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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, September 30, 2019

Philippine Navy's Corvette Acquisition Program - Jose Rizal-class Flight II?

The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) have recently been very open in its planned acquisition of assets under the Horizon 2 phase, including how they plan to acquire assets, or from where are they planning to acquire them.

In the case of the PN, among the priorities that it had already mentioned publicly are the acquisition of brand new Corvettes, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), Landing Platform Docks (LPD), Missile-armed Fast Attack Interdiction Crafts (FAIC-M), and Submarines.

Out of the projects above, only the Landing Platform Dock project will be acquired through Public Bidding, and the bidding process is still ongoing as this entry was written. All others are to be acquired through Direct Negotiations or Government-to-Government (G2G) deals between the DND and its foreign counterparts.

MaxDefense believes that out of those in the list for G2G procurement, the Corvette and Offshore Patrol Vessel projects are the most urgent ones. But in this case, let's only talk about the updates on the Corvette Acquisition Project.

With the awarding of the project happening very soon, it would be fitting for MaxDefense to discuss the project again based on newer information.

A scale model of the Jose Rizal-class frigate as provided to the DND by Hyundai Heavy Industries. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by a source.

Recap on the Corvette Acquisition Project:
Since MaxDefense posted its last blog entry on the Corvette Acquisition Project more than a year ago on May 2018, let's have a recap of what the project is and what is it all about.

Previously MaxDefense posted information on what we believe would be the general technical requirements of the corvettes based on information we gathered back then. Here are what we posted back in 2018 just for readers to recall:

- 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

Back then, 
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 small warship family,
- Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea with a modified design based on the HDF-2600 / Jose Rizal-class frigates,
- 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.

This inforgraphic on the Corvette Acquisition Project was made public by the Philippine Navy on May 2018. But the requirements provided in this are aready superceded by a revised list of requirements included by the Philippine Navy in their RFIs to potential shipbuilders. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source.

Updates on Technical Requirements:

Just before the end of 2018, MaxDefense received a more accurate general technical requirement on the Corvette Acquisition Project, which further refined what were being asked for the proponents to provide compared to the requirements prior to that.

While the revised requirements did not went too far from the earlier list we posted above, this gave us more clarity on what the Philippine Navy would want in their corvettes, as follows:

- Minimum length of 80 meters, no limit on maximum length;

- A draft of equal or greater than 4 meters,
- A maximum of speed of at least 25 knots at 80% Maximum Continuous Rating,
- Endurance of at least 20 days, and operating range of at least 4,000 nautical miles,

- Displacement of between 2,000 to 2,500 tons
- Helicopter Landing Deck capacity of at least 10 tons capacity,

- A hangar for at least one 10-ton helicopter,
- A minimum complement of 80 officers and sailors,
- Having unrestricted ship and subsystem operability at Sea State 6
- Includes two 7-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat for Ship-boarding
- Low Radar Cross-Section, Low Infra-red design,
- Low Underwater Radiated Noise and Low Magnetic design
- Includes a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare citadel
- Tier 3 diesel engine rating

Sensors Fit:

- Two Navigational (X & S-band) Radars
- 3D Air/Surface AESA Radar with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF),
- A Fire Control Radar,
- An Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS),
- Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS), 
- Towed Array Sonar System (TASS),
- Incorporating Tactical Data Link 16 and 22 (which are PN-supplied) ,
- Naval Communications-Electronic Support Measures (C-ESM),
- Naval Radar-Electronics Support Measures (R-ESM),
- Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN), Satellite Communications (SATCOM)
- Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)

Combat Systems:
- Combat Management System with Tactical Data Link
- Integrated Platform Management System,

- Integrated Bridge Control System,
- Integrated Communications System,
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle component
- Chaffs & Decoys

Weapon Systems:
- 1 x 76mm Super Rapid gun,

- 2 x quadruple anti-ship missile launchers,
- 1 x Close-In Weapon System (CIWS),
- At least 1 x 30mm secondary gun,
- 2 x triple torpedo launchers
- At least 1 x 8-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS)

So far, the requirements above are actually close to global standards of current corvette designs, and was actually an improvement over the Jose Rizal-class frigate that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is set to deliver to the Philippine Navy next year.

