Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why Not The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate for the Philippine Navy?

As talks regarding the increased rotation of US forces in the Philippines begins, different groups threw their reasons for supporting or not supporting the plan. But one thing started appearing to be a common ground between the opposing groups: both agree that the Philippine military is ill-equipped to secure its territory, its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the Kalayaan Group of Islands (KIG) from foreign threat, specifically the Chinese and Taiwanese.


An Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate of the US Navy. Several of the class are available for transfer to allied countries like the Philippines.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

The Philippine Navy (PN), through its Desired Force Mix (DFM) white paper released in 2012, plan to have a fleet of at least 6 anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) frigates and 12 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes in its arsenal in a time frame covering around 15 years. But currently it only has 3 old gun frigates, and is still grasping to purchase 2 brand new light frigates that appears to be underfunded at around Php 9 billion ($208 million) per ship considering the capability the PN is requesting the ships to have. These new ships would only be in service with the PN several years from now, estimated between early 2017 to early 2018 if the PN chooses a design that is still to be realized, or it could be a little earlier if the PN chooses an existing design. Thus the PN will have to make do with what it has while it waits for the new ships to be fully operational.


The PN is actually looking forward to have Anti-Aircraft Warfare Frigates in its future arsenal. The Royal Netherlands Navy's De Zeven Provincien-class frigates is an example of a typical AAW frigate.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

At this rate, the PN will be short of capable surface combatants for the organization to effectively do its missions, and have the minimum deterrence and capability to defend Philippine waters and EEZ. Also the PN would not be able to attain its desired capability and numbers since the committed ships for commissioning is not enough. Even without following the said white paper plan, there is obviously not enough combat ready ships in the PN's fleet. 

To beef up its fleet, the PN should consider obtaining used but still capable frigates and corvettes, which can be obtained from allies and friendly countries. Currently there are a number of friendly countries that plan or have already started decommissioning their naval assets that can still be useful with the PN, and are definitely more capable and younger than its current assets. Many of these ships, especially those from the US are dropped before they reach their original scheduled retirement.

After making a U-turn on the Italian offers, and bypassing offers from France and other European countries, there is another frigate class that was always rejected by the PN's top brass but is the only relevant choice right now:

The US Navy's Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, also known as the OHP-class.


Purpose:
The OHP frigates were designed and built for the US Navy as fast fleet anti-submarine warfare escorts, with capability for limited area air defense and platform for anti-ship missiles. They are required to move fast to keep up with nuclear powered aircraft carriers which usually run at around 30 knots when required. But it lost its missile capability with the removal of its single Mk. 13 arm-type missile launcher. It has hangar space for 2 SH-60 Seahawk shipboard helicopters.


Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates are great anti-submarine platforms but in its current state it does not even have sufficient surface and anti-aircraft combat capability and will need weapons upgrade.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

In contrast, the PN's frigate requirement based on it's DFM white paper is for an "Anti-Aircraft Warfare Frigate", as the designation suggests it would be general purpose surface combatant, with emphasis on anti-aircraft warfare but with sufficient anti-submarine and surface warfare capability. There is another requirement for the PN for corvettes that are general purpose but with strong emphasis on anti-submarine warfare. The corvette's requirements are actually closer to the OHP-class' strengths, although the OHP-class does not have sufficient air and surface warfare capability in its current guise.


Age:
At more or less 25 years old average, the ships are definitely old per Western standards, but that is expected from used warships, besides they are still younger than most PN major assets which are more than twice that age. With proper refurbishing and modernization these ships would be able to meet the PN's requirements for another 15 years, which is the stipulated parameter for purchasing used materiel for the AFP according to the Philippine government's Administrative Order (AO) No. 169. Sec. 3.2.3.b.


Availability:
The OHP-class is currently being retired by the US Navy while being replaced by the newer Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). A number of ships are available for transfer to allied countries like the Philippines, and there are even some countries previously offered by the US government that did not took the opportunity for many reasons. Thailand may pass on an offer for 2 ships as they decided to instead purchase a new frigate from South Korea.

Of all countries that have available used warships for transfer to other navies, the US Navy currently leads the market.


Operating Cost:
This has been the major reason why previous offers for the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates were always declined by the PN. The ships are powered by 2 General Electric LM2500-30 marine gas turbines in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration. Although gas turbines are light, compact and provide a higher output, it consumes more fuel as compared to diesel engines, and the OHP-class uses these turbines even on cruise speed and economy speeds.


The General Electric LM2500 marine gas turbine, 2 of this powers the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates making it a gas guzzler in Philippine Navy standards which mostly has a diesel-powered fleet.
Photo taken from GE Energy website.

According to Globalsecurity.org and FAS.org, the average operating cost of an OHP frigate in 1996 was $16 million a year. That was when the OHP-class still has its Mk. 13 single-arm multi-purpose missile launchers with SM-1MR Standard surface-to-air missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

It should be taken into consideration though, that the PN operates at a lower cost as compared to the USN. Points to consider are lower manpower costs, lower services and maintenance costs, less operating tempo, less rigorous training programs and attendance, and longer maintenance duration. Thus it is expected that the PN can operate the OHP-class frigates at a lower cost than reported. But it would still definitely be higher than the operating cost of the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates that the PN currently has due to the higher fuel costs.

It should be taken into consideration that the entry of the 2 CODOG-powered frigates into PN service already pushed the gasoline, oil and lubricants (GOL) expenses to record levels.

Upgrade Options:
The OHP-class frigates in the current neutered state is nothing more than a large anti-submarine platform, with no missiles but still retaining its anti-submarine suite plus more close in weapons. The absence of the Mk. 13 arm-type missile launcher due to obsolescence and standardization of US Navy missile delivery systems will actually push any buyer to take a look at alternative ways to up-arm the ships.

