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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Program Finally Moves in 2016! New Technical Specification Released and Tender Soon

Finally, after more than a year of waiting, we finally get publicized confirmation that the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) is moving ahead with finalizing the tender for the Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) for the Philippine Navy (PN).

The DND has posted in its website a very important Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) dated February 2, 2016, that is the basis for bidders for their submission of bids. It contained revisions to the original technical specifications included in the earlier 1st stage bidding held on December 4, 2013. The changes correspond to the outcome of planning and consultation for more than 2 years since the DND determined the 6 complying bidders eligible to continue on the later stages.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering's FFX-2 design (above), and Hyundai Heavy Industries' HDF-3000 design (below) remains a favorite, but modifications might be needed.

But there is no confirmation if the tender would be a repeat of the 1st stage bidding in the past, or if this is for the 2nd stage bidding assuming the 1st stage done last 2013 was considered good. For discussion's sake, we presume that this is the 2nd stage, with the 6 proponents from 2013 still vying for the project.

For continuous information and deeper information, MaxDefense suggests that readers go through earlier blog entries related to this project, listed as follows:

1. An In-Depth Look at the Philippine Navy Frigate Program of 2013 - an initial analysis made by MaxDefense in the absence of technical specifications, and basing it on the capabilities found on the Maestrale-class frigates.

2. Philippine Navy Frigate Acquisition Project - An Analysis of the 1st-Stage Bidding Specifications - discusses the background of the project, the initial technical specifications released by the PN and DND, and an analysis of what can be expected based on these information.

3. Updates on Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition: 6 Bidders Qualified for the 2nd Bid Stage - discussed the pre- and post- bidding results of the 1st stage bidding done on December 2013, and an analysis of what the bidders could be offering.

4. A Frigate for $200 Million for the Philippine Navy? Why Not! - a discussion on why MaxDefense believes the budget allocated by the DND might provide the PN with a frigate-like ship in some way or another.

Most of the SBB contained revisions to the Technical Specifications (TS), and this new version actually is more specific to what the Philippine Navy needs, and replaced or updated several clauses. MaxDefense believes that most are improvements and are self-explanatory in nature for those who have some understanding to the project. But for discussion's sake, let's put MaxDefense's opinion in print with the blog entry.

Previous reports and discussions have confirmed that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), one of the qualified bidders from South Korea, originally offered a derivative of their HDF-3000 design in which the Incheon-class frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy was derived.

Hyundai Heavy Industry (HHI) may need to tweak their HDF-3000 design (basis for Incheon-class frigate) to meet certain requirements of the Philippine Navy, including the use of CODAD configuration for the propulsion, and the need for space for a VLS system. 

Also, based on the website of Navantia, a qualified bidder from Spain, it appears that they have previously offered a derivative of their Avante 2200 Combatant design, which came from a design family for corvettes and offshore patrol vessels. It is still possible that Navantia will offer their larger LF-4000 Light Frigate design with some revisions to meet the PN requirement.

Navantia has offered the Avante 2200 Combatant design (above) to the Philippine Navy, but meeting the requirements based on the new SBB may also need some rework by Navantia. Another alternative but something that may be costly is the LF-4000 light frigate design (below).
Photos taken from Navantia's product brochures.

Garden Reach Shipbuilding & Engineering (GRSE) was also quoted in previous reports that they have offered a derivative design based on the Indian Navy's Kamorta-class large anti-submarine corvette which is closer to that of a light frigate designs.

The Kamorta-class large anti-submarine corvette of the Indian Navy, built by GRSE. A derivative of this design was said to be the one offered to the Philippine Navy.

Recently STX France also released a revised design for their New Generation Floreal Frigate (NGFF) design, which is has a basic specification that is very close to the PN Frigate's requirements.

STX France has refreshed their design for the New Generation Floreal Frigate (NGFF), which MaxDefense believes was offered by them to the Frigate Acqusition Project. 

The 2 other bidders, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and STX of South Korea has not made any previous press release on what design they have offered to the DND-PN, but both are expected to be using derivatives from late designs.

DSME could be offering a design based on stealthier derivative of the DW-2500 frigate design (above) or a larger version of the corvette design (below) they offered to Malaysia last year. The DW-3000 FFX-2 design might also be possible but it chances of being offered is slim as it is a more expensive design that might not fit the budget.

Technical Specifications Re-Unwrapped:

Majority of the clauses remain exactly the same, or with only rewording made to further define and clarify what the DND meant. 

1. Increased Sea State for Operations:

Previously the TS specified that the ship must be capable of withstanding Sea State 6 (or with waves height maximum of 6 meters) based on the World Meteorological Organization's Sea State Code. It was now increased to withstanding up to Sea State 7 (or with wave height maximum of 9 meters). This improves the survivability of the ship in bad weather, as well as improving its seakeeping capability.

The SBB also defined the operating environment of the ship's systems, and everything remained the same to not have degradation of ASuW, AAW, and EW capability at Sea State 5, Helicopter Operations at Sea State 4, and RHIB operations at Sea State 3. The only change was on the requirement for ASW stated to not degrade at Sea State 4.

2. Ship's Length and Displacement Defined, Performance Remains the Same:

The SBB provided a minimum figure for the ship's required length, now indicated to be at least 95-meters long. The previous TS only stated as per function of design as long as it meets the overall requirements. Breadth and depth remains to be dependent on the ship's overall design according to the shipbuilder

The displacement was also indicated now to be at least 2,000 tons

This is quite a surprise since MaxDefense believes that they should have specified a longer length and larger displacement for the frigate, at least equal or greater than 105-meters long and displaces at least 2,300 tons. Contemporary frigate designs are somewhere in this size, which allows the ship to accommodate more space for futureproofing requirements which will be discussed later on in this entry.

Performance-wise, the frigate will still have a 4,500 nautical mile minimum range @ 15 knots cruising speed. Maximum continuous speed is at 25 knots minimum but it should be at 85% Maximum Continuous Rating for 24 hours (page 3). This means that the ship could have a higher maximum speed than 25 knots for short-time sprints when needed.