Most of the requirements for the corvette as indicated in the above list are not really that far from the Jose Rizal-class frigate, but there are some changes that could greatly enhance the ship compared to its frigate sister. Credits to the original source of the photo.

Among the most notable differences with the Jose Rizal-class are the following:

* Use of a 3D AESA radar, which they learned when HHI replaced the 3D AESA radar it offered during the bidding to a different radar model using older technology. Specifying an AESA radar would force the proponent to provide it in their offering.
* Inclusion of a Towed Array Sonar System (TASS) which would effectively improve the ship's submarine-hunting capability instead of just relying on a Hull-Mounted Sonar. In the Jose Rizal-class, this is a Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW) item.
* The specs includes the incorporating of Tactical Data Link 16 and 22, which the Philippine Navy would supply but the shipbuilder should allow easy integration into its system. Mistakes in the Frigate Acquisition Project on being not too specific on this matter resulted to allowing a product not proven to integrate with Link 16 to be used.
* Use of Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which enables voice communication to be made in long distances, which is good for law enforcement missions. It is also a good defensive sound weapon against terrorists, illegal fishermen, and others.

A Long Range Acoustic Device as mounted on a warship. This can be used not just for long distance voice communication but also as a sound weapon against terrorists or other nearby threats. Credits to original source of the photo.

* Requirement for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle component, which will actually extend the eyes and ears of the warship by improving surveillance and camera range, and can also be used for targeting over the horizon for the ship's anti-ship cruise missiles.

The Philippine Navy has already done tests on using Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from ships like the Del Pilar-class as seen here. A VTOL but conventional flying UAV like the one above can be what the PN is looking for the corvettes. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a community member.

* Increased quantity of anti-ship missile launchers from 4 to 8, which was one of the issues of the Jose Rizal-class when the PN decreased the requirement to just for 4 launchers to fit the tight budget. In today's improving electronic warfare, hard and soft kill systems, launching a single or even two anti-ship missiles against a capable surface warship might not necessarily equate to a sure kill.

Requirement to include at least an 8-cell VLS and a CIWS, both of which are FFBNW items in the Jose Rizal-class. This means the corvettes would be ready to receive short or medium-range surface-to-air missiles that improves the warship's overall capability on the get-go. Based on how slow the PN does procurement, we do not expect the Jose Rizal-class to have their VLS and CIWS in the next 2-3 years.

Requirement to include Communication-EMS which is another step forward from just relying on Radar-ESM for identification, detection and interception of electronic signatures, as in the case of the Jose Rizal-class and Del Pilar-class ships.

Aside from these major differences, it appears that the Philippine Navy is looking for a warship design that is smaller than the Jose Rizal-class but will have more equipment installed once delivered.

Considering the higher budget provided for the Corvette Acquisition Project than on the construction of the Jose Rizal-class frigates, it is expected that the corvettes will have additional or even better subsystem fit-out, more weapons and sensors, and will be benefiting from experience from the design and construction of the frigates.

Up until the pre-procurement phase, MaxDefense noted that only certain shipbuilders really pursued the project with seriousness, and these are:

- Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), with a derivative of the HDF-2600 / Jose Rizal-class design;

- Damen, with the SIGMA family, with offers ranging from the SIGMA 9813, 9814, and 10514 designs;
- Naval Group with the Gowind-class corvette design;
- Goa Shipyard with a derivative of their Saryu-class offshore patrol vessel;
- Turkish Ministry of Defense with a derivative of the Ada-class corvette;

HHI's offer is technically a design based on Jose Rizal-class frigates, but will need to be revised to meet the requirements. They have the highest chance of being selected since they already have experience working with the Philippine Navy, and will not have difficulty in having a final design approved due to its similarity to the Jose Rizal-class. Their quick construction turn around as shown on the construction of the Jose Rizal-class is also something that has been noted well by both the DND and PN. Another advantage is their ability to help the Philippine Navy lobby for the transfer of excess warships from the South Korean government. 

An update on the Jose Rizal-class frigate design was offered by HHI for the PN's Corvette Acquisition Project. Photo credited to original source.

