Thursday, August 14, 2014

PAF's Long Range Patrol Aircraft - Tech Specs, Post-Bidding Report and Updated Analysis

The Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) released a Supplemental Bid Bulletin dated July 24, 2014 for the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) Long Range Patrol Aircraft Aquisition Project. It included the initial technical specifications, which would be the basis for the 1st stage of the 2-stage bidding for the project.


A Lockheed P-3C Orion dropping sonobuoys.  Refurbished and upgraded P-3C were originally eyed by the Philippines for acquisition via US government FMS. But the deal did not push through and the DND opened a competition for new build MPA.



The PAF was a user of Fokker F-27MPA Maritimes in the past, but a replacement was not made for several years until the current LRPA project.
Photo taken from Wings Pallete website.

A summary of the technical specifications are as follows:

Technical Specifications - Aircraft (Major):
Numbers: 2 units, brand new, factory new;
Engine: at least 2 turboprops using Jet A1 fuel, jet engine not acceptable;
Minimum Payload at Maximum Fuel: at least 11,000 lbs;
Endurance: 7 hours
Cruising Speed: at least 200 knots;
Range: at least 1,400 nmi;
Service Ceiling: at least 25,000 feet;
Engine Time Before Overhaul (TBO): at least 3,600 hours;
Seating: at least 3 at cockpit, at least 10 for cabin;
Communication: at least 2 High Frequency Communication radios, at least 2 UHF radios, at least 2 marine band radios, at least 1 Satellite Communications (SATCOM), at least 1 Encryption unit;
Other Features: lavatory, 2 optic observation glass window, crew rest area for at least 3 crew,  hardpoints for weapons and pods, and external stores.

Technical Specifications - Mission and Surveillance System:
Console: 4 operator multi-functional consoles, physically and functionally identical, software the same as consoles on ground stations. Must be able to show tactical situation window, live or recorded EO/IR and radar video, sensors window (radar, ELINT/SIGINT/COMINT, acoustics, MAD), and other special windows (navigation data, data link and communication, display management);
Airborne Tactical System (ATS): to integrate mission sensors, aircraft navigation, communications, weapons control system,
Sensors integrated to ATS: search radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) turret, ESM/ELINT/COMIT, acoustics, Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), Automatic Identification System (AIS), Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) integrator, SATCOM and line of sight communication/data link.
Search Radar: should have Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) mode, Wide Area Surveillance/Ground (WAS) mode, Sysnthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mode.
Sonobuoy: to include Received and Processor, 100pcs. Active Sonobuoys, 100pcs. Passive Sonobuoys, and 30 Bathythermal Buoys;
Downlink System: Type and specification to be provided later on, should include 1 aircraft transmitter per aircraft, 1 airborne antenna per aircraft, 5 units of Fixed Station Receivers, 5 units of Line of Sight Data Link Antenna for Fixed Station Receiver, 17 units Ground Mobile Receiver with briefcase-type decryption unit, and 17 units Antenna.


There were 10 reported buyers of the Bid Documents for the LRPA Project, although only 8 companies submitted a query that were answered on the July 24 SBB. These are:

ARINC Aerospace (USA);
- CASA-Airbus Defense and Space (Spain);
- Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel);
Field Aviation (USA);
- IAI Elta Systems Ltd. (Israel);
- L3 Mission Integration (USA);
- Lockheed Martin (USA);
- PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Persero) (Indonesia);
- Raytheon Company (USA);
- Saab Technologies Asia Pacific (Sweden).


IAI Elta System and Bombarider Aerospace's proposal for Q-400 maritime patrol aircraft. Bombardier might only supply the aircraft platform to some of the bidders who specializes in surveillance system manufacturing and integration.
Photo taken from Canadian-American Strategic Review website. 


Although Bombardier Aerospace of Canada submitted a query, it appears that they did not join the project as a direct bidding entity, but may probably supply their aircraft to some of the bidders, which will be explained below.

It is also worth noting that a major MPA manufacturer, Alenia Aerospace of Italy, did not even bother to acquire the bid documents. This may be due to their previous loss and accusations of irregularities against the DND for their award to Airbus Military to supply 3 C-295 tactical transports for the PAF's Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition program.


A Nigerian Air Force ATR-42 maritime patrol aircraft. Alenia Aerospace did not participate in the PAF's LRPA acquisition project probably due to a negative position against the DND's award to Airbus Military for the Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft acquisition.


Of all the bid document buyers, all except ARINC Aerospace, Field Aviation, and Raytheon Company did not submit a bid. Although MaxDefense still don't have any idea why ARINC and Field Aviation did not submit, Raytheon Company was reportedly teamed-up with PT Dirgantara Indonesia as a subcontractor for the mission systems integration part of their offer.

