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Monday, October 24, 2016

Finally, the Contract Signing for 2 New Light Frigates between Philippine Navy and Hyundai Heavy Industries

Since MaxDefense announced the release of the Notice of Award for the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) last September 1, 2016 signifying the win as the chosen shipbuilder for the project, it has been a hanging question as to when the contract will be signed between the two parties. The project involves the acquisition of two brand-new light frigates, which is to become the most modern surface combatant of the Philippine Navy in the next few years.

It was originally thought that the contract will be signed before the end of the month, with no less than the Department of National Defense (DND) through its spokesman Arsenio Andolong mentioning about the target schedule. We all know this did not push through.

This photo was released by HHI as the perspective design of the PN's new frigate. As expected it will have design cues taken from the FFX-3 which was also designed by HHI.
Photo taken from HHI's website.

For the Big News of the Day:

According to MaxDefense sources, the Frigate Acquisition Project's contract signing ceremonies will be held today, October 24, 2016, at 2:00pm (Philippines time) at the Headquarters, Philippine Navy in Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The program will be attended by DND, AFP, and PN high command officials, HHI executives, and the South Korean ambassador to the Philippines.

It turns out that many even in the Philippine Navy itself is not aware of this event for reasons unknown to us.

The contract signing is an important part of the procurement process as it puts into paper whatever discussions were made in the past, and signifies the order of the Philippine Navy to have HHI build the frigates.

According to HHI, the ships will be based on the company's HDF-3000 frigate design, but with some changes as specified by the Philippine Navy. It won't necessarily be a twin of the Incheon-class frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).

Based on the schedules submitted by the Philippine Navy for compliance by the winning shipbuilder, the first ship will be delivered to the Philippine Navy by late 2019, and the second ship by late 2020.

HHI released a computer-generated design of the frigate, and as MaxDefense predicted in the past, it takes a strong cue from the ROKN's FFX-3 frigate which was also designed by HHI.

Weapons and Sensors:

Based on the Bill of Quantities submitted by HHI to the PN during the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) during the 2nd stage bidding stage several months ago, the ship will be armed with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun, two twin launchers for SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles, two twin Simbad-RC launchers for Mistral short range surface-to-air missiles, two triple trainable torpedo tubes firing Blue Shark lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes, a single MSI Defense Seahawk RCWS with a 30mm gun, at least 4 manually operated M2HB 50-caliber machine guns.

Further discussion about this can be found on our previous blog entry:

"The Philippine Navy's Future Frigate from Hyundai: Discussing the Ship's Design and Some of its Expected Subsystems" - dated September 3, 2016.

Twin Simbad-RC for Mistral missiles are included in the new frigates.
Photo taken from MBDA website.

Frigate's CMS and Sensors:

Based on the same BOQ from the SOBE as mentioned earlier, the Philippine Navy's frigate will be installed with a variety of sensors, described as the following:

(note: this applies if PN's Project Management Team did not do changes, or did not allow changes as requested by HHI)

Combat Management System (CMS) - will be TACTICOS Combat Management System from Thales. Among the most proven CMS in the market today, the PN will be benefiting from the TACTICOS' performance for the frigates, and is designed to be able to integrate the weapons systems mentioned above, as well as all the other sensors mentioned below.

A previous blog entry comparing it to the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield CMS can be accessed below:

"Naval Combat Management System - MaxDefense's Choice for the Philippines' New Frigate & Existing Warships" - dated September 27, 2016.

3D Surveillance Radar - the ship will be installed with the NS-100 series dual-axis multi-beam AESA radar also from Thales. The specific model will be the NS-106, which is a very new product considering Singapore was the launch customer for the Littoral Missions Vessel that are just launched lately. Far better than the 2D type which was indicated in the initial technical specifications during the frigate acquisition program's 1st stage.

The new frigates will be having the NS-106 AESA radars, a far improvement over the 2D system specified in the initial phases of the project.

Hull Mounted Sonar - Thales' Bluewatcher hull-mounted sonar will be used for the frigates. Although not the best in Thales' line-up, it would be a good start and is mostly used in small surface combatants. MaxDefense prefers the use of the more capable but more expensive and larger Thales KingKlip sonar. The Bluewatcher would be complemented by a towed-array sonar system in the future should the PN continue with its original plan.

Fire Control Radar (FCR) - the ships will have a Thales STIR 1.2 EO Mk. 2 fire control radar to guide the 76mm Oto Melara main gun. It has electronic counter counter measures (ECCM) capability and has a full EO suite with it.

