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Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade Project of the Philippine Navy

Overview:

The Philippine Navy has long been planning to improve the capabilities of the three Del Pilar-class frigates it acquired from the US government in the last 5 years. Being the most capable surface combatants of the PN, improving their capabilities are among the planned priority projects as part of the AFP Modernization Program.

So far, the PN undertook some minor upgrades including:

* Installation of the Coast Watch System Shipboard Command and Control Suite (CWS-SCCS) by GTS in 2013 which was made with US Military Assistance,

* Installation of BAE Systems Mk. 38 Mod.2 25mm remote weapon system on BRP Ramon Alcaraz


* Installation of BAE Systems Mk.38 Mod.3 25mm remote weapon system on BRP Gregorio del Pilar (as of June 2019)

The most ambitious upgrade project yet will be the Del Pilar-class Frigate (DPCF) Upgrade Project under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, which was among the projects approved for implementation as part of the said modernization phase in 2017.


An info-graphic of the Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade Project as showcased by the Philippine Navy.
Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by our sources.

Scope of Works:

There are two parts of work involved in the Del Pilar-class Frigate Upgrade Project:

One involves US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) involving the suppl, deliver and installation of the following items:

* new Saab AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe AMB 3D air/surface search radar, 


* a new Identification Friend of Foe (IFF), 


* FLIR SeaFLIR 230 electro-optical/infra-red camera system, and 


* a pair of BAE Systems Mk. 38 Mod.2 or Mod.3 25mm naval gun systems to each ship of the class.


This would be undertaken before the second part, which involves the sensor upgrade of the Del Pilar-class ships, which was tendered under a Limited Sourced Bidding that was won by South Korea's Hanwha Defense Systems. Hanwha will conduct the following scope of works, but are not limited to:

* Supply and Installation of a new Combat Management System (CMS), Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS), and Radar Electronic Support Measures (R-ESM). 


* System Integration of the Proponent (winning bidder) Supplied Equipment with the Government Supplied (Philippine Navy) Equipment, which includes the Saab AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe AMB 3D radar, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), FLIR SeaFLIR 230 EO/IR camera, as well as with existing ship subsystems including navigation, situational awareness, AIS, weapons and guns, countermeasures, and other systems.

* Integrated Logistics Support package.


Project Summary:

Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade Project - Sensors


Note: Edited as of 30 June 2019.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 1 lot for 3 ships


* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:
 Php1,540,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Limited Sourced Bidding

* Source of Funding: BCDA Income Remittances

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent:
 Hanwha Defense Systems (South Korea)

Product for Delivery: TBA


* Contract Price:
TBA


* First post by MaxDefense:
 02 October 2017



* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFDPCFUpgrade

* Status: to be awarded to Hanwha Defense Systems as per DND-BAC decision on 11 June 2019.


The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16).



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U P D A T E S:
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10 December 2018:

The Department of National Defense (DND) released the highly-anticipated Invitation to Bid (ITB) for the project, which will be undergoing a Limited Source Bidding, and an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php1,540,000,000.00.

The Pre-Bid Conference was scheduled on 12 December 2018, and the deadline for Submission of Bids as well as the Bid Opening date on 28 December 2018.


While MaxDefense did not immediately released information on the invited bidders, the invited ones were actually the following:

1. Saab Group (Sweden)
2. Hanwha Systems (South Korea)
3. Ultra Electronics (UK)



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29 December 2018:

MaxDefense received an update, which we posted on Facebook community page, that the scheduled Bid Opening that should take place on 28 December 2018, was postponed. This was after 3 more companies were invited to join the Post-Bid Conference on 12 December 2018.

Based on information we received, among those who were invited were India's Bharat Electronics Ltd., as well as 2 other companies.

The agreement during the Pre-Bid Conference was to move the submission deadline of bid opening date to January 2019, which was later on confirmed as 15 January 2019.



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24 January 2019:

A Supplementary Bid Bulletin (SBB) No. 4 was issued by the DND moving the bid submission deadline and bid opening date to 19 February 2019.


No reason was provided on why the scheduled was moved.

