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The Thing About Second-Hand Weaponry

A nation's armed forces have the desire to further enhance its capabilities to do its mandate which is to protect the country, its sovereignty, and its citizens. More unto that, it requires buying military equipment of sorts which includes second-hand ones.

The OV-10 Broncos are procured from former U.S. Military Stocks.
Courtesy of old timawa.net forum thru MaxDefense.
In discussing military or defense-related topics, there are instances that the words "second-hand weaponry" or "second-hand military hardware" comes in the picture. It goes with no surprise considering that the Philippines in its armed forces contains a handful of such types of weapons in its arsenal. 

It ranges from Helicopters to ships dating back to the Second World War as well as Frigates coming from the U.S. Coast Guard like the Del-Pilar class frigates and planes like OV-10 Broncos (as seen on the photo) or the C-130 planes wherein even the recent ones came from the U.S. Military Stocks.

Before the recent policies have been made with regards to the procurement of second-hand weaponry, the Revised AFP Modernization Program introduces several various improvements in which it comes with hopes that the military will enhance up to its required minimum credible deterrence needed to defend the nation. 

And in these kinds of improvements, it includes several military hardware that is procured as "brand new" or was built in a shipyard or an assembly line of a military factory which helps the armed forces improve its capabilities in complement the existing ones in inventory. Notable examples for newly-built military platforms include Philippine Navy MPACs and Tarlac-class LPDs as well as the FA-50PH of the Philippine Air Force. 

With these things, it is expected that there are more newly-built military builds to come especially that the second Horizon is fast approaching as it will be started by next year as well as the policy of the present administration that there will be no more second-hand hardware to procure, affecting various deals that are still working in-process that definitely involves second-hand ones like for example, the ROKS Chungju which is a Pohang-class corvette that was about to turn over to the Philippine Navy with its status is uncertain, with its fate being in the hands of the Philippine Government given the new policy which it defines its stance in terms of procuring military hardware.

With the Modernization process being on the pro as well as buying military hardware being a priority within the government, it is worthy to understand as to the points regarding the purchase of second-hand military equipment, its advantages and disadvantages, its benefits and curses, as well as other matters relating to the subject matter considering that this really means a lot in terms of purchasing weapon platforms for the military to flex its muscles in defending the whole nation and its citizens.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar is a former Coast Guard Cutter procured
under the former administration. Source
In this report obtained by GMA News dated June 3, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech that his administration would no longer accept any second-hand military hardware, including the ones coming from the Philippines' closest ally the United States of America.

In that stance by the present administration, it is ascertained that they are more opted to purchase brand new which will enhance or improve the overall capability of the armed forces. Thus, by that sense, buying new hardware is a thing that there will be fewer worries with regards to a certain hardware's useful life since it was produced from the production line and delivers straight to the end-user, unlike second-hand ones. 

Just so we know, buying second hand is something being purchased that other armed forces or nation already utilized military hardware in service in which it consumes its useful life that really depreciates its value alongside being more prone to problems which typically involve wear and tear of the components in a piece of equipment.

Also given in the specified news report, the push to buy brand new is also given regardless of the greater cost that the government will shoulder should they will opt for it. The assessment that will be given here is that the administration seems to be willing to do it regardless of the cost that it will bring. 

Insofar as its application is concerned, there are little reports aside from existing deals like the Super Tucano deal that apparently, being finalized as well as new ammunitions like AGM-65 Mavericks coming from the U.S. It may definitely ascertain that all of those things will be witnessed upon as the Second Horizon will be starting next year where a bulk of Modernization Projects are allocated in this given step covering 2018-2022.

This stance of the government definitely affects the pending procurement projects that are involving Second-hand hardware like the ROKN Chungju, which is a Pohang-class Corvette that is given as an example in the introductory part of this article. Add to these, the chances of procuring assets from the United States will be lessened unlike before where the Philippines managed to procure three Coast Guard Cutters, several Armored Personnel Carriers, two newer C-130s, and several others.

And so in line to this topic, several points about purchasing second-hand hardware to be given considering that despite that its portion of life is used up, it is still useful in the sense that somehow it provides the military a platform to enhance its armed forces where such assets can still partake their respective duty as long as it is being maintained properly.

Several of these M-113s are sold through U.S. Foreign Military
Credits to the owner of the photo.
Given the present stance of the administration, there is definitely nothing wrong with the proposal to buy more brand new assets considering that with it comes the good intentions of further enhancing the Philippine Armed Forces with the fullest essence of the Revised AFP Modernization Program being in place. However, it is worthy to take note that opting for second-hand ones are also as good as well.

Several things are advantageous when it comes to procuring second hand which it is deemed helpful for certain armed forces to enhance its capabilities in a sense that its process will be done in the shortest of time where it will be used for gaining experience as well as for something that the armed forces to use while materialization is being done for newer hardware to procure where these equipment(s) are essential at present. 

To be specific on the ideas given in this paragraph, let us point out and to be specific as to the benefit of having second-hand weaponry.

1.  Second-hand equipment is a stop-gap platform.

Second-hand equipment is at times being used as a stop-gap platform where it will be used in service and conduct its mandate at a certain period. One will ask: What is the word "stop-gap"?

According to Merriam Webster, the word definitely means "something that serves as a temporary expedient". Simply speaking, that is to have a temporary solution to the problem until something more sophisticated comes along the way. The Del Pilar-class frigates are the primary example here where at present, the ships are doing its mandate to conduct sovereign patrols in the Philippines while more sophisticated vessels like the New Frigates from South Korea and countless others in the Sail Plan 2028 procurement projects are still in the planning or in the process. 