Damen has offered several designs of their SIGMA family of small warships, with MaxDefense believing that the SIGMA 9814 originally offered to Vietnam being the most feasible based on the requirements. It has partnered with local marine contractor Propmech Corporation and was looking at other local shipbuilders for partnership that would allow them to build some of the corvette's modules locally, and probably have the ship assembled locally too. Damen has an existing shipyard in Vietnam and agreements with PT PAL in Indonesia, which could ether be a good or bad news depending on their benefits or disadvantages.

The SIGMA 9814 corvette design, which Damen offered to Vietnam a few years ago. Credits to the original source of the photo.
Naval Group's Gowind-class was said to be the favorite among officers from the Offshore Combat Force, but is also the priciest. Its cost already exceeded the budget although apparently the French government offered to assist by providing soft loans to cover the cost difference. Perception within the Philippine Navy is that the Gowind-class would have the highest quality in the offerings, although this is debatable due to improving quality from other countries.

The Gowind-class corvette was offered by Naval Group to the Philippines. The same design was selected by Malaysia for its Littoral Combat Ship (Maharaja Lela-class), and the Egyptian Navy (above). Credits to original source of photo.

Goa Shipyard Ltd. benefits from its participation on the Brazilian Navy's Tamandare corvette project, offering the same platform to the Philippine Navy as what they offered to Brazil. Based on feedbacks from our sources, Goa's offering was said to be the cheapest, but concerns on using an offshore patrol vessel design rather than a derivative of a small warship design could be an issue.

The Saryu-class OPV, which is the basis for Goa Shipyard's offer. Credits to the original source of the photo.
Turkey's offer using the a derivative of either the Ada-class corvette or the larger Istanbul-class frigate designed for and used by the Turkish Naval Forces is another interesting one, considering they are also open at having the ship built locally with a local partner, and offering transfer of technology should they win the project. The offer made by Turkey also exceeded the budget although a primary reason was due to the technology transfer proposal which is actually an investment for the future of Philippine naval shipbuilding.

The Istanbul-class frigate design, which is to be built for the Turkish Naval Forces based on the smaller Ada-class corvette. Both designs were offered to the Philippine Navy. Photo taken from Navy Recognition website.

Other shipyards did provide offers but were not really serious due to different circumstances. This includes ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), Navantia, Fincantierri, Austal, BAE Systems, Mazagon Dock, and STX.

Months leading to the Project Approval:
MaxDefense received confirmation as early as March 2019 that Hyundai Heavy Industries appears to be the leading shipbuilder in the race to build the PN's new corvettes. This was after Naval Group and Damen was said to have lost interest in the project for reasons MaxDefense would rather not discuss in the public.

The Turkish government  was said to have been pushing hard for their offer to be shortlisted, but it appears that decision makes within the DND and PN were already fixed on who would be the selected shipbuilder.

MaxDefense's sources later on confirmed that HHI's offer was the most favoured for a number of reasons both legal and, as our sources mentioned, "obvious extra-legal" reasons that is related to how the Philippine Navy and DND ended up on dealing with HHI for the Jose Rizal-class frigates in 2016-2017.

HHI's latest offer was considered "unsolicited", as it was not tailor-fitted based on the Philippine Navy's posted requirements. Instead, it was a combined offer by HHI with backing from the South Korean government that not only covers the construction of the corvettes and the subsystems in it, but also other issues like defense cooperation, excess defense article, financing, and other matters that may include political reasons. For discussions, let's focus on the reasons they does not involve "extra-legal" matters.

It was later on confirmed that during the Joint Command Conference in Malacanang last 07 May 2019, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana submitted for the DND's project approval proposal and recommendation based on HHI's unsolicited offer, which means that it was already evaluated and selected by both the PN and DND beforehand. It validated earlier information provided to MaxDefense on HHI's offer being the most likely selection.

Pres. Duterte and Defense Sec. Lorenzana. Credits to original source of photo.

Pres. Duterte gave the green light to proceed with the Corvette Acquisition Project based on HHI's unsolicited offer, which means the DND and PN were given the freehand to finalize negotiations with HHI and the South Korean government.

HHI's Unsolicited Offer: Jose Rizal-class Flight II

According to MaxDefense's naval and defense sources, the HHI offer was actually an improved Jose Rizal-class frigate, with enhancements made on the sensors and subsystems, performance, weapon systems, and added features that goes with the ship.