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25 February 2019:

The Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad was quoted in an interview with the military-owned radio station DWDD, that the lowest bidder for the DPCF Upgrade Project was a UK-based company. This was posted by MaxDefense on our Facebook community page. This confirms that the bid opening scheduled on 19 February 2019 did push through successfully.

So far, the only UK-based company in our list of invited bidders is Ultra Electronics.

A further check with our sources confirmed that it was Ultra Electronics that was the lowest bidder during the bid opening last January 2019.


Also, it was confirmed by MaxDefense that the only other bidder for the project was South Korea's Hanwha Systems.

Saab Group did not submit a bid, and MaxDefense found out the budget may be too small for them to be able to provide a responsive bid. Also, the it was found out that the Philippine Navy decided to stick to the three original invited bidders other companies invited during the Pre-Bid Conference on December 2018 were also eventually not invited to submit a bid.


Should they get the contract, MaxDefense believes that Ultra Electronics will supply a variant of their OSIRIS Combat Management System, the UltraEagle R-ESM system, and most likely the new Sonar 2150 (S2150) hull mounted sonar.


The consoles of Ultra Electronic's OSIRIS Combat Management System, which is expected to be used by Ultra should they bag the deal. Photo taken from Forcas de Defense website.


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03 March 2019:

MaxDefense released a blog entry on the "possible" downgrade of the Del Pilar-class from frigates to offshore patrol vessels due to their lack of capability to meet the standards of being a frigate.

This was due to MaxDefense receiving shoulder taps from navy sources that the Philippine Navy leadership was already on to order the downgrade of the ships. The blog was just a subtle way of saying that it was indeed on its way, unless the Philippine Navy will instead upgrade the ship by installing the necessary subsystems to allow it to meet the specific features of a standard frigate like conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-aircraft warfare.

The blog entry can be accessed on the link below:


"The Del Pilar-class Frigates: Upgrade Recommendations to Avoid Reclassification as OPV" - first posted on 03 March 2019



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29 March 2019:

MaxDefense confirmed through a post we made on our Facebook community page that the Del Pilar-class frigates were officially downgraded to offshore patrol vessels. Sources confirmed that the downgrade happened in late February 2019, just a few days before MaxDefense posted the blog entry on the possible downgrading plan.


The ships will now be collectively called as the Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels, with the following designations:

* BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), from FF-15;


* BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), from FF-16;


* BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), from FF-17


There are several discussions made between me and our contributors, and both positive and negative comments emerged.

On a positive side, some of our contributors believe that the Philippine Navy leadership was using this as basis to request for more funds to allow them to acquire either additional brand new frigates on top of those already under construction by Hyundai Heavy Industries, or to fund for the acquisition of used and refurbished frigates from friendly countries.

MaxDefense previously mentioned that there was a sudden return of interest in checking the retired Maestrale-class frigates of the Italian Navy, of which 3 units are said to be possibly available for sale to friendly navies.

On a negative note, it was collectively believed that the Philippine Navy might not have realized that there were two paths available for the Del Pilar-class ships, either to downgrade it as OPVs (which was the route taken), or to push for the upgrade of the ships and give them the capabilities needed to be classified as frigates. 



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01 April 2019:

MaxDefense received confirmation from sources that Ultra Electronics was disqualified from the project after failing to pass the Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) by the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group.


No specific reason was provided, although MaxDefense sources mentioned that Ultra Electronics may have had problems with exporting its offered Hull Mounted Sonar for the project.

It is also quite surprising for Ultra Electronics to fail the PQI for other reasons like documentation or financial capability, since it was only recent that they passed the PQI for the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel (JCPV) Phase 3B Combat Systems Upgrade Project which was awarded to them.



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03 April 2019:

With Ultra Electronics out of the project, the only remaining company that can be evaluated is South Korea's Hanwha Systems, the same company doing the sensor system integration and supply of Combat Management System for the Jose Rizal-class frigates being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).

Based on information received by MaxDefense from sources, Hanwha Systems passed the Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) for the Del Pilar-class (Frigate) Upgrade Project, thus they are expected to receive a Notice of Award (NOA) from the DND anytime soon.


Should Hanwha win the tender, MaxDefense expects them to supply the same Naval Shield Baseline 2 Combat Management System that they are supplying for the Jose Rizal-class frigates.