The following are the bidders and the findings made by DND-BAC, listed according to the sequence of bid opening made last August 11:

  • Saab Technologies Asia Pacific was found ineligible to bid due to missing Tax Clearance documents;
  • L3 Mission Integration was also found ineligible due to the eligibility document reasons; 
  • Elbit Systems' bid was considered eligible and was the first bidder to do so. They were found ineligible on the 2nd part of the bid opening for technical specifications and performance parameters because they "did not include fast moving items and consumables in the list of minimum deliverables", according to an interview with SBAC-1 Chairman Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo.
  • IAI Elta Systems was also found ineligible initially, but the decision was overturned after BAC found its submitted Financial Statement documents acceptable. They were found ineligible on the 2nd part of the bid opening for the same reasons as Elbit Systems.
  • Lockheed Martin was also considered ineligible due to documentation problems;
  • PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Indonesian Aerospace) was also found ineligible. 
  • CASA-Airbus Defense and Space was also found ineligible because of failing to meet certain requirements.

The bidders are given until August 14, 2014 to file for a Motion for Reconsideration with the DND-BAC regarding their concerns. Otherwise, the bid will be considered a failure if no single entity passes all the requirements.

Possible Offers:
Although the 1st stage of the bidding has proceeded, it was still not known what are bidders actually intended to offer to the DND and PAF. The project is actually composed of 2 main sections: the platform aircraft, and the overall mission and surveillance integrated system. The 1st stage of the bidding gave more importance to the aircraft platform rather than the mission systems which the DND indicated to give priority in the 2nd stage.

Aircraft:
The platform aircraft was supposed to be provided by the bidders during the bidding, but MaxDefense believes that the following might be used by the bidders:

1. Airbus Military C-295
Already the PAF's possible leading choice due to its recent order for 3 units for its Medium Lift Fixed Wing aircraft requirement. MaxDefense believes that the technical specifications for the LRPA's aircraft platform was loosely based on this aircraft, thus it is considered as the benchmark aircraft.


CASA-Airbus Military's C-295 tactical transport aircraft.


2. Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400
There are a number of bidders which currently uses the Q-400 as its platform aircraft for their MPA and other Special Missions products. This aircraft is sleek, fast, and is also a very competitive special missions aircraft aside from being a proven turboprop regional airliner.  The Q-400 is Bombardier's latest Dash 8 Q-Series variant and is longer, more powerful and updated, and more competitive than its earlier variants. Its length can accommodate 4 or more console stations and space requirements compared to other aircraft. Due to its powerful but thirsty engines, a special mission military variant may feature an on-fuselage fuel tank.


The latest version of Bombardier's Dash 8 Q-series, the Q-400 NextGen.
Photo taken from Aviation News website.


3. Airbus Military-PTDI CN-235
An aircraft born on the partnership of Airbus Military subsidiary CASA of Spain and PTDI's forerunner IPTN. Although it is an Airbus product, a possible acquisition of the PAF of CN-235 aircraft may actually be from PTDI due to their agreement with Airbus on the distribution, sales, and support of the aircraft. The Philippines falls under PTDI's responsibility. The aircraft actually falls short on some details indicated in the LRPA's technical specifications. 


The Airbus Military-PTDI CN-235 tactical transport aircraft.


4. Alenia Aerospace ATR-42 or ATR-72 
Although Alenia is at odds with the DND over a previous project, some of the bidders may opt to use the ATR series aircraft as a base platform, considering that the aircraft was used by other countries for MPA duties. It is a proven turboprop regional airline like the Q-400, and also has special missions among its capabilities. Turkey uses the ATR-72 for its ASW-capable MPA, while other countries like Nigeria uses the shorter ATR-42 for MPA missions. 


An ATR-72-500 used by Cebu Pacific.
Photo taken from Airliners.net, copyright owned by Ryan Hemmings.


5. Saab 2000
This aircraft has some limited success as a special missions aircraft, although it was offered to several military forces as a MPA and AEWC aircraft platform. This aircraft also has to overcome one of the specification's requirements, which is to be a brand new, factory new aircraft. Saab stopped production of the Saab 2000 since 1999, and a possible offer to the PAF are probably refurbished units from Saab Aircraft Leasing company.
The Saab 2000.
Photo taken from Saab History website.


Special mention for IAI Elta Systems' earlier proposal to use the Gufstream G250 for their offer, which was turned down by the DND due to the specified requirement for turboprop engine-powered aircraft. The DND preferred turboprops due to fuel efficiency, easy maintenance, and less susceptible to foreign object damage. 

For those looking at the Lockheed Martin C-130J, MaxDefense needs to burst your bubble this early on. A brand new transport-configured C-130J costs more than the budget allocated for a fully-equipped MPA. Even the cheaper and simpler C-130XJ still can't meet the budget.


Mission Systems:
These are the integrated systems installed on the aircraft for it to conduct maritime patrol and surveillance duties. The DND and PAF has not been specific on this, and has announced in their SBB that it would be given more specific attention on the 2nd stage of the bidding. MaxDefense lists down what it believes to be the possible offers of the bidders:

1. CASA-Airbus Defense and Space C-295MPA or C-295ASW Persuader
Airbus has been offering the C-295MPA to several countries, and is currently their baseline offering for the maritime patrol aircraft market. It uses the Airbus-developed Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS), which is an "onboard suite of networked computers" that integrates the different surveillance and mission systems of the MPA. The entire system consists of a search radar, EO/IR sensors, ESM, ELINT, COMIT, MAD, an IFF integrator, SATCOM, and a data link. FITS can actually be installed in other aircraft platforms, but since Airbus also manufactures the C-295, it is not impossible that they are offering this tandem to the LRPA acquisition project. 