3. Changes on the Environmental Conditions: 

The Ambient Operating Conditions for the ships were changed dramatically (page 4). Previously it corresponded to tropical operating conditions, but are now changed to allow the ship to operate in colder weather as well.

This could be an item that was corrected from before due to the ability of ships to normally operate in cold weather, although it could also support the additional statement in the ship's capability clause that it would be able to perform in joint maritime operations, probably with allied or friendly countries in regions outside the tropics.

4. Hull Form and Layout Defined, and Allocation of Space for VLS and TASS:

There were changes in the clause for hull form and layout, adding the emphasis for stealthiness and availability of spaces and power requirements for fitted for but not with (FFBNW) items (page 4, 6-7), particularly an 8-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) for surface-to-air missile (SAM) and Towed Array Sonar System (TASS) (page 6-7). MaxDefense believes that the VLS space could be behind the main gun, while the TASS is normally at the stern after the helicopter landing deck.

In addition to space, the SBB also specified the need for the power supply to be sufficient enough to not only meet the current requirements of the ship, but also in anticipation of the addition of a VLS and TASS systems in the future (page 9). The dimensions are closer to the requirements to install the 8-cell Mk.41 VLS Self-Defense Module from Lockheed Martin rather than the SYLVER VLS from France.

The absence of these systems was anticipated due to the budget allocated. It could also provide details on the presence of TASS acquisition as part of Horizon 2 phase of the Philippine Navy's modernization program.

The dimensions provided in the SBB appears to be close to the dimensions of the standard 8-cell Mk.41 VLS, which can be used to launch the ESSM missile. 

5. Propulsion Layout Defined:

The SBB now specifically indicated that the preferred propulsion layout for the frigates is the Combined Diesel and Diesel (CODAD) configuration. This is a departure from the CODOG found in the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates sourced from the US. 

The decision might be based on previous reports on the consumption expenses of gas turbine fuel which normally are more expensive per gallon, and are consumed faster than diesels. But this also means that the frigates should have enough space for 4 diesel engines, which are normally larger in dimension that gas turbines. This configuration also supports the required maximum speed of only a minimum of 25 knots, which is lower than conventional frigate designs of around 28 knots and up.

Here is a simple diagram showing the basic idea of how a CODAD (above) and CODOG (below) works. The new frigate is prefered as a CODAD design, while the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigate uses the CODOG configuration.

6. Emphasis on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Protection:

Not indicated in the old TS, the SBB now requires the ship to have the capability to work in an area contaminated with Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical agents. The ships should have NBC citadels or protected areas, wash-down and decontamination systems, and NBC protective equipment for crew (page 12).

Proponents are required to provide NBCprotected areas, decontamination systems, and protective gear for the warship's crew and enable the ship to fight in such conditions.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

7.  Tactical Data Link:

The shipbuilder must provide a tactical data link and appropriate radio for tactical communication, while also providing space and and readiness to accept Link 16 and Link 22, which appears to be installed separately by the Philippine Navy. 

The use of anti-air warfare Link 16 and maritime data Link 22 enables the ships to be interoperate with military units from the US or allies using similar systems. It also means that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would be standardizing its tactical data links to these systems.

Previously the old TS indicated that the AFP is still in the process of choosing the TDL it would be using, although there were already indications that Link 16 will be used by the FA-50PH and AW-109E aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. 

8. Gun Systems: 

8a. Primary 76mm Gun

The main gun was previously identified as a 76mm naval gun, but is now determined to have a 120 rounds/min capability (page 31). Our previous analysis indicated that it could be a battle between Oto Melara and Hyundai Wia, which both produces a 76mm naval gun system. But Hyundai Wia's model has a ROF of 100 rounds/min, well below the requirement. Oto Melara's 76/62 Super Rapid complies with the 120 rounds/min spec. Although not indicated, a stealth shield would probably be offered.

The primary gun should have its own fire control radar with built-in electro-optical tracking system, integrated to the Combat Management System (CMS), and can track surface, air, and missile targets at a minimum of 30 knots, Mach 1, and Mach 3, respectively (page 33).

The Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid gun appears to be the only choice due to Hyundai WIA's gun not reaching the required rate of fire. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

8b. Secondary Guns:

For the secondary gun/s, it was previously indicated to be a minimum of 1 remote stabilized gun, but the SBB specified it to have a caliber between 30mm to 40mm (page 31). This is a departure from the use of 25mm remote stabilized gun in Philippine Navy ships, specifically the Mk.38 Mod.2 used in the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, and the MSI Seahawk guns mounted on the Jacinto-class corvettes. 

A separate electro-optical tracking system shall be provided for the secondary gun, and must be integrated as well to the CMS (page 33).

Korean shipbuilders can source theirs as Hyundai Wia manufactures a 40mm naval gun, while other options for them may include the newly developed Mk.38 Mod.3 naval gun produced by BAE Systems and Rafael using a 30mm gun from ATK, or the Mk.46 Mod.2 gun weapon system similar to those installed on the Freedom and Independence-class LCS that uses the Bushmaster II 30mm gun. Being a Mk.38 user, the Philippine Navy may prefer the Mk.38 Mod.3 design although the proponents are free to choose their designated system as long as they are within the specs.

Heavy machine gun requirements remain at a minimum of 4 units, probably manual operated (page 31).  The Philippine Navy normally use the Browning M2 50-caliber machine guns for its naval requirements.

The Philippine Navy might be interested in the Mk.38 Mod.3 30mm RCW gun built by BAE Systems and Rafael, but proponents might be given a free hand to choose what gun they would offer as long as it is within the technical specifications.

Korean proponents might take advantage to promote home-grown products like the Hyundai WIA 40mm naval gun, which appears to be the same gun being used on DSME's DW-2500 frigate scale model as secondary guns. Photo taken from Hyundai WIA's website.

