The Philippine Army (PA) reactivated its Armor Division’s 1st Tank Battalion on Thursday (Apr. 21). The reactivated battalion will be manned by troops from the former 8th Cavalry Company who played a vital role during the battle of Marawi against ISIS-linked terrorists in 2017.
“Looking at the future operational landscape, the Philippine Army has reactivated the 1st Tank Battalion to provide our infantry and mechanized infantry forces with advanced firepower capability and enhance the standards of protection, especially in conducting contingency missions and combined arms and joint operations,” said PA commander, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.
The reactivated 1st Tank Battalion will be equipped with the upcoming Sabrah light tanks and Sabrah 8×8 wheeled light tanks from Israel. The PA is expecting the Sabrah light tanks to be delivered this year and in 2023 for the wheeled version.
In January 2021, the government of the Philippines awarded Elbit Systems of Israel a contract worth US$172 million for 18 Sabrah light tanks, ten Sabrah 8×8 wheeled light tanks as well as several support vehicles and simulators. A year later in January 2022, the PA revealed its plans to reactivate the 1st Tank Battalion as the sole operator of all these vehicles.
The Sabrah light tank was developed from a joint Austria-Spain project ASCOD Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) while the Sabrah 8×8 wheeled light tank was developed from Pandur II Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) supplied by the Czech’s Excalibur Army corporation. Both armored vehicles are equipped with Elbit System’s designed turret armed with a 105 mm rifled high-pressure main gun.
The PA’s 1st Tank Battalion was officially formed in 1958 equipped with M4 Sherman tanks from the United States. However, the battalion was deactivated three years later due to the high maintenance cost of the tanks.
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