Chile's C-295MPA and C-295ASW Persuaders are equipped with Airbus' FITS.




Airbus claims that the endurance of the Persuader is at 11 hours, or 6 hours on station at 200nmi range. The FITS system is palletized, and enables the aircraft to do other missions when necessary. 

MaxDefense believes that this system is also what the PAF and DND used as a baseline for their mission system requirements.


2. Elbit Systems' Proposal
This is a tricky part. Elbit currently has no manned maritime patrol aircraft product on offer (as far as MaxDefense is concerned). But it currently offers the Hermes 900 unmanned air system in a maritime patrol configuration. Elbit may probably use their expertise to install the system into a manned aircraft platform while complying with other requirements indicated in the project's technical specifications.


Elbit Systems may transfer their maritime patrol system from the Hermes 900 UAS to a manned aircraft platform to comply with the PAF's LRPA requirement.




3. IAI Elta Systems' EL/I-3360 Maritime Patrol Aircraft
The EL/I-3360 is actually a modular suite integrating surveillance and mission systems for maritime patrol aircraft. IAI Elta actually chose the Bombardier Q-400 as their aircraft platform of choice for this suite, and may have also teamed-up with Field Aviation (which bought bid documents but did not submit a bid), but they could actually integrate the system to another aircraft type with the same space provisions. It is possible that they could make an offer based on both the Bombardier Q-400 and the Airbus Military C-295 to increase their chances. The ELI-3360 uses IAI Elta's EL/M-2022A surface search radar system, ESM and MOSP type EO/IR sensor, a COMINT array, aft mounted countermeasures dispensers and side-mounted containers, and a mixture of other surveillance and intelligence systems. 


IAI Elta offered the EL/I-3360 MPA using the Bombardier Q-400 aircraft for the UK's MPA requirements.
Photo taken from AIN Online website c/o David McIntosh.




4. L3 Mission Integration's Maritime Patrol Aircraft
In cooperation with Bombardier, Selex ES, Ultra Electronics, and also possibly Field Aviation, L3 Mission Integration has a current Maritime Patrol Aircraft design using the Q-400 aircraft platform. L3's system integrates the Selex Seaspray 7500 search radar or the Eagle AESA wide-area radar, and Ultra Electronics' Airborne Acoustic System.


L-3 Mission Integration's venture with Bombardier, Selex and Ultra Electronics produced this Q-400 based maritime patrol aircraft for the British requirements. L-3 may offer the same for the PAF.
Photo taken from L-3 Mission Integration's website.


5. Lockheed Martin's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft
The US company was part of the US Coast Guard's HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft, whose Mission System Pallet roll-on, roll-off electronics suite was used on a Airbus-supplied CN-235 aircraft platform. This same is equipment was used by Lockheed Martin on the USCG's HC-130 surveillance aircraft, thus it can also be used to modify transport variants of the C-130s into maritime patrol aircraft after some modifications.

Lockheed Martin may also modify the systems used in the USCG surveilllance aircraft to include those specifically required by the LRPA technical specificaions. These includes the addition of anti-submarine equipment, COMINT/SIGINT/ELINT systems, use of a more capable search radar, and capability to carry weapons.

Aside from the CN-235, Lockheed Martin may also opt to use the larger Airbus C-295 aircraft, or offer to use PAF's current C-130 fleet. Earlier Lockheed Martin did announced their intention to discuss with the PAF to modify some of the PAF's C-130 Hercules transports, which they claim would cost less than half of a new MPA. 


The US Coast Guard's HC-144A Ocean Sentry uses Lockheed Martin's Mission System Pallet electronics suite on an Airbus CN-235 aircraft.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.


The same Mission Pallet System was also offered by Lockheed Martin to be installed on some of the PAF's C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, although this might be a separate offer aside from bidding for the new LRPA.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.


6. PT Dirgantara Indonesia's CN-235MP Persuader
If reports are true that PTDI teamed-up with Raytheon Company for their MPA offer for the PAF, then this would be a departure from PTDI's previous team-up with Thales with their AMASCOS 200 system for the TNI-AL (Indonesian Navy) MPA requirement. 

Raytheon previously offered their AN/APS-134 surface search radar for the CN-235MPA Persuader, and also has the AN/APS-148 Sea Vue search radar. They have the capability to provide PTDI with the necessary surveillance and weapons systems and integration. Their recent experience was as the weapons integrator for Turkey's Meltem-III ATR-72 MPA program.

The CN-235's smaller size may compromise its bid as it cannot meet some of the requirements set by the DND. From the layout below, it shows the disadvantage of its tight interior space to provide the number of console stations and other provisions.


A typical layout of a CN-235MP Persuader aircraft.
Photo taken from bandara.com.


The CN-235-220 MPA from PT DI (Indonesian Aerospace) for the Indonesian Navy, but this specific aircraft uses the Thales AMASCOS 200 instead of a system from Raytheon. Take note of the modified nose to carry a search radar.
Top photo taken from PTDI website. Bottom photo taken from Mahdi News website.