Taiwan's OHP-class known as the Cheng Kung-class, are still equipped with the Mk. 13 launcher although they have a separate boxed launcher for the locally developed Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles and some are reportedly already equipped with the "carrier killer" Hsiung Feng III missiles. Pakistan's sole OHP-class ship, the PNS Alamgir, is also reportedly armed with Harpoon missiles in boxed launchers. Thus the concept of installing an anti-ship missile system without relying on the Mk. 13 missile launcher is possible.


A Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy Cheng Kung-class frigate, Taiwanese-made Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate equipped with their locally-produced Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles in boxed launchers just below the main mast.
Photo taken from ROC Navy / Ministry of Defense website.

For air defense, the ship was also dependent on the Mk. 13 launcher, but there are also programs made by other countries to increase it's capability without relying on the said arm launcher. Australia installed an 8-cell Mk. 41 vertical launch system (VLS) for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), located forward of the Mk. 13 launcher (which was still retained) of their Adelaide-class frigates (Australian version of OHP-class frigates). This was done as part of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) SEA 1390 FFG Upgrade Program. The Turkish Navy's (TDK) G-class frigates (ex-USN OHP-class frigates) also did the same upgrade of installing a Mk. 41 VLS as what the Australians did. As for the PN, the absence of the Mk. 13 launcher means that there is more space available at the ship's A-position which can be used to install a VLS or other missile-launching system, in addition to the space where RAN and TDK installed their Mk. 41 VLS.


The Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Sydney, upgraded with an 8-cell Mk. 41 VLS located forward of the original Mk. 13 arm-type missile launcher.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

Besides weapons, the ships are known to be capable to receive new upgrades for the combat management system, radar systems, and other combat electronics if necessary, as demonstrated by similar upgrades done by Australia, Turkey, Taiwan and Spain on their OHP-class ships.


Upgrade Cost:
The only issue here that will be detrimental for any Philippine Navy undertaking for OHP-class is the cost of upgrades and returning anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile systems to the downgraded ships. Below let us assume that the PN will only opt to improve the ship's anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapons systems, and continue using the same sensors, combat management system and secondary weapons:


An 8-cell Mk. 41 VLS installed in an Adelaide-class frigate (Australian Oliver Hazard Perry-frigate derivative).
Photo taken from Wikimedia.

Mk. 41 VLS Tactical System:
Each Mk. 41 VLS will have 32 ESSM rounds quad-packed to 8 Mk.25 VLS canister.
- The 8-cell VLS system itself costed around $16.3 million dollars in a contract with Spain in 2006. It is expected that the current price would be higher now.
Thailand paid $18 million in a contract involving 9 ESSM missile rounds, 3 Mk. 25 quad-pack canisters, 4 shipping containers, spares and repair parts, support and testing equipment, publications and technical documents, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services and other technical services related to the product.
- Additional requests for further ESSM may be cheaper on the average per missile, but MaxDefense estimates the deal for 32 missiles to be worth around $50-60 million.
- MaxDefense estimates for the entire Mk. 41 tactical VLS system with full-load 32 rounds of ESSM would cost around $80-90 million.

The Boeing RGM-84 Harpoon Blk. II anti-ship missile is the US Navy's foremost surface warfare missile.
Photo taken from SeaForces website.

Harpoon Missile:
Standard anti-ship missile load-out for frigates is at least 8 missiles. 
- A 2012 US order for Block II missiles and associated hardware went on average of $1.6 million per missile.
- The US, being the primary user, is expected to have complete knowledge and support system for the Harpoon missiles. The PN currently lacks this, and it is expected that the 1st order for Harpoon missile systems will probably cost a lot to include logistics support, training and technical services, spares and repair parts.
- A 2009 request from Egypt for 20 RGM-84L Harpoon Blk.II missiles, 5 4-shot missile batteries, spare and repair parts, and all other associated support mechanisms costing a total of $145 million
-Based on the Egyptian contract above, on average it would cost more than $60 million for each ship with 8 missiles and associated support and logistics package. This is reasonable considering the Philippine Navy is again a first time user of the type.

So just with the 2 missile systems, it would cost around $140-150 million per ship. 

Does the PN have other options? So far MaxDefense believes that other friendly countries can provide an alternative for the PN that would probably cost less than what the Americans have to offer. A budget of probably less than $100 million per ship using Israeli systems could make a possible PN Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate as capable as an American-upgraded one.


Israel's upcoming Barak-8 (left) and MF-STAR active phased-array radar system are good alternatives that can be used to upgrade PN ships, including possible OHP-class frigates. Besides Israel, South Korea also has some wares that are worth taking into consideration.
Photo taken from trishul-trident blog.

Only problem is, if the Americans would include clauses in the transfer contract to only upgrade the ship using American products and services. This is the same problem highlighted in the Hamilton-class frigates that the PN plans to upgrade in the near future.


Timeline and Availability:
Another problem seen by MaxDefense is the timeline of availability of the ships. So far the US government has not offered a single OHP-class frigate to the Philippine government, and offers and US Congressional approvals usually take a year or two to obtain. Transfer and training of crew to a US-spec OHP-class frigate would require at least 8 months to more than 1 year, using PN crew that has prior experience with the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates. The complexity of the OHP-class for PN crew will require a longer training period as it needs to cover not just the usual operational conversion training, but also basic training especially for the weapons and sensors system operators. Bringing the ship for upgrades and modifications to increase capability, including the crew training to handle advanced systems would probably take another 8 months to 1 year based on conservative estimates. So that would be a total minimum of 3 years!


Would it be not better to instead purchase a new frigate, like the Incheon-class from South Korea, which costs almost the same and can be obtained in almost the same time as an upgraded 25 year-old OHP-class frigate?

So if the Philippine government would request for a ship or two during the visit of President Barack Obama this October, probably we could only see a partially upgraded OHP-class frigate in Philippine service by late 2016, or just after President Aquino's term.


Practicality:
So the question now is, would it be practical to have Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates in the Philippine Navy?

