MANILA - The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the Department of National Defense (DND) has declared Aselsan A.S., an defense firm dealing in electronic warfare gear based in Turkey, as the lowest bidder for the Philippine Army's Night Fighting System (NFS) Acquisition Project worth P1.116 billion to buy 4,464 night sighting and laser and infrared aiming devices.
The bidding was presided over by retired general Assistant Secretary Ernesto Boac.
Aselsan got the project for more than P700 million only, lower by P300 million from the bid price offered by US-based Armasight Enterprises.
Aselsan was represented by Murat Unluturk, owner of the Defense Marketing Consultancy (DMC), and associate Civan Uzcivanuglu along with two others when DND-BAC declared the company the lowest bidder on Thursday last week. (Editor's note: Information on representation corrected.)
The acquisition consists of Night Vision Monocular, an Infrared Aiming Device and a Laser Zeroing Device.
Aselsan's local partner is System Nomics Philippines, Inc. led by Alan Mendoza.
A quick background check shows that Aselsan has no extensive experience in manufacturing night vision products, since its expertise is producing military electronics and munition systems including radar, which means the firm has to acquire the important components, most especially the lens, from a different manufacturer as the Army wants a US-made lens.
The NFS project is considered the "pet-project" of Maj. Gen. Elmer Pabale, now commander of the Army Support Command (ASCOM), who formulated the specs.
The Army wants the lens of the monocular to be US-made and it should be a "third-generation" lens, which is said to be the product of US-based Litton Industries, the sole manufacturer in the world of such a lens assembly.
In 2001, Litton was bought by Northrop Grumman Corporation.
An inside source indicated that he was not sure about Turkey having applied for Export License from the US State Department to acquire the lens.
The NFS is part of the Army's modernization program funded through the General Appropriation Act (GAA).
"At one point during the open forum of the bidding proceedings, the representative of Israel asked the BAC why it opened the bidding to everyone when the specs of the procurement dictated that the critical part should be US-made," a local representative who was present during the pre-bid conference recalled.