7. Saab Technologies' Swordfish Maritime Patrol Aircraft
The Swedish company's current offering, the Swordfish MPA uses their own Saab 2000 aircraft platform. Saab claims that the Swordfish has a maximum endurance greater than 9.5 hours, and a typical on-station time of up to 5.5 hours while operating 200nmi from its base. It also has a maximum range of greater than 2,000 nmi, a maximum cruise speed of 350 knots, and a patrol speed of 160 knots. It has a service ceiling of 31,000 feet and needs 1,300 meters of take-off runway distance. It integrates Selex's Seaspray 7500 maritime surveillance radar, an active Acoustic System from Ultra Electronics, and a high definition EO/IR sensor pod from FLIR Systems. The aircraft is also equipped with an advanced C4I, AIS, IFF, ESM, Self-Protection System (SPS), SATCOM and Data Links.

Although there are no new Saab 2000s produced since 1999, so Saab needs to discuss this thoroughly with the DND to keep their product in the race. 


The Saab 2000 Swordfish MPA demonstrator.
Photo taken from AIRheads Fly website.
The Saab 2000 Swordfish's layout. Saab may need to adjust the layout to conform to PAF requirements should their offer be shortlisted.
Photo taken from Saab 2000 Swordfish datasheet.


The Verdict:
MaxDefense believes that this project is one of the most tightest competitions ever to be conducted by the DND and AFP, although the choice of the platform is biased on the Airbus Military C-295 due to its commonality with tactical transports ordered by the PAF earlier. The Bombardier Q-400 is a very good aircraft, and so is the Saab 2000 if only there are new builds for this aircraft. 

Although MaxDefense believes that Airbus Defense and Space has the highest chance of bagging the project, IAI Elta Systems and L-3 Mission Integration may have a strong chance of stealing away a win from the front runner. 

If the competitive bidding last August 11, 2014 will be considered a total failure, then the DND may opt to either have a re-bidding using the same or a revised specification and documentation requirements, a negotiated bidding, or a government-to-government (G2G) deal with a friendly foreign government, which is actually the fastest way to acquire the system. MaxDefense still hopes that the bidders will submit a Motion for Reconsideration, and the DND-BAC allows the bidders to proceed to avoid further delays on the project, since majority of the reasons for ineligibility was because of the slow processing time to acquire documents from Philippine government offices and agencies.

More updates will be made as MaxDefense awaits the outcome of the MFR deadline, which is supposed to be today, August 14, 2014.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Updates on Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition: 4 Bidders Qualified for the 2nd Bid Stage

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Blogger's note: This blog entry was originally posted on December 12, 2013.
An updated blog entry will be released later on. - MaxDefense
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The 1st stage of the bidding process for the acquisition of frigates for the Philippine Navy commenced on December 4, 2013. Out of the 14 entities that bought the bid documents, only 7 submitted their bids, and as follows (see links as well):


3. Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea);
4. Navantia - SEPI (Spain);
5. STX France SA (France);


DSME's FFX Batch 2 frigate.
Photo taken from Ambassador @ Military Photos forum.

Unfortunately, only 4 of the 7 submitted bids were deemed qualified by the DND's Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), with the 3 companies said to have been unqualified were India's Garden Reach S&E, STX France, and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Deficiencies were found on the submitted bids of the said entities, but the DND allowed them to file a motion for reconsideration. The deadline for the said MFR was not publicly known, but it would definitely be soon due to the urgency of the project. MaxDefense hopes that these 3 companies could hurdle the said deficiencies as it's believed that their offers can improve the competitiveness of the acquisition project.

In addition, there were also 7 other entities that bought the bid documents from the DND but did not submit a bid. The following entities are:

1. Damen Shipyards Group (Netherlands);
2. DCNS (France)
3. Fincantieri S.p.A. (Italy);
4. Magazon Dock - Pipavav Ltd. (India);
5. Piriou Naval Services (France);
7. Stone of David (Philippines).

Too bad that most European shipbuilders like Damen Schelde did not submit a bid, so we will not see the SIGMA family, like the offer to Indonesia (above) as among the candidates.

With the latest updates on the competitors, MaxDefense could further improve its earlier analysis and assessment on the possible designs that will be offered for the said project. It appears that MaxDefense was able to hit some of the companies, but also missed on several. Among those absent on the list of companies that bought the bid documents as compared to the earlier MaxDefense analysis are the following: Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding and Lockheed Martin from the United States, and Austal from Australia. Another expected bidder that was not in the earlier MaxDefense listing is Singapore's ST Marine Ltd., and Korea's Hanjin Heavy Industries, which has a shipyard in Subic Bay. It is also surprising to see previously "unknowns" like France's Piriou Naval Services and Rouvia Defense from the Philippines, as these 2 companies are not know to have built frigates or similar-sized warships before. Rouvia Defense is actually a sister company or subsidiary of Rouvia Yachts based in Bataan, which specializes in luxury yachts and boats for foreign markets. 


In the absence of ST Marine of Singapore, we won't be seeing their New Generation Frigate (right) being offered to the Philippine Navy. 


