Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Austal leads Philippine Navy's OPV Acquisition Project!

SecDef Lorenzana confirms Austal is still the preferred OPV supplier for the PN

The Philippine Navy commissions its 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate!

The Philippine Navy welcomes BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), its newest frigate!

The Philippine Navy selects Shaldag Mk. V for Fast Attack Interdiction Craft!

The DND has awarded the FAIC-M Acquisition Project to Israel Shipyards

The Philippine Air Force wants more Black Hawk helicopters!

The Philippine Air Force asks for more Black Hawks to allow the retirement of their Bell UH-1 Huey fleet

The Philippine Army orders the Sabrah Light Tank System from Israel!

Israel's Elbit Systems was declared the winner to supply light tanks to the PA

The Philippine Air Force receives full order of Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 UAVs!

All 9 Hermes 900 and 4 Hermes 450 MALE UAVs have been received by the PAF!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Philippine Army Negotiates to Acquire Used K136 Kooryong MLRS from South Korea

The Philippine Army (PA) has always been longing to have Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) in its inventory, as it found such system to be good in providing large amounts of projectiles fired at the same time at a specific area. Such concentration of firepower can only be achieved by either large numbers of gun-based artillery systems firing together.

During previous Balikatan Joint Military Exercises with the US Military, the US Army displayed the firepower capabilities of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, to the Philippine military top brass. While the Philippine Army wanted such system in its inventory, the unit price is very much beyond their budget for modernization or asset acquisition. Thus HIMARS remains a dream that the PA hopes to one day have.

Aside from the HIMARS, numerous groups, either defense companies or government-supported groups, have expressed interest to supply the Philippine Army and also the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) with an MLRS system. Several systems were given consideration by these armed services, and has actually found two offers to be very promising and might be considered should the PA and/or PMC have the means to acquire them. 

MaxDefense won't incline to mention the specific systems, but they are actually from Israel and South Korea.

But alas! After the Philippine Army and the Philippine Navy (parent branch of service of the Philippine Marine Corps) submitted their proposed budgets for the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, both services didn't get the budget they were expecting and deserved. And both services have no choice but to temporarily remove the MLRS requirements from both services' Horizon 2 Phase acquisition plans.

Thus the Philippine Army was left with no choice to find other means to be able to acquire even a basic MLRS system. This is for them to learn first hand the use of such system and incorporate it to their doctrines and development as a modern land force.

The Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps are both interested in acquiring MLRS systems to improve its artillery and firepower delivery. And lately the Philippine Army through the DND has shown interest in accepting South Korea's offer for K136 Kooryong MLRS from their Excess Defense Articles. Above photo shows a battery of K136 MLRS from the Republic of Korea Army firing at an unspecified target, probably at a firing range exercise.
Photo taken from Splendid Isolation's blog @ Naver.

K136 Kooryong MLRS for the Philippine Army:

In 2017, the South Korean Ministry of Defense (MOD) appeared to have offered their K136 Kooryong MLRS to the Department of National Defense (DND) as Excess Defense Articles (EDA), with the DND relaying the information to the Philippine Army. After some considerations, the Philippine Army has formalized its interest to the offer, and the DND confirmed the PA's interest by August 2017 to its South Korean counterparts.

By March 2018, the DND confirmed that the Philippine Army is interested in transferring an initial battalion worth of K136 Kooryong MLRS in the 130mm caliber, which is 18 units for 3 batteries of 6 firing units plus associated support vehicles and items.

Based on MaxDefense's information, the Philippine Army is scheduled, or may have already conducted the Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) which is a requirement by law for any transfer or acquisition of equipment from foreign sources. This is to determine if the weapons/systems being proposed for transfer or acquisition are feasible.

No word though if the Philippine Marine Corps has expressed interest in such offer.

Should the Philippine Army and even the PMC find the system suited for their needs and cost considerations, there is a possibility for both services to acquire more systems in the near future.

There was no specifics provided if when can these rocket system be transferred to the Philippine Army, but due to its simplicity compared to the transfer of the Pohang-class corvette ROKS Chungju to the Philippine Navy, MaxDefense believes that it is highly possible for the Philippine Army to obtain the entire battalion of MLRS within 2018.

It also appears that funding for any costs related to the transfer are not part of the Horizon 2 phase's funding program, and it is possible that the Philippine Army would shoulder the expenses using its own annual funding, or a separate fund will be used. 

MaxDefense expects costs to be coming from transporting the vehicles from South Korea to the Philippines, acquisition of spare parts, repair and refurbishing works as needed, and acquisition of 130mm rocket ammunition. While these are donated, it doesn't mean the Philippines won't spend anything. 

A K136A1 Kooryong MLRS on display in South Korea.
Photo taken from Splendid Isolation's blog @ Naver.

The K136 Kooryong Multiple Launch Rocket System:

The K136 Kooryong MRLS is South Korea's first indigenous MLRS system that was first fielded by the Republic of Korea Army in the late 1980s. The concept was taken from Cold War-era small calibre MLRS systems used by the Soviet Union as well as North Korea.

There are two types of K136 in service with the Republic of Korea Army: the standard K136, and the updated and improved K136A1. It is yet to be known which model will the Philippine Army receive although MaxDefense expects it to be the newer K136A1 which uses stainless steel tubes instead of normal carbon steel that is prone to rusting.

Several K136A1 Kooryong MLRS, probably a rocket artillery battery from the South Korean Army.
Photo taken from Splendid Isolation's blog @ Naver.

