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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Acquisition of a 4th Batch of 3 MPACs for the Philippine Navy Underway

Note (March 7, 2017): Starting today, some of the future blog entries of MaxDefense Philippines will be shorter than usual. This would be an experimental system, in which a blog entry would be used if the discussion would be considered too long to post in the MaxDefense Philippines' Facebook community page post. Updates would be made on this same blog entry as more information comes in, but in the meantime, initial information would start as a short blog entry.

In line with the new administration's policy to give importance on defeating internal security threats including terrorism, insurgency, piracy, and narcotics, the Philippine Navy has also adjusted its procurement plans as part of its modernization efforts.

Based on the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon (2013-2017) 2nd List of Horizon 1, the Philippine Navy is scheduled to acquire another three (3) Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC), with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php 270 million. The ABC is very much similar to the ABCs of previous MPAC acquisition projects (without the weapons systems), which means that we could be expecting a design that is very close to the MPAC Mk.3 which was awarded to Propmech Corporation based on a design from Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. of Taiwan and currently under construction.

One of the MPAC Mk.2, which is currently the latest MPAC class in service with the Philippine Navy. The Mk.3 which is still under construction is larger and has design changes that allow it to carry RCWS and Spike-ER missile launchers.


The MPACs are currently among the fastest and nimblest assets of the Littoral Combat Force, the unit in charge of littoral operations within the Philippine Fleet. Originally planned as assault boats for fast insertion and extraction of special operation troopers in coastal areas, the boats are now used for a variety of missions including littoral patrol, ship-boarding operations, search & rescue, and with the MPAC Mk. 3 armed with Spike-ER missiles, they are now also being prepped for littoral surface warfare operations using "swarm tactics" against larger ships like corvettes or frigates, or individual combat assets against similar or slightly larger naval targets like terrorist-carrying or suicide bomber boats, or enemy fast attack crafts and patrol boats.

The MPACs, specifically the Mk. 3, are also being groomed to be carried by the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock, and any other future large amphibious platforms that the Philippine Navy will acquire in the future. Aside from the size and capacity to carry RCWS and missiles, the MPAC Mk. 3 were designed to allow its mast to fit into the LPD/SSV's well deck. It is expected that the Batch 4 will also be designed with that in mind.

It remains to be seen, but based on information gathered by MaxDefense in the past several months, it appears now that the Philippine Navy will be focusing on the acquisition of larger fast boats, which will be equipped with short range missile systems and will be classified as Fast Attack Crafts rather than using the MPAC design which is too small and cramped for operations further out to sea. MPACs are limited by its lack of living quarters, poor seakeeping on higher sea states, smaller provisions for fuel and food/water for the crew, and the troop carrying compartment which is useless during patrol operations.

MaxDefense believes that MPACs can be used on inner littorals, especially in the southern corridors in Mindanao near the borders of Indonesia and Malaysia, while larger FACs can be used for outer littoral patrols in support of larger ships of the Philippine Fleet's Offshore Combat Force.

Funding the Batch 4 MPACs:

This 4th batch of MPAC was actually approved for acquisition during the term of former Pres. Benigno Aquino III, but was among those projects that did not see the light of day as their Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) has expired without the project moving forward. But it was forwarded again by the Philippine Navy to the Department of National Defense (DND) for re-funding for 2017. With a stroke of luck, the current administration, through Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno made changes in the SARO system, which allowed the Department of Budget Managent (DBM) to allow for the SARO to be extended instead of doing the process of getting a new SARO which takes months, if not years to approve.

MPAC Mk. 4?

Since the project is still in its inception, it is still unclear if the MPAC Batch 4 will be similar in design to the MPAC Mk.3, or will it be another design in the making as MPAC Mk.4. But MaxDefense believes that it would be close to the design parameters of the MPAC Mk.3 which is able to mount remote-controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and Spike-ER missile launchers.

