The Philippine Army has taken delivery from Israel of two armored vehicle-launched bridges (AVLB), based on the Merkava 4 chassis.
Describing the AVLBs as “game-changer army combat engineer assets,” Philippine Army Spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said that “the assets will boost the capabilities of army engineer combat battalions in supporting maneuver units by providing mobility during operations.”
The AVLB combat support vehicle transports tanks and other armored vehicles across rivers and other obstacles.
According to the Filipino defense blog, MaxDefense Philippines, the new AVLBs are based on the Joint Assault Bridge, which uses an armored vehicle platform based on the Merkava 4 main battle tank developed by Leonardo DRS and Israel Military Industries (IMI). It was bought by Elbit Systems.
This is said to be the first time that any part of the Merkava tank has been exported from Israel.
Two armored vehicle-launched bridge units for the Army’s engineer combat battalions are due for post-delivery technical inspection after they were shipped to the Batangas Port, Batangas City on July 12, 2022. Read here: https://t.co/RrEEWgTGmJ pic.twitter.com/3Qg6RCGZ2G— Philippine Army (@yourphilarmy) July 14, 2022
The blog said that the specifications of the Philippine Army’s AVLB require it to have a maximum operating weight of 60 tons, with a bridge span at least 18 meters long, a roadway width of at least 3.5 meters and an operational range of at least 400 km.
Trinidad said that the two AVLBs, manufactured by Elbit Systems, were procured through a Philippine-Israel government to government deal, and are part of Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.
According to the DefensePost website, the deal was signed in 2019 and is worth $27.7 million. Though Manila only purchased two AVLBs, the number is expected to grow as the army continues to modernize its armored and mechanized fleet.
“These past 125 years, we have seen the Philippine Army grow into a professional and capable army for our country. And as the army’s modernization program progresses, we are looking at a very bright future for our land force.”Lt.-Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr.
“These past 125 years, we have seen the Philippine Army grow into a professional and capable army for our country,” said Philippine Army Commanding General Lt.-Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr. “And as the army’s modernization program progresses, we are looking at a very bright future for our land force.”
Israel helps the Philippines modernize its military
Last year, Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said that Israel will help modernize the Philippines Armed Forces by providing military technology and other systems.
The two countries 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.
Last week, the Philippine Air Force announced that the first two out of three SPYDER air defense missile systems would be delivered by the end of the year.
The SPYDER incorporates Rafael’s advanced Python-5 and I-Derby missiles to provide short, medium and long-range protection against a range of threats including attack aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, stand-off weapons and more.
The mobile system, which uses electro-optical observation payload and wireless data link communication, can engage multiple threats simultaneously up to 80 kilometers away in all weather conditions.
SPYDER has been sold to several international customers, including the Czech Republic.
The Philippine Air Force has been training on various surface-to-air missile interceptions since it received the SPYDER Philippines Air Defense Systems (SPAD) Simulator-Training Center from Rafael in April.
The Philippine Navy is also acquiring eight fast attack interdiction craft-missile ships (FAIC-M) in a government to government procurement agreement. The agreement was awarded to Israel Shipyards and Rafael Advanced Defense System and divided into two lots.
The first two fast patrol crafts are set to be delivered in September this year.