The rocket system consists of 36 tubes each, and is mounted on a Kia KM500 series 6x6 5-ton cargo truck which is in service with the PA and PMC. 

The system fires 2 types of rockets, the standard K30 rocket with an effective range of up to 22 kilometers, and the longer K33 rocket with an effective range of up to 30 kilometers. Both rockets are unguided, and could either have High Exposive (HE) warheads, or a Fragmentation High Explosive which has around 16,000 steel balls. The system can be configured to fire single rounds, as well as partial or full salvo.

The K136 Kooryong MLRS can fire up to 36 rounds of 130mm rockets, and can be fired either in single round, partial or full salvo. They are mounted on a Kia KM500 series 6x6 5-ton truck.
Photo taken from Army Recognition website.

Aside from the MLRS system, a reloading vehicle is also part of the system, which carries up to 72 reload rockets using the same Kia KM500 series 6x6 5-ton truck.

The system may also include a fire control system, which is carried by a smaller utility vehicle, and may include ballistic computers to improve targeting capability. 

MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Army would consider all options to form an artillery battalion using the K136 MLRS system.

The K136 Kooryong MLRS worked together with standard gun-based artillery systems and the US-made M270 MLRS providing the Republic of Korea Army with several options. But with the Koreans introducing the newly developed K239 Chunmoo K-MLRS, they have started to withdraw the K136 Kooryong from active service, thus the reason why EDA units are now available to countries like the Philippines.

The K239 Chunmoo K-MLRS is replacing the older K136 Kooryong MLRS with the Republic of Korea Army. It can fire both the old 130mm rockets, as well as the larger 239mm rockets and the 227mm rockets fired by the M240 MLRS also used by the Korean Army. Around 100 units are planned to be built and acquired by the ROKA.
Photo credits to Military (top) and Army Recognition (above).

What's in it for South Korea?

It is surprising that the South Koreans were the ones who made an offer to the Philippines to transfer these MLRS. So why is it that they did, aside from the usual "we like to help a friend" reasoning?

While the MLRS are free, the ammuniion is not. The Philippine Army will be needing to purchase the 130mm rockets. While South Korea isn't the only country producing them, the AFP in general purchase their rocket ammunition from South Korea, especially the 2.75" air launched rockets used by PAF attack helicopters and attack aircraft.

Then there's the possibility (but still needed more confirmation) that the K136 can fire South Korea's newly developed 130mm guided rockets made by LIGNex1, which are being considered for use by South Korean patrol boats to act as cheap anti-ship projectiles.

If the guided rocket is compatible with the K136 MLRS, then the PA may opt to buy them to reduce collateral damage when used in areas with civilian population nearby (example, terrorist hideouts inside far flung barrios, or in urban terraim). So allowing the PA have a 130mm MLRS means having a potential customer for their 130mm rocket ammunition.

Not to mention the possibility of the need to repair or replace existing parts or vehicles with new ones sourced from the Korean defense industry.

No Second Hand Equipment for the AFP?

It should be noted that several months ago, no less than Pres. Rodrigo Duterte announced several times to the AFP that he would not agree arming them with second-hand arms and equipment, due to their perceived less-than-appealing reliability and performance in the field brought upon by ageing and wear & tear.

While these MLRS are donated and not purchased by the AFP & DND, it still does not meet the president's instructions and promises made to the AFP, considering the MLRS may already be at least or almost 30 years old. 

Despite the age of the system, MaxDefense still agrees that the AFP and DND considered to get such system from South Korea, considering that the AFP, specifically the PA and PMC never had a similar system in its inventory in recent times, or probably ever.

Gaining experience from these donated systems would allow the PA and PMC to see if having MLRS does have a positive difference in the way they fight present and future internal and external wars, and allow them to consider the acquisition of much modern systems like those offered by Israel and South Korea.

It is actually foolish for the AFP not to consider second hand or used arms and equipment, considering that it is currently among the least funded military in the world, and its budget isn't exactly enough for it to acquire brand new weapons systems that it really needed urgently. 

It was also already a proven fact that even modern and well-funded armed forces still consider the acquisition of used systems depending on their needs. MaxDefense has already mentioned this before in previous blogs, but even the likes of Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Turkey, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Israel, Egypt, and even the US itself - all well-funded and better equipped military forces than those of the Philippines, did acquired used arms and equipment to improve their military forces.

Second hand equipment proved to be effective in the Battle of Marawi. It was the 7.62 coaxial machine gun of an unmanned turret-mounted 2nd hand former Belgian Army M113 IFV (above) that killed the top leaders of the Maute terrorist group, not brand-new Chinese rifles as the President conveniently and unfairly says.
Credits to owner of the photo.

It would be noted that MaxDefense would be discussing other upcoming acquisition programs or plans that the AFP and DND are trying to push forward, many of which involving second-hand or used arms and equipment, while we are now waiting for the delivery of both the Pohang-class corvette from South Korea, and the Bell AH-1F Cobra helicopters from Jordan to improve the capabilities and firepower of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force, respectively. 

And to cap this blog entry, it should be noted that this project started under Pres. Duterte's term, through the efforts of the DND led by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana.

U P D A T E S:

14 August 2018:

MaxDefense received confirmation that the Philippine Army already completed their inspection and evaluation of the K136 Kooryong MLRS that the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea is willing to donate.

Based on information we received, the Philippine Army was satisfied with the units that will be provided. They also completed their evaluation of the MLRS' purpose, the capability of the Philippine Army to acquire the ammunition, spare parts, and logistics support for the type, and in determining what capabilities it would be adding to the Philippine Army.

