The Philippine Marine Corps's Re-Enhanced Amphibious Assault Capability

Amphibious capability is something that a Naval Force through the Marine Corps expertly obtains where it is their specialty in a sense that infiltration or insertion into the hostile territory through the beachhead is the role of these said forces that in its essence an important feature in the Armed Forces of a country which is composed of islands surrounded by a body of water. 

This capability, like the other ones like airdropping troops and supplies or close air support operations, can be improved further in terms of skills, technical knowledge, and of course, Amphibious assets in the inventory that actively serves its intended purpose.

This is a South Korean Amphibious Assault Vehicle or known in its
abbreviation "KAAV". The Philippines ordered such units from
the supplier Hanwha Systems.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program is presently taking effect on the capabilities of each of its branches which is the Philippine Army, Air Force, and the Navy together with its Marine sub-unit. 

Army personnel getting the upgrades in a form of more-sophisticated infantry fighting vehicles and artillery with enhanced firepower, fighter trainer jets flying the skies, honing the pilots' skills in preparation of a more-sophisticated warbird, and navy sailors spending out at sea patrolling with ships that have longer endurance than the old hulls where portions of it still compose the fleet even at the present day.

Aside from the things aforementioned above, talking about the three main branches, the Navy sub-branch, the Marines, is also going with the flow where it also has its own share of military materiel as well as the technical knowledge of operating and maintaining it. 

One component that provides the boost for these men is the M-134D Mini Gun in which the United States through JUSMAG or Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group, provided alongside M-4 carbines, Glock-21 Pistols, and M-203 Grenade Launchers. 

These tools make these brave men more capable to wreak havoc against any threat that poses a nation in case they are needed to flush down a deadly enemy alongside the primary components of the Armed Forces, for safety and peace.

Well, things simply don't stop in firearms in which a Marine loves to have considering that it is a tool both to eliminate the target and keeping themselves from being killed. 

Defense material, supply chain, logistics, and other essential features ranging from tactics to morale are also considered. And with a country like the Philippines having geography of archipelagic setup which composes of multiple islands, the sea in which it surrounds is worth harnessing where aside from economic terms like gathering marine resources for the nation's supply chain of providing the market the commodity it needs, the military by nature is obtaining its essential feature of transporting material, munitions and troops across the islands in a form of naval transport vessels. 

Just to crack things up folks, a naval fleet isn't only composed of naval combatants like frigates, corvettes, and patrol vessels, but also essential support vessels which provide the very most important fundamental of what it means to have a capable armed force - that is, logistics.

Talking about logistics, this is a component that is essential to its worth which, alongside the industrial, population, and economic leverages that a nation has, are some of the features that are vital to the military operations that define victory and defeat of an armed force that is also a highlight to the utmost importance of national security of a country in a sense that sovereignty and freedom of self-rule lie at stake. 

This is the role of transport vessels, ranging from military vehicles like trucks and armored personnel carriers to Landing Platform Docks and aircraft such as C-295 medium-lift aircraft and C-130 main lift aircraft. In this case, though, amphibious capabilities are a way to secure a coastline from enemy forces and eventually, making the location as a makeshift access point for logistic vessels to drop the supplies needed to continue the war effort.

These things are simply giving an idea with regards to conducting amphibious capabilities where it was done at the past with the momentum losing a bit until it becomes revitalized once again that newer approach on this existing capability is introduced to the Armed Forces especially to the Navy where the newest of tools make deployments a more effective thing.


When we talk about Hanwha, we usually talk about a defense company in South Korea that specializes in improving or enhancing military and defense systems such as the Naval Shield Combat Management System which the Philippine Navy chooses for the Frigates, naming the BRP Antonio Luna and BRP Jose Rizal where these frigates may soon serve the fleet once these ships will be delivered by the shipbuilder the Hyundai Heavy Industries.

To summarize the development and process Hanwha undertakes on the Naval Shield Article, it is worthy to presume that at some point in time, the then Samsung Techwin company and BAE systems developed a Korean variant of the AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle, which it is designed to build and serve the Korean Marine Force using the skills, know-how, and resources to develop and produce one which may mean a lot for the Korean defense indigenous industries as well as the capabilities of the Korean Armed Forces in terms of conducting amphibious operations. 

Likewise, the expertise obtained by the Koreans may be given to the Filipinos through the production of these platforms that the government paid to improve the country's own amphibious capabilities, given that the Philippine Navy in the first place obtains two Landing Platform Docks from Indonesia's PT PAL shipbuilding company which plays a part in having such capability in a form of BRP Tarlac and BRP Davao del Sur. 

It was discussed back then on the other defense page that the delivery of the first batch of these Amphibious Assault Vehicles would take place in April 2018 last year. However, as of this posting, the latest details only provides the information that the delivery may take place within this year, preferably in the first or second quarter period. Hence, the company incurred months of delays for them to deliver their product for Philippine Marine use. 

Nevertheless, such development for this year's delivery provides that assurance that their obligations will fulfill, just only that its arrival will be late than what previous information back then provided.

