The Philippine Navy issued a tender in August for the supply of 160 5.56mm squad automatic weapons, worth about $4 million, to units of the Marine Corps, according to a report on the Philippine website PhDefenseResource. A decision on the awarding of the tender is expected in the coming weeks.
The website said that among the companies expected to bid for the tender are Israel's IWI, with the NG5 Negev machine gun; South Korea's SNT Motiv, with the K3 machine gun; Germany's Heckler & Koch, with the MG4; Belgium's FN Herstal, with the Minimi or M239 machine gun; and Singapore's ST Kinetics, with its Ultimax 100 machine gun.
It is estimated that the IWI Negev NG5 has the best chance of winning the tender. It meets all the requirements, including those for physical dimensions, feeding system, and mode of firing.
The Negev NG5 can also be fitted with optics, such as those from Israeli optics manufacturer Meprolight made specifically for IWI products like the Negev.
The Philippine Marine Corps has been using the Belgian-made FN Minimi as its standard 5.56mm squad automatic weapon (SAW), but less than 80 were received in 2003 as part of a joint acquisition with the Philippine Army, and many were either lost in combat, or damaged to the extent that they need to be replaced. Currently, typical Marine squads are using M60E3/E4 7.62mm machine guns, which are heavier than 5.56mm SAWs, with the machine gun alone weighing more than 10.5 kilograms. In comparison, typical 5.56mm SAWs or even newer 7.62mm light machine guns weigh less than 8.5 kilograms, the report said.