The STIR 1.2 EO Mk.2 from Thales, the Fire Control Radar chosen for the frigates.
Photo taken from Thales' website.

Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) - the SAQ-540K from LIGNex1 will guide the Seahawk 30mm gun. This is so far the only Korean-made sensor system offered by HHI based on the BOQ.

Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) - so far this is the only softkill EW component on the ship, it will have the Vigile LW from Thales. A lightweight system, it is normally designed for small warships although frigates are also OK with it. But for better capability, MaxDefense believes that the PN should upgrade its ESM system to the Vigile 100 Mk.2 which is similar to those to be used in Malaysia's upcoming Gowind littoral combat ship/frigate.

Missile and Torpedo Decoy Launching and Countermeasures SystemWallop's Super Barricade countermeasures system will be installed on the ships. Two systems will be installed in each ship to defend from both port and starboard sides. The Super Barricade can launch decoys for incoming anti-ship missiles and anti-ship torpedoes.

The Super Barricade countermeasures system will be a part of the frigate's defensive suit.
Photo taken from Naval Technology website.

Tactical Data Link - Thales Link Y Mk.2 was chosen to be the ship's tactical data link, comparable to the NATO Link 11 but with enhanced features. The specs also mentioned that the ships should have space to allow a possible installation of air warfare data Link 16 and maritime data Link 22 in the future.

Design Concerns:

The computer generated image (CGI) provided by Hyundai clearly shows the stealthy features incorporated by HHI to the frigate design, with cues coming in from the FFX-3 frigate of the ROKN which HHI also designed. It looks far more modern than the original HDF-3000 design used on the ROKN's Incheon-class frigate, with cleaner superstructure and less clutter, and a reduced smokestack due to the absence of a gas turbine engine found on the Incheon-class.

Based on the dimensions provided by HHI, it appears that the ship will have a displacement of around 2,600 tons, length of 107 meters, and beam of 12 meters, and a top speed of 25 knots, with a range of 4,500 nautical miles @ 15 knots speed. As specified in the past, the ship will be powered in a CODAD configuration.

This appears to be within the specifications provided by the Philippine Navy in the past, but is very close to it and was not given significant improvements. MaxDefense's concern is the marginal room for improvement, including the lack of space for more anti-ship missiles or land-attack rockets, In comparison, the Incheon-class actually can accommodate a mix of up to 16 anti-ship and land-attack missiles using four quadruple missile launchers, while the PN design appears to have space for only up to two quadruple launchers.

Another design comment is the uncovered deck near the smokestack which exposes the missile launchers, RHIBs and torpedo launchers, and also reduces stealth characteristics on that portion of the ship. This could be added in the final design, while MaxDefense prefers the torpedo launcher to be placed at a lower deck level, hidden in an openable deck enclosure.

Majority of MaxDefense's comment on the design can be found at this portion of the ship. MaxDefense believes that more space should be provided here, while providing a deck enclosure to cover the launchers, RHIBs, and torpedo launchers. Also, the 30mm Seahawk secondary gun would be more suitably installed here than on top of the hangar.
Photo snapped from HHI's photo.

The photo also suggests that the Simbad to be used by the PN will be the Remote Controlled (RC) version. The missile launcher are found on the roof deck of the bridge, but MaxDefense's concerns is on the reloading of the missiles. While it is expected to be done manually, carrying it over to the roof through an access from the bridge is an awkward way of doing it. The photo also clearly shows the NS-100 series 3D surveillance radar.

The twin Simbad-RC launchers, the X and S-band navigation radar antennas, the STIR 1.2 EO Mk.2 fire control radar, and the NS-106 3D surveillance radar are clearly shown on this part of the ship.
Photo snapped from HHI's original CGI.

On the rear part of the ship, the single MSI Defense Seahawk 30mm secondary gun appears to be position too high, considering that its purpose is to defend the ship from incoming small surface targets like fast boats and minor targets. Its very high position may not allow its gun to hit targets closer to the ship, and that position is better suited for the future anti-ship missile CIWS like Phalanx, Goalkeeper, or RAM / SeaRAM.

MaxDefense believes that it would best for the ship to have two Seahawk 30mm guns, one each on port and starboard side, probably positioned lower at the midships, near the current position of the triple trainable torpedo tubes. But this requires the open midship section to be longer, affecting the ship's overall length.

The position of the secondary gun atop the hangar seems too high and too centered, that it may have difficulty hitting targets closer to the ship due to the guns limited negative elevation,
Photo snapped from HHI's original CGI.