8c. Provision for CIWS:

To avoid confusion, the SBB did not call the secondary gun system as a Close In Weapons System (CIWS), since it is now a designation for a system that will be installed in the future. The proponents are required to provide space and power requirements for a future CIWS (page 31). No mention if it would be a missile or gun based system.

MaxDefense sources previously confirmed that the Philippine Navy was trying to negotiate for the sale or transfer of refurbished Phalanx 20mm CIWS (above) from the US government. But MaxDefense hopes that the Philippine Navy consider the SeaRAM missile CIWS system (below) instead as it is more effective in defending the ship against modern and future anti-ship cruise missiles.

9. Missile & Torpedo Systems:

The DND previously announced a separating the acquisition of the weapons system from the hull, with a budget of Php 2.5 billion and Php 15.5 billion, respectively taken from the previous Php 18 billion ABC. It appears though that this is still in effect, although it is not clear if the Php 18 billion ABC was still divided for the ship and weapons, or if the DND decided to use the entire Php 18 billion for the ship, while a separate acquisition project for the ammunition (missiles and gun rounds) will be made.

Thus as indicated on theSBB, only the launchers will be provided by the proponents with the ship. This applies for the anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as the torpedoes.

Further support to this is the removal of the number of ammunitions required to be provided by the proponent (page 50).

Also, it was not specified that the missiles must be supplied by manufacturers have a Memorandum of Understand (MOU) on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation with the corresponding Implementing Arrangement, or has a Defense Cooperation Agreement or maintain diplomatic relations with the Philippines. MaxDefense believes that most missile manufacturers are based on countries with diplomatic ties with the Philippines, but only a few has an MOU or DCA including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Australia, Israel, Canada, India, South Korea, Japan, and China (yes, China is a defense partner of the Philippines).

Another added clause is that the missiles should be of a proven design, and not those that are still being developed.

9a. Anti-Ship Surface-to-Surface Missiles (SSM)

For the anti-ship missile system, the new TS improved the required minimum range to 150 kilometers (from 50 kilometers) and minimum cruise speed to mach 0.8 (previously defined as minimum subsonic speed). The missile must have sea-skimming capability, fire and forget, and has an active homing radar seeker and enhanced Electronic Counter Counter Measure (ECCM). The range now co confirms the type as a standard long range anti-ship missile system in the same category as the Boeing Harpoon Block II, the MBDA Exocet Block 3, LIG Nex1 SSM-700K Haeseong (C-Star), and the supersonic BrahMos missile.

The additional clauses immediately take out the possibility of having the Saab RBS-15 from Sweden (no MOU), the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile from Norway (no MOU), and the Gabriel V Advance Naval Attack Missile from Israel (which is still under development).

MaxDefense believes that the anti-ship missile requirement for the frigates will be fought between the MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 (above), the SSK-700K Haesung (middle), and the BrahMos missile (bottom), depending on the preference of the proponents. Credits to owners of the photos.

9b. Anti-aircraft Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM)

As with the SSM requirement, the additional clauses on source and use of proven design also affects the SAM requirement of the frigate.

Changes in the clauses from the old TS include the change from a single quad-launcher to two twin-launchers. This means there would be 2 trainable launchers instead of just 1. Range remains at 6 kilometers minimum, with an infra-red (IR) or semi-active homing seeker, with IR counter counter measures and/or ECCM capability.

MaxDefense believes that the DND is looking at the Mistral very short range air defense (VSHORAD) system from MBDA France using Simbad-RC launchers, or LIG Nex1's Chiron missile from South Korea, which also has a trainable remote weapons station for 2 or 4 missiles. STX France, Navantia, and Garden Reach may be in favor of using the Mistral-Simbad system, while HHI, DSME, and STX will probably be using the Chiron.

The MBDA Mistral in Simbad-RC launcher system (above) and LIG Nex1's Chiron missile system (below) are among those expected to be offered by proponents for the SAM requirement based on the specified requirements of the SBB.
Photos taken from MBDA & LIG Nex1's product brochures.

 9c. Ship-launched Lightweight Torpedoes

The ship must be installed with trainable triple-torpedo launchers on each side of the ship. The new TS does not need the proponent to supply the torpedo, but the launchers must be capable of launching specified torpedoes capable of operating from 10 to 600 meters deep, and a minimum range of 2,000 meters, with active, passive, or mixed homing guidance, and with torpedo counter countermeasures capability.

Source and being a proven design clauses as indicated for missiles is also applicable to torpedoes.

Interesting slip on the SBB was the specified storage requirement for Blue Shark air-launched torpedoes for the anti-submarine helicopter, which probably meant the Korean K745 Chung Sang Eo lightweight torpedo made by LIG Nex1. Up until the release of the SBB, it was still unclear if the DND has already chosen an air-launched torpedo tied to the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project, so the appearance of the Blue Shark is something worth considering.

It is expected though that Korean proponents may prefer to use torpedo launchers that could use the Blue Shark torpedo. MaxDefense also expects that European proponents may be looking at the Eurotorp MU90/Impact torpedo.

Both torpedoes have the same size and there were even suggestions that the Blue Shark was developed based on the MU90/Impact. Both torpedoes are said to be capable of being launched from similar torpedo launchers so there would not be an issue of compatibility.

10. Sensors Systems 

10a. Navigation Radars

The SBB now requires 2 navigation radars with solid state receivers and a minimum of 200W peak power. One is X-band, the other is S-band. The radars should have digital pulse compression and doppler processing (page 15), allowing it to have a clearer picture even in the presence of strong clutter and poor weather.

MaxDefense sources confirmed at least 1 company, Kelvin Hughes, pushing for their Sharpeye Solid-State naval navigation radar for the new frigate, but also for the Jacinto-class patrol vessel's upgrade program and for the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates. Another interesting product that could be offered is the Thales Scout Mk. 2 naval tactical radar.

It could also be possible that the proponents will only include standard commercial marine navigation radars, probably those made by Furuno or Kelvin Hughes which are cheaper but lack features that are available on tactical naval navigation radars.

The requirement for navigational radars is close to the specifications of the Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye Solid State tactical navigation radar, although commercial models can also be considered if price is an issue.

