As reported by the Israeli media, the Elbit Systems concern in cooperation with General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) offers the Sabrah vehicle in the program of acquiring a new light tank for the Philippine land forces. According to unconfirmed information, he was to be pre-selected the winner of this procedure.
As part of the submitted offer, Elbit Systems is responsible for the tower system, and GDELS for the chassis in two versions – wheeled and tracked. The first one is based on the Pandur II 8 × 8 wheeled armored personnel carrier, and the second one is based on the ASCOD 2 infantry fighting vehicle. Both of these designs will compete with three other proposals.
The first was presented by the Korean Hanwha Systems concern with the K21-105 structure based on the K21 infantry fighting vehicle chassis with the Cockerill XC-8 turret system. The second, in turn, is the Turkish Otokar concern with the Arma 105 structure based on the chassis of the Arma wheeled armored personnel carrier with the Cockerill CT-CV turret system.
The third is the Indonesian company PT Pindad with the Harimau / Kaplan MT light tank developed in cooperation with the Turkish company FNSS. All these vehicles are to be armed with 105mm rifled guns.
According to unconfirmed information, the Filipino Ministry of Defense was to decide on the Israeli offer at the beginning of this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted plans to conclude the planned contract and finalize the program. The first batch of orders for the new Philippine light tanks is expected to be worth around $ 30 million.
Previously, the favorite of this tender was the Korean proposal, which offered the lowest price and launched local production. The redefinition of the Israeli offer, including the replacement of the previously offered tower system from the Italian Oto Melara HITFACT 105 with a native solution, and other additional changes were to ensure its final victory.
According to the declaration of Elbit Systems, the offered turret system for the Sabrah light tank is to be characterized by a modular structure that allows this solution to be used on any tracked or wheeled 8 × 8 platform. This solution was developed in cooperation with the Merkava “MATAK” Program Administration and the South African industry armaments.
The equipment includes a fire control system, a laser rangefinder, and a panoramic sight in the form of an optoelectronic head. The turret drive is fully electric with stabilization in both planes. The additional tower is equipped with a set of eight smoke grenade launchers (four on each side of the tower).
Currently, the Filipino land forces do not have classic MBTs or light tanks in their service. The only exception is 14 M113A2 tracked armored personnel carriers in the fire support version. These cars were rebuilt by Elbit Systems with the installation of turret systems with the 76mm L23A1 rifled gun removed from the British FV101 Scorpion light tanks. The introduction of new light tanks into line service will allow the Philippine army to significantly increase its combat capabilities.