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Detailing Elbit's Sabrah Light Tank Offer

The Philippine Army Light Tank Acquisition Project intensifies as the prospective bidders that took part in the project are offering any additives ranging from additional freebies as sweeteners to better package deals to bag this project outright and to bring out the best from the allocated budget for this contracted procurement process, of which the Israeli company opted to showcase the latter.

Sabrah Tank, Philippine Army, Elbit Systems Ltd
This is an artist's impression of the ASCOD II tank with an Elbit Turret, which makes it a Sabrah light tank. From Elbit's Brochure.

Currently, the Philippine Army is starting its production of units that are primarily dealing with light tanks and fire support vehicles wherein, it is the program was once having a stiff competition between Elbit of Israel, PT Pindad of Indonesia, and Hanwha of South Korea wherein they showcase their different platforms with the aims of bagging the project and capture this portion of Southeast Asia's military and arms market.

Apparently, the deal gets nearer as the Department of Budget and Management or DBM has just released a Special Allotment Release Order or SARO which augments an agency's current budget for the year 2020, spanning multiple items of the organizational budget system from its Personnel Services or PS down to the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses or MOOE and Capital Outlay or CO.

The SARO provided by DBM detailed a funding requirement of 15% advance payment for the Light Tank Acquisition Project which may show that the materialization of the procurement process is closer to the awarding of the winning proponent or the Philippine Army's Bids and Awards Committee has already decided on which prospective bidder that the project will awarded to since their procurement process usually came with a certification of funds availability, a usual process provided by the Government Procurement Policy Board or GPPB under the Government Procurement Law or R.A. 9184. 

Also to take note that will correlate to this article's main topic, the supplier of this product is reputable for providing changed M-113s fitted with remote-controlled weapons systems or mortar mounts that essentially improves the capability of the Philippine Army's Mechanized Division in terms of automated firepower systems fit that aims to eliminate enemy targets with ease.

As the developments now clearly seen with one of the Philippine Army's key projects under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program or RAFPMP (R.A. 10349), it is worth discussing this tank configuration provided by the Israeli company which differs from the variants that have previously discussed here on this website.

Elbit's Sabrah Light Tank features an automated turret solution, fitted onboard and tracked
vehicle and a wheeled one, chassis of both the ASCOD and PANDUR, respectively.
Sourced from Elbit's Sabrah Tank Brochure.

It has widely known back then before this information has released to the public that the Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit, was pushing its candidates for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project for both the wheeled and tracked category, pointing to both the PANDUR and ASCOD armored vehicles which were discussed thoroughly on this website through these links below:

While most of the discussions that were published on those respective dates cover the history and development of these platforms from inception to their current active services in countries like Spain and Austria as in the case for ASCOD and Czechia as for PANDUR's case, this development came as Elbit's solution of providing a platform that adheres to the requirements specified by the Philippine Army that it looks for these platforms, a factor that made it possible for the Israeli arms company to bag the contract.

As discussed in the ASCOD article linked above, an original ASCOD Medium Main Battle Tank configuration has originally fitted with a HITFACT turret made by Leonardo Defense Systems, in which the Italian company also produced the 105mm version which should be the configuration for this build that was offered to the Philippine Army until a highlight in requirement pointing on an autoloader feature prompted this original configuration replaced by Elbit's Sabrah Tank solutions.

Elbit's competitor, the joint venture of South Korea's Hanwha Systems and Turkey's Otokar showcased their tanks such as the former's K21-105 Light Tank fitted with CMI Defense (now John Cockerill)'s C3105 autoloader gun turret which, as fellow defense page Philippine Defense Resource pointed out in their article that it convinced the Philippine Army that a light tank with an autoloader feature is more helpful than what Elbit offered before, with Leonardo Defense Systems's manually loaded HITFACT turret.

The marketing stint on autoloader systems, which convinced the Philippine Army about the advantages it offer to the Armored "Pambato" Division's overall capabilities, prompted Elbit to revise its offer on its candidates for the Light Tank Acquisition Project, have led to the Sabrah tank solution which will discuss further in the following paragraph regarding its configuration.

Eurosatory 2022, Spanish Pizarro II, Sabrah Light Tank, Philippine Army
The Sabrah Light Tank fitted to an ASCOD Pizarro II chassis in Paris' Eurosatory 2022 Exhibition.
(c) Army Recognition.

Israel's Elbit Systems, after a year of conceptualizing the design and won a contract for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, has finally showcased the Sabrah Tank by having one of the conceptual units displayed for the 2022 Eurosatory International Weaponry Industry Trade Fair, held every two years in Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre, Paris, France.