Recap of What the PN is actually looking for:
Previously MaxDefense discussed what the Philippine Navy is actually looking for, and was actually repeated several times in several blogs related to frigates and this particular project. A brief summary of those commentaries are the following:

- Previous DND announcements have pointed that the ship may have a displacement of at least 2,000 tons, a length greater than 100 meters (as discussed HERE),
- The PN may opt to use similar equipment to what it already has, like the 76mm Oto Melara gun, the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 or DS30 Seahawk stabilized closed in gun mounts, and others weapons, sensors and electronic systems (as discussed HERE);
- The PN, with its Desired Force Mix whitepaper, has a requirement for 6 Anti-Aircraft Warfare (AAW) frigates, and 12 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvettes.
- Although the specifications is similar to a previous Request For Information (RFI) submitted by the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command for a possible PN OPV requirement, it appears that this project is a more capable design than the said OPV. Thus this is not just a "glorified OPV" so to say (as discussed HERE);

and finally:

- With the specifications and budget allocated for this specific acquisition project, it appears that this is closer to the ASW corvette than the AAW frigate (as discussed HERE); 



Updated Analysis on the Bidders and Products:
A revised possible offers from the qualified bidders is now possible, and MaxDefense believes that these are the following products:


1. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. (DSME)
DSME is the world's 2nd largest shipbuilder and was also one of the participants in the Ulsan-class frigate project of the ROKN in the 1980s. They are also known for their recent frigate contracts with the Royal Thai Navy and Republic of Korea Navy with its DW-3000H and FFX-2 designs, respectively. 

For the Philippine Navy, it is unexpected for DSME to offer these designs exactly as they are due to costs and technical requirements. MaxDefense believes that they will be offering at least 1 of 2 possible designs: a derivative of their DW-2500 frigate design which was originally offered to a neighboring navy before, or a reduced capability variant of the new and larger FFX Batch 2 frigate.


DSME officials disucssing with the Philippine Navy top brass early this year to discuss matters pertaining to the PN's modernization and asset acquisition plans, which probably included the frigate project.
Photo taken from the Philippine Navy's official Facebook page.

a. DW-2500H derivative - this is a design DSME reportedly offered to Thailand some years ago, and has a full load displacement of around 2,500 tons. It is actually an upsized derivative of the Bangladeshi Navy's Bangabandhu-class frigate which was based on the smaller DW-2000H design. The DW-2500H has a CODAD propulsion and can reach speeds of up to 28 knots and can carry a medium-sized naval helicopter. Based on the photo below, it appears that the ship's length is a little more than 100 meters, and is armed with a 76mm main gun, 2 8-cell VLS in the B-position, 2 x quad AShM launchers and 2 x triple torpedo tube launchers at midships, and 2 x medium caliber secondary guns, probably 40mm guns from Hyundai WIA acting as a CIWS system.  MaxDefense believes that this is the closest ship that DSME has to offer to the PN, but may not have enough growth margin for future development.


The DW-2500 was offered to Thailand before choosing the newer and larger KDX-II derivative design. It is the closest design that DSME may offer according to the PN requirements and budget.
Photo taken from thaifighterclub.org.

* Possible changes for the PN may include the absence of the 2 x 8-cell VLS in favor of a simpler, cheaper multiple VSHORAD missle system launcher, reduction of the number of SSM launchers, and the replacement of the 40mm CIWS system with a smaller PN-specific model although the chances of it being retained is also high. 

b. FFX Batch 2 derivative - if the PN is luckier, DSME may also offer the new FFX-2 design with reduced capability, only retaining the hull but only meeting the minimum requirements with regards to the sensors, weapons, and EW systems. Unlike the older DW-2500H light frigate design, the new FFX-2 design is physically larger, heavier, has a sleeker stealthy design, and has a larger future growth margin. MaxDefense believes that this can still be possibly offered by DSME since the PN has put emphasis on the future requirements which may need a large growth margin allowance for additional weapons and sensory systems as the PN tries to catch-up in the future. The PN may be pointing to a larger hull, ready to accept future upgrades with suffering from space shortage and weight considerations. 

* Possible items for replacement include the LIG Nex1 3D surveillance radar with a 2D variant, the 127mm main gun to a 76mm as specified either the 76mm Super Rapid from Oto Melara or a similar design from Hyundai WIA; the use of a automated 4-shot missile launcher for VSHORAD missile  system similar to LIG Nex1's Chiron MMS instead of the KVLS system; removal of the ROKN-specified Mk. 15 Phalanx CIWS and replaced by a system similar to the Mk. 38 Mod. 2; and reduction of anti-ship missile launchers to only 4 tubes. 

A FFX Batch II hull but with reduced weapons and sensors capability can also be offered by DSME, as it is physically larger than the DW-2000 frigate design, and will be able to take in the initial requirements and still have weight and space allowances for future upgrades.
Photo taken from Ambassador @ Military Photos.net forum.