10b. Air/Surface Search Radar:

The old TS required only a 2-dimensional (2D) air search radar for range and bearing with a minimum instrumented range design of 80 nautical miles plus a separate 2D surface search radar. The SBB revised this to a 3-dimensional (3D) air and surface search solid-state radar system, with an instrumented range of 100 nautical miles for air targets and 40 nautical miles for surface targets, a minimum detection range of 200 meters, and capable of tracking up to 750 air and surface tracks (page 34).

The improvement on the radar system is drastic as 3D air/surface is now standard on most contemporary warships in the region.

MaxDefense believes that European shipbuiders (STX France and Navantia) may use the Thales Smart-S Mk.2 3D or the BAE Systems Artisan 3D air/surface search radar for their offers, although Thales appears to be at the forefront on this since it is said to be cheaper, and Thales have been in close contact with the Philippine Navy for several years now in marketing the Smart-S Mk.2 system for the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates and even the Tarlac-class LPD. 

Korean shipbuilders (HHI, DSME, and STX) may opt to use the LIG Nex1 FFX 3D radar fitted in their Incheon-class frigates, or the Israeli EL/M-2238 STAR naval 3D radar from IAI-Elta. Garden Reach may also opt to use the EL/M-2238 radar as it has done for Indian Navy ships.

The Thales Smart-S Mk.2 (above), the LIG Nex1 FFX Radar (middle) and the IAI-Elta EL/M-2238 STAR 3D radar (below) are among those expected to be offered by the proponent bidders to fulfill the 3D Air/Surface Search Radar requirement based on the new SBB.

10c. SONAR System:

The SBB now indicate that it should operate in Medium Frequency during active mode, and Low Frequency during passive mode. It should also be capable of operating in coastal or littoral waters. An addition is on the Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) system that can be used in ASW to identify the impact of temperature on sonar propagation and acoustic range prediction. 

Among those required by the DND to provide space and power requirement for future is for a Towed Array Sonar, which would be acquired separately.This was not present in the previous TS.

11. Electronic Warfare:

Not much changes were made on the requirements for Electronic Support Measures (ESM), and the Decoy Launching System requirements remains the same, with a minimum of 6 tubes per each side of the ship, with at least 3 decoys for missiles and 3 for torpedoes (page 36).

12. Combat Management System:

An addendum found on the SBB for this item is that the CMS should be a proven design that is being used by at least 1 frigate of the manufacturer's country of origin, or at least by 1 frigate each from 2 other foreign countries. Prototypes or still in-development CMS will not be accepted by for the project (pages 36-37)

Thales' TACTICOS appears to be at the forefront of CMS products globally, and might be the choice of Navantia and STX France, as well as by Garden Reach, STX, DSME and HHI if their indigenous CMS systems are not accepted.

13. Helicopter Support:

The SBB now includes a dimension for the landing deck, at least 21.8m long  x 13.5m wide, and should be able to support a 12-ton helicopter class. It is also now required to have a deck landing grid with a diameter of at least 2.75 meters, and withstand tensions of at least 12 metric tons. This allows for helicopter launching or landing to be possible even in poor weather.

 The flight deck is also required to have a rail-less traversing system for securing the helicopter from the hangar to the flight deck (pages 37-38).

The hangar is now specified too to be able to house a 10-ton class helicopter, with a free space of 15.6 meters long x 7.24 meters wide x 5.7 meters high (pages 38-39).

It is also apparent that the specified requirements for the helicopter support equipment is very specific now, and has clarified a lot of items that were not indicated before in the old TS. An aviation shop requirement was also included now, which would be adjacent to the hangar (page 47).

The deck landing grid (above) and the harpoon from the helicopter that grips with the deck landing grid to secure the helicopter (below). Top photo taken from DCNS website.

The diagram taken from the SBB shows the minimum hangar dimensions, and lashing of the ASW helicopter. The helicopter used in the diagram is actually the AgustaWestland AW-159 Wildcat, which is now undergoing post-qualification inspections before a Notice of Award is provided.

14. Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat and Operation Support:

The RHIB is now identified as a 7-meter long class, with accommodations for a minimum of 10 people, can run at least 30 knots, and have mounting for a 50-caliber machine gun.

15. Design Ownership Advantage:

Among the most interesting part of the SBB is the presence of a clause that allows builder to either grant the ownership of the frigate's design to the Philippine Navy, or grant a license to the Philippine Navy to manufacture/build the design.

This means that this would allow the Philippine Navy to use the same design again to build for the projected additional frigates without having to pay for additional costs of using the same again with the proponent. This could even allow for local manufacture of succeeding ships, similar to what the Indonesians got for acquiring the Makassar-class LPD from Daesun Shipbuilding of South Korea.

Separate Acquisition of Ammunition:

The absence of the ammunition requirements in the SBB as opposed to the previous TS means that they would be acquired in a different program and timeline, as they require shorter period of time to produce and deliver and will be supplied by different manufacturers. But nonetheless, they should be ready before the ship is launched to avoid a disaster similar to what the Philippine Air Force's FA-50PH fleet experienced. Once the ships are ready, it is only a matter of time before the live ammunitions are required for training, familiarity, and readiness to any unwanted or unexpected situations.

Since the proponents will be the one doing the offer for specific guns and launchers, the acquisition of ammunition may not need undergo tender process, except for the primary, secondary, and machine gun ammunition. If the PN is already decided in acquiring the Blue Shark torpedo for the ASW helicopters, it could also mean they might have already been decided in using the Blue Shark for the frigates too.

What Do We Expect:

With the DND already scheduled the tentative bid submission and opening schedule to February 16, 2016, even after delays it is already certain the project is underway and will be awarded soon, probably within the 1st quarter of the year. MaxDefense sees the deadline as too close to the SBB releasing, so expect changes in the bid submission schedule.