Based on the parameters above, MaxDefense believes that getting the frigate is not feasible, for the following reasons:
- Obtaining them as-is would render it a large gunboat similar to the current guise of the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates with only anti-submarine warfare as its main focus. For its current capability the purchase and operating costs are too high.
- Not only is it expensive in its current guise, but it also lacks the endurance if employed as an offshore patrol vessel.
- Receiving them as-is and undertaking an upgrade program for it would cost too much as well, almost as much as a brand new light frigate with similar or even greater capability.
-  Not only will the upgrades cost too much, the time needed to complete the purchase from request until end of upgrade would also take too long, canceling the very reason why the PN should obtain used warships.


Alternatives:
As a short term goal, the Philippine government should try to deal with other friendly countries with frigates or corvettes that are scheduled for retirement but is capable enough in its current guise to not undertake immediate, lengthy and expensive upgrades. MaxDefense sees a number of countries that the Philippine government can turn to, like South Korea for its Pohang-class corvettes, Italy for its Maestrale, Soldati/Artigliere and Minerva-class ships, Germany for its F122-class frigates and Spain. The government should also continue in their push for capable assets that could be acquired cheap, like more Hamilton-class cutters to beef up naval presence and replace older PN assets. The viability of more Hamilton-class ships was discussed in earlier MaxDefense blogs.


With South Korea getting more Incheon-class frigates and FFX-II already in the horizon, the ROKN is expected to release some of the Pohang-class combat corvettes, which the Philippine government can obtain. These are simple, easy to use ships that can bridge knowledge to modern equipment while giving the PN enough capability than what it currently has.
Photo taken from militaryphotos.net

While obtaining used assets that could still be in service for several more years, the Philippine government must also invest in building new frigates and corvettes according to its naval white paper as a medium to long term solution in increasing naval capability. This must not be taken fore granted by the Philippine government if it is indeed serious in putting more value to defending the country's sovereignty and territory in the coming future without keeping the navy at bay due to lack of assets and support.


Is it a totally lost cause to have Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates?
Actually not yet.

We still don't know what the Americans will practically offer to the Philippine government in the next few months or years. If the Americans could provide a ship or two for free, including transfer, training, initial support, and at the same time provide a subsidized operating budget, then the Philippine government should say yes, as this would enable it to reduce the cost issues that is currently the main reason of it's impracticality with the Philippine Navy.

102 comments:

  1. Great post. With the Hamiltons enabling long endurance patrols the PN can turn to smaller ships to fill the gaps. The ASuW-oriented Pohangs make a great team with the equally efficient Italian Minervas and their ASW and AAW capabilities. For coastal patrol Singapore's 11-strong Fearless class will be up for replacement 2016 with the arrival of the new Littoral Mission Vessels. Then go full speed ahead with the SRDP through a PN version of the PCG's Japan-designed MRRVs and demanding local series construction as a quid pro quo of the upcoming frigate procurement.

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    1. There is actually 2 kinds of warships that must be in PN inventory: patrol vessels (which goes to sea more often for sovereignty patrols, flag waving and law enforcement), and surface combatants (these ships do the medium-high intensity fighting). The PN is currently equipped with patrol vessels, but almost no surface combatant, although both are needed in the inventory due to old age, lack in numbers and lack in capability. The Fearless-class can have the same role as the Cyclone/Mariano Alvarez-class and Aguinaldo-class ships for littoral patrols.

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    2. What do you think of Singapore's chances for the frigate bidding? Is PT PAL's seeming "win" (and the Koreans' disqualification) in the SSV contest a good sign for building stronger relationships closer to home (within ASEAN)?

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    3. It's got nothing to do with inter-ASEAN relationship. It's business, and Daewoo/Daesun lost because they did not complete their requirements. Singapore's NGF design is competitive, but I'm not sure if it got the same push as the competition especially the Koreans.

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    4. How about the Sa'ars from Israel? Don't they fit the navy requirements?

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    5. Let's wait for more information, specific ones. These will only come out when the supplemental bid documents come out just like what happened with the other earlier projects. We don't even know who exactly will buy the bid docs yet. A few more weeks, patience is the key.

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    6. Maybe the US can give us what they gave to Egypt.

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  2. The problem with the PN, is that the OHP would be a very steep learning curve, and they have no recent experience in Multi Role Frigates. The OHP weapons and systems would overload them without any experience and skills. On top of that the Operating cost would bankrupt them. That's why I think the PN needs to acquire all the old Hamilton cutters and turn them in to Light Frigates. For which they can base their knowledge and skills on before getting an advance multi Role frigate

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    1. It appears that the learning curve is not that steep as many argue. As long as the candidate for training has experience in some of the PN's ships like the Hamilton-class. But if the PN is really interested in getting them, it should start sending men for training with USN ships by this year, which will become senior operators and trainers later on.

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    2. Well how do you based that on. The fact that they recently acquired Hamilton class cutters, which are Light Frigates. The OHP would be way over their heads because the PN has no experience in Multi Role Frigates and the weapons and systems that come with the Multi Role Frigate such as SM-2 Missile, MK54 Torpedo and advance Air, Sea search radars. They simply can not handle the complexities of the Multi Role frigate from AAW, ASW and ASUW. They lack the experience, knowledge and skills required to operate a Multi Role frigate..

      They need to learn all they can from the Hamilton light Frigates and the Corvette, before they get a Multi Role Frigate. They can use the Hamilton Frigates as training tools for future Multi Role frigate. At the same time, they need to Arm the Hamilton Cutters to Light Frigate standards. Buy weapons and systems from Europe and Israel.

      That's why the only countries that may get the used OHP's are those who have experience in Multi Role Frigates and know how to use and operate them. Countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, or even Poland.

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    3. I think you are underestimating the capabilities of the Philippine Navy. Bahrain does not have experience in operating multi-role frigates, more so ships larger than a patrol boat, but they were able to transition to operating an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in no-time. They still even have the complex Mk. 13 launcher in it until now. The Philippine Navy is in a better position than Bahrain.