Special mention:
DW-2000H derivative - this is actually a late 1990s design that was constantly updated by DSME for future projects. It is actually another derivative of the late 1970s Ulsan-class frigate design of the ROKN. Although it eerily has almost everything the PN is looking for, MaxDefense sources say that it doesn't have the capability to carry a 10-ton naval helicopter and cannot meet the range and endurance requirements as specified by the PN.  


The BNS Bangabandhu (F-25), the most modern frigate of the Bangladesh Navy, is actually based on the DW-2000 light frigate design. It lacks some of the requirements of the PN so it may not be offered



2. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. (HHI)
The world's largest shipbuilder, and is very familiar to MaxDefense readers due to its early involvement in the PN Frigate acquisition project when they reportedly offered the HDF-3000 design (more commonly known as the FFX-1 Incheon-class) at the same time as when the Italians are on talks with the DND for the Maestrale-class frigates. MaxDefense sources earlier pointed out that this was actually the major template of the PN's budget and technical specifications for its frigate program: the PN found out that it can actually buy a new frigate with such limited budget. But just in case, HHI may also offer a cheaper alternative, depending on what they believe fit the requirement and budget.

a. HDF-3000 derivative - this is actually the model name of HHI's FFX-1 offering that ultimately became the Incheon-class frigate. It actually fits exactly on what the PN is looking for, but a reduced capability derivative may be offered instead to be within budget. The only problem with this design is in its growth margin allowances and space availability: it may be unable to accept a VLS system due to its tight space, unless if the PN opt to go for a RAM system in the future. HHI may also make modifications on its helicopter carrying capacity which requires it to take in a 10-ton model.

* Possible systems for replacement are the 127mm gun to a 76mm rapid fire main gun, the RAM system to a 4-shot VSHORAD system, the ROKN-specified Mk. 15 Phalanx with a PN-specified stabilized weapon mount, reduction of number of SSM tubes and missiles, and the downgrade of the radar system instead of using the LIG Nex1 3D surveillance radar system. 


The HDF-3000 design was used by the ROKN for its FFX-1 Incheon-class frigate. According to sources, this was actually the template for the PN's own frigate technical specifications.
Photo taken from Navyrecognition.com c/o Jager.

b. HDF-2000 derivative - unknown to many, HHI is still currently offering a smaller frigate design known as the HDF-2000, which is smaller, probably cheaper, and is a derivative of the ROKN's Ulsan-class frigate (which was actually built by several shipbuilders, including HHI and DSME). Physically it looks closer to the old Ulsan-class than DSME's DW-2000H design, down from the high position of the bridge, the position of the midship funnel, and the replacement of the aft with a hangar and helideck instead of more weapons stations. Speculatively it may have the same dimensions features and performance as the old Ulsan-class, such as the use of the CODOG propulsion and speeds of up to 33 knots, while also being more automated to reduce crew. Due to its similarity to DSME's DW-2000H design, it is not confirmed by MaxDefense if the ship is capable of carrying the required helicopter tonnage as well as the space requirements.


The HDF-2000 looks strikingly similar to the old ROKN Ulsan-class frigate (shown above), with an updated and smoother design, and replacement of the aft weapons stations with a hangar and helicopter deck. It is physically smaller than the HDF-3000 and may be a cheaper alternative if HHI finds the HDF-3000 disadvantageous for them.



3. Navantia - Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (Navantia-SEPI)
Spain's largest and foremost naval shipbuilders is the only non-Korean bidder to break into the qualified list. Navantia is famous with their export of frigates, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships to Australia, Thailand and Norway. There have been earlier reports that they have offered the Avante 1800 to the Philippine Navy for its other naval requirements (probably as corvettes or offshore patrol vessels), but missed on Navantia's offer of an Avente 2200 derivative for its light frigate requirements. 

a. Avante 2200 derivative - this is the closest model from the Navantia's Avante line of patrol and combatant vessels that may suit the PN's requirements. Compared to the smaller Aante 1800 (discussed HERE previously), it has a larger dimension and heavier tonnage, has more spaces, and can meet the range and endurance requirements of the PN. A derivative of the Avante 2200 was also sold to the Venezuelan Navy a few years back.


Navantia's Avante 2200 is the most probable design they can offer to the PN. The photo above shows the Venezuelan derivative, and the PN version may include heavier weapons and sensors systems.
Photo taken from Navantia website.

It is possible that Navantia would make use of European weapons and sensors system, which may probably include missile systems from MBDA (probably Exocet Blk. 2 and Mistral VSHORAD missile systems), MU90 lightweight torpedoes, 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun, and mostly radar and sensors from either Thales or Selex. 



4. STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (STX)
STX is the 4th largest shipbuilding company in the world, as is actually the mother company of STX France. They may share the same designs and it is possible that they will actually offer a similar design, with STX offering more Korean systems in its offer. Previously unexpected by MaxDefense to join due to their limited participation in defense projects, but may gain from the vast experiences of defense shipbuilding of STX France being the builder of several warships for the French Navy.