This is a factory-based KAAV-7 of Hanwha where it is intended to
its customer in Southeast Asia - The Philippine Marine Corps.
Courtesy to κΉ€λŒ€μ˜μ˜ M-Inside Facebook page.
The Korean defense company Hanwha produces Amphibious platforms such as the KAAV-7 or specifically the Korean Amphibious Assault Vehicle - 7 wherein they originally provide it to the Korean Military specifically its Marine Corps as part of their own indigenous program that aims to supplant their Armed Forces with military assets which are produced in Korea either a developed platform or a licensed one such as this amphibious vehicle.

The KAAV-7 derives itself from the original Amphibious Assault Vehicle program in the United States which is intended to its own Marine Corps. Such an amphibious platform is still in the service of the U.S.M.C. as the backbone of its amphibious operations.

This military piece of equipment was developed in 1972 by the U.S. Armed Forces which is manufactured by United Defense LP and FMC Corporation in the United States. Another name for the AAV-7 is the LVTP-7 where it is the successor of the LVTP-5 that the Philippine Marine Corps still presently obtains in its inventory. 

This military platform already participated in some conflicts across the globe where the United States and other nations that obtain these platforms utilized its potential on their use. 

The current AAV-7 Amphibious Vehicle that the United States Marine Corps employed can be seen in action especially in the country when both nations are conducting annual bilateral exercises such as the Balikatan Exercises where their peers from the Philippine Marine Corps may have the opportunity to experience what is to be within the amphibious vehicle as well as determining how the way it operates from the ship to the shore and vice versa. 

From there, the utilization of these assets by the United States Marine Corps shows its capability and reliance that a South Korean company produces it primarily to the consumption of its own country and eventually to the Philippines in a deal made with Hanwha. 

Coupling it up with its deployment in an annual bilateral exercise simply helps provide the idea to what this means for the Philippine Marine Corps' improvement of its amphibious landing capabilities.


The Philippine Marine Corps is seeking to have at least eight (8) units of amphibious assault vehicle which can be assigned primarily on the capital Navy ships such as the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks, intended for its re-enhanced amphibious landing operations.

Once available, the Philippine Marine Corps will once again have an amphibious component where, aside from the landing of troops from a landing craft, these assault vehicles may provide the necessary protection needed for the troops on board in a way that guarantees the survivability as well as the support for the main beach party to penetrate and remove any beach defense and obstacles that the opposition forces have put against the forward deployment team.

As of the current date, the units are still on its manufacturer and its pending delay. To take note, it was discussed in the previous years with regards to its intended date of delivery with the latest information coming from the January article of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) which says that it was intended to arrive at the country by March of this year, at least for the first batch of deliveries that come with four units of KAAV-7s

Well, the said date has lapsed and there are little or no reports regarding the delivery, where this is something that needs to be updated once information is available. Despite these shortcomings, the assurance is there that the Philippine Marine Corps sooner or later will obtain these Korean-made amphibious assault vehicles where they may help interoperate with their U.S. peers in an event of a bilateral exercise like the ones in Balikatan. 

Moreover, this development may a good thing in a way that given the archipelagic setup of the country geographically-wise, these vehicles may help a lot especially in times of disaster which have rendered primary seaports unusable where their role in humanitarian assistance/disaster response or HADR through the delivery of relief goods is helpful in terms of helping the ones that need basic necessities at those critical times. 

So, with the uncertain delivery times but with certain assurances that these will end up in the weapons inventory of the Philippine Marine Corps, perhaps only at a certain time that an update will be provided about these assets wherein there comes with the hopes that it may finally be delivered to the end-user, followed by conducting a proper turn-over and eventually witnessing its actual use within the organization.


The specifications of an AAV-7 across all variants including the KAAV-7 from South Korea are as follows, in comparison with the LVTP-5 that the Philippine Marine Corps obtains:
Kindly click the image to enlarge.
The following source for the table above are as follows:

Take note that each of the links above also provides insight with regards to each assets' development history and their roles during their period. 

As seen here, it is worth taking note that the LVTP-5 produced in the first parts of the Cold War while the AAV-7 coming after with improvements introduced which, as seen in the table above, are significant to the performance needed for an amphibious assault vehicle where the later version is lighter, fuel-efficient, and more capable than its predecessor. 

Also take note that the AAV-7 at present obtains 11 current users where the logistics chain may not be that much of a problem especially in outsourcing the spare parts needed for the assets to continuously function as compared to the LVTP-5 where several countries may already have it decommissioned, with the resources for spare parts running thin through time.

From here, let us provide the fact that the Philippine Marine Corps still obtains LVTP-5s in their inventory in which given its age is now being mitigated by the incoming KAAV-5s coming from South Korea. 

From there, once the newer Amphibious Assault Vehicles gets commissioned and enters the scene may mean much for the existing capabilities that the Marines obtain with the existing ones they have in operation. 