      Although the PN lacks experience and advance knowledge, it does have the basic learning blocks in its system and will only require the same training made by USN candidate operators. The PN can send its men to these training facilities, and get first-hand training and experience in USN ships. This is possible if the Philippines is indeed interested and it still has time to do so.

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    4. The problem here is, dose PN have the experience, knowledge and skills required to handle the complex Multi Role Frigate. To base that off their current fleet, which is the Hamilton cutters. I think it's way too early for PN to get a Multi Role frigate. It's why they need to build up before getting a complex Multi Role frigate. They need to learn all they can from the Hamilton cutters before jumping into a Multi Role frigate.

      He's the $64,000 question, when was the Last time the Philippine navy has operated any advance weapons and systems such as the,AN/SPS-55,AN/SPS-49,Mk 92 Guided Missile Fire Control System RIM-66 Standard Missiles, Mark 46/50 Torpedos, Mark 32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes, Phalanx CIWS and Harpoon missiles.

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    5. Nicky, everything can be learned if proper training and experience can be provided. Although the PN lacks in knowledge and actual experience in handling of these systems, that does not mean the PN need to only stay with the Hamilton's systems. For PN personnel to learn to use those systems you indicated, the PN must train with actual equipment and learn from actual users, not stay long with other systems inside the Hamilton-class. That's where the US Navy comes in. Candidates for training who have experience with the Hamilton-class can be sent to US Navy training facilities. So even if the PN haven't operated an entire Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, it will learn how to. My estimate for the PN to receive a USN-spec frigate is a minimum of 2 years, that's a lot of time to train.

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    6. You may look at the following requirements for enlisted rating's courses in the US Navy. It only takes some months to complete. For the PH Navy, it can always send its men for the same training, and could also partake in actual usage of equipment. By the time the ships are ready for hand-over, there are men ready to man them, but of course don't expect them to be immediately top-notch. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/enlistedjob1/a/surface.htm

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    7. Can PN afford to send people to the US for training. It doesn't come cheap you know. On top of that PN doesn't have the skills and experience to deal with the training required to handle a complex Multi Role Frigate. They simply need time to learn all they can from the Hamilton cutters before they jump into a Multi Role Frigate. Frigates today are so advance, that they border on destroyer and cruiser. For PN to get a Multi Role frigate without having the knowledge and skills from the Hamilton cutters is very foolish and will show up when a shooting war starts.

      If PN is looking for a used Frigate, now would be a good time to talk to the British on obtaining their used Type 22 & Type 23 Frigate. The Brits are going to retire the Type 23 frigate when they get the GCS. The other option would be to go along with India and get either the Shivalik-class frigate or the Talwar class Frigate. Which is very cheap and comes under cost for them.

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    8. Nicky, the PN already got a Hamilton since 2011, and it's already 2013. There are already some batches of ship crew that had actual training experience and skill to operate a Hamilton-class. The PN may opt to send these batches for further schooling/training in the US. Costs of training is a separate matter, but it is possible, the PH has been doing this for a long time already.

      Another option is the hiring of foreign consultants to provide the training while the ship is already in possession of the PN. This was part of the plan when the PN was negotiating the Maestrale-class before. PN will send the crew for training in Italy, and they will come home with the ship with several foreign consultants to stay in the PH for several months more after ship delivery for further training of the crew. It can also be done by the US for the case of the OHP-class.

      Only the PN knows right now if their men can handle a new frigate or not. The point that it is trying to get 2 means that they are confident enough to jump to the skill level in 2-3 years.

      The GCS is still a long way to go. The PN need the ships within 2 years. There are already countries who have offered their frigates to the DND and they are within the budget allocated. It's just a matter of choosing which one. As far as I know, India offered something, but still unclear.

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    9. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/04/28/935744/us-hikes-foreign-aid-phl
      from the above link, training costs for US weapon systems may also be already provided for in the annually provided US military aid - "International Military Education and Training $1.7 million ($1.95 million)" so any increase in costs of required training can be provided for. and IIRC, among the terms of negotiations for the increased US military presence in the country are the joint capability/interoperability trainings between the two forces. so in effect, the AFP can already learn how to operate US equipment including navy combat systems before these are even officially acquired

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    10. What your failing to understand is that the PN has no recent experience in operating complex Multi Frigate weapon and systems. They have no experience in such weapons such as Torpedos,RIM-66 SAM and Harpoons. They don't even have the skills or knowledge to operate complex radars such as SMART-L Radar or APAR radar. Even Sonars are too complex for them because they don't have anything to base their knowledge on.

      Which is why the PN is jumping way too early on the Multi Role frigate and need to spend time on a Light Frigate before jumping ahead of themselves. They need to learn all they can from the Hamilton cutters before they jump to a Talwar class frigate or a Type 23 Frigate.

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    11. Nicky, I understand your point, but what you are assuming is that these knowledge sets are not reachable in a certain period of time. Let's just say the Philippine Navy know more on the status of their capability, knowledge and capacity to accept these technologies better than you, me (yes, me), and everyone else in the public.

      Jumping from one type of frigate to something a little newer to something a little newer again is not necessary considering that the systems currently on the OHPs can be learned in such time. Even US Navy candidates start from zero, and these PN crew already have sufficient experience with lesser complex systems than USN candidates. Don't worry about the RIM-66 Standards, they're out of the current load-out of USN OHPs.

      By the way, if you haven't heard, the DND already released the schedule for the 1st bidding for the 2 brand new frigates. These ships will definitely be more complex than the current specifications of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class.

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    12. Nicky, this confirms that somehow, the Philippine Navy has began sending people to cross train with other navies with regards to advanced shipboard operation. Some PN crew are in Australia, cross-training at HMAS Parramatta, an ANZAC-class frigate of the RAN.
      http://globalnation.inquirer.net/87077/ph-navy-sends-team-to-australia-for-first-time-for-training-exercises-with-counterparts

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    13. nicky, experience can obtain by training ,, so do you think that when we send our troops to US to train the OHP we still can't handle them ?? don't be ridiculous ,, you underestimate the philippine navy ,, look at the taiwan ? they don't have experience at first and then can still operate the OHP class ?? filipinos are not stupid , we can operate them if our government wan't it ..