MaxDefense is actually blur on what STX may offer since they have not been in the frigate business for some time, although it be possible for them to offer a design derived from HHI's HDF-3000 being the announced builders for the 4th and 5th units of the FFX Batch 1 Incheon-class frigates for the ROKN. 

a. HHI HDF-3000 derivative - being one of the appointed builders of the FFX Batch 1 Incheon-class frigate for the ROKN, it is highly possible that STX may be allowed to use the base design of the ship from HHI, with some design modifications coming from STX. It may also have the same systems as the HDF-3000 offer from HHI although it is possible that they will try to undertake HHI in some way or another.


A Hyundai HDF-3000 derived frigate from STX? Unimaginable, but possible. STX is the builder of the 4th and 5th units of the FFX Batch 1 Incheon-class frigates, whose design was from HHI. It may be possible for STX to use the design with some modifications.

If this pushes through, expect a very similar fit-out of weapons and sensors system as HHI's offer, mostly Korean-made systems.

b. KCG 3,000-ton Patrol Vessel derivative - STX was awarded a contract to build two 3,000-ton offshore patrol vessel for the Korean Coast Guard, which is actually a design shared with one of its competitor HHI. This design, with further design changes to meet naval requirements, may be used by the shipbuilder for its frigate offer to the Philippine Navy. 
HHI built this specific unit, but STX was also awarded to build 2 units of the same 3,000-ton patrol vessel design. A navalized derivative based on this design may be offered by STX.
Photo taken from Korea Coast Guard website.



Although the chances of the 3 other bidders are slim, it would be best to also discuss here what they may be offering the Philippine Navy if the Motion for Reconsideration they will file/filed is approved:



5. Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE)
Although the name sounds more farm than sea, GSRE is actually one of India's more experienced naval shipbuilders and has experience in building frigate-sized vessels for the Indian Navy. 

a. Kamorta-class large corvette derivative - this is currently the newest design from GSRE that is within the specified requirements of the PN. Actually considered as an ASW corvette for the Indian Navy, the base design can actually be modified to suit the PN needs. The original Kamorta-class uses a mixture of Indian, Russian and Israeli systems, although it is possible for GSRE to modify their design and remove Russian and even Indian systems from their offer*. At around 109 meters long and a displacement of 2,500 tons, this corvette is actually on the same size category as its frigate competitors from Korea and Europe. A recent grounding during sea trials may also not be helpful to GSRE as it was found that there were mechanical problems encountered that caused the accident.


A scale model of the Kamorta-class ASW corvette. GSRE reportedly offered a derivative of this design, which may probably not include Russian and several Indian-made systems.
Photo taken from thaifighterclub forums.

* Russian weapons systems like the AK-630M CIWS, RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launcher, and Klub AShM systems can be replaced by similar systems from Israel like the Typhoon stabilized gun and Gabriel 5 - Advanced Naval Attack Missile. The Barak air defense missile system from Israel may be retained. Radars, sonar, EW, CMS, and other electronic systems from India may also be replaced by either Israeli systems from IAI-Elta or European systems from Thales.


6. STX France SA
The European sub-company of Korea's STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, based in France is one of Europe's foremost shipbuilders. Like its Korean mother company, STX France has its share of building frigate-sized naval vessels although it is possible that they would be offering a similar design as their Korean counterparts. 


7. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH
The German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp is well known for its MEKO series of vessels that has been updated for almost 30 years to suit different requirements of navies around the world. The MEKO series is one of the most successful naval products and new products have been unveiled to make them competitive in an ever-changing world market.

a. Blohm+Voss MEKO A100 corvette series - a smaller derivative of the more expensive MEKO A200 frigate series, this might be the best offer ThyssenKrupp may offer. It may definitely be made to fit the PN's budget, at the same time meet its requirements. It is only around 98 meters long, range and endurance that meet the PN requirement, and has a displacement of around 2,400 tons although these can all be adjusted if necessary. It has the capability to handle 1 or even 2 10-ton helicopters, and can be fitted with the weapon and sensors systems specified by the PN. The Royal Malaysian Navy actually uses the MEKO A100 design as its Kedah-class patrol vessels which are actually neutered corvettes.


A rendering of the Blohm+Voss MEKO A100 corvette with full equipment.
Photo taken from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems website.

It is possible that like most of its customers, ThyssenKrupp may offer the ship together with systems from MBDA and Thales, although the shipbuilder may also use other systems depending on the requirement.



Associated Ship Systems:
Other than the ships themselves, the weapons and sensors systems can also be analyzed based on the shipbuilders. Most notable is the presence of all Korean companies that bought the bid documents which will probably be using Korean or French-made systems based on their previous products.

LIG Nex1
This new Korean company is actually in the forefront of the Korean electronic and missile system technology, and has a complete range of products to offer. Their products would likely be included in most of the Korean frigate offers which may include but not limited on the following products: 
- SLQ-300(V) Sonata EW Suite;
- Next Generation Milsatcom Systems;
- Ulsan-I class 3D Surveillance Radar; 
- Ulsan-I class Hull Mounted Sonar;
- Chiron VSHORAD and Chiron MLS missile system;
- SSM-700K C-Star (Haesun) anti-ship missile system;
- Blue Shark lightweight torpedo system;
- Torpedo Accoustic Countermeasures


LIG Nex1's Chiron VSHORAD missile system in multiple launcher platform may be offered by the Koreans for the anti-aircraft missile requirement. This might be the minimum offer.
Photo taken from LIG Nex1's website. 