This biennial event is being done by COGES Events, in partnership with the French Ministry of Defense. It showcased lots of military hardware from multiple military and arms suppliers, such as Israel's Elbit Systems Ltd. It is also a known thing that they showcased their ASCOD Medium Main Battle Tank in the 2018 iteration of the French Eurosatory Weapons Fair before Sabrah Light Tank became a thing.

The event comes similarly to the locally done Asian Defense and Security Exhibition or ADAS; itself being an initiative of the Philippine Government through the Department of National Defense, together with the Singapore-based APAC EXPO PTE LTD, which helped together conducting events like ADAS in the best interest of the Philippines' national security and sovereignty.

As seen in the image above, the Sabrah Light Tank configuration comes with an ASCOD Pizarro II chassis, which itself is the main production-type vehicle of General Dynamics European Land System or GDELS for the country of Spain, which names it as the Pizarro Armored Personnel Carrier and differs from the Austrian ULAN and the British AJAX armored vehicles, although all of which belonged to the ASCOD family of vehicles.

Take note that the ASCOD Pizarro II is currently being used by the Spanish Armed Forces and, being a second iteration, is an improved variant of the ASCOD Pizarro Armored Fighting Vehicles that has a refined hull design and improved weapons stabilization system, which with the Philippine Army, comes with the Elbit Sabrah Tank turret developed by the same Israeli arms development company.

The type of vehicle used, for the sake of clarification, is fully different from the concept-based ASCOD MMBT or Medium Main Battle Tank, whereby this type of armored vehicle came as a 42-ton option and with its main weapon being the HITFACT 120mm turret, itself being the original offer for this acquisition project for the Philippine Army before Elbit revised its offer and became the preferred supplier for the vehicles.

So, basically put, the Sabrah Light Tank, as it has showcased by Elbit in the French Eurosatory 2022 Weapons Fair in the city of Paris, will have the ASCOD Pizarro II armored fighting vehicle as its primary chassis, and may likely be the configuration for the Philippine Army's tracked Light Tank Acquisition Project, alongside the wheeled ones, wherein it will be for the Czech Pandur armored vehicles to have.

Sabrah Tank Turret developed by Elbit Systems Ltd., referencing the company's experience in developing such systems along with the Israel Defense Force (IDF)'s "Merkava" Directorate "MANTAK" combat-proven Armored Vehicles. (c) Elbit Systems Ltd.

The tank turret came with a 105mm gun configuration, along with the sophistication that came along with, whereby it can operate and manned by two personnel, making it three personnel manning the Sabrah light tank, including the driver that will drive the chassis that are derived either from the Spanish ASCOD Pizarro II, or the Czech Pandur II 8x8 Armored Fighting Vehicles for the wheeled version of the light tank.

Sabrah Tank turret's development came from the change of configuration by Elbit's part, as their offer for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project came in a form of Oto Melara's HITFACT 105mm gun turret that is typically found on the ASCOD 2 MMBT, with the change seen as part of the Israeli defense firm's compliance to the requirements set by the Philippine Army for this acquisition project.

Take note that the other competitors for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, both the Turkish-Indonesian Harimau Hitam Tank and the South Korean K21-105 Tank came with a Belgian Defense Firm John Cockerill (formerly CMI Defence) with its C3105 gun turret, coming with a higher gun elevation arc capability, along with a sophisticated autoloader system installed onboard.

The offers made by competitors prompted Elbit to opt in a new gun turret system, in which they made the development in joint cooperation between the Israeli defense firm and their counterparts in the Israeli Ministry of Defense through the Israel Defense Force Merkava Directorate, the one that oversees development military hardware for the Israeli Defense Force or IDF such as the Merkava Main Battle Tank, in which it is being fielded by the IDF ground forces across the country.

Another interesting tidbit got by the people behind the repository webpage Philippine Defense Resource, the development of the Sabrah Gun turret also came with a help that came from a South African defense firm, itself being a gun turret manufacturer with an experience of producing such subcomponents, primarily with the South African National Defense Force and its armored vehicles.

One such South African firm that is seen in developing gun turrets is the Denel SOC Ltd., a South African state-owned firm with its business orientation aimed at military technology wherein it has established in 1992, with its expertise centered in maintaining the Rooikat-76 Armored Fighting Vehicle, with LMT-105 gun turret upgrade provided to the said Armored Vehicle in service within South Africa's ground forces. 

