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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Philippine Navy's Fast Attack Interdiction Craft OK'd for procurement, selects Shaldag V - Spike NLOS combo

Last 07 May 2019, the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), held a Command Conference with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and several cabinet members from the government to discuss defense and security issues.

Among those discussed was the status of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP), including the procurement plans from ongoing Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 projects, and pending Horizon 2 projects.

MaxDefense was able to get information from the outcome of the discussions on the AFP Modernization, wherein we can confirm that several good news came out of it and we will be discussing several of those in the upcoming blog entries.

We would start with one project that suddenly popped out of nowhere - the Fast Attack Interdiction Craft - Missile Capable (FAIC-M) Acquisition Project for the Philippine Navy.

The Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards, which was pre-selected for the FAIC-M acquisition project.
Screengrab taken from PN official video, as shared by a source from PN.

The Current Assets of the  Littoral Combat Force of the Philippine Fleet:

The Philippine Navy (PN) has been operating a fleet of fast patrol boats, being the type with the most number in the Philippine Fleet. These assets are currently operated by the Littoral Combat Force (LCF), which is in charge of naval operations in the littorals including operating of coastal patrol assets like patrol boats.

The PN currently has several patrol boat classes in service, with each class different from each other in terms of size, designed capabilities, and characteristics. This includes the following patrol assets above 50 tons in displacement:

* Tomas Batilo-class: fast patrol boats acquired second hand from South Korea in the 1990s. They are the most heavily armed patrol boats in the fleet, although they are among the oldest, being in service with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) as the Chamsuri-class since the late 1970s-early 1980s before handing them over to the PN. Only four (4) boats remain as the PN decided to start retiring some of the boats in the past few years.

BRP Salvador Abcede (PB-114), a Tomas Batilo-class PKM fast attack craft of the PN. The entire class are the intended for replacement by the FAIC-M. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Kagitingan-class: currently the largest patrol boats in the fleet, although they are plagued by poor serviceability and lacklustre performance. Two (2) boats remain and will need replacement soon.

BRP Bagong Silang (PB-104), one of the Kagitingan-class large patrol boats.

* Jose Andrada-class: currently the most numerous type of patrol boats in the fleet, with 22 boats in service since 1990. Although they are the "youngest" patrol boats (over 50 tons) in service with the PN, they are already nearing 30 years and would need replacements in the next few years. These boats were acquired with US assistance, and several were built locally.

* Alberto Navarette-class: the oldest patrol boats in the PN, the 2 boats of the class were formerly US Coast Guatd Point-class patrol boats, with both ships BRP Alberto Navarette and BRP Abraham Campo being in service with the USCG starting from 1967 and 1970, respectively. That puts them at 52 and 50 years in combined total service with the US Coast Guard and Philippine Navy!

The rest of the LCS's assets are surface assets below 50 tons in displacement., which includes the Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts, Swift and De Havilland 9209-classes of patrol crafts from the US and Australia respectively, and the recently donated Type 966Y patrol crafts from China.

Just a few years ago, the LCS also operated the larger Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel and the smaller Conrado Yap-class fast patrol boat, both classes were retired without any replacement.

With the LCS becoming a smaller force due to the retirement of older assets, it was recommended that the force be provided with new assets as part of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Plans Under the Revised AFP Modernization Program:

When the Philippine government under the administration of former Pres. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was approved, the Philippine Navy submitted proposals on their programme of acquisitions from 2013 to 2028 under the Horizons 1, 2 and 3 of the RAFPMP. But over time, these proposals shifted depending on the AFP and PN leadership, the situation or challenges arising or expected, or depending on the budget approvals.

For Horizon 2, originally the Philippine Navy requested for the following assets to be acquired for the Littoral Combat Force:

* 15 Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts armed with missiles
* 14 Fast Attack & Interdiction Crafts armed with missiles

But after the review of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet, the plan was reduced to just the following:

* Nothing on new surface assets;
* Combat Systems Upgrade for Multi-Purpose Attack Craft Batch 4 ordered during Horizon 1 phase.