This means the next step for this deal to push forward is for the Philippine Army to secure funding for the transfer of the MLRS, which would require paying for the minor repair works, transportation from Korea to the Philippines, and purchasing the required ammunition from South Korean ammo suppliers or manufacturers.

MaxDefense will provide more updates on this acquisition project in the near future.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Philippine Navy in the Korean War (1950-1953)

MaxDefense is pleased to have one of our community member and an active officer from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be its guest writer for this blog entry. Though this is not the first time that a guest writer's piece was published in MaxDefense Philippines, being given the chance again to publish something like this is an honour for us especially if it helps provide positive information to the Filipino and international reading public on our AFP's history of being a pro-active champion of freedom and peace.

Thanks to our guest writter, Philippine Navy CDR. MARK R. CONDENO from the International Affairs Directorate for giving MaxDefense Philippines the opportunity to publish this original piece.



On Sunday June 25 1950, the existence of the Republic of Korea as a democratic nation was shattered when armored and infantry elements of the North Korean People’s Army crossed the border into Seoul. The surprise attack caught off guard the Republic of Korea Armed Forces who lacked the equipment to withstand a massive communist invasion.

On that same day, the United Nations Security Council Resolution Number 82 was enacted which calls for the immediate withdrawal of the belligerent forces from South Korea, after it went unheeded prompting the world body to pass UNSC Resolution number 83 calling on member countries to support militarily the ROK in deterring communist aggression.

Although having its own counter insurgency problem, the Philippines became the first South East Asian country to deploy troops in support of the UN cause and the Third member of the UN Body to do so.. On September 7 1950 President Elpidio Rivera Quirino announced the historic decision of the deployment of Filipino Soldiers to the embattled republic. It fulfills the country’s obligation as a member and signatory of the United Nations and combating the spread of communism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Unknown too many, the Philippine Navy (PN) would actively participate in the Korean conflict. The Five Landing Ship Tanks (LST’s) of the Service Squadron of the Philippine Navy namely RPS Cotabato (T-36) RPS Pampanga (T-37), RPS Bulacan (T-38), RPS Albay (T-39) and RPS Misamis Oriental (T-40) would serve as the workhorse in transporting the Filipino soldiers to and from Korea for five years. Another great significance for the service was the assignment of two Filipino Naval Officers at the Philippine Liaison Group-United Nations Command in Tokyo, Japan.

This paper would seek to provide a summary of the Philippine Navy’s role and exploits during the Forgotten War and the Naval Legacy that fortified between the two navies after the conflict.

The Philippine Navy in 1950

Five years after the end of the Second World War saw the re-establishment of the Offshore Patrol- the swarm of former OSP personnel turned guerillas were eager to re-join their mother unit. A modest rearmament of the service followed as surplus naval vessels from the United States found its way to the OSP fleet in the form of Patrol Crafts Escorts (PCE), Submarine Chasers (SC’s) Patrol Craft (PC) Minesweepers (AM) and Landing Ship Tanks (LST’s).

During that period the order of battle of the Philippine Naval Patrol (PNP) under Commodore Jose Francisco AFP (USNA ’31) comprised of the following: The Fleet Minesweeper and Flagship RPS Apo (PS 21) which also serve as the Presidential Yacht in which President Quirino and his cabinet meets during the opening days of the Korean conflict. The Patrol Force under LCDR Heracleo Alano PN (PMA ’40) is composed of RPS Cebu (PS 28), Negros Occidental (PS29), Leyte (PS 30), Pangasinan (PS 31) IloIlo (PS32). The rest of the fleet is made up of 16 Submarine Chasers, Six Survey Vessels, Two Landing Craft Infantry (LCI), One Rescue Tug and Six Auxiliary ships.

Departure for Korea

Eight days after the signing of Republic Act 573 “Philippine Military Aid to the United Nations Act” by then President Elpidio R Quirino, the whole element of the 10th Battalion Combat Team boarded the US Naval Transport USNS SGT SYLVESTER J ANTOLAK (T-AP-192) for a four day voyage to the Korean peninsula. She was escorted from the vicinity of Corregidor Island up to the outskirts of the South China Sea by RPS Negros Oriental (PS 26) and RPS Capiz (PS 27) The Battalion would be the First of the Five BCT’s namely the 20th, 19th, 14th and 2nd to immortalize the Filipino soldiers gallantry and courage on the field of battle. Each Battalion would serve for about a year in Korea with the last troops leaving for Manila in 1955.

The Combat Service Support Operations of the Navy would begin with the homecoming of the 10th BCT in April 1951 aboard RPS Cotabato and the departure and return to and from Korea of the 20th, 19th and 14th BCT’s. The 2nd BCT would have the distinction of being ferried to and from Korea aboard US Naval vessels.

RPS Capiz- 15 September 1950 Escorting USNS SGT Sylvester J Antolak (T-AP-192) carrying troops of the Philippine Army’s 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) to Korea. She is one of the 16 Submarine Chasers then in service with the Philippine Navy (Photo Courtesy of the late 1LT Faustino Tumamak PA (Ret) 10TH BCT).