Samsung Thales - its close association with defense systems manufacturer Thales has helped them come up with their own systems that are currently in used in most new Korean naval vessels, and might be included in the ship offers to the Philippines, including:
- Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System (NS-ICMS);
- Short Range Tracking Radar systems.


Samsung Thales' Naval Shield CMS may be offered with the HHI and DSME offers, although other manufacturers like Thales may have the chance to snatch the deal if it can.
Photo taken from Samsung Thales website.

Hyundai WIA - a part of the Hyundai conglomerate, this Korean machinery and tool manufacturer makes naval gun products under license from Oto Melara and Thales Nederland. The following naval guns may be offered as an alternative to the original European models:
- 76mm naval gun;
- 40mm naval gun;
- Goalkeeper CIWS. 

Besides these Korean companies, MaxDefense believes that European defense products may also be bundled as well, especially for the Navantia offer.

Thales Group may offer their TACTICOS Combat Management System and Smart-S Mk.2 3D surveillance radar system, Mirador and Sting EO Mk. 2 tracking radar system, Vigile advanced naval ESM system, the CAPTAS series (probably CAPTAS-2) of variable towed low frequency sonar. The Kingklip medium frequency hull mounted sonar may not be fit for offer as the PN is looking for a low-frequency sonar.


The Thales CAPTAS series of low frequency towed array sonars may be offered as part of the sonar system requirements of the PN.
Photo taken from Thales Group website.


MBDA Systems may also provide missile systems for the frigates, which may include the MM40 Exocet Blk. 2 or 3 AShM system, the Mistral VSHORAD missile system and associated multiple launching system, and the VL-MICA air defense system if the PN can still afford.


The Exocet series of AShM systems may be among those included in one of the offers to the PN.
Photo taken from MBDA website.

Italian naval gun system manufacturer Oto Melara may probably be approached to supply the 76mm Super Rapid gun in case the PN rejects a possible offer of the Hyundai WIA version. 


Oto Melara's 76mm Super Rapid gun may be the gun of choice by the PN but may find competition from its Korean version from Hyundai WIA.

There is also a strong chance that Israeli systems, like those offered by Israel Aircraft Industries, IAI-Elta and Elbit Systems, may also be used as an option. There were previous reports that Israeli companies may tie-up with Korean shipbuilders for an offer to the PN under this project, and this may be the case should the PN opt to use non-Korean systems. These may include the ELM-series of naval radar systems, ELK-series communications and signal systems, Gabriel 5 and Barak missile series, and the Typhoon stabilized gun system which is where the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 system is based. 


Israel's Barak-1 short range air defense missile system also fits the bill of the PN's requirement, and even exceeds the requirement.

American and British defense manufacturers may also be offered but may have difficulty in getting a contract due to cost issues. Boeing's Harpoon Block II AShM system might be a strong contender due to its strong choice for the other PN frigate that will be installed with AShM systems - the Gregorio del Pilar-class. Raytheon's Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system may also be retained with the HDF-3000 frigate design. If gas turbine engines will be considered for the designs, General Electric's LM2500 and Rolls-Royce's MT30 marine turbines will likely be the only choices.




For sure, there will be comments on this blog's commentary portion that will ask MaxDefense's opinion on which design would win. To be honest, MaxDefense doesn't know yet. The fight is close enough as all parties are putting in their best foot forward. This would only get better if some unconfirmed information MaxDefense got recently that the purchase of ammunition would be separated from the project is true and free up some more for the frigate itself. Not only that, there are already confirmed information that the DND and PN are already discussing the possibility of allocating funds for a follow-up 3rd frigate, together with additional capabilities to the entire ship class.

With all these possibilities coming up, we are looking at an exciting frigate program. MaxDefense will be posting more updates on this very important acquisition project as it shows major movements in the coming weeks.

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UPDATES:
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May 16, 2014: 
DND confirmed early this month that 2 more bidders were qualified to submit their proposals for the PN frigate acquisition project. These are Garden Reach S&E of India and STX France SA. They were given only until this month to provide the details of their proposal to the PN and its hired consultants.

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August 10, 2014:
The DND formally allowed the release of information regarding changes on the bidding to the media. Philstar was the first to report that the DND decided to divide the Php 18 billion Frigate Acquisition project into 2 parts: the Frigate acquisition at Php 15.5 billion, and the weapons systems for Php 2.5 billion. 

These changes free the bidders of the burden to negotiate the procurement of the weapons systems, which should have been the responsibility of the end user's government. Foreign governments especially those of the American and Western powers, need congressional / parliament approval on the transfer of weapons systems, especially offensive and advanced weapons systems like anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as it may affect the balance of power in the region. The source's government may also look on other issues, like human rights standing and violations, payment schemes, trade issues, lobbying powers, relations with neighboring countries and its effects, and others. 

There is a possibility that the bidders themselves asked for the changes since they cannot acquire the weapons systems on behalf of the Philippine government.

This would be further discussed in a separate MaxDefense blog entry due to its strong effects on the current bidding.