Just imagine the disappointment of the men and women of the Littoral Combat Force when the approved Priority Projects of Horizon 2 came out last 2018!

Most of the approved Horizon 2 projects were focused on just meeting the minimum requirements of the Offshore Combat Force (OCF) and Sealift and Amphibious Force (SAF), as well as the requirements of the Philippine Marine Corps after the said groups also received cuts in their procurement plans.

For the approved Horizon 2 Priority Projects, not even a complete MPAC was included after Pres. Duterte slashed the proposal. Only included were the weapon systems and additional items for the MPAC Batch 4 that was ordered under the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Urgent Requirement Raised:

With assets being retired and no new assets on the way, the Littoral Combat Force's leadership made its voice heard and requested the Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad to assist in securing funding and approval for the acquisition of assets that can be used to patrol the southern borders of the Philippines facing Indonesia and Malaysia.

The proposal was still based on previous requirements: the acquisition of Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft (FAIC), between ten (10) to twelve (12) units and armed with small surface-to-surface missiles that are more lethal than those installed in their smaller Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mk. 3, which are based on the Rafael Spike-ER small surface-to-surface missile.

The decision to go for FAICs instead of additional MPACs was made due to earlier observations made by several groups within the PN that believes the MPAC is too small for operations far from operating bases. The MPAC lacks liveable space and facilities to allow operations of at least a week at sea including a decent toilet and shower room, and bunk spaces.

There are also calls that the MPAC's Spike-ER is too small for use against territorial defense requirements against similar-sized or larger enemy naval assets. As MaxDefense previously commented on the capabilities of the missile-armed MPAC, the Spike-ER lacks the range and the warhead size to engage other surface assets which are armed with long range guns and longer-ranged missile systems.

Up until late 2018, IAI Ramta was still pushing for the Philippine Navy to select the Super Dvora Mk. III, which is smaller but said to be more comfortable and more agile than the Shaldag Mk. V. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a community member who was in ADAS 2018.

In a radio interview conducted by military radio station DWDD on February 2019, Vice Adm. Empedrad announced plans to request the acquisition of between 10 to 12 "Fast Patrol Boats" which will be used to combat piracy and terrorism based on recent calls by Pres. Duterte.

Back then, the FOIC confirmed that he has not yet made the request with the president, nor secured the funding for these boats. But prior to that, the Philippine Navy has already been exploring the possibility of acquiring new fast patrol boats and has received several offers from friendly countries including Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the US, Netherlands, and Australia.

And the FOIC did had the chance to raise the requirement to be able to secure funding.

On 07 May 2019 during the Command Conference between Pres. Duterte, the DND, AFP, and other cabinet and agencies of the government, Vice Adm. Empedrad was said to have been given the green light to proceed with the acquisition phase, although with a smaller quantity and budget than earlier requested, with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) asked by Pres. Duterte to find funds to pay for the project.

This was later on re-confirmed during the 121st Founding Anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy, wherein Vice Adm. Empedrad mentioned it in his speech the plan to purchase eight (8) Fast Attack & Interdiction Crafts - Missile capable (FAIC-M), which was later shown as part of the video presentation of the PN during the celebrations.

No model was mentioned by the FOIC, but the video clearly shows the Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards.

A screengrab from the Philippine Navy's new institutional video for 2019, showing the Shaldag Mk. V representing the Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft - Missile (FAIC-M). Screengrab taken from PN video shared by PN sources.

In an interview with PN Spokesman Capt. Jonathan Zata, he also mentioned that the new FAIC-M will replace the eight (8) Patrol Killer Medium (PKM) fast attack crafts that they have in the fleet. He was referring to the Tomas Batilo-class fast attack crafts, which are called PKM boats when they were in service with the ROKN.

Capt. Zata also mentioned that the FAIC-Ms are intended to defend key sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu and Basilan Straits.

