Elbit Systems delivers new batch of Sabrah ASCOD 2 light tanks to Philippine Army

As reported by Max Montero on October 26, 2023, a new batch of nine ASCOD 2 armored vehicles arrived in Subic, a coastal municipality in the Philippines, located northwest of the capital city, Manila. This delivery consisted of eight ASCOD 2 Sabrah light tanks and one ASCOD 2, which could be either an ARV or a command variant. 
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This batch consisted of eight ASCOD 2 Sabrah light tanks and one ASCOD 2, which could be either an ARV or a command variant. (Picture source: Max Montero/Twitter and Elbit Systems)

These vehicles are designated for use by the Philippine Army's Armor 'Pambato' Division and are part of the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project, which was awarded to Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense company.

In January 2021, Elbit Systems secured a three-year contract valued at $172 million to supply Sabrah light tanks to the Philippine Army. The delivery of these tanks is expected to be completed by 2023, with the intention of assigning them to the Philippine Army's sole armored division.

The Sabrah Light Tank is designed by Elbit Systems based on the ASCOD and Pandur 2 platforms. It is a tracked or wheeled light tank manufactured by Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense manufacturing company. Its purpose is to complement the existing fleet of armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) used by armed forces worldwide. The tracked light tank configuration is based on the tracked ASCOD AFV platform, which is manufactured by General Dynamics European Land Systems - Santa Bárbara Sistemas (GDELS-SBS), a part of the American aerospace and defense company General Dynamics.

The Sabrah light tank series, weighing 30 tonnes, features a modular design. It is equipped with a common 105mm manned turret suitable for both tracked and wheeled configurations. The vehicle's fully-electric turret drive offers stabilization in both elevation and traverse. The dual-axis high-performance turret provides enhanced capabilities. The tank is designed to offer a balance between firepower and maneuverability, with the potential for enhanced lethality.

The Sabrah includes armor protection systems that provide ballistic protection up to NATO STANAG 4569 Level 4. The vehicle can be integrated with active protection systems and incorporates Elbit Systems' TORCH-X battle management system. It also features electro-optical (EO) sights, fire control systems, and life support systems.

The Philippine Army categorizes this version as a tracked light tank. The base platform is the ASCOD 2, which features a seven-wheel station chassis and NATO STANAG 4569 Level 4 ballistic protection. The vehicle provides advanced mobility and mine protection capabilities due to ongoing technology upgrades made possible by the platform's open system architecture. The vehicle is powered by an 8-cylinder diesel engine coupled to a hydro-mechanical transmission system.

As part of the contract, Elbit Systems will supply various vehicle configurations, including 18 tracked light tanks based on the ASCOD 2 platform, 10 wheeled light tanks based on the Pandur 2 platform, as well as one command vehicle and one recovery vehicle based on the ASCOD 2 platform. The initial requirement set by the Philippine Army called for a fleet of 144 light tanks and tank destroyers, underscoring the scale of this defense project.