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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Philippine Navy starts procurement of torpedoes and countermeasures for Jose Rizal-class frigates

 
The Philippine Navy (PN) has finally started the acquisition process of torpedoes and countermeasures that will be for use on the service's new Jose Rizal-class frigates that were introduced starting mid 2020.

This has been highly anticipated, considering the first frigate of the class, the lead ship BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) has already entered service with the Philippine Navy since June 2020, while the second ship of the class, the Antonio Luna (FF-151) is on its way for delivery in early 2021.

These acquisition would allow the new frigates to gain offensive capabilities against submarines, and defensive capabilities against torpedoes and missiles.

A torpedo launched from a US Navy destroyer. Photo credits to US Navy.

Frigate Equipment:

The Jose Rizal-class frigates are equipped with two triple trainable 324mm lightweight anti-submarine torpedo tubes from UK's SEA. , as well as two C-Guard DL-6T chaff dispensers from Denmark's Terma A/S.



The SEA triple torpedo tubes (top) and C-Guard countermeasures dispenser (above). Photo credits to original sources.

The torpedo tubes are meant as the offensive weapon of the frigate against submarines, with three ready to fire tubes located on each side of the frigate. Western frigate designs usually use the lightweight 324mm torpedoes for surface ships, which work as part of the ship's anti-submarine warfare suite.

Among common examples of torpedoes that can be used in this tube caliber are the Franco-Italian EuroTorp MU90 Impact, the American Mark 54 from Raytheon, the Italian WASS A244S, the British Stingray from BAE Systems, and the Korean K745 Blue Shark from LIGNex1.

Most of these torpedoes have a typical range of less than 15 kilometers, and are guided to their targets with a combination of active and passive acoustic homing systems.

The torpedo tubes found on the BRP Jose Rizal.

Also, the Jose Rizal-class frigates are equipped with  two C-Guard DL-6T chaff dispensers from Denmark's Terma A/S.

The C-Guard was designed to provide coverage against threats like small range gate Radio Frequency (RF) guided missiles, imaging infra-red (IR) seeker missiles, and torpedoes. It utilizes the standard 130mm NATO decoys.

Chaffs were fired from naval ships during an exercise by the Republic of China Navy (ROCN). Photo credits to ABC News.

The decoy launcher is part of a system that includes integration with the ship's combat management system (CMS), which are also interfaced with the ship's radar, electronic support measures (ESM), and other sensors.

Procurement of Torpedoes and Countermeasures:

Currently, these systems are unused due to lack of munitions and countermeasures, respectively. And this is what the Philippine Navy is trying to cover with their Frigate Lot 3 Acquisition Project. 

While the Frigates Lot 1 for the platform, and Lot 2 for the gun and missile ammunitions were procured under the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, this Lot 3 is actually part of the 2nd List of Horizon 2.

It was among those proposed in the original Php650 billion 2017 Horizon 2 Phase Shopping List, but was among those that were taken out of the finalized Php300 billion Horizon 2 Phase priority list approved in principle by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

But due to its urgency and the reliance on Multi-Year Contracting Authority (MYCA) procurement process which did not require the full amount of the project to be paid within the year, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Navy were able to squeeze this project in as part of its 2nd List.

With a total of Php1,700,000,000.00 as its Approved Budget for Contracting (ABC), the Frigate Lot 3 Acquisition Project was divided into 3 sub-lots: the Lot 3A for Torpedoes with a budget of Php900 million, Lot 3B for Chaffs with a budget of Php350 million, and Lot 3C for Acoustic Decoys with a budget of Php450 million.

Lot 3A for Torpedoes will be acquired through Negotiated Procurement, which MaxDefense believes is with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (ROK MND). This means that the procurement would be for the K745 Blue Shark torpedoes from LIGNex1, which is the only Korean-made lightweight torpedo model.


The K745 Blue Shark torpedo. Photo credits to LIGNex1 website.