It is expected to have a similar hull and base design as the Jose Rizal-class, but might have some adjustment in terms of displacement, length and width, and other physical dimensions to allow the added features or replaced subsystems.

It is safe to say that the corvettes offered by HHI are actually a follow-on to the Jose Rizal-class, which can be labelled as Jose Rizal-class Flight II considering South Korea has been doing a similar method of improving an existing design as they are built in numbers. In this case, it is highly possible that HHI is still constructing / fitting-out the Jose Rizal-class frigates once the contract for the corvettes are signed.

Due to these changes, MaxDefense now believes that these corvettes could be larger and heavier than the original Jose Rizal-class frigates. Among the changes that we expect are the use of larger diesel engines, having larger fuel tanks, more spaces and allowance for weight and power for additional weapon and sensors, more or larger diesel generators, possible use of alternative power sources to compensate on the additional weight, and more crew and storage spaces to accommodate more crew.

Being unsolicited, it is highly possible that HHI would either have fixed the subsystems to be used, or will allow the Philippine Navy to choose but up to a certain degree of not exceeding specific budget allocations unless the PN shoulders or agrees to pay more. At best, it may still follow the basic requirements of the Philippine Navy like the use of a 3D AESA radar, etc.

Up until June 2019, the PN is still in negotiation with HHI on the final fit-out of the corvettes, including additional subsystems that were not part of the proposal. Apparently HHI's offer may not have exceeded the budget allocated by the Philippine Navy, which is now pegged at Php24 billion (US$ 461 million) for 2 corvettes (or an average of Php12 billion or US$230 million per ship) excluding ammunition which will be acquired under a separate sub-lot worth Php4 billion.

Additional Pohang-class Corvettes on the Table:
Among the inclusions made by HHI for the Philippine Navy and DND to consider was that they will again lobby for the transfer of more retired Pohang-class corvettes to the Philippine Navy if their HHI is awarded the project.

This is exactly the reason why the Philippine Navy and DND were both confident that their request for 2 more Pohang-class corvettes, and possibly more units will be granted by the South Korean government.

So far, not even the French, Indian, or Turkish offers could match that.

The introduction of more Pohang-class corvettes means the Philippine Navy could now have reason to decommission and dispose of its remaining World War 2-era warships like the Rizal-class and Malvar-class patrol vessels by 2020.

HHI apparently promised to help lobby on the transfer of more Pohang-class corvettes retired by the ROKN, should HHI win the CAP. Photos taken from the Philippine Navy. Credits to the Philippine Navy.

MaxDefense's Opinion and Forecast:
MaxDefense believes that since HHI was the one that made the proposal, it is highly possible that it would include subsystems that are made in South Korea. It may also have features found on the new Daegu-class frigates of the Republic of Korea Navy, although it could be using more imported components than its Korean counterpart.

Both HHI and the PN could probably take a cue to the new Daegu-class frigates (FFX-II) of the ROKN, which is just US$40 million more expensive than the PN new corvettes. The Daegu-class uses a larger 127mm naval gun, a larger size, and a more complicated CODLOG configuration of propulsion involving the expensive Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbine and Leonardo DRS electric motors. These could have contributed to the higher cost per ship. Photo taken from Navy Recognition website.

Among those expected to be carried over from the Jose Rizal-class frigates are the following:

* Combat Management System, which may still use the Hanwha Defense Systems Naval Shield I-CMS. Since development of Baseline 3 is not yet completed, it is highly possible that the corvettes will receive a later version of Baseline 2.

It is highly expected that HHI would offer the Hanwha Defense Systems Naval Shield I-CMS Baseline 2.xx again for their proposed new corvettes.Commonality with the JRCF becomes a key reason. Photo shows the CMS consoles for BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151). Credits to original source of photo.
* Anti-ship Cruise Missile with the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star missile. Among all weapons, the C-Star is the most likely Korean weapon to be made standard on the corvettes.
* 76mm Naval Gun using the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun, which is becoming the standard naval gun of the Philippine Navy together with the older Oto Melara 76mm Compact gun.
* 30mm Secondary Gun using Aselsan SMASH 30mm RCWS, which still remains to be one of the most affordable in the market. Having them already in the Jose Rizal-class makes it more feasible.
* SEA Triple Trainable Torpedo tubes, which also makes sense due to commonality.
* Lightweight Torpedoes with the LIGNex1 K745 Blue Shark lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes, which is also becoming the standard lightweight torpedo of the PN,

MaxDefense is also expecting improvements, including the following:
* 3D AESA radar using the Hensoldt TRS-4D radar, which is essentially an AESA version of the older non-AESA TRS-3D installed on the Jose Rizal-class.