USNS SGT Sylvester J Antolak (T-APA-192)- Brought in to the Korean Theater of Operations the First contingent of 1,303 Filipino Troops (Army, Air Force and Navy) of the 10th BCT, Philippine Army arriving at the Port of Pusan on 19 September 1950 after 4 days of voyage from the Port of Manila. (Authors Collection)

Early Philippine-Korean Naval relationship
Quite unknown on the early days of the ROK, and the formation of the Korean Naval Defense Corps to the Korean Coast Guard (later becoming the Republic of Korea Navy), Filipino Naval Officers played a pivotal role as its brought in the first ships of the KCG to Korea from Subic Bay Naval Base. It was in August 1947 that then LTSG Ramon A Alcaraz PN (PMA ’40) was designated as head of mission to ferry former US and British Royal Navy Auxiliary Motor Minesweepers that would form the backbone of the Korean Fleet, wherein their ports of destination were 3 of the 7 ROK Naval bases namely Chinhae, Pusan and Seoul. Another notable skipper of one of the ships to be transferred is LT Dioscoro E Papa PN (the Second Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard).
Later on, at the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 now Commander Ramon A Alcaraz would be the Service Squadron Skipper in which our Five Landing Ship Tanks (LST’s) served as the mainstay of the fleet in ferrying troops of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) Battalion Combat Teams.

A Naval Officer in the Battle of Yuldong

On April 22-23 1951 during the Chinese communist spring offensive which would have ended the conflict, showed the prowess of the Filipino soldiers, airman and sailor on the battlefield as the greatest defensive operation is etched in the annals of Philippine military history. Although outnumbered 10 to 1, the 900 strong 10th BCT withstood a massive attack of the Chinese 12th Army at Yultong Ridge, known today as the Battle of Yultong (Yuldong).

A notable naval role was the presence of then LCDR Emilio S Liwanag PN (PMA ’38) as the logistics and artillery officer of the 10TH BCT who commanded a battery of 105mm howitzers during the battle. LCDR Liwanag is a graduate of the Advanced Infantry Gunnery Course at Fort William Mckinley in 1950 days prior to his deployment to Korea. Early on, as logistics officer LCDR Liwanag was also responsible in securing from an American depot a squadron of US made M24 Chafee light tanks and heavy weapons for the tenth’s reconnaissance and heavy weapons company.

Emilio S Liwanag- LCDR Emilio S Liwanag PN was attached to the 10th BCT as Supply Officer and later designated as Senior Naval Advisor to the Philippine Representative Mission in Korea. (Photo Courtesy, Maam Marylou Liwanag-Fuentespina, Daughter of Capt Emilio S Liwanag).

The Sea Voyage Rough Seas, Storm and Typhoons

On the evening of September 30 1951 the last elements of the 10th BCT would depart the Port of Pusan aboard RPS Cotabato under LCDR Florentino Buenaventura PN, the 2,400 kilometer voyage by way of Japan (as the LST would undergo four days of repair and provisioning at Yokusuka Naval Base) upon reaching open sea they would encounter heavy gales and the ships entire complement would mercilessly fought the waves for hours, and as furious waves became stronger they would sought refuge at Kagoshima Bay. On October 23 1951 RPS Cotabato escorted by a pair of Submarine Chasers would enter Manila Bay with a tumultuous welcome from surrounding ships a flyby from a formation of P-51 Mustangs of the PAF and a jubilant crowd.

In September 1951 both RPS Cotabato and RPS Pampanga under CDR Tomas C Robenul PN would again undertake the task of bringing the second Filipino battalion the 20th BCT under Col Salvador Abcede to the Korean theater of operations. A year later, the return voyage of the first batch (Albay) and second batch (Misamis Oriental skippered by LTJG Pablo Pascua PN) of the 20th BCT would again be hampered by a tropical storm off Northern Luzon but the ships would go unscathed with the skillful maneuvering of the vessels officers and crew. A warm welcome and a fluvial parade would again be received by the troops and sailors as it approached Manila’s Pier 7.

A typical experience among the troops during the four to six day voyage was of being seasick and melancholy longing right away for home, but this would not creel their determination and eagerness for the vital mission assigned to them whether departing for Korea or homeward bound.

By 17 March 1953 RPS Bulacan under CDR Tandiko Centi PN- the First Filipino Muslim Naval Officer and LTSG Jose Ordonez PN of RPS Albay would lift anchor at South Harbor, aboard the two ships were the fourth Filipino contingent to the UN Command, the famed 14th BCT also known as the Avengers- a veteran unit of the HUK campaign. Based on the book “These are your Boys” by the battalion itself, the passage was eventful with movie showing on deck, singing and guitar playing among the soldiers and sailors and the chow line serving Paksiw (fish cook and simmered in vinegar with garlic, salt and spices) and Sinigang na Bangus (stewed milkfish in tamarind broth).

From a 14th BCT veteran’s account the expedition to Korea was cut short as an essential stopover was made at Poro Point, La Union to repair and replace a part of the one of the ships engine, with these development sports competitions were held between the towns folk and sailors stationed at the naval base with the PEFTOK troops emerging as winners. Four days later, the ships haul anchor and would again encounter rough and heavy seas and waves bigger than the ships at Balintang channel- the crossroads of the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Twelve days after departing Manila, the Albay and Bulacan dropped anchor at the Port of Pusan, although prior to entering harbor our troops and allied naval ships observe the proficiency of our ships and sailors as anti-aircraft and ant-submarine drills were implemented and practiced with US Navy counterparts involving one of their submarines which surfaced beside RPS Albay.

Prior to debarkation, the Avengers thanked the Ships Officers and crew along with CDR Octavio Posadas PN (N4) who did the administrative and logistical matters in support of the Philippine contingent.

RPS MISAMIS ORIENTAL (LT-40) Brought home troops of the 20th Battalion Combat Team. (Photo Courtesy (Permission to use granted 25 February 2016). 