The MPAC Mk.3 as it appear in a description poster during the anniversary of the Philippine Fleet last 2015.
Photo taken from the former defense forum website.

Expected Weapons Systems:

Based on the proposal submitted by the Department of National Defense for the acquisition as part of the Php 25 billion AFP Modernization Program budget for 2017, the Philippine Navy was able to include the acquisition of  Combat Systems for 3 MPACs in their request for funding. This is still being pushed for approval from Malacanang, although it is already confirmed that the Php 25 billion funding for the AFP Modernization Program for 2017 will be made available by the national government. So if the Navy fails to get funding for the MPAC Combat Systems, they can still use the money for other naval projects.

But aside from the inclusion of the MPAC Combat System in the proposal for approval, MaxDefense sources already confirmed that the Philippine Navy is expected to award a contract within this year to a weapon systems manufacturer which won't name for now, to supply remote-control weapons stations for machine guns, and missile systems. Common sense shows who the supplier is.

The MPAC Batch 4 are expected to be equipped with short-range surface-to-surface missile system, just like the MPAC Mk.3. MaxDefense won't confirm the expected supplier just yet, but everyone is free to guess who it is.
Photo from

More information will be provided by MaxDefense as the project progresses and gets awarded. 

First edit and release: March 7, 2017 
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. hi sir max, i hope our navy officer will take a look at an russian Fast attack craft "the raptor" based on the above description, i think its worth looking at it.

  2. Hi your blogs are great and informative. But I don't understand what you meant by saying a new system?

  3. Buy hundred of this and equip it all with SSM. Even large warship will be scare to come close to Philippine.

    1. yea, do that and all ur boats will be obliterated by the naval helicopters and attack jets, just like in Gulfwars almost 30 years ago. Even when surviving the ATS attacks, now waits the AAM missiles, then some 100mm HE shells, then a braaaaaap from 30mm CIWS. So again, how are u gonna sink that "large ship"?

  4. This project can also serve as stop gap to fill in the role of missile firing frigates. If we can only speed up the process of acquiring it. Sir a revised plan, how many mpac 4s are needed by the PH navy?

    1. I dont think a mere FAC not even armed with a dedicated SSM will be able to stop gap a frigate.

    2. Of course, this will apply in the Philippines situation for now...where every vessel is needed (large or small) to provide security cover over its long archipelagic coastlines. Sir max here is discussing about the 4th batch of FACs that are missile-armed... and that is what Id like to point out.... any way, im asking if how many misssile-armed FACs the Ph will need?

  5. Max, are you saying the MPAC Mk3 and Mk4 will have different types of launchers? One with a gun-missile combo and the other with missiles only?

    - Kupaloids

  6. Sir Max,

    Since PN is inclined in acquiring additional MPAC, would it be feasible for them to have take a look at the Landing Ship Transport 100 of Damen ( or the Landing Ship Transport 120 ( Instead of the embarked LCVP, it can be replaced with the MPAC.Its like an aircraft carrier or helicopter carrier. But instead of planes/helos MPAC would be used.

  7. Yes sir max.....did our navy conduct a study about this tactic. Its like an aircraft carrier...but its not...its an mpac carrier. This can greatly support a fleet of ships as force multiplier even in deep sea. A swarm of missile mpacs released in a carrier can be devastating naval tactic. Of course, a carrier must also be protected by support ships against air, surface, and underwater threats.

    Another thing... tank boats from it feasible for marines use in PH?


    1. Wow, that just sounds super effective!

      Hell, its gonna be so devastating. One of the best way to pour ur money into the blue ocean. When its such a great tactic, y wouldnt any advanced navy use such tactic?

    2. Anyway its just a suggestion. Wow! Sir, thanks for the comment. You sounded like a credible defense looking forward of your detailed defense analysis here at maxdefense blog site.

    3. I would rather say that such undertandings over naval tactics doesnt even needs one to be a defense analyst. What u need is just to understand the recent paradigm of naval warfare and some case studies for past few decades.