With the information on the frigate project being too tight, everything can still happen under the sun especially on the designs being offered by the proponents. Of course MaxDefense hopes that that the PN get the best within its budget, but expect strong political and commercial efforts exerted by foreign governments and companies to happen. This project is just the beginning, and if we follow the revised Horizon plans of the PN to be followed, we are expecting 5 more new guided-missile frigates to be awarded within the next few years.

MaxDefense also expects that once the awarding is made, we can have a clear picture of what to expect if the Philippine Navy proceeds with their plan to upgrade the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates, and the upcoming Pohang-class corvette (which probably would be getting either Korean or French systems). This is due to the concept of commonality in its systems, especially that the PN is new to modern naval systems and would not want to complicate things by having more than 1 type for each module.

The awarding of the frigate will benefit the Philippine Navy's other ships, including the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates (above), and the upcoming Pohang-class corvette (below), if upgrade programs are to proceed later on.


March 23, 2016:

MaxDefense received several confirmation from its various sources within the DND and the Philippine Navy, that the March 17, 2016 schedule for the bid submission and opening for Frigate Acquisition Project pushed through. 

Out of the six original bidders that passed the 1st stage bidding held more than a year ago, only four submitted a bid. These four companies are Navantia of Spain, Garden Reach Shipbuilding & Engineering (GRSE) of India, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea, and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea.

Of the four bids, only two were considered by the DND as responsive, those from GRSE and HHI. In the end, GRSE was declared the lowest calculated responsive bidder for the project, with HHI declared the second lowest. It is expected that the DND and Philippine Navy will be conducting the Post Qualification stage as early as possible. Should GRSE fail during the post qualification stage, GRSE's bid will be considered disqualified, and HHI will be given the chance to try and pass the post qualification stage.

It was discussed before in the MaxDefense blogs that GRSE was offering a derivative of the Indian Navy's Kamorta-class large anti-submarine corvette, with design changes in the superstructure to accommodate requirements specified by the Philippine Navy. GRSE was also reported to collaborate with French defense company Thales to supply the TACTICOS Combat Management System. 

Meanwhile, HHI has offered a derivative of their HDF-3000 series frigates, which was also the design used for the Incheon-class frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy. There were changes made by HHI to the design also to fit in the requirements specified by the Philippine Navy, as well as changes on propulsion from the standard CODOG used by the original design, to CODAD as specified by the PN.

It is expected that the project will be awarded to the winning bidder before Pres. Aquino steps down from office. 

MaxDefense will update this blog entry as more information becomes available.


  1. GO navy GO! hahahaha.. we will the strongest navy in ASIA!

    1. It seems that us being the strongest Navy in Asia will be easier said than done. (China is the strongest Navy in Asia. Not being pro-China but, it is true.)

    2. Thanks for preppin this detailed information. Worthy to thank as well is Pres. Aquino for reviving our Armed Forces to have a credible defence or offence capability

    3. Good work on this, detailed information as possible. Thanks to PNoy that we're getting these hardwares

    4. Hi Bernaf, it depends on how you look at it. China may have the most number of combatants and ships in the region but remember that they are rather inexperienced too.

    5. Nakakahiya ang sobrang pagiging fanboi mo.

    6. +Paul Ole...what's the use of experience if technology can match it up? even an army with the skill of shaka zulu can not withstand a nuclear explosion not that i'm saying that china will resort to all out assault

    7. +Paul Ole...What's the use of experience if technology can match it up quite frankly exceed the level. Even an army with the skill of Shaka Zulu cannot withstand a nuclear blast, though china resorting to all out war seems unlikely.

    8. To all the people who thanked pnoy, pres. Pnoy was doing his job, I do not know if he deserved the praise for doing what a president should have done in the first place.

      Ramos initiated the modernization, but was stopped due to Asian financial crisis. I do not know if the modernization can get through even if we have that crisis. However, if the Military/political analysts are doing their job at that time(Ramos), they would have come up with today's aggressive China. And then with that aggression, Ramos would have decided to arm the AFP with a minimal defense posture focused on the west Philippine sea(SCS). But they do not do their job.

      Now Pnoy was at least doing his job as a commanding officer. So thank him for that if he really deserve for _just_ doing his job.

    9. PH Shipbuilders are not capable of building corvettes, destroyers and many advanced warships. We are only capable of building commercial ships, cargo ships or passenger ships or yachts.
      However, there are local shipbuilders such as the one listed above = Propmech Corporation, where it claimed can build patrol boats for military applications including the coast guard.

  2. DAMNNNNNNN Im not the first!!!!!

    Good writing Sir Max!!!!

    - Sebastian

  3. Wow na wow after the first 2 5 more coming on the coming years.frigate with muscles.yes!!!

  4. i hope walang masyadong obstacle para ma award na before Pinoy exit as CinC. Good luck and god blees PN.

  5. Sana madaliin naman yung pag bili ng bagong barko natin

  6. I have nothing really against the Indians, but on my experience working with them, they often boast and exaggerate. They'll promise you something (with conviction) but in reality they're not sure if they can deliver. They'll sell a domestic cat as if it's a tiger.

    I'm in favor of Navantia, but I wouldn't mind the other bidders from winning, except of course for GSRE.

    - Kupaloids

    1. Kupaloids, your observations are not isolated. It's almost a universal fact in multinational companies. There are good Indians too. And when they excel, they are well respected in their field.

    2. Hi Kupaloids, true true true. I think even their kamortas ran into some mechanical issues before

    3. as an indian I sure have ample reasons to blush at the praise being showered on us here :D

      lolzz no disrespect but a little self introspect is advised here,

      anyways with the kamorta that developed some mechanical difficulty , it was the first of its class undergoing rigorous sea trials , so this type of problem is expected which is the exact reason of the rigorous sea trials , ie to iron out the kinks isn't it?
      this is the norm worldwide if u did not know that.

      anyways may the best ship win the competition.
      I would prefer the south Koreans :D
      best option for Philippines
      ship acquisition has to factor in lots of other factors other than weapons, sensors, propulsion etc like life support costs , ease of transfer of TOT and subsequent hand holding for its absorptions into the hundreds of local small / medium scale industries together with quality control at production level etc etc.

      the south Koreans r better experienced at this plus the comfort zone of Philippines is in tune with the south Koreans due to the active support of the same.

      so gentlemen's
      so long
      plz forgive the blushing's :D

      @max Montero
      how ru
      the lone ranger carries on:D
      respect to u.

      as to the komortas

  7. We just need enough deterrent to prevent war and not go to war with anyone. Peace will serve us more than war but we should be ready anytime.