RPS ALBAY (LT-39) Ferried troops of the Philippine Army’s 19th and 14th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) to and from Korea from 1953 to 1954. She is skippered at that time by LTSG JOSE ORDONEZ PN. (Photo by Richard Leonhardt, courtesy (Permission to use granted 25 February 2016)

Philippine-Liaison Group United Nations Command, Tokyo, Japan

As mentioned earlier, after his stint with the 10th BCT, CDR Emilio S Liwanag PN would serve as the Assistant Commander of Philippine Mission to UNC in Tokyo, Japan vice CDR Santiago C Nuval PN (PMA ’38 and a future PN FOIC) as head of the mission. The veterans recall the massive support of the two officers to our troops while in Japan. CDR Liwanag was also the Senior Naval Advisor to the Philippine Diplomatic Mission in Korea in which would earn him the US Legion of Merit for valuable logistical assistance to Filipino troops in the Korean conflict.

10TH BCT (Motorized)
“Steady On”
USNS SGT Sylvester J Antolak (T-AP-192)
LST 75 (RPS Cotabato T36)
LST 843 (RPS Bulacan T 38)
LST842 (RPS Pampanga T37)
20TH BCT (Motorized)
“We Lead”
LST 75 (RPS Cotabato T36)
LST 842 (RPS Pampanga T37)
LST 843 (RPS Bulacan T38)
LST 865 (RPS Albay T39)
LST 875 (RPS Misamis OrientalT40)
19TH BCT (Motorized)
LST842 (RPS Pampanga T37)
LST 865 (RPS Albay T39)
LST 843 (RPS Bulacan T38)
LST 865 (RPS Albay T39)
LST 843 (RPS Bulacan T 38)
LST 865 (RPS Albay T39)
USS Logan (APA-196)
“Black Lions”
USS Mountrail (APA-123)
USS General SD Sturgis (AP-137)
USNS General RL Howze (T-AP-132)
USS General WH Gordon (T-AP-117)

Aftermath and Lessons Learned

The Landing Ship Tanks mentioned were all transferred in 1948, all built in 1942-43 would have a long career with the service and again would answer the call to arms with the deployment of Filipino troops during the Vietnam War. RPS Cotabato (a veteran of the 1944 Normandy landings) and RPS Pampanga were decommissioned in the early 1978, while RPS Albay, Bulacan and Misamis Oriental were mothballed in 1979. The Escort Ships RPS Negros Oriental was transferred in 1948 and was sunk during a Typhoon at Guam in 1962. On the other hand, RPS Capiz was stricken from the Fleet list in 1979. The Flagship RPS Apo was acquired in July 1948 would undergo several name change as well as refits as command ship served the Navy well into the 1960’s and re-classified as a corvette of the Miguel Malvar Class and retired from the service in 1970.

Naval Legacy braced by War

Twenty Four years after the conflict, the Philippine Fleet would receive the ROKS Kyong Ki (DE-71) and ROKS Kang Won (DE-72) in 1977. The former was the ex-USS Sutton (DE-771) while the latter was the ex-USS Muir (DE- 770). The ships were of the Cannon-Class Destroyer Escort Type in which at that period the PN has three in its inventory namely RPS Datu Kalantiaw (PS-76), RPS Rajah Humabon (PF-6) and RPS Datu Sikatuna (PF-5).
Regrettably, the Kyong Ki and Kang Won were never commissioned but were utilized as spare parts source for our three active units. 16 and 18 years later added another milestone in Philippine-Korea Naval relations as 12 Haeksang and Chamsuri Class Patrol Craft were sold to the Philippine Navy at a friendship price as the Republic of Korea values the splendid bilateral relations between the two countries that begun in 1949.
The Haeksang (Conrado Yap) and the Chamsuri (Tomas Batilo) class Patrol Craft entered the fleet in 1993 and 1995 respectively. These ships were acquired during the incumbency of then President Fidel Valdez Ramos-himself a Korean War Veteran and Reconnaissance Platoon leader who captured Hill Eerie on 21 May 1952 against Chinese Communist Forces.
12 of the Haeksang and 8 of the Chamsuri’s were transferred during those years and through recommendation from the Philippine Navy to President Ramos on 24 June 1995 Presidential approval was granted to name them after Filipino Korean War heroes and veterans, in which the lead ships were named after Captain Conrado D Yap PA and then 1LT Tomas G Batilo both of the 10th BCT PEFTOK.
The other units of both classes were named after the PEFTOK BCT Commanders, NCO’s and Enlisted Personnel who sacrificed their lives during the Korean conflict in the name of freedom and democracy.
Three years ago in 2015, the ROK Navy transferred the Landing Craft Utility ROKS Mulgae and though announced in 2014 what would be the second largest naval vessel allocation in terms of size and tonnage from the ROKN to the Philippine Navy is the handover of a Flight III Pohang Class Corvette (Ex-ROKS Chung-Ju PCC-762) since the turn-over of the Cannon Class Destroyer Escorts 37 years ago.


Although none of the Landing Ship Tanks and Submarine Chasers were engaged in action of the Korean waters, the invaluable role of the Combat Service Support and Escort operations along with the naval exercises conducted with allied navies in theater enabled the Philippine Navy to hone its tactics in the various aspects of naval warfare. The navy’s mission enabled the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) troops to accomplish and succeed on its mission in upholding democracy against communism and maintaining the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea.


  1. The Fighting Tenth by Major Mariano Manawis
  2. These are your boys by the 14th BCT (PEFTOK)
  3. Notes on the Korean War by the author
  4. Veteran accounts as related to the author
  5. Jane’s Fighting Ships 1981-82
  6. Conway’s All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1947-1995
  7. Newspapers from the 50’s detailing the deployment and return of Filipino Soldiers to and from Korea.

The Author:

CDR Mark R Condeno is the Liaison Officer, Foreign Armed Forces Attaché Corps, International Affairs Directorate. He was briefly the Research Officer of the Office of the Naval Historian, Philippine Navy in 2007 and Current Projects Consultant of the Maritime Historical Branch of the Fleet-Marine Warfare Center, Philippine Navy. He holds a BS Degree in Architecture from Palawan State University. He is a 1997 Graduate of the Basic Naval Reserve Officers Training Course, Philippine Navy and with the Bravo Class of 1999 Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer’s Indoctrination Course. He also took up the Aerospace Power Course from the Air University, United States Air Force in 2002.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Philippine Navy Releases the Basic Requirement for the Horizon 2 Corvette Acquisition Project

MaxDefense has finally received updates on the Philippine Navy's upcoming Corvette Acquisition Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 2 Phase.

The Philippine Navy provided subtle details of the project during the recently concluded Maritime Security Symposium 2018 held yesterday 11 May 2018 in New World Hotel in Malate, Manila. This is in addition to information gathered by MaxDefense from sources.

This is our 2nd blog entry regarding this upcoming project. Our earlier blog entry, dated 04 October 2017 and the link provided below, discussed our initial assessment of what the Corvette Acquisition Project may be like, an initial forecast on possible contenders, and the possibility of using the Frigate Acquisition Project as basis.

"Philippine Navy Plans to Acquire New Corvettes Under Horizon 2 Modernization Phase" - dated 04 October 2017

Although there's no confirmation yet, MaxDefense believes that Damen may have offered the SIGMA 9813 design (above) or the newer SIGMA 9814 (similar to those originally proposed for Vietnam) for the Philippine Navy's Corvette Acquisition Project. The example above is a SIGMA 9813 corvette operated by the Royal Moroccan Navy.
Photo taken from Damen's website.

7 months later, MaxDefense has a clearer picture of what is expected as there were movements noted on the project. And here are among those updates.

Basic Requirements:

So far the Philippine Navy is expected to have an easier time creating the basic requirements of the Corvettes due to good and bad experiences with the earlier Frigate Acquisition Project under the Horizon 1 phase.

MaxDefense was informed by sources that the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Corvette is being more careful now in formulating the final Technical Specifications to make sure that they have a more airtight requirement and make sure they get the subsystems and design that they really wanted, unless outside intervention from powers that may be happen again.

Here are the Basic Requirements as provided by the Philippine Navy during the Maritime Security Symposium 2018:

- Corvette shall be of proven design (as required by Republic Act 10349);
- Designed to operate in tropic environment, within Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and beyond;
- Fit for service in Surface Warfare (SuW), Anti Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Electronic Warfare (EW) missions;
- Able to survive Sea State 6 or higher;
- Must be able to accommodate AW159 Wildcat or SH-60 Seahawk naval helicopters;
- Endurance of 20 days or longer;
- Displacement between 1,500 to 2,700 tons;
- Length between 80 meters to 105 meters;
- Speed at full displacement at 25 knots or higher;
- Accommodation for 70 personnel or more;
- Ship designed with low Radar Cross-Section (RCS);
- Able to accommodate container mission modules;
- Launch and recovery of two 7-meter RHIBs;
- Satisfy international maritime safety and environmental compliance standard.

Armaments may include:

- Main Gun: 76mm/62 Super Rapid;
- Secondary Gun: 1 x 30mm Machine Gun System;
- 2 x 4 Surface-to-surface Missiles;
- 2 x 8 Surface-to-air Missiles;
- 2 x Triple Torpedo Launchers;
- EW Suite;
- Chaffs and Decoys

Interesting enough is the platform chosen by the PN's TWG for ther illustration: Sweden's Visby-class stealth corvettes built by Saab-Kockums Naval Solutions. 

The corvettes will be under the operational control of the Offshore Combat Force (OCF) of the Philippine Fleet.

This was displayed by the Philippine Navy in the recently concluded Maritime Security Symposium 2018. So far this is the only solid evidence of the Corvette Acquisition Project's basic requirements that is allowed for public consumption.
Photo exclusively shared by a MaxDefense community member who prefers to remain anonymous, credit belongs to him.

MaxDefense's Observation:


Based on the information above, it is now becoming clear what the future corvettes may look like. Dimension-wise, the TWG is open to have the corvettes to be as large as the Horizon 1 frigates being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, or smaller as long as it meets the requirements.

Being specific on the maximum displacement and length of the ship is something disagreeable since it limits the shipbuilder to the ship's size. MaxDefense bekieves that the Philippine Navy might be trying to make sure that the Horizon 2 Corvette must be a little smaller than the Horizon 1 Frigate to differentiate the two classes of ships from each other.

This also limits the choices to a certain degree, as certain shipbuilders are expected to offer designs that may exceed the required dimensions. For example, the Kamorta-class, in its current design is already longer and heavier than the requirement.

Sensors and Mission Profile:

The sensors requirement is obviously being kept under wraps for now as this is the source of dilemma of the Horizon 1 Frigates, an issue so big that it costed a Philippine Navy chief his job, and the conflict becoming a national issue.

But the presence of a requirement for mission module containers will be a gamechanger. This feature is usually found on European Corvette/OPV designs and may include mission modules for mine warfare and remotely operated vehicle operations, mine laying, unmanned underwater or aerial vehicle operations, extra accommodation for Special Forces, towed array variable depth sonar, Signal or Electronic Intelligence (SIGINT/ELINT), or even oceanography or pollution control / management systems.

The mission module containers may require additional spaces in the ship, either by increasing the ship's length or improving the layout like elevating the helicopter deck and placing the containers below.

This is in addition to its usual missions of SuW, ASW, AAW and EW.

Thales may have another shot in offering the NS100 series AESA air/surface search radars for the corvettes, after being sideswiped by HHI in the PN's Horizon 1 Frigates.
Photo taken from Thales Nederland's website.


Weapons-wise, the Corvette will definitely pack more punch the the Horizon 1 Frigate. It has more anti-ship missile launchers than the Horizon 1 Frigate (although the Horizon 1 Frigate has space allocations for up to 16 anti-ship missile launchers based on the approved CDR drawings). While the Horizon 1 Frigates will be armed with the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles, the Philippine Navy previously expressed its interest to use the MBDA MM40 Exocet Block 3 during the FAP's CDR phase. Whatever specifications the TWG will provide may dictate the type of missile to be used for the corvettes.

It also required to use a "Super Rapid" gun, quite odd considering the end user is not allowed to specify a specifc brand since the name "Super Rapid" obviously points to a product made by Italian company Oto Melara, UNLESS they go for a negotiated procurement for this project which is actually possible to shorten and simplify the procurement process and duration. MaxDefense believes it would have been better if the TWG can specify the primary gun to something close to the Oto Melara 76mm/62 Super Rapid Strales, which could be used to defeat supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship missiles using guided ammunition.

MaxDefense believes it would be advance thinking if the PN's TWG could specify the corvette's main gun to be something that points to Oto Melara's 76mm/62 Super Rapid Strales, which can be used to defend the ship from supersonic sea-skimming or ballistic anti-ship missiles.
Credits to owner of the photo.

The requirement for 2 x 8 SAMs is actually odd as well. Based on the current market, most if not all shipbourne SAM systems are launched via Vertical Launching Systems (VLS) which usually comes in capacites of 8 cells.

MaxDefense bekieves that "2 x 8 SAMs" probably means 2 x 8 VLS-launched SAMs.  And this could even be a minimum. The most common that meets this requirement is the MBDA VL-MICA-M which can be launched from a modular proprietary VLS or the Sylver VLS, and the MBDA Aster-15 and Aster-30 surface-to-air missile, which can be launched from the Sylver VLS. The Aster family is quite expensive so MaxDefense believes that this system won't be specified due to cost issues.

Another possibility is having one or two 8-cell VLS firing quadpacked SAMs, which allows the ship to have a maximum of 32 missiles per 8-cell VLS. Among examples of this are the MBDA Sea Ceptor (CAMM) and the Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).

MaxDefense suggests for the specifications to point to a VLS system that can accept not just a specific missile, but can be used to launch most modern missile systems, and can also accept quadpacked missiles. MaxDefense suggests the use of the Lockheed Martin Mk.41 8-cell VLS.
Photo taken from Navy Recognition.

Opening the requirements to just 16 SAMs means that the TWG is open to the use of non-quadpacked missile systems although MaxDefense prefers quadpacked systems, since these anti-air missiles are often used also to defend the ship from incoming sea-skimming or ballistic anti-ship missiles. Having 32 missiles in an 8-cell VLS is a more versatile and future-proof option in my opinion.

Not only did it specify to provide allocation for SAMs, indirectly to VLS based on our assessment above, but it states that the ship should have them when they are delivered, an improvement from the allocation only specs in the Horizon 1 frigates.

Embedded Aircraft and Seacraft:

The RHIB requirement is a sign that the corvettes would be used not only for combat but also for patrol duties. These RHIBs would be used by ship-boarding teams during law enforcement missions.

And the helicopter carrying capacity shows the importance of an embedded aviation asset to enhance the ship's overall capability. Like the Horizon 1 frigates, the corvette is expected to be able to accommodate the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat, the PN's upcoming standard naval combat helicopter, as well as the larger Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk which is the standard naval helicopter of the Philippines' traditional ally the United States, and security partners like Japan and Australia.

If the Philippine Navy decides to acquire the Seahawk in the future, at least the ships are ready to accommodate them too.

Possible Contenders Updated:

As before,MaxDefense mentioned that there were already shipbuilders who made advances to offer their products to the Philippine Navy. These past several months have seen several of them making a more serious offer to the Corvette TWG, which could help shape the Technical Specifications of the corvettes to their favour.

MaxDefense received solid confirmation that among those who already made serious offers are:

- ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany with their MEKO A100 Corvette family,
- Damen of the Netherlands with their Sigma family,
- Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea with a modified design based on the PN Horizon 1 frigates that they are building,
- Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) with their a modified Kamorta-class design,
- Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) with a new design based on the larger Daegu-class frigates;

MaxDefense was also told that other shipbuilders like Naval Group of France, Navantia of Spain, Saab Kockums Naval Solutions of Sweden, and Goa Shipyards of India have shown interest to submit their offers.

TKMS previously joined the Horizon 1 Frigate Acquisition Project but didn't make it to the 2nd stage bidding. The shipbuilder currently utilizes the A100 Corvette design, which can be modified to suite the end user's requirements. But according to several Navy and industry sources, usually TKMS' pricing is on the high side. TKMS previously indicated their possible agreement to local construction of the corvettes and other potential ship projects in the Philippines.