And with HHI using the MSI Defense Seahawk gun mount, MaxDefense suggests to the Philippine Navy to consider arming the guns with the Thales LMM missile, which the Seahawk SIGMA has the ability to install on the gun mount itself. This increases the capability of the ship to defend from numerous "swarm" attack of small boats at longer distances with higher accuracy than the gun itself. Considering that Thales is already onboard with the sensors and CMS, acquiring the LMM might not be difficult to make.

The MSI Defense Seahawk SIGMA can mount LMM missile launchers on its side, which allows the gun to engage swarm attacks at longer distances than the gun itself. MaxDefense suggests the use of this system.
Photo taken from MSI Defense website.

While MaxDefense prefers a larger design, probably the same dimensions as the Incheon-class (114 meters length, 14 meters beam), this could take toll on the ship's performance, considering that the maximum speed is already at the low side except if they increase the power of the diesel engines which are also larger in dimensions and heavier in weight.

Design cues for the superstructure were obviously taken from the FFX-3 frigate (above) designed by Hyundai, although the FFX-3 is far larger, and has more accommodations for improvement in the future, which is MaxDefense's primary concern for the PN frigate.
Credits to the unknown owner of the photo.

While the CGI is probably closer to the final design, MaxDefense will be waiting for the final design to be completed, as it is expected that the PN would provide some more inputs, and probably improve on the design and features of the ship. Although this could translate to cost increases, that could be done as a variation order for the project. 

Also, remember that the PN still has a change of more than Php 200 million pesos, the difference between the ABC worth Php 16 billion, and HHI's offer worth Php 15.744 billion. MaxDefense expects the PN to use that amount to further improve the ship, like for example, adding a second secondary gun for both ships, or increasing the ship's size.

Positive Effects of Contract Signing:

Aside from confirming the order for the frigate, the contract signing is actually a bigger event that shows the seriousness of the Philippine Navy in its modernization drive.

The contract amount might be small compared to the frigate project of its peers in the region, but the point that finally the Philippines was able to push for a new build warship will definitely entice the global defense industry to look at the Philippines again. The frigates are just one of many expected new-build naval projects that the Philippine Navy will be undertaking in the years ahead.

Among those expected to take notice are European shipbuilders, who, except for Spain's Navantia and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany, are mostly absent during the Frigate acquisition project. This includes Damen of Netherlands, DCNS of France, Leonardo of Italy, and BAE Systems of the UK. According to MaxDefense sources, these shipbuilders skipped the frigate bidding due to their disbelief that the project will push through, and if it does, the profit will be too low.

Now that Pres. Duterte has announced his rejection to the tender system in acquiring defense materiel for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it won't be a fight of who's the cheapest anymore, but on who can provide a good balance of capability and pricing.

The Philippine Navy has several other naval projects coming up in the next few years, and the signing of the frigate contract shows to the world that the PN is ready to acquire modern new systems from the global market.
Photo taken from TKMS' website.

What's Next?

After the contract signing, we will be awaiting for the Opening of Letter of Credit, and the submission of the Notice to Proceed by the DND/PN to HHI. These are also important for HHI, as the Letter of Credit gives them assurance that funding will be provided upon meeting delivery or schedule conditions, while the Notice to Proceed is the document stating that HHI can formally proceed with the project, and will be the basis of the construction and delivery schedule.

These are expected to be provided within this year, at best. MaxDefense will definitely post updates regarding the availability of these two important documents that will push the project forward. Good luck to both the Philippine Navy and Hyundai Heavy Industries for this very important project for the Filipino people.


  1. Woohoo! It's finally proceeding. Congratulations to those who lobbied for this to push through even under the new government.

  2. Sana Navantia wins the Corvette bid they have some good designs

  3. Happy campers. Worth the wait, worth the teasers. Thanks sir max. -migz

  4. Superb sensors, nice design, a couple of questions though:

    Where would the CIWS be located? Any chance it would be the RIM 116?
    The MSI Defense Seahawk RCWS -- which version? The LW? the A1 or the A2? The secondary gun location seems odd, the PN is getting one shouldn't it be in either side and not the mid-ship?

    - neo

  5. Atlast. Ive been waiting for this news since 2013 I think. I hope we can acquire more in the future.

  6. Ang sarap mag navy pag ganyan mga nakikita mong barko :-)

  7. finally ha..ha..ha..Congrats to all filipino

  8. A milestone for the Philippines Navy, finally a brand new and modern warships that the country can be proud of.

  9. yay finally but it will take a while to get these new frigates. ... but im waiting for tanks and new apc

    1. We can;t have Tanks but we could operate Light Tanks like K-21 and i hope we can use modern APC's (with Wheels not tracked) like LAV-25 for the Marines and Patria for Army.