By that sense, it is still ideal for these ex-Hamilton cutters to be in the Philippine Service where these ships further enhance Naval patrols across national waters in the sense that its stay at sea is definitely longer in duration than vessels of the Navy especially the ones derived from the Second World War.

Add to that, having these former coast guard cutters in the service significantly improves the capability of the fleet where aside from its endurance, these platforms are a good staging point for the Navy before the procurement of more sophisticated platforms like the South Korean-made frigates.

2. Buying Second hand shortens transfer time.

Since the asset is already in service on other armed forces or simply being in stocks, transferring it after decommission and/or doing documentation will be done plus refurbishment, stripping, training, and other matters that vary on the terms of agreements of the deal.

What differs between this and procuring brand new assets is that the latter requires time to build in which its duration may vary on the number of units, financing, and also the terms, conditions, and other things that cover in the deal. 

Add to that the bidding process in which if based on the Philippine context, do take some time where each participating bidder needs to comply with the specifications of the ship in the lowest offer whenever possible. 

Meanwhile, the former, the procurement of second-hand assets only takes ample time which involves the transfer of ownership as well as repairs, training, and other matters that come from it. 

Taking the example is the Philippine Air Force's purchase of C-130Ts from the United States of America. These cargo aircraft were once part of the refueling/tanker operations of the United States Marine Reserve where it was decommissioned from duty and eventually reconfigured into transport aircraft which is what it is intended within its present service within the Philippine Air Force.

In the shorter transfer time, the armed forces enhanced its capabilities especially when areas of improvement are necessarily needed to cover up upon. Hence, it is as helpful that having second-hand assets needed to do their mandate for the meantime where, in line in the first point, will be an interim platform as better ones are being processed.

3. Second-hand weapons serve as a force multiplier

Also known as force multiplication, second-hand hardware plays the role as well as newly-made ones especially if the necessity is there for the armed forces to conduct its mandate which is to defend the nation.

In line with the first and second points in this article, this "force multiplier" idea is something that according to Changing Minds Website as something that further enhances the military's overall capabilities. 

Many things will multiply an armed forces' capability ranging from manpower to technology that determines the effectiveness of its fighting power varying to the way being used. 

Several examples include M-113s of the Philippine Army in which 28 of these are refurbished and configured into fire support vehicles as it was equipped with Remote-Controlled Weapons System produced by Elbit Systems Ltd of Israel. 

Another is the Del Pilar-class Frigates which improves the capabilities of the Philippine Navy aside from the first point stated here which is serving as a stop-gap as well as being a transitions platform in preparation for the crew to operate better, sophisticated ships. 

In fact, the ships will soon have its sensors upgraded in the form of SAAB Sea Giraffe radar which improves the ship's detection range which will be the most sophisticated in the fleet as of the present date.

Hence, despite the age, second-hands are still the force to be reckoned with wherein it can still pack a punch and carry out its function within the armed forces. Like the Indonesian F-16s with several being former U.S. Air Force stocks, capabilities are being enhanced as multiplication where, in line with the first and second points, these used units can complement newer assets which that hardware takes time to build whilst these only require shorter transfer periods.

Philippine Air Force will soon have A-29 Super Tucano that
will complement and soon, replace OV-10 planes. The latter
replaced AT-6 Texans which are also called "Tora-Toras".
Courtesy to its intended photo owner.
Taking note of the present policy of this administration once again, they are adamant to purchase more brand-new assets which definitely helps the armed forces at a long term of time wherein its usage will be utilized first-hand by the military, unlike second-hand weapons where other armed forces already utilized it for a certain duration in time which it also means wear and tear to the essential parts of the given equipment.

With regards to the maintenance, certain military equipment usually gets preventive maintenance checks and services which includes purchasing of spare parts to keep such kind of hardware operational and available should an operation with the highest necessity commenced. 

Both brand new and second-hand hardware share a bit with regards to maintaining them up considering that both are utilized where respective spare parts wore out as the time passes by where the viability of these weapons' life span varies on the availability of spares as well as commonalities shared between units wherein, several units are decommissioned and cannibalized to keep others working. 

Add to that the capabilities that both newly-built and second-hand possess varying to their respective purpose and design. These are the things that both platforms have found in common as well as the differences that were explicated on the given three points.

From the viewpoint of these things, all of the military assets the armed forces obtained regardless of age are useful as long as it serves its purpose wellMoreover, there are also considerations when it comes to procuring both old and new assets where it all depends on the standards and doctrines an organization like AFP upholds. 

Let us take note that, both brand new and second hand are being assessed by the end-user where the Defense Department, as well as the different branches of the AFP, have laid plans where both old and new assets are to be procured as part of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.


The Government's plan to procure more brand new assets and not accepting second-hand ones are in itself a sense of motivation for the eventual modernization of the Armed Forces even if it takes additional funding.

But to take note again, there is something about second-hand assets that are just as helpful as the newly-procured ones where both are giving its worth in the sense that with proper maintenance process, it will function as intended as well as to get used on the missions where these assets are giving its essential so as it determines the outcome of the battle together with the strategies employed by the planners of the ground as well as the troops that are executing battle tactics therein. 

With the points taken, older assets can be procured at the shortest time, being a stop-gap platform and a force multiplier where newer ones may soon complement and eventually, takes its place.

All is coming with aspiration as well as an inspiration that the Philippine Armed Forces will eventually modernize its capabilities and equipment where they can cope up with the need to defend the country from various threats like terrorism, local communist insurgency, and foreign threats that may happen like in the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea. With this comes the success of the Filipino people as a nation that will definitely fight for its sovereignty, all for freedom.



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