MaxDefense also received that they would probably also using the same R-ESM system made by Israel's Elta Systems, although it was mentioned to me that a different Hull Mounted Sonar would be used, and will not be the Harris 997 that will be installed on the Jose Rizal-class.

MaxDefense would provide updates on these later on.



The expected console design of the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield Baseline 2 Combat Management System, as shown during MADEX 2017 in Busan South Korea. Photo taken from Navy Recognition.

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13 June 2019:

A meeting was called by the DND Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC), attended by members of the Philippine Navy's Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT), and representatives from Ultra Electronics and Hanwha Defense Systems.


Based on Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana's decision on the protest made by Ultra Electronics, the decision to disqualify Ultra Electronics was supported, and the BAC was advised to proceed to the next phase of procurement.

The PN Technical Working Group recommended to the DND-BAC that a Notice of Award (NOA) be released in favor of the compliant bidder Hanwha Defense Systems.


With Hanwha decided to be the winning bidder, its just a matter of time before a Notice of Award (NOA) will be released, most likely within the month.


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14 June 2019:

Based on the above decision by the DND to go with Hanwha Defense Systems: MaxDefense believes that Hanwha Defense Systems will supply the Hanwha Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System, most likely in Baseline 2 variant due to cost issues, and because Baseline 3 appears to still be in development although already in its advanced stages.

MaxDefense was also informed that the Hull-mounted Sonar (HMS) being offered by Hanwha is not the same as the one being installed on the Jose RIzal-class frigates (Harris Model 997). Instead, MaxDefense was told that the sonar is the Wartsila ELAC Hunter hull mouted sonar. This information needs to be further confirmed though.


While Germany-based Wartsila ELAC Nautik appears to be new in the sonar system business, it appears that Wartsila took over the business from American technology giant L3 Technologies (then called L-3 Communications).

We are still confirming the R-ESM system to be used by Hanwha, although there is a strong possibility that it would either be the Israeli-made Elbit Elisra Aquamarine NS9300A similar to those for installation on the Jose Rizal-class, or a South Korean system.






These are the actual console panel and computer control unit of the Hanwha Naval Shield Integrated CMS Baseline 2 for the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), as shown to the media during its product presentation and testing. Photo taken from Inquirer.net.




The Wartsila ELAC Hunter hull-mounted sonar, which appears to be a new product from Wartsila but may have been already developed beforehand by another company, L-3 Communications, as ELAC Nautik used to be one of their companies. Photos taken from Wartsila's website.

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16 June 2019:

As posted by MaxDefense in its community social media page:


With BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) now sitting in Subic Bay waiting for parts, the Philippine Navy together with US Navy Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and International Fleet Support Program Office (PMS 326) made use of the ship's downtime to start some of the upgrade works on the ship.

The first upgrade works involved the installation of the BAE Systems Mk.38 Mod.3 25mm gun systems, which MaxDefense has previously reported to have been delivered to the Philippine Navy for quite sometime.

The installation works happened in early June 2019. One could easily guess what the PN-NAVSEA PMS326 would do next.


Take note that this is separate from the ongoing DPCF Upgrade Project under the Horizon 2 phase, which is being prepared for awarding to Hanwha Defense Systems within June or July 2019.



Installation of the BAE Systems Mk.38 Mod.3 25mm naval gun system for BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) in Subic by PN and USN NAVSEA. Photos exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source.

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First edit and release: 03 April 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

1 comment:

  1. Actually all these 3 ships were already retired for good by US coast guard but because of our navy badly needed warship to fill up the depleted fleet that we are running, we don't have the choice but to operate and refurbish it. But by arming it and adding additional accessories as a frigates cost us alot.But I believed that they are still well made ship and can still do the job.My point is instead of spending money to acquire new frigates and refurbish old one to bolster the strength of our navy why not focus our efforts of building a submarine fleet,and acquire the cheapest one to stretch the number of units and acquire the South Korean made submarine that the Indonesian were doing now, the Chang bogo class submarine is a good contender.Acquisition of a Russian diesel attack submarine is also good but in times of war the manufacturer most likely they are not on our side it is a disadvantage for the maintenance and ordinance replenishment later on.If the Philippine navy technical working group approved it and it's good decision why not.

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