Hyundai, with approval by the South Korean government may be pushing for their corvette offer to include the K-VLS vertical launching system, which would enable them to push for the export of the K-SAAM missile defense system and the KM-SAM medium-range surface-to-air missile. Photo taken from The Mess, credits to original source of the photo which appear to be from a Korean website.

* The K-VLS 8-cell Vertical Launching System, wherein the frigates may be fitted with at least 1. Should the PN be successful of having two 8-cell VLS, it is still highly possible that at least 1 could be using the K-VLS to allow the use of Korean-made missiles. This means possibly offering also the LIGNex1 K-SAAM Sea Bow anti-missile missile system, and/or the LIGNex1 KM-SAM Cheolmae 2 medium range surface-to-air missiles.

While still unconfirmed, among those that were being considered for inclusion on the new corvettes include two 8-cell VLS for surface-to-air missiles, diesel-electric hybrid propulsion for silent running during ASW operations, an additional 30mm naval gun, a more comprehensive Electronic Warfare suite, among others.

Corvette or Frigate? 
If the new corvettes are essentially slightly larger Jose Rizal-class frigates, does it mean that they are actually frigates and not corvettes?

Or since the new corvettes the same or slightly larger than the Jose Rizal-class frigates, does it mean the Jose Rizal-class are actually corvettes and not frigates?

Considering the Philippine Navy plans to have 6 frigates and 12 corvettes as part of its Sail Plan 2028, where do we categorize the new corvettes and Jose Rizal-class frigates?

If MaxDefense is to answer the question, I believe the Jose Rizal-class should be reclassified as corvettes, and the new corvettes remain as corvettes too.

Why, you ask? Despite the classification of both ships becoming moot due to similarities in capabilities and size? Simple.

First of, if the Philippine Navy classifies them as corvettes, they are now compelled to acquire larger warships that they can classify rightfully as frigates. It won't matter if by paper the Philippine Navy becomes frigate-less until 2023. At least we know that the PN would now be looking at larger warships, with length probably exceeding 120 meters and displacement exceeding 4,000 tons, with more space for power generation, larger and more powerful sensors, and more capable weapon systems.

The Philippine Navy can even consider the new Type 31e frigate of the UK, whose basic price is within the Php18 billion budget allocated by the PN. The ship is large enough for future growth including installation of advanced air defense systems. Photo taken from BBC.

Secondly, the PN has to base its classification on the actual ability of the ships As per the PN's Classification Guidelines as of May 2016, a "Corvette" is a surface ship designed for anti-submarine warfare, and displaces between 540 to 3,000 tons (or well within the displacement of both the Jose Rizal-class frigate and the new corvettes). 

Meanwhile a "Frigate" is a surface ship designed for both ASW and Anti-Aircraft Warfare (AAW), and displaces between 2,000 to 5,000 tons. Despite the Jose Rizal-class frigates slated to have an 8-cell VLS, that would not be enough for it to be classified as an AAW asset, since the missiles are most likely just to defend itself against incoming aircraft or anti-ship cruise missiles. A real AAW asset means having the capacity to provide air defense not just to itself but also an entire battle group, and having longer-ranged air defense capability. This means being armed with more VLS launchers, more powerful air defense radar and combat system, and use of long range air defense missiles like the Barak-8, Aster-30, or SM-3 missiles.

Lastly, if a more powerful ship like the new corvettes are classified as corvettes, is it not logical to classify less powerful and probably slightly smaller warships like the Jose Rizal-class as corvettes too?

And the Philippine Navy must have already realized this before too. Why is that?

Based on the original submissions made by the Philippine Navy to procure additional frigates as part of the Horizon 2 Priority Projects, they have actually allocated a budget of Php18 billion (around US$380 million in 2016, most likely excluding ammo) for each future frigate in 2016. That is far higher than the current allocation of Php12 billion (around US$230 million in 2019, excluding ammo) for each new corvette, or the Php8 billion (US$170 million in 2016 excluding ammo). 

