Ground Warfare

Philippine Army Received Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs)

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Philippine Army Received Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs)

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Philippine Army Received Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs)
Philippine Army Received Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs)

The Philippine Army 525th Combat Engineer “Forerunner” Battalion led by its Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Rey L. Bautista warmly welcomed the visit of Col. Joel N. Sobrera, the Deputy Commander of Combat Engineer Regiment and the Chief of the Office of Ethical Standards and Public Accountability. The visit kicked off with a unit briefing, Troops Information and Education (TI&E) on matters pertaining to Ethical Standards and Public Accountability, talk to troops and inspection of newly acquired heavy equipment. The troops also warmly received and shared moments with Col. Sobrera and his team reminiscing his time being the former Commanding Officer of the unit.

The Philippine Army has begun entering into service Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB) based on the Israeli Merkava Mark 4 tank chassis. This seems to be the first time that any version of the Merkava tank has been exported to a country outside Israel. The budget allocated for two lots of these bridging tanks (out of three) is about $36 million and the supply of the bridging tanks is part of a G2G deal between the Israeli and Philippine governments. The Merkava IV platform is more beneficial considering the product is being delivered by Elbit Systems Land & C4I. The use of Merkava IV chassis actually opens a door to what could be the potential main battle tank for consideration by the Philippine Army.

The Philippine Army Combat Engineer Regiment Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs)
The Philippine Army Combat Engineer Regiment Merkava Armoured Vehicle-launched Bridges (AVLBs). (Photo by Philippine Army)

The bridge remains the same as previously proposed, based on Israel Military Industries (now part of Elbit Systems) & Leonardo’s design, said to be a long version of the Joint Assault Bridge being delivered to the US military. Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge (AVLB) provides gap-crossing capability to cross wet or dry gaps, and freedom of maneuver on the battlefield. The AVLB is a Merkava IV main battle tank hull with heavy (Merkava) suspension integrated with a hydraulic bridge launcher system to launch the existing Military Load Class 85 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB). The AVLB improves force readiness, survivability, mobility and agility equal to the legacy force.

The Merkava (Chariot) is a series of main battle tanks used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the backbone of the IDF’s Armored Corps. The tank was developed in the Merkava and Armored Combat Vehicles Division of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and most of its parts are manufactured in Israel. The Merkava Mark 4 began development in 1999, and production in 2004. The tank carries the Israeli Elbit Systems BMS (Battle Management System). The Merkava IV has been designed for fast repair and replacement of damaged armour, with modular armour that can be easily removed and replaced. It is designed to be cost-effective in production and maintenance. Removable modular armor is used on all sides, including the top and a V-shaped belly armor pack for the underside.

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