Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Israel Shipyard's Shaldag Mk. V Fast Patrol Boat Offered to the Philippine Navy

According to very credible sources involved in the project, the Philippine Navy recently released a Request for Information (RFI) for 6 Fast Attack Crafts to equip the Littoral Combat Force, Philippine Fleet. This is to fulfill a partial requirement under the Philippine Navy’s Capability Upgrade Program's Horizon 2 phase.

Despite bring a Horizon 2 project, it is now being front-loaded for early processing rather than wait until 2018 due to the prerogatives of new Philippine president, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in beefing up the capabilities to fight internal threats like insurgency, terrorism, and drug shipments as part of his overall security plan.

The Philippine Navy released a Request for Information to Israel Shipyards recently, and a formal offer was made in response. The requirement is for a fast attack craft larger than the MPAC and almost the same size as the Andrada-class patrol gunboats of the PN.
Photo taken from Israel Shipyards website.


Background:

In simplistic terms, the Philippine Navy describe Fast Attack Crafts as small, heavily armed boats, with sufficient sensor capability to detect targets from a distance, and can run at high speeds sufficient enough to catch up and intercept other fast craft threats.

Among the missions it is expected to do is to intercept terrorists and kidnappers moving along the porous borders of the Philippines with Malaysia and Indonesia, and terrorists moving along the scattered islands within the country to escape military assaults or conduct localized kidnappings, intercept smugglers especially those carrying weapons for terrorist or insurgent groups and illegal substances like drugs.

The fast attack crafts are also designed to conduct standard naval operations in support of territorial defense, including naval patrols, and surface combat against opposing naval surface threats if necessary.

Based on previous Capability Upgrade Program acquisition plans of the Philippine Navy, the requirement for fast attack crafts stemmed out from the need for Patrol Gunboats, which later on were adjusted to a fleet of Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) armed with missiles and guns.

 
This infographic showed the Philippine Navy's early indication to acquire fast attack craft with missiles within the Horizon 2 phase. This would later on evolve into MPACs armed with missiles as shown by the recently-awarded MPAC Acquisition Program Lots 1 & 2 which is part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.
Photo taken from the Philippine Navy's website.


Shortcomings of the MPAC?:

MaxDefense was expecting early on, that when the Philippine Navy decided to use the MPAC as a littoral interdictor and patrol boat, it would encounter problems because the MPAC was not purpose built to be a coastal interdictor and patrol craft. The MPAC was designed as a fast insertion boat for special operation forces or marine troops, lightly armed for self defense and fire support of landing or retreating troops, and fast  and small enough to compensate for stealth.

MaxDefense found out that the Philippine Navy encountered some issues regarding the use of MPAC design for interdiction and patrol duties when problems came out on the latest MPAC acquisition project for the Mark 3 version. This variant is larger, heavier, and better armed than the previous MPACs (locally called the Mark 1 and Mark 2 variants).

It was probably found out that the current MPAC design is too small to accommodate enough space to mount heavier weapons, and to provide enough power to the automated and electronic weapons systems that are used to mount the guns and missiles. It is also possible that the current design is maxed-out to meet the standard requirements of the boat to reach the desired speed, endurance, and capability to meet the required operations at Sea State 5 without degradation of subsystem operations.

Lack of space also means that the MPAC will have less space for crew quarters and supplies, ammunition storage, fuel, and movement space. It also means that the boat is heavier and possibly will have a reduced speed compared to its lightly armed sister-ships, thus will need a more powerful engine that is also physically larger.

MaxDefense also received information that the Philippine Navy plans to use the armed MPACs to slip inside the well deck of the Tarlac-class landing platform dock or any future LPD and any other amphibious assault ships of the fleet. This means the MPAC must retain its size, reduce its mast height (or adjust accordingly), and maintain a certain weight limit for safe carriage on the well deck’s platform during transit.

These issues are probably considered by the Philippine Navy, resulting to the formulation of a need for larger, purpose built fast attack crafts for interdiction and coastal patrol duties, with a larger size and enough space, speed, and endurance than the MPAC.

As seen in this illustration, there is almost no space for a resting cabin for the crew without reducing the troop carrying capacity. The existence of an RCWS system on the MPAC Mk.3 already reduced the number of troops carried to just less than 10 by eating space on the troop compartment. 




The Current PROPOSAL:

So far, the Philippine Navy appears to have only made a Request for Information to Israel Shipyards, based in Haifa, Israel.