  10. Can they install Sadrals instead of Simbads? This way it can serve as CIWS as well.

  11. Good news!!

    But with such sophisticated systems, I wonder if SK or Thales subsidize some of this.

  12. Congratulations to the Philippine Navy for this long awaited project . Its been a tough and grueling process but things are shaping up . Next stop, crew selection . This would be very interesting since this would attract more applicants with highly motivated individuals to measure up with advance electronics and technologies.

  13. This is it! The start of the new dawn for PN. I hope PN will review of the current structural design and make a few improvements to accommodate the ship's subsystems future upgrades. Good luck and Congratulations for the 2 upcoming brand new Frigates. Wish you all the best. You all make Filipinos worldwide proud! GO go go Phil Navy! From UKPhils.

  14. Finally some good news indeed.
    I hope they may be named BRP Ferdinand Marcos for realising that a well equipped military in service of the people can be a source of pride for the nation and its citizens. And the other BRP Benigno Aquino III for bringing back the renaissance of a long lost but not forgotten prestige we once have. A ray of hope shines, small but still it's hope. Thank you sir Max for the info the best that I've read so far. Onward to our AFP.

  15. ALLELU......... (Waiting until tender of Letter of Credit)

  16. Maybe the 30mm slot is really for ciws in case PN decides to? Also sir as to your concern of 30mm unable to shoot closer targets, maybe the 4 50 cals can do the job for the mean time.

  17. This active electronically scanned array AESA will detect missile at great distance and more time to react the defensive measure....will help our rwcs operator and simbad rc operator intercept the incoming projectile...midair.

  18. How can this ship even defend itself... its pretty much incapable of defending itself for incoming Ashm and precision guided munitions. First, Mistral missile is originally designed for land based application and man portable to shoot down aircraft NOT MISSILES, not to defend ship like this from munitions , with 6km effective range howdo you think can it shot will it be able to shot down a missile? and not damaging the ship from the dud missile destroyed if in case it would be shot down and im pretty sure it will have enough energy to continue the trajectory. THIS SHIP IS INCAPABLE OF HANDLING AIR THREATS ,END. you need at least 50km of point defense weapons like the essm or aster 15 or even 30 and CIWS OFC. And thsi ship does not have a CIWS.... THIS SHIP WILL BE AT THE BOTTOM IF MATCH AGAINST PRESENT AND MODERN ASHM.

    1. masyado ka atat eh, at this point, hindi talaga makaka-depensa yan kase hangin pa lang sya, concept pa nga lang at di pa final ang design, ni wala pa nga LOC reklamo ka na agad. Sa 2020 pa balak i-cimmission yan, ngaun kapag sa 2020 eh nag-active service na yan at wala pa mga kagamitan na pan-depensa, dun ka mag-reklamo.


  19. My prayers are answered. Thales TACTICOS for CMS.
    Glad also that the Radar and FCR are from Thales.
    Any update what would be the X and S band radars to be installed?

  20. Re: secondary gun placement. It's not particularly a too high and too centered problem. It's just that the deck blocks or limits the effective depression of the gun. It can still be centered and higher as long as the max depression just above the roof deck. The problem with the design, the bridgedeck forward of the hangar roof is 2 floors higher. Which, along with the poor location, only provides less that 270° coverage. That area around the smoke stack needs to be covered and roofed. Similar to the ffx3. Then 2 secondary guns can be placedone one on each side.

    The vshorad mount has accessibility problems. Some creative solution is needed there. I do appreciate the intention of almost 360° coverage there.

    The decoy and chaffs can be placed inside the covered area around the smoke stack. And the life boat need to be placed somewhere else too.

  21. Can i know how many crew member does it need to operate one of this ship?

  22. Is it true that one of the FA-50 is not longer working?

    1. I think it is, one of them was involved in a FOD/Bird strike. I think they are buying new engine for 1 unit.

  23. Sir Max any news on PAF LRPA based on PhilGebs openning of bids yesterday 26 October 2016.

  24. Sir Max, it seems that the cgi design of the proposed PN frigate that was posted by HHI looks similar to HHI's HDP 1200 (posted by raider1011 on PDFF).

  25. what about the VLS it did not include on weapons and seasors?

  26. Long-time reader/first-time commenter here. Thank you Sir Max for making Filipinos more aware of the importance of national defense.