      -RENZO

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    14. Here's the Question, when was the LAST time the Philippines ever have experience in dealing with Torpedos, Surface to Air Missiles and advance RADARS and Sonar from the US. The US is not going to let the Philippines in on classes that have US classified material such as Sonar, radar and Torpedos. They are more likely going to tell the Philippines to get it elsewhere.

      That's why for the Philippines, they need to start small and work their way up. No Navy that I know of, ever jumps from a Corvette centered fleet to a frigate centered fleet without learning and gaining all the experience, knowledge and skills from a corvette. Once your confident, then I can see the PN getting a Multi Role frigate.

      Right now, if PN were to get a Multi Role Frigate without learning all they can from the Hamilton light frigates. That Multi Role Frigate will wind up staying pier side than underway. Which is why PN needs to learn all they can from the Hamilton Light Frigates before tackling the heavy Multi Role Frigate. As of Right now, I don't believe the PN is ready for an Inchion class frigate, FREMM Frigate or F-124, F-125 Frigate or MEKO A-200 Frigate.

      My Suggestion for PN is to buy up all the used Hamilton Cutters and Arm them as Light Frigates that is similar to the Columbian Navy's Almirante Padilla-class frigate. That way you have a Hamilton cutter that is armed in a similar fashion to the Almirante Padilla-class frigate. If you look at what the Almirante Padilla-class frigate is armed with, here you go;
      Sensors and
      processing systems:
      SMART-S ( Mk2 version)
      Terma Scanter 2001 X-band (after modernisation)[1]
      Atlas Elektronik ASO 4-2 (Hull Mounted)
      Castor II B

      Electronic warfare
      & decoys: 1 × CSEE Dagaie double mounting
      Armament: 8 × Aérospatiale MM 40 Exocet
      2 × Simbad SAM
      1 × OTO Melara 76 mm/62 cal compact
      2 × Breda 40 mm /70 (twin)
      6 × 324 mm Mk 32 (2 triple) tubes

      Aircraft carried: 1 × Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm MBB Bo 105 CBS-5, or
      1 × Eurocopter AS-555-SN Fennec for over-the-horizon targeting

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    15. Nicky, I really find your comments funny. Could you cite your reference stating that the US will not allow PN officers and men to specialized courses in the USN? I think you're starting to point out things without really knowing which is correct or not.

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    16. nicky . i think you don't understand what me and max are saying , , who the hell told you that philippine navy can't handle weapons such as torpedo, missiles and etc .., torpedo and missile are piece of cake for filipino's if we train it .. the problem for us is the PRICE(expensive missile rounds and modern remote torpedoes) ,.. experience can be obain by training . . we can handle them if our government give us a chance to train them . .
      BTW have you heard about the 2 brand new frigates that were going to purchase by the philippines ?? this is also have modern equipments and radars(i think more capable and modern than OHP class) this also have anti air missile , torpedo , cruise missile , and anti ship missile ..

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    17. you are very correct..what we need is asap advance warship vessels..yes its true it can be obtain by proper training by the supplier and if possible now.

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  3. Isn't the Pohang-class famous for the torpedo incident with N. Korea?

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    1. Yes. If you would point out its design that led to its destruction, it would take a long discussion. But one thing is sure, being hit with a heavyweight torpedo will really blow a ship to half, even an Oliver Hazard Perry-class won't survive if hit.

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    2. Max . i made some research and the pohang was hit at the back , and sink like titanic .

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    3. what happen to pohang ang why do they not detect it? i thought they are equpped with ASuW?

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  4. Max. I believe the best scenario is to acquire a third WHEC and have these upgraded asap with Harpoon 2x4 and a phalanx. That way we can make use of the boats asap without too much down time at minimal cost.We can also add a towed sonar. Also have the sensors and radars upgraded to coincide with the addition of the ASM. I would stall the ESSM in lieu of the acquiring a 3rd WHEC and arm it also with Harpoons and Phalanx. And then I would opt to buy a couple of the heavily armed Northrop/israel Saar 5 with its full complement of Baraks and Gabriels. The Israeli corvettes is just as heavily armed as any frigate out there. Maybe complement them also with heli borne Delillah's to give it an additional punch and deterrence. Before Pnoy goes we'll have at least 5 combat ships that can provide some deterrence in our EEZ just in case. We can even continue upgrading the WHECS and add the ESSM's to make them worthy for AAW. I stalled the ESSM because it will cost around $200m just to add them in the 3 boats whereas we can already buy and modestly upgrade a 3rd WHEC with that amount. If money is not an issue, then by heaven's sake let's buy and upgrade them all. But we are poor (Or our government politicians make us look poor) and funds are scarce.

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    1. Just want to clarify. The Philippines is not poor. It is a country that just wastes its money and resources to corruption. It can afford to buy what its neighbors can buy.

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    2. I agree with Max that Philippines is not poor, if I'm correct PH Dollar reserve is now at $80-100 Billion already, as I said before it all boils down to "POLITICAL WILL" in modernization program and not a matter of money.

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    3. Max is right we are not poor imagine P72 billion in savings that's almost the whole afp modernization budget

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    4. i agree to sir max.. Philippines is a rich country, we are second larget gold deposits, next to south africa, it is just in the matter of good political will and good politicians also, we also has a lot of oil deposits that is not yet being discovered or being drilled..

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  5. Max, weren't the Adelaide class was also offered by the Australians? The Sta. Maria's are being mothballed also. I'm sure the Spaniards will listen if we are truly interested. I would think they would want to unload a couple of them since the Prince is being retired early. Those could be s good alternative in lieu of the neutered OHP. But then again, aren't we back to squared one of not wanting to maintain used frigates just like we did on the Maestrales? Maybe this is our fate right now 'cause we truly can't afford a full blown frigate especially if we need two.