This could be a practical approach for the Philippine Navy, which already has the K745 Blue Shark torpedoes in its inventory, but are actually air-launched variants that arms its AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopters. These helicopters are to be deployed on the same frigates, which means commonality between the ship and its complementing helicopter's munitions.

MaxDefense PH is still trying to find out what stage of procurement is the Frigate Lot 3A already in, but our sources mentioned that so far, no contract has been signed yet as of this writing.

The PN's AW159 Wildcat are also armed with the air-dropped K745 Blue Shark torpedoes from LIGNex1. Photo credits to original source.

For Lot 3B and Lot 3C, both will be procured through Limited Source Bidding. In fact, the DND already posted the Invitation to Bid and Bid Documents at PhilGEPS Government Procurement Website on December 2020, and at the DND website on January 2021.

This means it still remains to be seen what brand and model of chaffs and acoustic decoys will be used as this would be dependent on the result of the bidding.

A US Navy serviceman loading chaffs on a countermeasures dispenser. Photo credits to US Navy.


MaxDefense is still trying to find out who are the invited bidders for the project, but based on the Supplemental Bid Bulletins released by the DND, South Africa's Rhinemetall Denel Munitions is one of the participants on the Lot 3B tender, while France's Naval Group is also participating on the Lot 3C tender.

We also found that Chemring Group was also invited to the Lot 3B, while unnamed companies from the US, Israel, and UK were also invited aside from Naval Group for Lot 3C.

Naval Group has recently been offering the CANTO acoustic torpedo decoy to regional navies like the Royal Australian Navy, which is compatible with the Terma C-Guard, as shown on the photo below.

The Naval Group's CANTO 130mm torpedo countermeasures as fitted on a Terma C-Guard decoy launcher. Photo credits to Naval Group.

Bid submission deadline for the Lot 3B Chaffs tender will be on 12 January 2021, while the Lot 3C Acoustic Decoy will be on 16 February 2021.

Due to the project being a limited source bidding, tender documents are only provided to invited tenderers, so it is expected that it won't be made available to the public. So far, the PhilGEPS and DND websites has not posted the Bid Documents that includes the technical requirements and specifications.

But what we know so far on the Chaffs and Acoustic Decoys is that they are suppose to fit into the Terma C-Guard's mortar launcher which is around 130mm diameter, standard NATO size. 

For now, all we can do is wait for the tender results, and see which company will win so we can try to find out what will potentially be ordered for the Philippine Navy.

Project Summaries:

Frigate Lot 3A - Torpedo Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified


* Modernization Phase:
 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php900,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal with South Korean Ministry of National Defense.

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund


* SARO Release/s: 
TBA


* Winning Proponent: LIGNex1 (South Korea) (not yet awarded)


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: TBA


* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3ATorpedoAcquisition 


* Status: Project is being undertaken through G2G with South Korean MND. Product of interest is K745 Blue Shark lightweight torpedo from LIGNex1. No contract has been signed although it is expected to be done before mid 2021.

X X X X X X X X X X

Frigate Lot 3B - Chaff Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified


* Modernization Phase:
 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php350,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund


* SARO Release/s: 
TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: TBA


* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3BChaffAcquisition 


* Status: Project is being undertaken through Limited Source Bidding. Bid submission and opening scheduled on 12 January 2021.

X X X X X X X X X X

Frigate Lot 3C - Acoustic Decoy Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 06 January 2021.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

Quantity: classified


* Modernization Phase:
 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php450,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Limited Source Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund


* SARO Release/s: 
TBA


* Winning Proponent: TBA


Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price: TBA


* First post by MaxDefense: 31 December 2020


* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateLot3CAcousticDecoyAcquisition 


* Status: Project is being undertaken through Limited Source Bidding. Bid submission and opening scheduled on 16 February 2021 after requested to be moved by Naval Group.

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First release: 06 January 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


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