Even Indonesia, which just recently commissioned the Martadinata-class frigates, is now looking at larger frigate designs like the Danish Iver Huitfeldt-class or the Damen's Omega frigate for their needs. The Martadinata-class based on Damen's SIGMA 10514 is similar is size and quite similar in capability as the Jose Rizal-class frigates. Credits to original sources of both photos.

It would also be remembered that Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, in a recent press interview, mentioned that a new large frigate may cost around Php60 billion (around US$1.15 billion). Although his cost estimates were too high (even European navies pay less than US$1 billion for AEGIS-equipped air defense frigates), the idea is that they are looking at frigates with similar capabilities and obviously larger size than the new corvettes or the Jose Rizal-class frigates in the future.

MaxDefense will try to monitor this project, considering everything can still change since there is no contract nor even a Notice of Award released in favor of any shipbuilder. MaxDefense was told by sources that the NOA could be released before the end of October 2019, with a contract potentially ready for signing before the 2019 Christmas Holidays kick in.

More of the updates coming on the Corvette Acquisition Project will be posed by MaxDefense in its resource page for the project. It can be accessed on our website's AFP Modernization Projects portal, or through the link provided below:

"Corvette Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy" - first posted on 17 August 2019.

Take note that all analysis posted in this blog entry are based on current information provided to MaxDefense, and may not be 100% accurate. But we try to be as close to the facts and truth as much as possible.

Project Summary:

Corvette Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 17 August 2019.

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 2 ships and assorted ammunition

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 Phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php28,000,000,000.00 (both lots)

* Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Procurement

* Source of Funding: From other sources, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligatory Allocations (MYOA).

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA

* Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 25 June 2013

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNCorvetteAcquisition #PNCAP

* Status: Pre-Procurement phase ongoing. Final negotiations ongoing with Hyundai Heavy Industries, award and contract signing exepected before end of 2019.

First edit and release: 29 September 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Monday, September 23, 2019

Philippine Air Force to receive test-buy of Guided Advance Tactical Rockets soon.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has been aspiring to have air-launched guided rockets as part of its arsenal ever since the development maturity of such type of munitions in the past 5 years.

Several options from different countries and manufacturers were considered by the PAF, although it appears that they have already selected a specific model for their requirements.

This is the Guided Advance Tactical Rockets (GATR) developed by American company Orbital ATK (now part of Northrop Grumman), and Israel’s Elbit Systems.

Last November 2018, MaxDefense posted in its Facebook page about this impending acquisition project, which is intended for the PAF's 15th Strike Wing. This is important as the delivery of the GATR is historical for the 15th Strike Wing as it will become the unit's first air-to-ground guided munition.

The ATK-Elbit GATR guided rocket munition. The PAF intends to acquire them through Israel's Elbit Systems. Photos taken from ATK Orbital and Elbit's websites.

The Guided Advance Tactical Rocket (GATR):

The GATR was developed as a low-cost solution to conventional guided missiles, allowing the same capability at a fraction of a cost using the 2.75” air-launched rocket systems available to most global air armed services like the Philippine Air Force.

It was designed with minimal smoke signature, and benefits from existing technologies on 2.75” rocket production including the motor and body. It was also developed with several types of warheads including armor-penetrating, blast fragmentation, and high explosive.

Its small warhead size also allows low-yield precision damage, which reduces or eliminates collateral damage especially against targets in an urban setting.

More on the GATR, photo taken from Elbit's website.

It has a maximum effective range exceeding 8 kilometres, compatible to existing 2.75” rocket launchers, and can be used by both slow-moving fixed wing or rotary-win aircraft.

Due to its size and limited range as well as the minimal development cost, reduced production and purchase cost was possible and would be viable alternatives to missiles especially for cash-strapped countries.

Application of GATR, which are also good in counter insurgency or counter terrorism missions. Photo taken from Elbit's website.

Successful tests were conducted in the US as early as 2009 using US Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters, and were fired via “lock-on before launch” similar to most helicopter-launched guided missiles. It can also be supported using remote laser designation, or lock-on after launch methods.