    Anyway...I just read through this article and the frigate-related stuff posted on your FB page (when I'm not dealing with that hover pop-up that asks me to "Please sign in to continue" or other such crap--more on that on the post-script), and I got a little bothered with the estimated top speed of these new frigates.

    25 knots. That's two knots slower than the Chinese Type 054 and 054A frigates (27 knots) and five knots slower than the Type 051 and 052 series of destroyers (29 to 30 knots). (Might want to take a look at your Jane's in case what I read on Wikipedia is inaccurate or put there by the Wumaodang for propaganda.) Heck, even the Hamilton-class cutters are four knots faster! (29 knots.)

    Now I know speed doesn't matter much in this age of anti-ship missiles, but it would be a bit comforting if our frigates can outrun their Chinese counterparts. So is there a way to upgrade to better engines and propellers? (For the engines, something with a better power-to-weight ratio than the one currently specified.)

    Either that or having an electronic countermeasures suite against AShMs would be nice.

    God bless and more power to your blog!

    - Incognito

    P.S.: Is it possible to allow those with Gravatar profiles to post on your blog? I do have a Gravatar account and I wish to be identified by that when I post here next time.

    Also, why does Facebook like to use those annoying hover pop-ups that block what I want to read whenever you post news on your Facebook page? No offense, but it kinda defeats the purpose of your FB page being "public" (and it only makes me not want to sign up for an FB account). I just want to read your FB posts in peace without those hover pop-ups and that "return to top" script that activates when I try to open more comments to read.

  27. How about the interior decoration particularly the space for cms rooms and other systems?????

  28. This is better than the two US cutter who have no missile systems. Baka mas armado pa ang Enchanted Kingdom sa barko from uncle sam.

    Hopefully next upgrade aand a more credible PHILIPPINE navy.

  29. Is the torpedo, CMS, Soft Kill Defense Weapon and ESM model is the final choice by PN?

  30. Sir Max, when would be the final approval on the system and equipment to be installed on the frigates?

  31. Most valuable and fantastic blog I really appreciate your work which you have done about the PCP Fill Adaptor,many thanks and keep it up.
    PCP Fill Adaptor

  32. Sir..any updates to the progress of frigate acquisition? Whre now the letter of credit?

  33. Sir..any updates to the progress of frigate acquisition? Whre now the letter of credit?....and the notice to proceed? Is 'sense of urgency' still not recognized by our 'higher people' there? Our neighbors....everybody are upgrading/up-arming and we're really..really behind... considering that we are the most strategic country in the asia pacific with the most rights in the spratlys...benham is next( might that be the first area to start the second island chains campaign by china). Please....make haste!

  34. From what I can see, if this small lightly armed frigate has to fight a Chinese or any other decently armed warship, it'll most probably (90%) end up with the Philippine frigate sinking to the bottom. You'll need to increase the 4 ASHMs to a minimum of 8. Have at least 8 MK41 vls cells for quadpacked ESSMs to give a total of 32 medium range AA missiles. Get rid of the 2 flimsy mistral missile launchers & replace them with 2 Sigma Seahawk systems with the Thales LMMs & EOFCS. Also, replace the Seahawk mount above the hangar with a Phalanx B1B CIWS. Keep everything else as is. If the PN goes stingy & orders the ship lightly armed, the ship will be lost with a lot of casualities if it ends up in a duel with another combatant/s & all that money & lives will be a disastrous waste without much of a fight. So it'd be wise to arm the ship well so it can hold it's own & at least give the enemy a good fight. However, if the PN is just thinking of fighting pirates, then this small measly armed frigate will do...hopefully..

  35. Uhmm sir? Why don't you mention the 8 cell vls of the ship? And is it possible for modifications of weapons in this ships like the positioning and types of weapons using? Because I find it inconvinient to some weapons for the frigate just like the 30mm secondary gun what you have mentioned.

  36. I hope our president remake the design of our future frigate specially on size and weapon systems because the size and weapons of ships are not enough to sustain the needs of our navy like CIWS,Missiles on VLS,other sensors and additional secondary gun.In CIWS I hope this is phalanx or Rolling airframe missile, in size I hope they extend it by 150 m to have a space for other weapons, in sensors I hope they buy all of it sensors like TAS,air warfare and maritime data, and last we need to buy a 2 quad launchers for Anti ship missiles and another secondary gun. My message to our officials in DND please don't delayed and if you buy a weapons or ships,vehicles make it a complete sensors and weapons because they mandate is to make our nation safe and friendly.Even if an warship is so expensive because they have an important role or mandate to us and our nation.I hope sir Max send this message to our official on DND and to our president Duterte


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