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    1. The Spanish are not yet really fully decided on what to do with their Santa Maria-class frigates. While the Australians are committed to extend the lives of their Adelaide-class well into the next decade. So the PN can't really wait for them. Currently the push of the PN is for a new frigate. But it would only be available in 3-4 years from now, so MaxDefense proposes that the PN still look for cheap, used and still capable warships that can be obtained immediately while waiting for the new ships to be commissioned.

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  6. Since the budget isn't enough, do you think the navy is still going for the Incheon class or will they opt for more used ships?

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    1. Not necessarily the Incheon-class since the frigate project will still undergo a bidding. But the PN is dead serious in getting 2 new frigates. I believe it already has a grasp of the costs, and they are confident of getting the ships with the budget they have.

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    2. Since kulang budget di ba pwede Kunin na lang systems ng ohp at install sa brp goryo. Mukhang wala naman interesadong Kunin ng ibang Bansa since magastos

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    3. The current systems of the OHP-class can't just be removed and installed in another ship. It's not that simple. Besides the OHP-class systems are quite old already and it would be better to buy new systems for the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates.

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    4. Is it possible to install a ram launcher in place of mk 13 launcher of the ohp class?

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    5. Actually replacing the Mk. 13 with a RAM launcher doesn't really bring back the same potency as what the OHP ship used to be.

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  7. Practically you are right Mr. Max, OHP class has higher operating cost due to its Gas turbine engines, Hamiltons are much more economical.. it will be also a large gunboat.. Hope the hamiltons will be upgraded soon..

    I am very disappointed with the turning down of the Meastreli class acquisition,.. that ship is a whole package as a multipurpose frigate, i dont know why turn it down..

    Korea's Incheon are a good choice but it will still take time for us to have that, that is why the PN looking for used but capable ships.. hope they still consider the Maestreili..

    We have the capability of building our own ships, Philippines is the 4th largest shipbuilder in the world.. I wonder why we cannot make even our own patrol ships or corvettes... Hope the DND and PN will look for obtaining locally built ships for our country...

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    1. I agree, propmech could definitely build a patrol gunboat...

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  8. Hi Max
    Thanks for another very excellent commentary.
    IMHO, buying frigates is not a good alternative for the PN. It would be a waste of valuable resources. Moreover, acquiring frigates put us off on a different direction or mentality. The PN should rather have a mix force long endurance OPVs like India's Saryu-class for patrolling our territorial waters and fast missile armed corvettes (FSG) like the Korean Yoon Youngha-class PKG for the PN's fast reaction force. Why OPVs and FSG?
    The OPVs should be able to conduct long range surveillance of the adjacent seas while the FSG can be deployed to forward bases. In this manner the PN would have a shield and sword sort of force.
    Before the outbreak of WW2, the government of the Phil. Commonwealth intended to acquire 12 motor torpedo boats (forerunner of the missile boats). However, due to the earlier outbreak of the war in Europe the delivery of the MTB were never completed. The MTB was to be the PNs fast reaction defense of the island to control the archipelago's several choke points.
    The Phils. is an archipelago of several choke points that serves as natural barrier N-S and E-W. So the PN should be able to exploit this natural defensive formation of the island and think for the beat strategy of defending this island and forget the big ships.
    The republic don't have money??? We have pork!!!

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    1. please don't buy any ship that become like our cutter waste of money.
      close our eyes and buy a hi-tech warship we have money and the delivery of this ship can take 3 to 5 years during the construction of this ship we still can look somewhere else for cash. buying low class ship we are become funny.

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    2. The Philippine Navy's predecessor, the Off-Shore Patrol, did have a small Q-Boat unit at the outbreak of WWII. 3rd Lt. Ramon Alcaraz gained distinction serving on these vessels. It was unrealistic for 55-foot torpedo boats to hold off the Imperial Japanese Navy by themselves. A balanced mix of vessels is the most sensible option.

      http://www.orosa.org/WARTIME%20PATROL1941-3.pdf

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    3. Later on, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the US Navy unleashed 39 PT boats in successive waves against the Japanese fleet advancing through Surigao Strait. Unfortunately the boats only scored two hits against highly skilled and veteran opponents. American destroyers fared much better.

      http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/LEYTE_GULF_Surigao_Strait_.htm

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    4. First of all, I definitely disagree that the cutters were useless. In naval operations, there are levels of force capability that respond to different kinds of threats. The current guise of the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates are excellent in peacetime operations like maritime patrol, sovereignty patrols and low intensity combat, definitely better than many offshore patrol vessels in the market today. If the ships are not armed, that would be the DND/PN's decision since they could always arm the ship with the same offensive and defensive weapons as a standard missile frigate if they want to.

      If you have not been following the PN's concept and reasoning for some time, it would be difficult for you to understand why the PN insisted on getting frigates rather than small vessels. These small missile boats can only be effective in times of war but are almost useless in times of peace. They can't stay too long away from shore, they can't stay on high sea states, and they are very vulnerable to aircraft and cruise missile threats. If you think small missile corvettes are cheap, better check again, the price difference is not very different from each other, although the capability is far from equal.

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  9. OHP's engines are too expensive to maintain for our navy, why not try to negotiate to South Korea for smaller warships like the Pohangs as donations? I think Peru got one of them as a donation.

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    1. I believe there is already some headway on negotiations with Korea, but all remains to be seen after the DND can sign the contract for the FA-50. That would be the commitment of the Philippines to invest in Korean products. It was Colombia who got 1 of the older Pohangs.

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  10. Two warships might not be maintained due to SC TRO on Malampaya funds – Gazmin
    read http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/328930/news/nation/two-warships-might-not-be-maintained-due-to-sc-tro-on-malampaya-funds-gazmin
    So How we maintain more expensive gas turbin frigates in the future?

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  11. Sir max. What is the best solution of this problem?

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    1. He outlined his solutions under "alternatives". But if we get a REALLY GOOD offer on OHP frigates, then yes we should take them.