Despite Capt. Zata explaining that the new FAIC-Ms will replace the Tomas Batilo-class PKM fast attack crafts, MaxDefense believes that it would be more of a successor to the already retired Conrado Yap-class fast patrol boats, which are closer to the Shaldag Mk. V in terms of tonnage (75 on Conrado Yap-class tons versus Shaldag Mk. V's 95 tons and Tomas Batilo-class' 140 tons), although by length the Shaldag Mk. V is closer to the Tomas Batilo-class.  

Besides, the Conrado Yap-class were retired without a replacement coming in. MaxDefense doesn't agree that the MPAC Mks. 1 to 3 are their replacements either due to difference in size and capabilities offered.

The BRP Leopoldo Regis (PG-847), a fast patrol boat of the Conrado Yap-class. aka Haksaeng-class with the ROKN. The PN used to have ten (10) of these boats donated by the South Korean government in the early to mid 1990s. They were retired without a clear successor. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

The Project - Fast Attack Interdiction Craft:

Based on the approved plan, the Philippine Navy will procure eight (8) Fast Attack Interdiction Craft (FAIC) based on the technical requirements they submitted to the president. The budget will be Php10 billion (around US$193 million).

MaxDefense was informed by sources to not post the technical specifications, but based on what we have already seen, it appears that it was designed to suite the proposal made by Israel Shipyards Ltd to the Philippine Navy based on the company's Shaldag V fast patrol boat.

For those who remember, MaxDefense made a previous blog entry on Israel Shipyard's offer based on the Shaldag V as early as August 2016. The offer was made after a Request for Information (RFI) was released by the Philippine Navy to several shipbuilders.

For more on the Shaldag Mk. V, you may refer to an old blog entry, which can be accessed below:

"Israel Shipyard's Shaldag Mk. V Fast Patrol Boat Offered to the Philippine Navy" - first posted 16 August 2016

The Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards. Credits to original source of the photo.

Weapon Systems:

Also discussed will be the weapon systems installed on these boats - which would be acquired from a different company but would be installed once the boats are delivered.

The Philippine Navy has already selected the supplier, which would be Rafael Advance Systems Ltd (Rafael), which will supply systems mostly already familiar with the PN.

Among them are Rafael's Mini Typhoon 12.7mm  navalized Remote Controlled Weapon Stations (RCWS), the Typhoon 30mm navalized machine gun system, and the Typhoon MLS-NLOS capable of firing up to eight (8) rounds of Spike NLOS surface-to-surface missile.

The Rafael Typhoon MGS (top), and the Mini Typoon RCWS (above). The Typhoon MGS can be fitted with up to 30mm naval gun. All eight FAIC-Ms will have a Typhoon MGS armed with a 30mm gun, and two Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS. Photos taken from Wikipedia (top) and Royal Australian Navy (above).

Each of the eight FAIC-Ms will be armed with one (1) Typhoon 30mm MGS and two (2) Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS. But only four will be equipped with the Typhoon MLS-NLOS although the four other boats will be "Fitted for But Not With" (FFBNW) with the missile system.

The Rafael Spike NLOS MLS will be equipped to only four of the eight FAIC-Ms. This is probably due to budget constraints. Photo taken from Think Defence's website.

The Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) is an enhanced version and the largest and longest-ranged variant of the Rafael Spike missile family, with a 25 kilometer maximum effective range and a larger warhead than the standard Spike-ER used by the PN's MPAC Mk.3 and soon to arrive Mk.4. It is guided via a radio data link for command guidance, although it has fibre optic link up to 8 kilometers.

The Spike missile family, with the Spike NLOS (top most) being the largest and longest-ranged of the group, will be used as the missile component of the Fast Attack Interdiction Craft - Missile capable (FAIC-M).
Photo taken by MaxDefense community member Juliet XZRay during ADAS 2018.

While still unconfirmed, MaxDefense believes that the Philippine Navy may also use the Rafael Toplite Electro-Optical System (EOS), which will be installed to complement the Typhoon 30mm MGS as standard equipment. It is usual for Rafael to package it with the rest of their naval weapon system offerings especially those involving the Typhoon MGS.

