Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wears a bulletproof vest and a helmet as he gives a pep talk to troops fighting the extremist Maute group in Marawi, Philippines August 24, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Philippines and Israel are set to sign a deal worth millions for the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems SPYDER medium-range air defense missile system, as well as additional Hermes long-range drones.
The purchase of the SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) will be purchased by Manila under the Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its Ground-Based Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project.
According to the MaxDefense blog, the selection of the system has already been passed to the Department of National Defense (DND) for negotiation with Israel’s Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The decision to acquire the SPYDER was supported and approved by the outgoing PAF commander Lt.-Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar who was quoted by local press as saying that Manila was “looking forward to the conclusion of three big contracts by early next year” including 16 BlackHawk helicopters from the US, six T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey and three ground based air defense systems from Israel.
During the remarks, Kintanar also said the PAF will also be acquiring two new radars from IAI and some 13 Hermes UAVs from Elbit Systems.
According to foreign media reports, Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones, with Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit selling UAVs to countries including Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico and Singapore.
Israel and the Philippines maintain close security ties, with Israel selling a large amount of weaponry to the Philippine army over the years and with tensions in the South China Sea, the overall flow of arms to the region has spiked.
During Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Israel this past September, over 20 agreements worth nearly $83 million dollars were reportedly signed. The Philippine News Agency reported that 14 memoranda of agreement and understanding were signed, as well as eight letters of intent from Israeli firms interested in investing in the Asian country.
“These agreements are a clear indication of the enormous business and investment opportunities in the Philippines available to Israelis,” Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted as saying at the time. “The Philippines is committed to pursue several growth opportunities by strengthening partnerships with emerging economic partners like Israel. Our engagement with them allows us to reinvigorate ties and increase trade between our countries.”
Duterte has said in the past that he sees Israel as an alternative supplier of weapons and during his visit he told President Reuven Rivlin that he intends to buy military equipment exclusively from Israel because of the country’s lack of restrictions, unlike the United States and other countries have refused to sell him arms over human rights violations.
In late December a group of Israeli attorneys filed a lawsuit with the High Court demanding that Israel refrain from selling arms, weapons systems and military defense systems to the Philippines, saying that it is a country which violates human rights.
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