Hence, with the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks also in service with the Philippine Navy, the Marines can harness the capability for the better now with the proper tools in place which by satisfaction may convince them to provide more for the troops to efficiently get the job done within their desired requirement.


The purchase of KAAV-7s as part of the Modernization process is significant in a way that the Philippine Marine Corps will have a better platform for its troops and supplies to be deployed along a secured shoreline through the use of amphibious assault vehicles which guarantees their protection as well as the provided capacity in case of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Moreover, having these platforms help the organization effectively and efficiently cross-training with other nations especially with the United States where their Marine Corps also utilized a variant of it where they have their wares deployed in a bilateral exercise such as Balikatan. At present, the experience of the Philippine Marine and Navy personnel with their U.S. Counterparts in the operations of their AAV-7s is helpful in a way that this may help them provide the idea on the way it operates which may not give them a problem with experience once the assets are delivered. Also to take note that with the number of users that such type of amphibious vehicle has like South Korea and the United States, the problems of logistics may lessen a bit in a way that its maintenance in terms of spare parts may be outsourced from any of these countries where there lies the assurance that these assets may continue to serve the organization for a long period of time.

So, it will be an interesting thing to see the amphibious assault vehicles the Philippine Marine Corps purchased from South Korea once it finds its way to a certain unit, commissioned and in active service. From here, this sub-unit of the Philippine Navy enhances its amphibious capability that may find useful in the deployment of troops in supplies in any kind of situation, effectively doing their duties and responsibilities along with other units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of protecting the country, its sovereignty and its citizenry.


The Korean Defense Blog outlet Bemil Chosun (link here) released the images that show the final form of the KAAV-7s intended to the Philippine Marine Corps which the details are provided before its shipping bound for the Philippines. It exhibits an olive green design which is shown in these images below:

While it is good to see its delivery form in that color, it remains to be seen whether the Philippine Marine Corps will change its color to their standard camouflage that can be seen in the Armored Personnel Carriers that the sub-branch of the Philippine Navy employes in their service. Take note of the camouflage that this Cadillac Gage LAV-300 Fire Support Vehicle that the Marines obtain currently in service.

PMC LAV-300. Obtained from Defense of the Republic
of the Philippines Forum site
Take note that the images obtained do pertain to the first batch of units that the supplier, Hanwha Systems will deliver to the country after a series of delays that hamper the project. 

This will finally set sight to the project that is aspiring to the organization in a way that they may now have an effective amphibious platform that can deploy from a Landing Platform Dock ship such as the Tarlac-class LPDs from Indonesia and can deploy eventually to the coastline as they usually do in the annual Balikatan exercises together with their counterparts which are the United States Marine Corps.

Another report about this article is the Philippine Marine Corps' activation of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Company which is under Assault Armor Battalion. This is in preparation of the incoming units where the images are provided wherein we can see DOTMLPF mechanisms in action wherein the doctrine is set which led to organizing a company such as the one reported which will undertake training once the military equipment is available while taking care of logistics, the pool of personnel that will be assigned to this new company and the facilities that the new units will be maintained and sheltered when not in use.

This is expected to be in the upcoming Philippine Navy anniversary on May 27th this year which will be showcased in the event along with the AW-159 Antisubmarine Helicopters that came from the United Kingdom. 

Apparently, it seems to be that the first batch left last month from South Korea and at this time around may already be in the country where there may be finalizations for this batch before the upcoming anniversary which may coincide to its official entry into active service.

With these things taking place, it shows a bright potential for the organization to improve its duties and responsibilities more, in a way that they can exhibit more capabilities that is essential for the country's sovereignty, national security, and welfare. 

This perhaps goes with hopes and dreams that with proper support, the Marines may get more of these units in a way that their amphibious capability will be enhanced greatly. Nevertheless, the first batch of these vehicles which come at four units will be a promising start for a better future of this organization.

UPDATES as of September 22, 2019
The KAAV-7 Sporting a new camouflage. Obtained via
Philippine Armed Forces Unofficial II
Updates include: Change of article title, grammar rephrasing, and additional information

Since the delivery of the KAAV-7s, many developments have taken place involving these platforms which significantly improves the overall capabilities that the Philippine Marine Corps have in terms of conducting Amphibious Operations.

In this article provided by Rappler, the Philippine Marine Corps for the first time conducted an amphibious exercise which is considered part of the inter-military branch DAGIT-PA joint drills wherein it shows significance as this is the first for the sub-branch under the Philippine Navy to conduct such operations without assistance from the closest ally which is the United States.

It is worth taking note that the Philippine Marine Corps and its counterparts from the United States conducted a Subject Matter Expert Exchange wherein the latter sharing their knowledge to the former with regards to the skills on conducting such operations that provide the precedent to the recent amphibious activity during the DAGIT-PA joint exercises.

All of the eight units ordered from South Korea are now in the country with the second batch of four units awaiting formal entry into the fleet service. Nevertheless, it serves as a welcoming development to the Marine Corps as it improves further their capabilities which may be provided by more later on shall such plans may arise somewhere later on along the way.

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