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  12. Since we have limited budget. We can take advantage of South Korean offer Incheon class frigates and Gomduksuri class patrol boats. We can request the Korean to build the ship in Subic and ask for technical help for posible Philippine made Frigate. Absalon-class support ship is also good offer too.

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    1. yeah, the absalon is a great ship, all around anti-air and anti-ship vessel for only 225 million per ship.. great choice!

      and much larger that the hamiltons.. 449 feet, hamiltons are only 378 ft, and it is diesel engine.. hope the PN would consider this..

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    2. Absalom is great, if we have the budget for it. Too darn expensive. Already discussed this a lot of times in several commentaries in previous blogs @ MaxDefense.

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  13. ITB: Two (2) units New Construction Frigates with Ammunition for the Philippine Navy. Two-stage competitive bidding. P18 billion.

    http://www.dnd.gov.ph/transparency/procurement/DND_BAC/Invitation_to_bid/ITB-Acquisition%20of%20new%20frigates%20PN.pdf

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  14. Since president Aquino is heading to South Korea for an official visit to perhaps tackle some impending contracts ? This could an opportunity to seek further military assistance in terms of "surplus". I agree with max regarding the "pohang class " as a platform for training and experience for a modern ASW vessel. There are at least 20 vessels still serving the ROKN and are due to be replaced by the "Incheon class". In particular the flight 4 or 5 batch of the Pohang class since these are the the most modernize batch. Two of these with give the PN some extra punch and a stop gap until they receive their additional support.

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    1. My opinion? Seat back, relax, and be surprised.

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    2. Surprise 1: nothing is sign and materializes
      Surprise 2: PNoy signs contract for the FA-50 and other agreement.

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    3. Geopolitics will the great inhibitor, would SK risk its relations with China just for a dozen fighter and a couple of frigates being sold? Providing freebies and selling hardwares are two different things... latter are just business... former is personal.... Bully around the corner might not like it, SK wont ruffle his feather.....

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  15. keep on begging again ha. while our leaders are ransacking our national treasury. PDF, DAP, Mampalaya funds, FVR, GMA, Enrile, Estrada, now Pnoy too. etc. we have a failed state thats why our armed forces are dilapidated or antique. lollllllll

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    1. @anonymous Begging is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation. On the other hand , if there is an intent to buy , therefore there is a willful act to reciprocate. Which is quite the opposite of your statement.
      You're right about how corruptions can embroil a country to poverty regardless of its wealth . But these are all given and eventually will be exposed and dealt with. The question is are you just going to keep on complaining about it or be more proactive. Here are some interesting comments from known individuals :
      Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.

      Benjamin Franklin
      If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.
      Anthony J D'Angelo
      This one perhaps you & I would agree on , it's for those Public Officials.
      Read the Bible. Work hard and honestly. And don't complain.

      Billy Graham
      Cheers (& all that jazz)

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    2. We should make every effort to buy our own defence equipment and not beg for it whether it is brand new or second hand. Begging is becoming a culture that we have to cut off. If the US government would sell and give a good deal on one or two of their OHP, we should be proud of paying for it and not begging.

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  16. Max any info on who respond to dnd invitation for bidding on two new frigate.

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    1. That would be better answered by checking out who will attend the pre-bid conference next week.

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  17. Help easily comes to those who help themselves first. Let us stand on our own and meet other nations in equal footing. Let us leave behind the culture of mendicancy that we find ourselves in. Taas noo kahit kanino. If the purpose of this blog is to enlighten and inform citizens on the state of the armed forces, the way the military conducts it's business then the author has succeeded at least in this follower. Thank you Mr. Montero.

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  18. Hi, I understand that Raytheon won the bidding for a national coast watch system. I tried to find out on google how it really works but there is not much info aside from generalities. Knowing the need for secrecy, how does the NCWS help the PN? Without divulging too much info, I know u are constrained in this, can the NCWS really see undesirables in the air and sea and relay the information to our armed forces?

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    1. This is not really OPSEC, you can actually find this on the web. The NCWS system is to provide eyes and ears to the military and government in securing the territorial and EEZ waters. This is the basic role of NCWS. A similar system is online in Malaysia and Indonesia.

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  19. careful for info here. OPSEC Pls. how national coast watch system works is plain confidential, or up to secret. lets leave it that way.

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    1. How you call it OPSEC, but you can find it on government website?

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  20. The gov't should have cont'd w/ d maestrale frigates at least it has lower operating and upgrade costs than thhe OHP. IMO the gov't shouldlook back to the maesrale and also upgrade the del pilar class with ciws, harpoon launchers and torpedoes. At least it could give minumum defense capabilities while waiting for the new frigates. If the gov't has the Political Will, I know this can be possible. What do you think?

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  21. hi sir max. your blog is very interesting topic compared with other defense blog. all your comments is real. true opinion.

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    1. I SUPPORT PHILIPPINE DEFENCE..TNX MAX FOR UPDATE

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  22. just relaxs guys everything is all in order and planned, some information right now is confidential, one of the source is leopard tank from germany. do you know dnd is in the wish list to order 25 tanks. according to congressional budget hearing last year.

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    1. 25 tanks is actually less than a battalion worth of tanks. But this is a good start rather than nothing.

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    2. do you have the links of that said report..?

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  23. Have there been any proposed names for the two ssv or two new frigate? How about BRP Datu Lapu Lapu and BRP Benham Rise. One to represent our past and the other our latest UN approved territory.

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    1. Idiot....Name????? buy first before you think the name!!! can you?

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    2. You're the idiot, read the blog, oh wait you're an idiot and you can't read. Funds allocated, bidding being finalised. Idiot? Go fly kite you idiot!

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  24. The SSV would probably be named after a place. While the frigates will be named to people.

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    1. why name those ships from the famous and historic places and cities ? like those of BRP Corrigedor and BRP Bataan..?i think it would be great name.. remembering those places where our heroes fight for freedom..