  8. Now were talking..
    A very entertaining/informative blog sir max defense

  9. Sir max who do you think among our local shipbuilder is capable on building this frigate?

  10. This maybe another exercise in futility, with the elections just around the corner the next administration may not be to keen in modernizing our embattled military. Consider this scenario should Binay or Defensor wins. I hope I'm wrong but God help us all if I'm not.

  11. It is deemed possible. If it was the case upon the deeper analysis of this blog, I should go either to Navantia's Avante 2200 or HHI's Incheon variant.

  12. Hi Max, does "commonality" also apply to the 5 new missile frigate the PN intends to get? What I mean is whatever design we acquire now will be the same for the next frigate acquisition that the PN will have or does the PN prefer different designs since we are used to having multiple platforms from donated assets?

  13. all bidders frigate offers are good contenders for the Philippine navy frigate project but only Navantia Avante 2200 combatant and LF-4000 have meet the approve budget(P18 Billion pesos/ $400 million dollars)of the Philippine navy frigate project.. the rest frigate contenders price are over the approved budget of the PN frigate project..

  14. hi sir max, nice piece again...
    to PN, way to go... whatever supplier wins the project this must satisfied the needs and requirements of PN.
    for me all additional warships, aircraft,etc. for our troops are most welcome...this will enhance our defense capability.

  15. It is still talk to talk until I see an order form signed. This is a big project and people like ireberri and the upcoming politicians in this year's election can threw a monkey wrench in the machinery just to disrupt it. I still don't believe the Philippines has the will to create her own warships. If I recall we bought the blueprints of the Peacock class corvettes and still not one is produced much less to say an upgrade on the existing vessels. When will this country will have a backbone and show at least some pride to itself and its armed forces. It's all just talk and in the planning stage only.

  16. Let me ask sir Max...

    Is Navantia's LF-4000 within our budget and specs?

    1. Specs, yes. Budget, i dont know. We dont have a good figure for LF-4000's possible cost except that it definitely costs more than the Avante 2200 Combatant

  17. the recent strengthening of the US dollar may have had an influence on AFP DND decisions. so it's probable that the whole 18billion would be allocated for purchasing the frigates alone. and the missiles and ammo would be procured with a separate budget in the future.

  18. North Korean Rocket heading north of the Philippines. I think the government should be serious about this, we don't have a capable Air Defense. What if the rocket debris fell on major cities? that would be catastrophic.

    1. With EDCA, it would be temporarily possible for the PH to have the US military's missile system detects incoming ballistic missile and shoot it down.

  19. does the "commonality" ends with the weapons/weapons system? Or the PN will try to have the same design when acquiring future frigates? Or will be different platforms since the PN is used on operating different ship models?

  20. Sir Max, does the SBB and TS specified the configuration of the frigates, is it in GP, ASuW, ASW, AAW variant? What is the main purpose for the VLS, is it for Anti-Surface or Anti-Air?

  21. I am most Excited with this event

    I however hope that our leftist congressman and senators would not further delay this project

  22. nice..... go for it....
    we must choose president wisely, probably not a communist pro... di lang puro tapang...

  23. What is not present in any acquisition analysis re PN-FAP is the basis of the preference/awarding the bid. Is the RA 9184 would be applied as the usual basis which is the Lowest Calculated Bid (LCB)? or is there any scheme under the RA 10349 that the PN-FAP can be awarded to (bidder) based on the merits of what are the advantages of the articles offered rather than the bid price?

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Max, the above is just spam linking to some website trying to get better SEO results. You should delete it.

  26. The Navy has imposed on itself as a mere auxiliary of the US Navy with these specs, not a fighting naval force for Filipinos. The Navy is fighting a war based on the Western model, mostly American. The problem with this is we don't have the money the West have and their kind of wars are expensive to prosecute.

    These people has neglected the Filipino national defense with their performance. With the same amount of money, we would have now at least 1 rehabilitated Maestrale frigate patrolling our seas. 3 rehabilitated Maestrales rather than 2 smaller frigates both susceptible to cheap Silkworm missiles.

    These people should now resign if they insist on expensive easily neutralized assets that will not arrive in less than 3 years. They better improve now the present naval assets that we have.

    Not mere auxiliaries of the US Navy with their colonized minds that will endanger the Filipino nation.

    1. Woah!? Goin' political? Keep that topic elsewhere BRO, you sound like a communist if you say that "Colonized minds", your making PN like a side kick to America.

    2. you have a point on your post, this is the problem with us they want a "credible force" but cannot really provide it. Say, whats the point on wasting money on less useful military products.

      If they really want a "strong credible force" then buy something that poses a real threat the enemies of our state.

    3. the problem is PN cannot maintain sophisticated warships.............because of unstable funding from the should also consider the maintenance cost of the ships aside from procurement cost alone.

    4. Hey..have you considered..that the specifications is not centered only to the American Navy? but to the other "Allied ASIAN countries" as well? Korea..Japan....etc...

      It is critical that we can cooperate with them and likewise with them when needed.

      Suppress your "Talangka Mentality"...dude... You cannot survive alone on this game.. you have to influence and friends.....

  27. Procurement of missile systems and CIWS will remain a challenge, as far as modernization in general is concerned. I can't help but think that the new frigates will start off as "glorified gunboats" (quoting one Timawan) when the Navy receives it. The "fitted for but not with" approach may fit our budget needs, but it can undermine the new frigate's ability for force projection the longer it stays like this.

    1. That's why it is dependent on the PN's ability to immediately source the funds while awarding the contract immediately to the prefered manufacturer of VLS and TASS.

