The Philippine Army (PA) continues to upgrade its fleet of military vehicles. Two armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) units that will provide game-changing capabilities for the Philippine 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. The AVLBs will be inspected by the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee of the Department of National Defense’s Procurement Service before acceptance and deployment to the Army’s engineer combat battalions. The new combat engineer assets, procured through a Philippine-Israel government-to-government deal.
“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,” the Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner, Jr., said.
“The AVLBs will be inspected by the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee of the Department of National Defense’s Procurement Service before acceptance and deployment to the Army’s engineer combat battalions,” said PA spokesperson, Col. Xerxes Trinidad.
The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) awarded the project to the joint venture of Elbit Systems Land & C4I, and IMI Systems Ltd. on December 2018, and the US$27.7 million contract signed in late 2019. The assets will boost the capabilities of Army engineer combat battalions in supporting maneuver units by providing mobility during operations. The AVLB is a combat support vehicle, sometimes regarded as a sub-type of military engineering vehicle, designed to assist militaries in rapidly deploying tanks and other armored vehicles across rivers or other gap-type obstacles.
The new armored vehicle-launched bridge are using an armored vehicle platform based on the Israeli-made Merkava IV main battle tank. The new vehicle are based on the Joint Assault Bridge developed by Leonardo DRS and Israel Military Industries (IMI) which is now part of Elbit Systems. The difference is the Philippine Army version is that the bridge has a longer span, and it uses a different armored vehicle platform, in this case the Merkava Mk. IV instead of the M1A2 Abrams. This also appears to be the first time the Merkava series are exported by Israel since 1979 when the type has started production.