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  25. BRP Lapu Lapu will be a good one. let us respect one of our greatest hero. Lapu Lapu was the first Asian to fight for national liberation, and killed Magellan who and Spain ransacked the country and destroyed our culture, language and aphabet. sad thing is they even named Lapu Lapu for a fish.

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    1. I agree with you the first real hero who resist spaniards at that time..Nice warrior name..LOL

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  26. let see this month of October how Aquino administration is serious in AFP modernazation and hoping that final purchase of what they so called the 12 FA50s and two frigates possible from Korean Builders would sign ... if this will not happen, i'm not going to trust anymore the Government of Aquino administration...... lem1

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  27. Itys good to see two cutter with harpoon missile and two new incheon class frigate with radars posted in palawan batanes and tawi2x with anti air and anti missile missile posted in subic, palawan, mindanao and batanes plus 4 used old F16 and 12 FA50... wow what a nice defense from our AFP i dont think if chinese will bully our country with this capabilities.....anybody agree on this..? this is already worth and good for financial acree of our Goverment to save as much as what we are expecting...

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  28. Have you seen Max, the specs of the 2 PHL Navy Frigates? I'm a bit iffy to discuss the general specs, OPSEC and all, all I can say is its more of a defensive type of frigate given its minimum number of weapons. Yes, it has SSM, SAM, CIWS, and torpedoes.

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  29. Hi sir max. I am a big fan of maxdefense blog. Sir max, why we are not practical to buy a frigate. We buy a frigate, yung kaya ng budget natin yung totoo. Yes its true we want a new frigate. Pero we are lock of money to buy it. For me the best available ship is pohang class cheap but very practical to our navy. Oliver perry class is a good choice, but if you look the maintenance of this ship for every year 16m dollars. You knw in peso 688 million pesos. That is huge amount for the budget for the navy. Be practical folks. Di natin kaya. Wait the arrival of american troops.

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  30. ^ frigate SAM requirement of 1 quad launcher and range of 6 km is disappointing, although 'minimum'...

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  31. its seems like the incheon-class is the lightest of the frigates in asia. in terms of armament if i were the govt i would lean more into more missile-torpedo defense the example is the perry class frigate (uss stark in iran-iraq war).i would get the most advance one. do we never learn from defense? this is since naval war has been happening. you can be good at your offense how about defense? the faith of the battleship yamato, he had the best guns but the worst defense,he was eventualy swarmed.
    you can compare, the frigates of south east asia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Hazard_Perry-class_frigate-Thai Navy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasturi-class_frigate- malay Navy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KD_Lekiu

    i would lean more into a ship that has great defense.
    the balance must be right.

    if u watched those ww2 docus like battle of leyte, it was the torpedos areal bombardment that brought the ships down.

    the armaments of incheon is laughable, TBH. the small torpedo wont do a thing.

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  32. manila government's so cheap...to preserve one's territory's not cheap..government needs to invest, and invest hard, on its armed forces...this government's so cheap,, they're just waiting for dole outs from other governments.. they want navy and they want it cheap...

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  33. Hmmmm its really an option to think of. I mean if this would only cost us like the hamilton class then its probably a good choice for the navy, but repairs and such would really bring the budget down. on the other hand, with its capabilities (if not downgraded upon transfer) would give PN the advantages it needs to guard the shoal. but alternatives like Sokor and maybe Indian Ships will also be a good choice for the long run. Since they are also equipped with modern,capable and more cheaper armaments than its US counterparts + its new. Unless ofcourse if the Senate and Congress decides to double the budget for the modernization then I think we need to decide which one we really need for our navy.

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  34. Good read. I think it's still worth having a couple of OHP even as a fire brigade rather than having the same capable brand new frigates at 300-400 million each. Especially if we can have the Israeli's upgrade them with Barak 8 and Gabriel 4 or 5 for less than 100 m each.
    Actually if it is brand new, I'm more of a proponent of having more Corvettes with teeth like the Sa'ar 72 than the bigger frigates even with just 3000 nm range and 21 day mission should be effective especially if its fully armed. But with a used warship like OHP like you said, it's ok if it is free.
    Looks like, John Kerry just came up empty with his talks with Xi. China refuse to hold back from their harassment. It's time to arm up 'cause US with Obama at the helm will not meet China head on.
    We can't be choosy so let's get what we can get the soonest and these OHP's if armed properly is a good stop gap measure.

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  35. Thai Navy will be retiring 2 Knox class in a couple of years still in top condition and have been constantly upgraded https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdXs4q60Uwk

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  36. Philippines should not rely on the USA to much just an advice from a friend you should diversify your weapons and get some Russian stuff as well. When there is a problem USA is likely to impose hash economic measures on you. Just recently early this year the USA carrier fleet ran away from Russian subs in the North Sea http://www.eutimes.net/2015/03/terrified-us-aircraft-carrier-flees-from-russian-subs-to-uk-safety/

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  37. More footage of RTN Knox class firing Harpoon and other weapons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7mdHQEZJV0

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  38. No, offense but America has been decommissioning its Perry Class frigates and hasn't been planning on giving to us.

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  39. I think this is a really good idea, actually. I served aboard USS Taylor FFG-50 back in the 1990s, before the Mk. 13 was removed; when I attended her decommissioning last year, I thought she looked utterly naked without it. Taylor is being sold to Taiwan, and is currently undergoing a refit in the Charleston naval yard...including the reinstallation of the Mk. 13 GMLS. So while the Perry-class ships which we have in mothballs are still neutered, putting the launcher back in is a very real possibility. She may be 30+ years old, but these ships were built to take a serious pounding and even today are very capable fighting ships. Watch the video of the sinking of ex-Thatch to see just how hard it is to kill one of these.

    I don't know about the cost of the refit, but from what I heard (from a four star admiral who was at the ceremony) the sale price of Taylor was right around US$70,000,000. Not chump change but not that exhorbitant either, considering what you're getting with that.

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