      If u have mentioned a UUV or USV carrier vessel, that would have been sth that makes sense and is actually what those leading navys are planning to do for their future warfare.
      But a huge ass ship that only carries MPACs with mere SPIKEs only to conduct surface warfare? (Well that "surface warfare" will be nothing more than a COIN or counter narcotics. Wouldnt be able to do sth more than ascratch to chinese fleet.)

      And if gping to be used for an actual war, this ship is still gonna need ASW and AAW coverage from other dedicated vessels.

      That mister, is sth what u call it to be "dumb".

    4. Well... thank you, sir. Indeed you you have a potential to be a defense analyst. Any additional input, sir max?

    5. Swarm tactic proved to be effective if its armed with modern technology (high speed, stealth, drone, etc.) As well as accompanied by other ships and a good coastal defense system. Its not a long term tactic but more of a guerilla tactic hit and run style just what the Iran swarm boats did. There are a lot of war documentaries acknowledging the effectiveness of this tactic (like what the egyptian swarm boats did to the israeli ships). Of course in war, you attack ur enemy they least expect it. Based on studies, the country with more advanced ships/boats..they have the edge of winning( again speed, stealth, missile accuracy, comminication, drones etc). A fleet of big ships with complete cover on air, surface, and underwater will have a devastating power if u combine the power of swarm of missile boats. A swarm of boats, lets say with 1 air warfare frigate or destroyer is powerful. So imagine a fleet of upgraded del pilar frigates with a swarm of modern missile mpacs. Of course, you cannot compare the might of china to the philippines...but i think it will work in the asean region. If not a big force...but it can be a minimum credible force. It can only be a "dumb" idea if it will follow your own analysis. In defense you need everything gain advantage...even when you are outnumbered...still you can provide a deterrent. As to an "impact carrier" idea...that is really a wild idea...u can never know wat the future warfare be....But the US now(and maybe China) has been developing a swarm of flying drones (and underwater drones too) loaded in a mother of plane.

    6. My earlier comment or suggeation is about a swarm of missile mpacs in a fleet of ships with cover against air, surface and underwater threats. can only be a "dumb" idea if they will follow ur ifea of tactic. It is my wild idea because i doubt the PH can afford to have a carrier esp for mpacs. In today's naval warfare or in general, swarm tactics are effective as what the US have learned on their recent engagements with swarm boats of Iran. Swarm tactic is very much and stll a part of modern warfare today. In fact, they are making it more powerful with the recent appearances of stealth, drones, robotics etc tech. Any way, i still need the input of sir max about well as his comment on the feasibility of tank boats being incorporated in our amphibious marine warfare? Thank you.

    7. And again another wild about a swarm of missile armed drone boat/semisubmersible boat or underwater drones in a specially equip carrier supporting also a fleet of ships with complete air surface underwater defense ...i doubt the PN can afford a swarm of drones?

  8. Indeed, those mpacs looks rather like a brown water, coast gaurd boats for vast coastlines of philipinnes, not an actuall surface warfare asset, just like wat max wrote in his article.
    I just dont understand y some ppl tend to use these boats as a naval deterrenf asset against china or othe neighbouring countries. SSM people, SSM.
    What philipinnes first need is a dedicated SSM and a naval aircraft to find the opfor ships and data link it to the SSM batteries. Let those mpacs do its intended job. War is unlikely to just break out tomorrow and even when it does, hundread MPACs with SPIKE wouldnt stop the chinese coming.

  9. it's good in all but i think the navy should look at 900 meters or 500 meter ships for that kind of tactic

  10. Sir max, why they equipt the MPAC 4 with small missile if they can equipt it with medium size so the range become wider

  11. i think these babies are intended to be used against abu sayyaf/other insurgents and not against the chinese navy, it would be really dumb if they intend to use it against opfor navy


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