    2. true but they can arm and fit it with missile systems gradually as budget allows. they should also start arming all PN ships with missiles to keep up with modern times for Christ sake.

    3. I think there are funds available. its just a matter of political will. that's why this China's invasion of the the Spratlys is a blessing to the AFP modernization. the modernization is still slow but its moving.

  28. STX France & Navantia are nice design..

  29. a modified incheon class is the winner of this frigate. it is equipped with 76 mm deck gun and a 8 cell vls at the back of the deck gun. a refurbished ciws is being pallned to installed.

  30. how about equipping our navy ships with ship borne laser? its cheaper than missiles and might have better deterrent.

    1. Suntok sa buwan na suggestion, isip ka muna bago ka magsuggest... even the US Navy has this on development stage...

      Even have you considered the cost?...Sus Maria Josefa!!!!..tsk..tsk

    2. Yes, a laser weapon is cheaper and every fire will only cost a few dollars or less. With missiles, it will cost hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars per launch.

      Unfortunately, laser weapon is still under active development, and the Research And Development to create this cheaper weapon is expensive. But once operational, it is very cheap to operate.

      At least there is only one military in the world who operated a nearly operational laser weapon called iron beam. So the idea of fitting a directed energy weapon system to any warship is not far fetched as long as the source is willing to sell or share it, thus enabling us to acquire the weapon without the expensive R&D phase.

  31. Sir Max, I have a question that really needs an answer!


  32. I seriously doubt that no one can meet 8 bil. ceiling per platform without ammunition. PHP has plunged against USD gradually since 2012, when RFP was issued. Dragging this project till now was not a good choice....

    Scope of LIG nex1 would be limited I guess. SSM is ok but Blueshark is doubtful (operating depth) and SAM might not applicable now...

    Seriously, this project can be postponed again to the next regime.

  33. Is it just me or Vietnam just buy the Israel rocket system that Philippine cancel (thanks Gen. Helmet)?

  34. For sure it will be the Koreans to won this biding.

  35. This specs and the budget offered seems absurd for me

  36. can we crowd source/fund this?

  37. It would be better if PN to choose 2 (two) new units of FREMM in the next bidding rather than 3 candidates ...

    FREMM will have capabilities to face PLA "Head to Head" at SCS ...

  38. Is it true that the budget was reduced to Php 16b?

  39. Too many ask for within tight budget..a gun frigate is what PN get with that budget instead of missile frigate the cost of missile frigate with heli and with ASW is 300 million USD a piece..I bet the tender will be amend or just for the sake of political agenda

  40. Why is it the surface surveillance radar have no anti jamming capability? Is a purely navigational radar therefore it could easily be jammed in war time scenario. Navigational radars have weakness on the probability of detection of small RCS target at sea states condition and strong rain clutters. War time scenario the enemy operates with the existence of different sea state and clutters conditions.

  41. why is too long to post the next blog???

  42. Hi Sir Max!

    Maybe the Saab Sea Giraffe AMB 3D radar and 9LV combat management system should be included as part of possible options that will be looked at by DND and PN. Saab produces good products that can compete with the likes of Thales and IAI. Who knows if the Swedish will be able to come up with a competitive offer that DND and PN would opt for Saab products such as the RBS-15 anti-ship missile, Sea Giraffe AMB 3D radar and 9LV CMS to satisfy some of its requirements?

  43. Frigate that cannot defend itself!!! so its useless at all....

    frigate with 1 cannon and machineguns as usual....

    And the bias newscaster will call it....WARSHIPS...hahaha

    What an idiot newscaster they are......u can call me bitter? but..... Truth hurts right?

  44. sir max what are the repercussions of the moving of the bid opening to march 17 with regards to regulations regarding midnight deals? Are you still positive that the navy will be able to award the contract before elections?

  45. Hi Sir Max. Thanks for this detailed information regarding the latest TS of PN Light Frigate Acquisition Project. I just have one question and please kindly help me to clarify this, from my understanding in this article the frigate TS calls for VLS in FFBNW configuration and there will be also a SAM launcher in 2-twin launcher config, so does this mean this Future PN Light Frigate will have all of this Anti-aircraft Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) as part of their offensive/defensive weapon system? And is the SAM 2-twin launcher will be in FFBNW config also? Thanks and more power!

  46. I think on surface radar there is a lapse of judgement with regard to technical specifications made by the TWG. The TWG indicated on the COR can with stand up to sea state 7 of operation. Navigational radars could not detect small radar cross section target. You cannot just use your 3D radar everytime you will operate because you can be easily seen and analyze by the enemy. I hope the TWG would analyze further for future threats scenario.

  47. It is good news to see this is moving along. PN is acquiring newer frigates, and acquiring more Hamilton Class Cutters from the US - I hope with the upcoming third they could add/request two more to bridge the gap and maybe court the germans to release up Bremen Class being decomissioned to the PN.

  48. it is confirm if grse of india win in the bid?

    1. Not yet win, the was confirmed as the lowest calculated responsive bidder.

  49. Sir Max,

    When searching for info on the current Indian Kamorta class load out, all I see when it comes to missiles is the Barak SAM, no mention of Ashms, I'm assuming the Kamorta class can carry the Brahmos missile. My questions are the following:

    1. Any news if DND is pursuing Brahmos missiles?
    2. How many Brahmos missiles do you think our Frigate can accommodate?
    3. If ever PH gets the Brahmos, what are the chances China can interfere with our procurement?
    4. Brahmos is a heavy missile, I could understand SBMS with Brahmos, but for air launched AShms, we may need a smaller one. So are we looking at 2 types of AShms for the AFP? Are we looking at a Brahmos-Exocet combo?

    - Koofaloids

    1. The use of BrahMos is still questionable, considering that GRSE was working together with Thales for the PN offer. The requirement is for the frigate to have at least 4 AShM, but it is possible that up to 8 can ve fitted. If BrahMos is chosen, China can't do anything as India is happy to sell it to anyone, especially on countries who have conflicts with China.