Apparently, this article linked pointed Denel's capability in producing gun turrets, specifically its 20mm and 30mm gun systems that go reminiscent to the Elbit's very own 25mm Remote-Controlled Weapons System or RCWS that serve with the Philippine Army's M-113 Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles, specifically the Unmanned Turrets of different variants like the UT-25/ORCWS 25 and UT-30MK2 gun mounts.

John Cockerill, C3105, Tank Turret
Specifications for John Cockerill C3105 Tank Turret.
From John Cockerill Brochure.

Elbit's competition for the Light Tank Acquisition Project argues the advantages of using their respective candidates for the project, specifically highlighting the capabilities of the John Cockerill's C3105 tank gun turret as a subcomponent, wherein it gets advanced features like a 12-16 round autoloader, as well as a 360-degree external cameras and smoke grenade launchers as protection for the armored unit.

As for the Sabrah Tank's gun turret, it also features a 360-degree external camera, which they called it in the brochure they showcased as a panoramic sight, an autoloader that has a rate of fire at around 6 rounds per minute, and 8 units of 76mm smoke grenade launchers for protection of the Sabrah Tank, in a gesture of countering offers made by the competition and eventually sealing the deal with the Philippine Army.

The ready ammunition setup for the Sabrah tank comes with 12 rounds in the autoloader drum, along with 24 more rounds in the tank's hull, with the autoloader made by Elbit having a manual backup loading option that can be useful in case the Sabrah Tank's autoloader system knocks out of service, as the backup can help the armored unit throw its firepower against an enemy target.

The similarities in both the John Cockerill C3105 tank gun turret and the Sabrah Tank gun turret as developed by both the Elbit Systems Ltd together with the Israel Defense Force Merkava Directorate is that both gun turrets only require at least two personnel to operate the loading and firing the tank's guns, specifically with the roles being the tank commander and the gunner, with the tank driver completing the three-man team operating an armored unit such as a tank.

Simply put, the efforts made by Elbit Systems, together with the help made by Israel Defense Force Merkava Directorate and a South African defense manufacturer, helped the Israeli firm develop a sophisticated and capable gun turret that can compete with the John Cockerill guns that came with the South Korean K21-105 and Indonesian Harimau Hitam Tanks, sealing the deal and contract for the Light Tank Acquisition Program of the Philippine Army, as well as showing Elbit's desire to win the project.

Philippine Army, Armor Pambato Division, Sabrah Tank
Features of the Sabrah Tank, which the Philippine Army will have for its Light Tank Acquisition Project.
(c) Elbit Systems Ltd.

The Philippine Army's Armor "Pambato" Division will be the first user across the globe that will operate the Sabrah Tanks, especially the newly developed tank gun turrets provided by Elbit Systems Ltd., although the Philippine Army will join the ranks of Spain, Austria, and the United Kingdom in operating an ASCOD armored fighting vehicle variant, and the likes of Austria and the Czech Republic in operating a Pandur armored fighting vehicle variant.

Given the Elbit's development of the gun turret for what will be the Sabrah Tanks, we still consider it an impressive thing that they fully pulled this off, wherein the help of Israel Defense Force Merkava Directorate and the South African turret manufacturer provided their expertise that can counter the offer of other bidders of the deal, which primary fielded their proven tank turret from John Cockerill (formerly CMI Defense).

Let us take note that while the gun turret is a newly developed subcomponent for the Sabrah Tank offer under the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, the chassis used for Elbit's offer are the Pandur II 8x8 wheeled armored fighting vehicles and the ASCOD II tracked armored fighting vehicles, both of which are primarily produced by General Dynamics European Land Systems or GDELS, whereby it is currently being used by the militaries in several of the European countries such as Spain, Austria, and Czechia.

With these things slowly unfolding and with the delivery of these armored vehicles taking place later on, the Philippine Army will have a resurgence of having a better-capable armor division that came with light tanks wherein it augments the current ones that the Philippine Army has such as the M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier, as well as the other vehicles like the V150 Cadillac Gage Commando and the GKN Simba wheeled armored vehicles, together with the Iveco VBTP-MR Guarani from a separate project.

Summing this up, the Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems Ltd., has showcased its desire to win the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project to where they revised the specifications of their candidate armored unit in order to satisfy the minimum bid requirements that the Philippine Army, being the end-user of this acquisition project, needs to have for its inventory, and it is worthy to say that they succeeded in this thing, securing another contract and gaining a bit of the country's defense market even more.

(c) 2022 PDA.




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