1. Delivery of 2 Armed AW-109 Naval Helicopters
The last two of a total of five ordered AW-109 Power naval helicopters from AgustaWestland was reportedly delivered to the Philippine Navy on December 29, 2014, and are expected to be commissioned to active duty on January 16, 2015. These two units are expected to complement the two Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates while the three unarmed versions are expected to be land based until more helicopter-capable navy ships become available.
|A photo of one of the new AW-109 Power naval helicopters being tested in Italy in October 2014.|
Photo copyright owned by Fabrizio Capenti - Malpensa Spotters Group, taken from Airliners.net.
These helicopters differ from the earlier three units for being armed variants, with external loading capability that could enable the helicopter to carry different weapons systems ranging from gun pods, rocket launchers, and although still officially unconfirmed, can also be fitted to carry a torpedo. There were also previous indications that the helicopters are fitted with Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) systems which the earlier three helicopters do not have.
With the PN beginning to fully understand the capabilities of the helicopters, it is expected that further orders might be fulfilled to fully replace the ageing BO-105.
2. Updates on the Strategic Sealift Vessels (aka Landing Platform Dock)
The contract to build two Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV), which is the project name to acquire Landing Platform Docks for the Philippine Navy, has been awarded to PT PAL of Indonesia and signed mid this year. And according to PT PAL and Philippine Navy press statements, the lead ship will be started within the 1st quarter of 2015 and will be delivered to the Philippine Navy on the 2nd quarter of 2016, while the second ship will be delivered by 2nd quarter of 2017.
|The scale model above is not yet the final design, and MaxDefense confirmed through its PN sources that there are changes in the helicopter deck and hangar design.|
According to MaxDefense's PN sources, the final design of the ship has already been confirmed although minor details are still being finalized. It would be a derivative of PT PAL's own Banjarmasin-class LPD for the Indonesian Navy, and will have a mount for a 76mm forward main gun, remote weapons systems in the 20 to 30mm class similar to the Mk.38 Mod.2 being procured for other PN ships, mounts for Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) in the Mistral-Simbad class, and for 50-caliber heavy machine guns. The weapons will be separately procured by the Philippine Navy and it is still being determined if these weapons can be installed fully or partially by the time the ships are delivered.
MaxDefense is expecting more news of this project within the early part of 2015.
3. Updates on the New Frigate Acquisition Project:
The Philippine Navy recently confirmed that the new frigate acquisition project is still on the move, with all six interested bidders that passed the 1st stage bidding process still up in the running. The pre-bid conference for the 2nd stage bidding is scheduled on January 8, 2015, and bidding will be held probably before the end of February 2015. The PN expects the awarding and contract signing for the frigate contract within the 1st half of 2015 as they are trying to avoid further delaying the project.
|Hyundai Heavy Industries offered the HDF-300 multipurpose frigate design, which is where the ROKN's Incheon-class frigate was based.|
During the ADAS 2014, HHI confirmed that they are indeed offering a design based on their HDF-3000 multipurpose frigate which the South Korean Incheon-class was derived, while Navantia is offering a design based on their Avante series. Indian and French press releases regarding their participation (Garden Reach and STX France, respectively) in the project indicated their offers will have a displacement of more than 3,000 tons displacement and a length of more than 105 meters. STX France also previously indicated that they are offering a design based on their New Generation Surveillance Frigate.
As the pre-bid conference is scheduled within a few days, MaxDefense is also expecting more news regarding this project very soon.
4. Updates on the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project:
With AgustaWestland named as the only bidder that complied with the requirements of the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition project's 1st stage bidding, it is expected that the project will be moving on faster as the DND and PN would only need to deal with 1 bidder. Although they have passed through the 1st stage bidding, AgustaWestland still needs to comply to the requirements set for the project.
|The chances for an awarding of the contract for 2 Anti-Submarine Helicopters to AgustaWestland is now high as they are the only complying bidder. AgustaWestland is offering its new AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopter.|
The PN expects the award and signing of contract for this project to be completed within the 1st half of 2015, and will be paired closely to the PN's frigate acquisition project due to capabilities that require the helicopters and frigates to work closely with each other.
5. Updates on the Missile-Equipped Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC):
Re-bidding for this project will be initiated this coming 2015, and there are reportedly some changes in the terms of reference of the project. It is expected that the same bidders as last time will be submitting their interest for this project.
|One of the PN's MPACs, delivered as part of the 2nd batch of 3 units acquired a few years ago.|
The PN's current requirement is for such to have short-range anti-surface missiles and a remote weapons station.
Photo taken from Interaksyon.com.
It is expected that these MPACs will be physically larger than the two current sub-classes being used by the Philippine Navy, although it would be retaining most of its performance attributes.
6. Commissioning of 3 Naval Tankers provided by PNOC:
Originally intended to be commissioned this year, the Philippine Navy has rescheduled the entry of 3 tankers, all still unnamed, after some reworks on the ships that will enable them to do replenishment at sea missions in support of the fleet. These are former oil tankers of the Philippine National Oil Company that were given to the Philippine Navy this year.