The Rafael Toplight EOS is also used in patrol boats and naval ships for targeting and weapon support. Photo taken from Rafael's website.

Other Deal Inclusions:

What was not mentioned on reports is that the purchase of Shaldag Mk. V from Israel Shipyards included a Technology Transfer or License Build clause wherein the Philippine Navy shall be allowed by Israel Shipyards to license-build the Shaldag Mk. V on its own, or share the design to the PN.

To further support this, the requirement also calls for the construction of two (2) of the eight fast attack & interdiction crafts in the Philippines. Yes, local production 25% of the boats. But take note, this only involves the platforms/boats itself, not the weapon systems which would still be imported from Rafael in Israel.

And to make this happen, Israel Shipyards will also help the Philippine Navy to rehabilitate the Cavite Naval Yard (CNY), which will be the one to build the two locally-made FAIC-Ms.

The Philippine Navy's Cavite Naval Yard may not be huge enough to build larger ships, but it would start from at least being able to build smaller patrol boats or fast attack crafts like the Shaldag Mk. V. This would be beneficial to the PN in the long run to support the Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) program that the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines is trying to have, but also allow the Philippine Navy to assist other government agencies.

MaxDefene reported last year in our social media posts that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is among those interested in acquiring the Shaldag family of fast patrol boats. This was later confirmed by British defense media outlet Jane's when they reported that at the background of IMDEX Asia 2019 defense exhibition in Singapore, PCG has made known its interest in the Shaldag Mk.III, which is smaller than the Mk. V.

A local production capability for Shaldag family of fast boats could allow the PCG to specify the requirement for most if not all of its orders be constructed locally, which could give the CNY a good run for the money.

What's Next:

With the Philippine Navy FOIC himself putting much promotion on this project, it appears that the actual procurement phase would be happening very soon, and probably an award given by 3rd quarter of 2019. If this is the case, it is expected that the Notice to Proceed (NTP) and Opening of Letter of Credit (LOC) could happen before year end. 

Although we do not have figures yet, based on previous production and delivery history of Israel Shipyards, it is possible for an initial delivery to happen by late 2021 and the rest be delivered by late 2022.

MaxDefense will create a resource portal for this project, as we would start monitoring the project closely.

More of the FAIC-M will be posted by MaxDefense on a new resource page in our Modernization Program Portal.

Project Summary:

Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft - Missile Capable Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 19 June 2019:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Littoral Combat Force)

* Quantity: 8 units

* Modernization Phase: Special Projects within the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php10,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) deal with the Israeli Ministry of Defense - SIBAT

* Source of Funding: TBA

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent:
     - Platform: no final confirmation but most likely Israel Shipyards
     - Weapon Systems: Rafael Advance Systems Ltd.

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 8 units Fast Attack & Interdiction Craft (platform)
    - 8 units Rafael Typhoon 30mm MGS
    - 16 units Rafael Mini Typhoon 12.7mm RCWS

    - 4 units Rafael Typhoon MLS-NLOS missile launchers
    - Unspecified number of Spike NLOS missile rounds

    - Integrated Logistics Support Package
    - Assistance in rehabilitating Cavite Naval Yard
    - Technology Transfer (license to produce or owning design rights)

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 16 August 2016

* Searching Hashtag: #PNFAICMAcquisition

* Status: Pre-procurement phase ongoing


First edit and release: 20 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines


  1. This is good news indeed! Hoping it will not stop at 8 units in order to replace the WW2 era patrol vessels that we have. Besides the rehabilitation of CNY at Sangley is the best package indeed, enabling SRDP, ToT and employment generation. Also, commonality, logistics, maintenance/repair operation and economy of scale for PCG and PN.

  2. Only half are fully equipped. More FFBNW BS. I suppose that it is at least functional unlike our poor pathetic frigates.

  3. Whats the update on this deal? Is it a GO?

  4. If fitted with the Typhoon 8-cell NLOS launcher, won't it be top-heavy?


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