PAF’s Seleciton of GATR:

An evaluation has been ongoing on the selection of GATR since 2017, wherein it was being evaluated vis a vis other similar munitions including the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), among others.

An initial buy involving a few launchers and munitions to equip the PAF’s AgustaWestland AW109E Power armed helicopters was planned, which will allow the PAF to conduct its own evaluations of the system prior to deciding on purchasing in larger numbers.

The PAF's AW109E Power armed helicopters can use their existing FN Herstal RMP pods, which can carry up to 3 GATR rockets for each pod. Credits to original source of photo.

Aside from the AW109E fleet, the PAF also plans to have this capability with other assets including existing assets like the MD-520MG Defender armed helicopters (with assistance to forward air controllers equipped with laser designators), and upcoming aircraft like the Bell AH-1S  Cobra attack helicopter, and Rockwell OV-10G+ Combat Dragon Broncos and Embraer A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft, all of which are equipped with EO/IR cameras.

Both the OV-10G+ Combat Dragon and Bell AH-1S Cobra can be armed with the GATR. Photos credited to original sources.

The PAF selected the GATR through a Government-to-Government Negotiated Procurement process with the Israeli government, with the PAF Bids and Awards Committee confirming this with a notice released in late 2018.

MaxDefense received confirmation that a contract was signed in early 2019 worth around Php156.785 million (around US$3 million), with deliveries expected to happen in around a year’s time or less.

The 15th Strike Wing has its own inforgraphic display which it uses during ceremonies. The GATR shown is just a mock-up, considering the PAF usually keeps mock-ups of its upcoming munitions like the Python and Derby missiles it showed before. Photos shared exclusively to MaxDefense by a source.

Other Guided Rocket Plans:

Aside from the GATR, the Philippine Air Force is also looking at the possibility of acquiring Turkey’s Cirit air-launched guided rocket madeq by Roketsan, should the PAF’s procurement of Turkish-made TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter pushes through. This is among the issues being negotiated as part of the Attack Helicopter acquisition project, although they would be acquired separately using a different funding.

The Roketsan Cirit guided rocket is also being considered should the acquisition of the T129 ATAK attack helicopter pushes through. Credits to original sources of photos.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy’s Naval Air Wing (PN NAW) has also been looking at the GATR as well as the APKWS, which is aimed to arm their own fleet of AgustaWestland AW109E Power armed helicopters, as well as their AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval combat helicopters. So far no decision has been made by the PN-NAW on which guided rocket they would procure.

MaxDefense received word that the PN NAW was more in favour of the BAE Systems APKWS although that remains to be seen in the final decision.

Project Summary:

Rocket, 2.75" with Guided Advance Tactical Rocket (GATR) Guidance System Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 23 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)

* Quantity: undisclosed due to OPSEC reasons

* Modernization Phase: outside Horizon 2 phase (standard munitions acquisition using PAF operational funds)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the Israel Ministry of Defense

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: TBC

* Winning Proponent: Elbit Systems (Israel)

Product for Delivery:  

   - unspecified number of ATK Orbital 2.75" rockets
   - unspecified number of ATK Orbital-Elbit Systems GATR guidance systems
   - unspecified number of rocket launchers

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 30 November 2018

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFGATRAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in early 2019. Delivery expected soon.

First posted 23 September 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Philippine Air Force receives AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missiles

MaxDefense Philippines has finally received confirmation that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has finally started receiving its order of AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder short-range IR-guided air-to-air missile from Germany's Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH, as well as receiving partial delivery of AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missiles from America's Raytheon Missile Systems.

This was confirmed by MaxDefense's defense and military sources, which mentioned that the Sidewinder missiles actually started arriving a few months ago, and the 2nd tranche of  Mavericks were delivered a few months ago. A 3rd tranche is expected by early 2020.

An AIM-9 Sidewinder missile mounted on a South Korean FA-50 light combat aircraft. Photo taken from Warplane Porn Reddit page.

AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles:

The Sidewinder missiles were acquired as part of the Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer Munitions Lot 1 - Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force, which is a Horizon 1 phase Priority Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

These are intended to arm the PAF's fleet of KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft of the Air Defense Command. These missiles could also be used by incoming air assets of the Air Defense Command, including the future Multi-Role Fighter.

The AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder (top) and the AIM-9M variant. The PAF received the AIM-9L/I-1 variant. Credits to original source of photo.

MaxDefense cannot disclose the total quantity acquired by the PAF due to security reasons, but it is safe to say that there were "a few hundreds of units".

It would be remembered that these missiles were ordered from Dielh Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH on August 2017, and was slated to arrive within 2 years of release of NTP, which places the deadline on August 2019. 

More information can be found on our resource page for the project, which can be found in the MaxDefense Philippines' AFP Modernization Projects Portal, or can be accessed through the link below:

"Fighter Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition (Horizon 1) of the Philippine Air Force" - first posted 12 September 2019.

AGM-65G2 Maverick Air-to-Ground Missiles:

Meanwhile, the general public already knew that the PAF already operates a few AGM-65G2 Maverick live and dummy training rounds since June 2017 when photos surfaced of some of them equipped by the PAF's FA-50PH Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft.

These initial rounds were brought to the Philippines by a PAF C-130T Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft, which showed the importance of these missiles to train the PAF early on before most of the live rounds arrive.

Top photo show munition boxes being loaded on a PAF C-130T Hercules in Tucson, Arizona, where Raytheon Missile Systems' manufacturing facility is located. Next photo shows LAU-177 missile rail launcher boxes being loaded on the same PAF C-130T Hercules transport aircraft, also in the US. The LAU-177 are used to arm the AGM-65 Maverick and other NATO-standard missiles. Top photo from Pinoy Aviators's Facebook page. 2nd photo credited to original owner.

Based on contract signed on June 2017, the first tranche can be received by the PAF immediately, the second tranche by 3rd quarter 2019, and the third tranche should be arriving by early 2020. This is the reason why the PAF sent in a C-130T Hercules to fly all the way to Tucson, Arizona to bring home the first tranche.

The missiles were first displayed to the public during the PAF's Anniversary in 2017, wherein photos were made available to the publc, like the photos below.

The FA-50 shown was displayed during the PAF's Founding Anniversary Celebrations on July 2017. The aircraft above is shown with an M117 750-lb free fall bomb, an inert AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and an AIM-9B upgraded Sidewinder air-to-air missile. Photos credited to MaxDefense community member and aviation photographer Efrain Noel Morota.

Due to OPSEC reasons, MaxDefense cannot disclose the actual quantity involved, but we can say that they are less in number than the Sidewinders received by the PAF.

For more information about the initial delivery of AGM-65G2 Maverick missiles in 2017, readers can go to our earlier blog entry which can be accessed below:

"Philippine Air Force Receives First Shipment of AGM-65G2 Maverick Missiles, Gains New Capability" - first posted 30 July 2017

Project Summary:

F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 1 - Short Range Air-to-Air Missile Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 14 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)

* Quantity: undisclosed due to OPSEC reasons

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Project of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the US through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0012038 dated 08 August 2017, released 09 August 2017

* Winning Proponent: Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme GmbH (Germany)

Product for Delivery:  "a few hundred" Raytheon-Diehl AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missile. Exact quantity not provided due to OPSEC reasons.

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense: 
20 June 2015 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFFSAALIFTMunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50MunitionsLot1Acquisition #PAFFA50SRAAMAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in 2017. Delivery ongoing as of 3rd quarter 2019.


F/SAA/LIFT Munitions Lot 2 - Air-to-Surface Missile Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 14 September 2019.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (Air Defense Command)

* Quantity: undisclosed due to OPSEC reasons

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase Priority Project of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Negotiated Procurement (Government-to-Government) deal with the US through US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program

* Source of Funding: GAA Funded

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-17-0008811 dated 20 June 2017, released 21 June 2017

* Winning Proponent: Raytheon Missile Systems (USA)

Product for Delivery:  Raytheon AGM-65G2 Maverick air-to-ground missiles including dummy training rounds and all accessories Exact quantity not provided due to OPSEC reasons.

* Contract Price: 

* First post by MaxDefense:

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFFSAALIFTMunitionsLot2Acquisition #PAFFA50MunitionsLot2Acquisition #PAFFA50AGMAcquisition

* Status: Project awarded in 2017. Delivery ongoing as of September 2019.

First edit and release: 14 September 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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