No exact schedule yet on when these ships will enter naval service.
7. Hand-over of a Pohang-class Corvette and LCU from South Korea:
According to previous reports from Korean media, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) will decommission several ships in their fleet before the end of the year, including the Ulsan-class frigate ROKS Ulsan, a couple of Pohang-class corvettes, and several patrol killer gunboats. Among those is ROKS Gyeongju (PCC-758), which is speculated to be the ship to be handed-over to the Philippine Navy.
|The ROKS Gyeongju (PCC-758), which was reportedly the unit to be provided to the Philippine Navy.|
It is expected that the deal for transfer of the ship to the PN will be similar to what the Colombians had when they got some ships from the Korean government this year. Refurbishing will be done in Korea, and will be paid for by the Philippine government, before the ship can be sent to the Philippines for commissioning. There are already preparations being made by the PN for people to be sent to Korea, although information regarding this has been tight lately.
Aside from the Pohang-class corvette, there are also reports that a retired LCU of the Mulgae-class, will also be included, which was discussed previously in a MaxDefense blog entry. No new information though regarding development on this acquisition.
|An example of a Mulgae-class LCU from South Korea.|
8. Possible Offers of More Korean Excess Defense Articles for the Philippine Navy:
In relation to the availability of excess Pohang and Ulsan class warships, there are strong speculations that the Korean government has been pushing hard for the Philippine Navy and Department of National Defense to choose a Korean shipbuilder to win the new frigate acquisition project, and other Korean defense manufacturers like Samsung Techwin, Samsung Thales, Hyundai Rotem, Doosan, and LIG Nex1 in other defense acquisition projects.
|ROKS Chongju (FF-961), an example of an Ulsan-class frigate from South Korea.|
The offer was said to include conditional offers to transfer more Pohang-class corvettes, and probably a couple of Ulsan-class frigates. Although this is not limited to the Koreans, with other bidders reportedly having similar conditional offers as well. According to MaxDefense's PN sources, the Navy is indeed very much interested in acquiring several of the both classes as it also pushes to retire more of its ex-World War 2 assets.
9. Acquisition of 8 Amphibious Assault Vehicles:
The tender for the acquisition of 8 units of AAVs resulted to only Samsung Techwin submitting a bid, with an offer for their AAV7 armored vehicle. These vehicles will be embedded with the SSV that the PN acquired (please see #2 above).
|Samsung Techwin's AAV7 is a licensed copy of the original AAV7 / LVTP-7 built by BAE Systems.|
Post qualifications have reportedly been completed although there were no confirmation if Samsung Techwin was able to comply with the requirements. It is expected that an award for this project will be made early next year, as the 2-stage bidding process was also cut short with the entry of only 1 bidder. It is expected that the PMC will acquire more AAVs as the PN acquires more SSV and other amphibious naval ships to support Marine operations.
10. Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) for the Marine Corps:
The Philippine Navy confirmed recently that they have started evaluating the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) requirement for Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) to replace the ageing and heavy recoilless rifles still used by the service.
|An old catalog of the SMAW, as marketed by the now defunct McDonnel Douglas Astronautics Company.|
As discussed before in MaxDefense, this project has been in the pipeline for more than 2 years now, and it is curious to know why the PN only started the evaluation of this project recently. It is unclear yet if the PMC is interested in the original SMAW weapon used by the US Marines, or is still looking for a different model from other sources. It is interesting to note that the Philippine Army went separate ways on the decision to replace old recoilless rifles, with the Army choosing the RPG-7USA made by American arms company Airtronic.
10. 155mm Towed Howitzers for the Philippine Marine Corps:
Previously reported as a joint Philippine Army-Philippine Marine Corps project, and was reported won by Israeli company Elbit Systems Land and C4I, recent press releases by the Philippine Navy indicated that the project will again undergo a rebidding for still unknown reasons.
|The Elbit Systems Athos 155mm towed howitzer, which was initially selected as a winner for a joint PA-PMC 155mm towed howitzer acquisition project. The PN confirmed recently that a rebidding will take place soon.|
If another bidding is to proceed, it is expected that this will happen within the 1st quarter of 2015, although it is still unclear if this will still be a joint acquisition with the Philippine Army. It appears also that the PMC is interested in acquiring support systems for the artillery system, including targeting radar and fire control computer systems.
Aside from those listed above, there are still many other projects under the Philippine Navy that are not discussed anymore, but will be given coverage in future MaxDefense blog entries as more information becomes available for public consumption.
Although 2014 has not been a very good year for the AFP Modernization due to several delays encountered due to questions on the source of funding, especially with the legislative moves questioning the legality of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and usage of the Malampaya Trust Fund, the AFP and DND were able to use the time to allow most of the projects to move quickly as issues are being cleared by early 2015.
MaxDefense wishes the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of National Defense, and all MaxDefense blogs and Facebook page readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year!! Wishing a faster-paced modernization program and additional support and budget from the national government to broader up the program further!