the president will visit Russia by May this year.

Thank you for supporting Pitz Defense Analysis! We will cater you more defense-related information that is needed to disseminate for.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Speaking of MRAPS, modifications may be a hard thing to do, but it is possible. If the Russians have sweeten the offer, then it will be a good thing to see in the armed forces.

As for the AKs, better go to the M4s for commonality. But in that, sniper rifles from Russia are still a welcome addition for the armed forces to have.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at those poor Flanker birds in the Ugandan Air Force or at the Uzbeks

Unknown said...

They are modular, so I think any type of weapons can be fitted there by the user. Bulgarian M-1117's have Soviet .50cal weapons in it

Anonymous said...

How many Gripens you can feed on a cost of 1 SU-35's maintenance. I think around 3-5 pcs. A future PAF Gripen with Meteors may pose a threat to PLAAF fighters even their newer -35's and J-11D's,J16's, 10B's. Regarding the Indonesia and Malaysian, I wonder how is their F-16 and SU-30 (TNI AU) and Su-30 and F-18 (TUDM) maintainance?? are they have a hard time??

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Pantsir at Buk air defense systems should be included on the list.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Good point anonymous poster! These anti-air defense systems is indeed a good idea. But to make things certain, it is at best to wait for more news regarding about it with regards to procurements...

Anonymous said...

I think the DND should also consider purchasing the Zubr class Hovercrafts from Russia. The shipyard was in Crimea in Ukraine but Russia already annexed it.A big help in HADR and Naval Sealift but remove the Russian weapons in it. SAme length as the Ivatan class (around 57m)

Sok Sareth said...
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Unknown said...

i suggest to acquire atleast 70 units of t90ms just for protecting central plain of luzon or NCR...

Unknown said...

Don't buy Russian submarines because its only slightly modernize like their project 636M on outside its beautiful look but inside its required 52 crews so its expensive in training because if they buy 3 or 2, the crews that they must be train are 104 to 156.So we should buy only their warships like their gepard class frigate or we can say to Russia to design us an frigate closer to admiral gorshkov.For submarines we can buy A26 submarine from Sweden.That is Diesel Electric powered with AIP and a crew of no more than 28 and very low maintenance because of its materials and it is stealth also in terms of acoustic signature, magnetic signature, and radar cross section. It can equip also land attack missiles like what they exporting an A26 with 18 tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and we can buy them for 20 billion pesos each depending on variant and contract terms.

Oplan X said...

The biggest concern here is commonality. Those rifles and helmets is more of a gesture not to mention the trucks which was not even designed to operate in the tropics . If ever there would be a future procurement in my opinion they should look into the Latest RPG , the BMP 3 which are amphibious and their heavy lift helicopter . Other than those mentioned it will be a challenging proposition just to adapt into the AFP system and could be a logistics nightmare.

Pitz Orpiano said...

Exactly! So by that measure, the AFP shall opted on the platforms not yet existent on military inventory rather than go redundant on what is existing in the Armed Forces' Arsenal such as M-16 /M-4s vs AKMs, Ural trucks vs M809/939 series and so on...

Unknown said...

why MBT not mention here in the article?i think our phil army need battle tank like t90s..we dont have a capable tank that can engage with other tank..all we have is apc like upgraded m11a3 into fsv and ,v150 apc..how about missile boat ...russian military has lots to offer in thier navy.specially submarines, corvette , frigate with fully armed..what abour our air defence?i think is the best if we have the capabilty to shield our sky..s300 or s400 pantsir 1is best equipment tosuit the air defence capabilty....
last in important we need also an enginnering equipment..potoon bridge or layerring bridge...i hope it consider my suggestion..

Metal Slug81 said...

Yep, true! It will help lot in the logistical movement of the AFP. But then, the maintenance is another factor that keeps the AFP thinking twice before buying.

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RealTalk said...

The DND should buy Equipment's for Counter Insurgency like small arms, FAC's, APC's, Attack Helicopter and COIN aircraft ASAP.

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