    2. The Indian navy's Kamorta class are dedicated Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvettes and so not armed with the Brahmos. They are on their frgates that are much larger (5,000 tons plus).

      The GRSE bid is based on a derivative of te Kamorta but I'm not sure if the Brahmos is on the table for PN.

  50. info regarding kamorta

    in indian service kamorta is classified as an anti submarine warfare corvette.

    it has a displacement of around 3400tons,a length of 109m and a beam of 13m. so it easily qualifies as a frigate.

    STEALTH (above waterline) :
    1.X-form hull with sloped superstructure sides which RCS significantly.
    2.these superstructures are made with composite material which reduces RCS and also weight.
    3.reduced IR signature is provided via integrated cooling of the exhaust tower and other tweaks .

    STEALTH (below waterline) :
    1.Raft mounted gearbox and engines, to dampen the vibrations and reduce the acoustic signature of the ship.
    2.CODAD propulsion also leads to quieter operations.
    3.degaussing/deperming for almost nil magnetic signature.

    noise and vibration reduction was a piority in the kamorta.
    the various signature management control features makes it a good submarine hunter.

    regarding the brahmos installation, i would like to clarify something
    1.the brahmos in its present form is huge and weights 3 tonnes . even 4 of them will weight 12+ tonnes including the VLS. present design has no space provisions in the front or rear, but if the RBU-6000 launchers are removed then provision for 4/8 cell VLS launcher can be made.

    inclined launchers also exists maybe with some ingenuity these can be installed mid-ship.

    the coming brahmos-NG will certainly be compact enough to be fitted into kamorta.

    2.for brahmos to hit a moving, over-the-horizon target beyond the ship's own active radar horizon (AKA beyond the ship's own active sensor range) will require offboard sensors (helis,UAVs,MPA) which can detect and track the target and provide targeting data. once the targeting data is received the brahmos operates on the ‘Fire and Forget Principle’, adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target for the terminal end game phase.

    by the way all these offboard sensors are not required for static targets/land targets.

    the brahmos and its support systems costs a lot, but its pinpoint accuracy and ability to create “no go” zones for enemy ships/ military assets is worth the buck.

    me thinks it will depend on what the navy wants. can get the exocets installed mid-ship in inclined launchers no headache here.
    2.if it wants the brahmos now , then will have to modify the front fuselage for installing 4 or 8 cell VLS.
    or can install inclined 2x2 launchers mid-ship without significant modification. later mid life upgrades install the much compact brahmos-NG by replacing the Exocet or install it in the front by removing the RBU-6000 lauchers.

    this post is in reply to Koofaloids and max montero post.
    and i am in no way doing a sales-pitch lolzzz

    1. Thanks for the very informative reply lachit. Personally, my choice of ship is that of Navantia, IMHO, experience in building ships count, and I assume Navantia is the top dog among the bidders when it comes to experience.

      As for the Kamortas, it's not a bad ship, but IMHO(again), the one feature that would make it better is the capability of having 'em fire the Brahmos. So I hope PN/DND is considering this. These frigates would likely be PH main surface combatants for decades to come, so if PH is going to field a light frigate in a fight, better make sure that frigate has a puncher's chance.

      As for the inclined 2x2 launchers for the Brahmos, I have always thought this is the way PN is heading with the anti-ship missiles, If Brahmos, can be installed this way, then that's good news.

      Note: I hope PN goes ESSM for the VLS.

      - Koofaloids

  51. some info under stealth characteristics i forgot to mention,

    IRSS (infra red signature suppression)is for cooling the engine as well as the exhauts.
    the ship also incorporates active shaft grounding system and multi zone impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) for suppression of extremely low frequency electromagnetic (ELFE) signature

    the attached picture shows the options for brahmos installation only.

    i believe incheon is still in the fray and personally i would choose the incheon.

  52. Hi Sir Max. Can you confirm on what part of the Frigate Project is GRSE working with Thales? Is it on combat management systems, radars, weapons control or electronic warfare system? Thanks

    1. So far Janes confirmed on combat management systen. No confirmation if Thales will also supply other systems but it could be possible.

  53. Why is PN not considering refurbished OHP class from USN. For 400 mil you could easily get 5-6 ships with 15-20 yr life. The Brahmos also needs Russian go ahead so I would suspect it will be exocet-3 with Barak-1 thats on offer.

    The korean offer would be very good for n if they get the 6 pohang class free.

  54. Sir max any news about this? It's been months when it was released.

    1. Post qualification stage ongoing. If they dont find any problem with GRSE or its offer, it will be awarded very soon.

    2. Sorry but whats wrong with LM2500 turbines?

  55. all indication shows digong on the way to malacanang!!! goodbye to this frigate project!!!

  56. can anyone confirm this news?

    1. Because it's election time they need funds... Why they didn't buy incheon class, because it has no room for VLS? Which of these ships have more deterent? I'll go with Incheon Class.. With SSM as well as ASW and also some short range AAM/RAM, phalanx ciws, torpedoes. Kamorta on the other hand have 2 ak630 ciws a 76gun and torpedoes... That's all... No ship to ship capabilties and completly waste of tax payers money... Thanks to pnoy chinese navy can now laugh as hard as they can... Their ships posing threats to us... Not the subs.... Can the sub go near shallow waters? Niether surface combatants.. But their armaments DOES... We should buy ships with surface air underwater capabilities rather than underwater alone...

  57. The indian navy classified the kamorta class as a corvette but big enough to be a frigate. if this pushed through we can build two class of ships with this design :D a corvette and a frigate, well worth the buck.

  58. I feel Indian shivalik class should be contender not the kamotra as it offers both anti ship and anti submarine capabilities .It also offers 8 vls brahmos or VLS launched Klub cruise missiles along with two helis for anti sub operation along with other anti submarine weapons like 2 × 2 DTA-53-956 torpedo launchers
    2 × RBU-6000 (RPK-8) rocket and barak 1 and shtil for air defence.

  59. Would Ceafar/ceamount fit in the budget?


Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects