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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

More Details on the Philippine Navy's Horizon 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel Project After ADAS 2018

Shipbuilders from Asia, Australia and Europe gathered in Manila from 26th to 28th September 2018 for the 3rd Asian Defense, Security, and Crisis Management Exhibition 2018 (ADAS 2018), the Philippines' foremost defense exhibition held biennially. And among the exhibits and offerings they showcased are mostly related to the Philippine Navy's requirements under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

Among those projects that are up for grabs and is very lucrative was the Philippine Navy's requirement for 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), to replace its existing fleet of Malvar-class World War 2-era ships used by the PN for the same purpose. These ships were needed to be replaced 40 years ago and yet they are still hardworking with the Offshore Combat Force of the PN. With the current administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte approving the Horizon 2 Priority Projects worth Php300 billion, the Philippine Navy was provided with a budget of Php30 billion, or 10% of the total Horizon 2 budget for the acquisition of these 6 OPVs.

The presence of shipbuilders was well-noted due to their products being big ticket items. Among those present were the following::

* Austal Philippines, a local subsidiary of Austal of Australia;
* Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea;
* Damen of the Netherlands;
* Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea;
* Larsen & Toubro (L&T) of India;
* Lurssen Defence of Germany;
* Kockums of Sweden, under SAAB group;
* PT PAL of Indonesia;
* Rosoboronexport of Russia, representing several Russian shipbuilders;
* Vympel Shipyards of Russia

The Philippine Navy OPV has put the country on the spotlight of global shipbuilders who wish to participate in the program, including Australia's Austal, which has its own shipyard in the Philippines.
Photo taken from Austal's website.

While not all of the companies mentioned above provided display or information regarding their products that may fit the OPV project, at least several all of them did. MaxDefense will be discussing some of those show @ ADAS 2018, as well as from information we gathered from sources.

This blog can be considered an update to our earlier blog discussing the then-proposed acquisition of Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessels (MPPV) based on earlier documents from the DND and PN. But our readers are advised to read the old blog first, to have some basic idea and comparison on what happened and planned before versus what is asked for now.

"The Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel, the Philippine Navy's Newest Horizon 2 Project" - first posted on 16 November 2016 (almost 2 years ago).

Potential OPV Offers and their Characteristics:

1. Austal Philippines:

Austal Australia through its Philippine subsidiary showcased their Philippine Navy OPV design, which is said to be based on their Cape-class large patrol boat. Their product is actually, in MaxDefense's opinion, the best barometer of what the Philippine Navy is looking for.

Based on the specs provided by Austal in their product material, it has an overall length of 81.7 meters, beam of 13.3 meters, and a hull draft of 4 meters. No other information was provided although the CGI is helpful. The design uses a stealthy profile, a single mast, and simple but clean superstructure.

Austal's Philippine Navy OPV design.
Taken from Austal's website.

The CGI photo shows the ship armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun as its main weapon, and what appears to be two (2) remote controlled machine gun systems in either 25mm or 30mm caliber, one each on the port and starboard sides. It also appears to have a manually operated 12.7mm machine gun on each side of the bridge wing. 

The ship also appears to be equipped with an S-band navigation radar, a 2D air/surface search radar, a Radar Direction Finder, a Radar Electronic Support Measures (R-ESM) system, an Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) system, a large helicopter deck but no hangar, space good enough for 2 Containerized Mission Modules at the stern, a quick-entry RHIB stern ramp, and a davit/crane-deployed RHIB at the midship.

These features are a good basis of what the Philippine Navy could be looking for as a minimum requirement, which means that shipbuilders who can propose a design that has these features may be considered qualified for the project.

The Austal OPV proposal's aft is shown.
Photo taken from Austal's broduct brochure, credits to the one who took the photo.

2. Propmech Corporation

Another interesting design that is obviously for the Philippine Navy was released by local marine company Propmech Corporation, which dubbed the design they released as the "OPV 1500". The design is very much influenced by those made by their foreign partner, Dutch shipbuilder Damen, as Propmech's OPV 1500 appears to be very much similar in profile, shape, and design qualities as Damen's larger OPV 1800 and smaller OPV 1400, as well as the Holand-class OPV.

No dimensions were provided by Propmech, but if we follow Damen's way of naming ships, OPV 1500 means that the ship is expected to weigh a little over 1,500 tons. Also, since the ship is between the size of Damen's OPV 1400 and OPV 1800, MaxDefense can assume that the OPV 1500 could be longer than 72 meters, but shorter than 83 meters; a beam of somewhere between 12.7 meters to 13.7 meters; a draft of around 3.75 meters; have a maximum speed of between 21 to 22 knots; range of between 4,000 to 5,000 nautical miles, and endurance between 25 to 30 days.

Propmech's OPV 1500. The design cues show strong Damen-inspired lines and concept.
Photo taken by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

The CGI photo also shows that the ship is armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun as its main weapon and two (2) remote controlled machine gun systems of either 25mm or 30mm caliber, a helicopter deck, an S-band and X-band navigation radars, a 2D air/surface search radar, and a having a streamlined design.

The good thing was that Propmech made a description script on the ship, wherein it mentioned the presence of a hangar and deck capable of accommodating helicopters the size of NH90 or Sea King (which are considered 11-12 ton helicopters), has davits for two (2) 9.0m RHIB, below deck spaces for multi-purpose requirements, and aft deck space for two (2) Containerized Mission Modules.

It also mentioned accommodation for 46 crew members, and nautical equipment including Satcom C and F77, UHF and HF receivers, Integrated Bridge System, X & S Band radars, ECDIS, Gyro, DGPS, Speedlog, Autopilot, Echo Sounder, Navtex, etc. All of which could be a requirement of the Philippine Navy for their OPV.

Combining the details from Austal and Propmech's proposals alone already gives us a picture of what the Philippine Navy is looking for.

3. Daewoo Shipbuiding & Marine Engineering (DSME):

The South Korean shipbuilder did not make any displayed confirmation if they are offering something to the Philippine Navy for its OPV requirements, but based on the descriptions and displays made by Austal and Propmech, there is actually something in the ADAS 2018 display that possibly meets the PN's requirement.

DSME displayed their DW1800C Corvette design, which despite being classiied as a corvette, could actually be a possible OPV contender.

DSME's DW1800C Corvette design, which they have been displaying in international defense exhibitions since 2 years ago. While it is categorzied as a corvette, the ship actually looks more like an OPV.
Photo taken by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.
DSME's DW1800C Corvette design as shown on its side.
Photo taken by a MaxDefense community member who wish to remain anonymous.

Based on the ADAS 2018 display, the ship is 85 meters long, has a beam of 13 meters wide, and a total depth of 7.0 meters. It weighs in at 1,800 ton, and has a speed of 26 knots. The dimensions and displacement is not very far from those of Austal and Propmech's design, although the speed is faster than our hypothetical maximum speed of Propmech's OPV 1500.

Based on the scale model they displayed in ADAS 2018 (which by the way, is the same scale model they are displaying on every major defense show DSME attends for the past year), the ship is armed with a Hyundai Wia 76mm naval gun, two (2) remote controlled machine gun system of either 25mm or 30mm caliber, an X-band and S-band navigation radars, a 3D air/surface search radar, a Fire Control Radar, a Radar Electronics Support Measures (R-ESM) system, an EO/IR system, 2 cranes for 2 RHIBs deployments, and a helideck for a medium-sized helicopter but no hangar.

4. Damen:

The Dutch shipbuilder has been successful recently in Indonesia with their SIGMA family of light warships,with Indonesia ordering 2 frigates (Martadinata-class based on SIGMA 10514 design) and 4 corvettes (Diponegoro-class based on SIGMA 9113 design), but has yet to get a client in the ASEAN region for their Offshore Patrol Vessels.

No confirmation was made if they are planning to make a separate pitch with that made by Propmech Corporation, but they did gave emphasis on their OPV 1800, which is a larger model to the OPV 1500 displayed by Propmech. 

Based on standard fit-out as per their product data sheet, the OPV 1800 weights 1,850 tons, is 83 meters long, with a beam of 13.7 meter and a draft of 3.75 meters, has a maximum speed of 22 knots, range of 5,000 nautical miles, and endurance of around 30 days. 

Due to the ship open to the end user's configuration, MaxDefense expects it to have similar or equivalent fit out as the ones provided by other shipbuilders.

Damen's OPV 1800 as seen in their display @ ADAS 2018.
Photo shared to MaxDefense by a community member who wish to remain anonymous.

5. Lurssen Defense:

German shipbuilder Lurssen Defense was also @ ADAS 2018 to showcase German products, as other German companies like TKMS and Fassmer were absent during the event.

On display was the PV 80, specifically the Darussalam-class OPVs of the Royal Brunei Navy which ues the PV 80 design. The ship displaces at around 1,500 tons, with a length of 80 meters, a beam of 13 meters, and a draft of 3 meters. Crew is around 80, plus 18 embarked depending on mission profile.

The Darussalam-class OPV of the Royal Brunei Navy was made as an example of Lurssen's PV 80 design, as seen in Lurssen's stall during ADAS 2018.
Photo shared to MaxDefense by a community member who wish to remain anonymous.

Based on the Darussalam-class to show its capabilities in real terms, the ship is equipped with a 57mm Bofors Mk 3 naval gun, 2 units of 20mm remote operated machine gun systems, two twin launchers for the MBDA MM40 Exocet anti-ship missiles, two Terma C-Guard SKWS-6T decoy launchers, and two Cal.50 manually operated machine guns.

The ship has a Terma Scanter 4100 2D air/surface search radar, a Mk. XII Identification Friend or FOe (IFF), a Thales STING EO Mk. II fire control system, Harris ES3601 tactical communications system, a helicopter deck for 11 ton helicopters, capability to carry a 10-meter RHIB through a stern ramp, and a 6-meter RHIB through davits. It can also carry two 20-meter Contrainerized Mission Modules.

6. PT PAL:

Indonesia's state-owner shipbuilder was present in this year's ADAS exhibition, and has been pushing hard for a follow-on order of their Strategic Sealift Vessel, which is being offered to the Philippine Navy, as well as an enlarged version being offered to the Royal Malaysian Navy and Royal Thai Navy. But what was not visible on the display was an offer by PT PAL for an 85-meter Offshore Patrol Vessel. While there's not much fanfare in their OPV offering, its mere presence means PT PAL is also capable of providing a proposal for the PN's requirement.

PT PAL's OPV  85-meter design has an overall length of 85 meters, a beam of 12.9 meters, a draft of 3.80 meters, a displacement of 1,880 tons, and a crew of 65 people. It has a cruising speed of around 14 knots and a maximum speed of 26 knots, and a range o 3,000 nautical miles.

It can carry 2 RHIB and has 1 crane of its deployment, and the ship is made of steel for both the hull and superstructure.

The photo from their product brochure also shows a helicopter deck a small hangar, the use of an Integrated Mast for the sensors, and armed with a 57mm Bofors Mk. 3 naval gun and two 20mm remote controlled machine gun systems, 1 each at port and starboard sides.

Normally, the use of an Integrated Mast is just an option, and a standard mast with separate sensors and antennas can be used to replace it. Like all other ships, the 57mm Bofors Mk. 3 naval gun can be replaced with an Oto Melara 76mm naval gun if specified.

PT PAL's 85-meter OPV design, as shown on their product brochure.

7. Rosoboronexport:

No specific details were provided nor any display in their stall during ADAS 2018, although MaxDefense received confirmation that Rosoboronexport did offer the Project 22160 for both the PN's OPV and Corvette projects.

Additional Information on Shipbuilders Based on MaxDefense's Sources:

Aside from the information we got from ADAS 2018 which includes verbal confirmation from shipbuilder's representatives, and by observation and analysis from scale models and product brochures, MaxDefense was able to gather more information about the offers made by the above mentioned shipbuilders.

1. For Austal, this would be a milestone for them since they usually construct ships made of aluminium, and in this case, their offering for the PN OPV will have a steel hull. But it would still be using aluminium for the ship's superstructure. The aluminium superstructure was actually mentioned by several MaxDefense sources and community members to be a concern especially during combat due to their inherent ease of prone to flammable and fire damage.

Austal is also currently said to be the most favoured by the Department of National Defense (DND), as MaxDefense was informed that the DND did have several personal and video meetings with Austal management and leaders.The shipyard in Balamban, Cebu is actually their strongest advantage, being the only one seriously offering for the project with its own shipyard locally, unlike others which are partnering with local shipyards only.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and PN official's recent visit to Austal's yard in Cebu is another strong indication that favours Austal over the other shipbuilders.

2. On Propmech Corporation, they currently have strong relations with the Philippine Navy, being able to supply 9 Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC), several fast boats, and the landing craft utility BRP Tagbanua.(AT-296). This could be useful for them, considering their partnership with Dutch shipbuilder Damen allowed both companies to create a strong proposal for the PN. Being a local partner of SAAB Group as well may show up in their offer, as MaxDefense expects Propmech and Damen to use SAAB's naval systems including the 9LV Combat Management System, or even the Sea Giraffe AMB which will be available soon on the PN's Del Pilar-class frigates.
The only problem with Propmech is not having its own shipyard which is large enough to construct Offshore Patrol Vessels or similar ships on their own, and instead may have to rely on a subcontractor or another partner with its own shipyard. This could be a reason why it is expected that Damen may also have its own submission for the OPV project, as it may also be looking for another partner with its own shipyard that won't involve Propmech's participation and using Damen's own design which MaxDefense believes to be the OPV 1800. MaxDefense also received information that an OPV 1600 design may also be available with Damen but is not being made public yet, and may conform more on the PN's requirements and remain competitive in terms of pricing.

3. For Daewoo Shipbuilder & Marine Engineering (DSME), apparently they are not as aggressive as it looks, but they are quietly working their way too in a more discrete manner, probably to avoid the same backlash as fellow Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) encountered with the Frigate Acquisition Project. MaxDefense was also told that DSME was giving more concentration on the PN's plan to acquire Submarines, which DSME believes is more possible to win than the OPV or any other naval shipbuilding projects of the PN.

MaxDefense believes that DSME may also dangle some "freebies" into the deal, like offering to provide a used ex-ROKN warship like the Pohang-class corvettes with the assistance of the Korean government, to improve their offer without the need to spend on costs.

4. As for Lurssen Defense, there are several PN officers that made their choice known to MaxDefense, and based on our own internal observation of our community members from the PN, they are more favourable to Lurssen's products, apparently due to their high quality and proven capability. The recent visit of a Darussalam-class OPV from the Royal Brunei Navy made it more possible for PN officers to view the quality and workmanship of the ship, as well as its feel and design from up-close.

The only downside with Lurssen is pricing, which is expected to be on the high side, as well as reported imposition of stricter arms export control by the German (and Spanish) governments for weapons or defense exports to the Philippines, following the case of Belgium. This was only reported to MaxDefense recently and has already affected certain projects where the AFP favoured a German supplier. This issue is still something that needs further confirmation, although if this is true then it would really be a big problem that Lurssen and other German shipyards like Fassmer and TKMS would need to hurdle.

5. PT PAL's concerns are somehow different from the other shipbuilders. It is in a position that it may difficulty to offer a major combat ship like the OPV due to security reasons. While Indonesia is not an enemy or a potential threat to the Philippines, it currently shares borders with it which could be a reason for any future conflict. And it is for security reasons that the Indonesians should not have a complete knowledge of the OPVs design. Apparently, PT PAL is still searching for a local shipyard partner in case they are given the chance to participate. 

Their 85-meter OPV design is actually benefiting from their previous partnership with Damen, as well as introducing design cues that are present on Damen's OPV and SIGMA designs, as well as with Indonesia's acquisition of the BAE F2000-based Bung Tomo-class corvettes

Other Possible Interested Proponents:

Aside from those that attended the ADAS 2018, MaxDefense also received confirmation that other shipbuilders have shown interest, or at least touched base with the Philippine Navy or DND for information and for informal offers.

Among those MaxDefense were able to name are France's Naval Group (specifically Kerships), Thailand's Bangkok Dock Company in cooperation with BAE Systems, Israel Shipyards, Goa Shipyard Limited and Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers (GRSE) of India, Fassmer of Germany, and a certain shipbuilder from Ukraine. 

It is still unclear though if they are serious with their intentions to try to offer for the Philippine Navy, considering the project might undergo Public Bidding due to the number of interested proponents.

Bangkok Dock Company was said to have expressed interest in joining the OPV acquisition project of the Philippine Navy using an improved version of the RTN's Krabi-class, which in turn is an improved version of BAE System's River-class OPV. The company is also said to have offered the same design to the Sri Lankan Navy recently.
Photo taken from PDFF Forum c/o MaxDefense community member Dewey.

Additional Details on OPV, Prior and Post ADAS 2018:

Aside from the information from ADAS 2018, MaxDefense was able to gather additional information on the OPV project.

Based on information MaxDefense gathered from sources here are the following details we can add on our hypothetical Technical Specifications for the PN's OPV requirement:

On Weapon and Sensor Systems:

1. The PN appears to be inclined on using the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun as the ship's default primary gun. This will be done not be mentioning the brand and model specifically, but by specifying a requirement of 120 rounds per minute and any other features which only the gun has and its closest competitor doesn't have, which is only possible with the said gun.

2. No specifics were provided regarding the quantity Remote Controlled Machine Gun Systems, but it would be either 25mm or 30mm in caliber, similar to what the PN already has or will have.

3. The ships are said to be fitted for but not with (FFBNW) at least two twin anti-ship missile launchers and at least a SHORAD system similar to the MBDA Simbad RC.

The PN OPV design should be able to accommodate FFBNW anti-ship missile launchers, not just space but also wiring and bolting, as well as sufficient power supply and sensor support. This is despite the missile launchers not part of the contract and will be PN's responsibility in the future. The Darussalam-class above has two twin MM40 Exocet launchers between the bridge structure and the funnel.
Credits to owner of the photo.

4. The ship shall be FFBNW Tactical Data Link 16. And with this, we could also assume that a Combat Management System (CMS) should also be included.

5. The Containerized Mission Modules may include a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system which could share the helicopter deck with the helicopter especially when its not on the deck. It may also include an Unmanned Sea Vehicle (USV), or a Mine Warfare System.

The Philippine Navy has expressed interest in acquiring the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle UAV for ship-launched requirements. It was reported to MaxDefense that several PN officers are already familiar with the ScanEagle through the Philippine Air Force units.
Credits to owner of photo.

6. As MaxDefense already mentioned before, the OPVs would be equipped with Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) as part of its defensive and communications capabilities.

The Philippine Navy requires the OPVs to be equipped with a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The photo above is an example used by the Philippine Coast Guard in their Parola-class patrol vessels.
Photo taken from MaxDefense FB page c/o a source which prefer to remain anonymous.

On Hull and Other Items:

1. The ships would definitely use diesel engines, probably in Combined Diesel and Diesel (CODAD) configuration. Although it is unlikely that a gas turbine powered OPV design will be offered (except for the Project 22160 from Russia), this would be emphasized on the technical specifications.
2. Helicopter deck is required, but a hangar is not required but can be offered by shipbuilders if they can. The helideck capacity was not mentioned,although it is expected to be specified to carry at least the heaviest helicopters in the AFP (which currently is the lone S-70A Black Hawk of the PAF's 505th SAR Squadron).

3. The ships should have capability to have accommodate and launch at least 2 RHIBs.for boarding. Davits would be a standard although a quick launch/recovery system is expected to be there, at least for 1 RHIB.

4. At least 4 of the OPVs should be built in the Philippines. Shipbuilders may be given the chance to build at least 2 of the OPVs in their own shipyards to benefit the country of origin, but at least 4 of the OPVs should benefit the Philippine shipbuilding industry directly or indirectly.

MaxDefense was told by sources that the specifications for the Offshore Patrol Vessel is still being finalized, as it keeps on getting new inputs and revisions to improve the design further, benefiting from replies made on the Request for Inforamtion (RFI) and Request for Quotations (RFQ) released by the PN's Technical Working Group (TWG), as well as on new information provided after meetings and discussions with the shipbuilders.

We will be updating this blog entry as more information becomes available to MaxDefense that are good for public consumption. Right now, MaxDefense may not be able to provide more aside from that were allowed to be made public, as well as the observation and analysis we made based on information gathered.


1. Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project

End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force, Philippine Fleet)
Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP
ABC: Php30,000,000,000.00
SARO Release: N/A
Winning Proponent: None yet, still in pre-procurement phase
Contract Price: N/A
First post by MaxDefense: 08 November 2016


  1. Thanks for the info sir Max. Hope this project would come into flow smoothly and favorable to our Naval men & Sailors.

  2. FFBNW is a fancy way of saying never in taglish. Fat chance our cheapskates will ever give the money needed when so much else is even more worse off.

    1. FFBNW for the Link-16 systems probably means the US gets to elect the company installing the system when the PN deems them necessary, as is the norm from the Program Office of MIDS. It is also possible the US is thinking of granting us the Link-16 terminals and radios as they are not a huge expense nor difficult to integrate aterwards.

  3. Go for local production of the OPV aside from many benefits it can give to the economy, labor and experiences. It would be shameful and embarrassing that the 5 major ASEAN and vietnam are building their own weapons and gaining experience for their needs. Best choice is for Promtect for their specs and endurance , with mention also for Austral. If there's a possibility to do away FFBNW make it happen. This is a dare for this administration if they love the country they will go for the obvious choice. Instead of legacy of submarines they can shine here to prove that they can do more than the previous administration. And finally NO MORE KIMCHI! If you can hear what they are saying "they can shorthand the Philippines always, just find the proper stooge monkey or monkeys to dance and securing their sale here." That is an assumption, aside from money, that they give thailand a proper warship while ours is a joke.

  4. Sir, katakot naman 'yong offer ng PT PAL. Baka magng Bong goto yan.

  5. I pray to God Almighty that we get the Lurssen ship. Being German, it is impossible n ma-Bong Go , as they are known for their integrity, no matter the cost. Philippine Navy's preference for the Oto Melara 76 mm though meant that PN might go for the larger OPV 85, especially since it is closer in specification as with the competition.

  6. Is there room for decoy launchers? Are the 20 mm canons CIWS DESIGNED to shoot incoming missiles? It doesn't seem so. This is important in today's ship defensive system when every Chinese ships are equippied with missiles. Perhaps this class will be designed to turn around and exit as soon as a Chinese warship is seen.

  7. I'd place my coins on Promptech or Austral. Will boost the local economy a little.

    Anyway I do have some issues with the program, 30B for 2 ships it costs the same as the 2 frigate deal, why not just go for 2 more follow on orders?

  8. Hoping this project would push through despite budget cuts due to Covid..


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