Israel Shipyards, with the assistance of the Israel Ministry of Defense, proposed their SHALDAG MK. V fast patrol boat to the Philippine Navy. The Mk. V, which is currently the Shaldag family’s largest variant, is almost the same size as the Philippine Navy’s own Andrada-class patrol gunboats, but is faster and is proven to carry more weapons than the PN’s almost 30-year old US-designed boats.

Israel Shipyards offered the SHALDAG Mk. V to the Philippine Navy recently, as a proposal for its fast attack craft requirements. 6 units were quoted with the RFI.
Photo taken from Israel Shipyards website. 


More on the boat’s dimensions and technical information can be found on the link provided HERE: 



The proposed Philippine Navy variant of the Shaldag Mk. V is expected to be armed with a stabilized remote weapons station for a 25mm gun, and small surface-to-surface missiles which MaxDefense expects to be the Spike family due to the PN’s recent order of Spike-ER missiles for the MPAC Mk. 3. Other future small anti-ship missiles could also be considered in the future. Manually-operated machine guns are also expected.

The Shaldag Mk. V can be armed with a 25mm remote weapons system like the Typhoon, and is expected to be armed with the Spike-ER lightweight surface-to-surface missiles similar to those ordered for the MPAC Mk. 3 lately.



It is also expected to be fitted with a navigation & surface search radar, and an electro-optical fire control system, probably similar to those already in use in existing Philippine Navy ships. Space for a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) is also available, and is expected considering the PN’s existing patrol boat fit.

Included in the offer from Israel Shipyard are an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) for the boats for a specific number of years, and a Transfer of Technology (ToT) clause which allows the Philippine Navy’s own Naval Yard to construct their own fast attack crafts based on Israel Shipyard’s own technology, including additional units the Shaldag Mk. V. MaxDefense believes that it is possible that some of the boats included in the 6 units could be built by the Philippine Navy in their Naval Yard in Cavite.



Possibility of Additional Units:

Aside from the 6 units quoted from the Request for Information, it is expected that the Philippine Navy will probably acquire more boats of the same class in the future, to beef up its requirements, and temporarily or permanently replace existing older Philippine Navy assets. This is considering that the Philippine Navy is planning to acquire at least 30 fast attack crafts and patrol boats within the current administration’s term under Horizon 2 phase, and possibly another 30 units as part of Horizon 3 phase, based on their latest acquisition plans.

This latest infographic from the Philippine Navy as of April 2016 shows that they intend to acquire 63 MPACs with missiles within a 15 year period covering Horizons 1 to 3. Horizon 1 already covered 3 MPACs, so 60 more are expected. This was before the PN decided to change their plans and instead  acquire a mixed fleet of MPACs and larger fast attack crafts.
Photo shared by Cods Salacup M on the MaxDefense FB pages last June 2016.


Considering the price difference between the MPAC and the Shaldag Mk. V, MaxDefense expects that other avenues will be considered by the Philippine Navy, including mixing both types into a "high-low", or a "high-mid-low" mix, with MPACs expected to bear the higher percentage of the expected 30-boat acquisition as the “low” tier of the force mixture, while the Shaldags could be considered the “high” level.

The Transfer of Technology clause on the proposal also means that the Philippine Navy is expected to build more of the type in the future, and this does not make sense if the PN does not make maximize the use of this deal inclusion. 




Future Proposals Expected:

Aside from Israel Shipyards, MaxDefense believes that another Israeli shipbuilder, IAI-Ramta, would probably make a move to submit their own proposals with their Super Dvora series of fast patrol boats to the Philippine Navy. Although MaxDefense sources confirmed that the Shaldag is currently the favourite of the officers within the Littoral Combat Force to meet their requirements. The Super Dvora is considered smaller than the Shaldag Mk. V and could slot in somewhere between the middle of the two types, although Israel Shipyards also have smaller Shaldag designs, like their Mk. III and Mk. IV series, that could be counter offered should IAI-Ramta do offer their products.


It is also expected that countries with existing Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines will submit their formal offers to the Philippine Navy as well, like those from the US, Korea, Indonesia, Australia, and others, although there is no indication yet that such was already made except for the one submitted by Israel Shipyards as of this posting.

It is possible that other offers would be made by other shipyards, like the Mk. VI patrol boat used by the US Navy and made by SAFE Boats International. But that remains to be seen.




IMPORTANT NOTE TO MAXDEFENSE READERS:

MaxDefense reminds its readers that this is just an offer made by a single shipyard based on an RFI, and does not correspond to any purchase.

MaxDefense will provide more information once they become available, especially if the Philippine Navy decides to move closer to an actual acquisition deal rather than just consider an proposal.