TKMS has several variants of the MEKO A100 Corvette design, among them the A100 Patrol Corvette which allows mission module containers, and a dimension that isn't too large.
Photo taken from Navy Recognition.

Damen is a newcomer in the Philippines, but their tie-up with local naval contractor Propmech Corporation may be helpful. Their offer for the corvette will definitely be from their Sigma family line of light naval warships. Although there is no confirmation, MaxDefense believes that their offer could be based on the Sigma 9813 design, or the 9814 design based on balance of size and meeting the basic requirements of the PN. 

Damen offered the Sigma 9814 design to Vietnam, which did not push through as Vietnam decided to purchase more Russian-made Gepard-class light frigates instead. MaxDefense believes that Damen's offer may not exceed a length of 100 meters to keep the price within the PN's budget.
Photo credited to Quôc Phòng Viêt Nam.

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), despite the strong sentiments against them for the mess surrounding the Frigate Acquisition Project, is still a strong contender for the Corvette Acquisition Project, as they are already entrenched with the local defense officials and PN officers including its chief. Apparently HHI offered to use a slightly modified version of the Horizon 1 Frigate, tweaked to "meet the requirements", if they know how to do it. Some officers in the Philippine Navy already voiced out their concern that since the frigates have not yet been tested in actual conditions, they have some concerns that the design may not be as good as expected, and gambling the Corvettes for the same hull may be a potential issue. 

The offer made by HHI is said to be similar to that of the frigates they are building for the PN, with some modifications, and "improved" subsystems based on the final specs. With HHI breaching technical specifications in the frigate project, MaxDefense worries that they will do it again in the Corvette Acquisition Project, especially if the same people are in power in the DND and PN. Above is the updated illustration of the subsystems to be installed on the frigate as approved during the Critical Design Review phase of the Frigate Acquistion Project.
CGI originally from HHI, illustration created jointly by MaxDefense and Pitz Defense Analysis.

Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), the lowest bidder of the Horizon 1 Frigate Acquisition Program, returns with vengeance after that bittersweet steal by HHI when they were found to be non-complying to financial requirements of the project. According to sources, GRSE's offer is practically the same as their original offer for the Horizon 1 Frigate based on a modified Kamorta-class hull. It should be noted that for the Horizon 1 Frigate, they offered a full-Thales sensor and communication suite and MBDA MM40 Exocet anti-ship missiles, which they might do again in addition to the new requirements. MaxDefense hopes that the accident in GRSE's yard last month would not affect the capability to receive new contracts and build them according to schedule.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has been aggressive lately, even having the chance to meet PN and DND officials during their visits to South Korea. There's no accurate take on what DSME offered for the Corvette Acquisition Project, but it may not be far from the Corvette design it offered to Malaysia a few years ago aside from adjustments to make it bigger to accommodate the requirements of the PN. DSME is still under the watch of Korea Eximbank after having financial struggles in the past few years, so DSME may have troubles in meeting financial requirements if the project undergoes public bidding.

DSME offered this design to Malaysia a few years ago before cancelling their plans to acquire corvettes. MaxDefense believes that a modification of this design, lengthened to accommodate the requirements of the PN, might be the one offered by DSME for the Corvette Acquisition Project.
Photo taken from Navy Recognition.

While it is not confirmed if they submitted, Saab-Kockums Naval Solutions seems to have the corvette that the PN TWG have in mind: the Next Generation Corvette design. Based on the basic specs posted by Saab in their website, the ship meets almost all if not all of the basic requirements of the Corvette Acquisition Project.

Saab's Next Generation Corvette was spec'd almost similarly to the basic requirements of the PN's Corvette Acquisition Project. MaxDefense believes that the TWG may have used this as their initial basis although it is unclear yet if Saab did made a serious offer to the PN TWG.
Photo taken from Saab's website.

Project Status:

With the Corvette Acquisition Project already brewing, what's the status of the Horizon 2 Acquisition Plan for the AFP? As of our last check a few days before this writing, it is still not signed by Pres. Duterte, aside from those he gave in-principle approval last November 2017.

Sadly, the Corvette Acquisition Project is not one of those approved in-principle, so we'll have to wait a little longer since the project should be approved either as part of the entire Horizon 2 Acquisition Plan, or on its own, before any SARO of funding can be released by the Department of Budget Management, and before the Technical Working Group can proceed with the procurement process.

Based on documents obtained from the DND, the Corvette Acquisition Project is planned to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA), or in layman's term, instalment payment. The plan is to pay for them using funds sourced outside the annual General Appropriations to the AFP Modernization Program, and would be paid for from 2019 to 2022 in increasing amounts.

With this, it is expected that the project is planned to be ready for contract signing by 2019, and may benefit from lessons learned from the Horizon 1 Frigate Acquisition Project. MaxDefense believes it is highly possible for the project to be acquired via Negotiated Procurement or Government-to-Government to reduce time and red tape involved in public bidding.

But until then, the PN TWG still has time to finalize its Technical Specifications as well as all the necessary pre-procurement processes and documentation so when the project is approved for implementation, its ready for procurement phase.


Corvette Acquisition Project

Quantity: 2 brand new units
End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)
Modernization Phase: Revised AFP Modernization Program HORIZON 2 (Priority List)
ABC (Proposed): Php28,000,000,000.00
SARO Release: none yet
Winning Proponent: none yet
Contract Price: none yet
First post by MaxDefense: 30 December 2017

MaxDefense will be at the forefront on any updates regarding the Corvette Acquisition Program, a very important if not the most important warship acquisition project in the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP.

Philippine Navy Modernization Projects

Philippine Air Force Modernization Projects