The Navy’s New Frigates – On the Brink, and their ISO/HADR Capabilities

The Incheon class Frigate like this ROKS Jeonbuk (FFG-813) was HHI's entry into the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Program. Photo courtesy of the Republic of Korea Ministry of Defense account on Flickr.
The Incheon class Frigate like this ROKS Jeonbuk (FFG-813) was HHI’s entry into the Philippine Navy’s Frigate Acquisition Program. Photo courtesy of the Republic of Korea Ministry of Defense account on Flickr.

Officially this is my first blog under the Administration of the new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and guess what? It talks about the Philippine Navy’s (PN) Frigate Acquisition Program on the brink of being either approved … or cancelled outright. First, an update on the whole Frigate program so far.

‘Frigate Program Progress’
The Indian company Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd was found to be the lowest bidder in the PN’s Frigate program, submitting a bid of P 15.047 Billion (USD 326 million), or P 953 million (USD 20.7 million) lower than the P16 billion (USD 347 million) budget for the project. The next lowest bidder was Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) who submitted a bid worth P15.744 billion (USD 341 million), higher by P 697 million (USD 15.1 million) than that of GRSE. Two other bidders, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) Co. Ltd and Navantia SA submitted bids but failed to meet some documentary requirements.[1]
Continue reading The Navy’s New Frigates – On the Brink, and their ISO/HADR Capabilities

Third Year Blog Anniversary

Photo courtesy of the All is Wall website.
Photo courtesy of the All is Wall website.

This month marks the third year anniversary of my “rhk111’s Military and Arms Page” which I started in 2013. With around 113 published blogs and over 860k views in three years, it continues to exceed my expectations, and I thank all the readers for this.

’Delayed and Completed Projects’
During my last year’s anniversary blog,[1] I wrote about delays that hounded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization, and unfortunately, up to now MOST of those items have still not been completed yet, and with the end of term of the current Administration nearing, then I am not anymore optimistic that they will be awarded a contract anytime soon. These delayed projects are namely the following:
Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA)
Close Air Support Aircraft (CAS)
Shore Based Missile System (SBMS)
Rocket Propelled Grenade or RPG-7
ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759) Pohang-class Corvette
Missiles for our Del Pilar class Ships
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Our Armed Forces’ Switch to the M855 Round

M855 Ball 5.56 x 45 mm ammunition with painted Green Tips. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
M855 Ball 5.56 x 45 mm ammunition with painted Green Tips. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One less publicized fact about the PNoy Administration’s acquisition of the Remington R4 Assault Rifles is how the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) can now also switch to using a newer type of ammo, the M855. This is because the R4 Rifles have barrels with 1 in 7 inch Twist Rates which allows them to do so.

’Twist Rate’
First, just an explanation on the term “Twist Rate”: A bullet when it leaves the barrel of a firearm needs to be imparted a “spin” in order for it to travel further and on a more stable trajectory. Without this spin, then the bullet won’t be able to travel as accurately or as far and will drop to the ground quicker.
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HIMARS for the Philippine Army?

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One big surprise during the recent Balikatan 2016 Military Exercise was how the United States (US) Army decided to bring and highlight their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or HIMARS. This is the first time they have brought over the system to the annual, joint US-Philippine exercises, and it literally made quite a splash as it was all over the local news. One wonders if this has something to do with the revelation made last year by Israel Military Industries (IMI) that the Philippines was set to buy a similar system, the Lynx armed with EXTRA Missiles.[1]

That deal did not push thru as the then incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Hernando Irriberi decided to cancel it in favor of buying more Force Protection Equipment (FPE) for the Philippine Army. It ended up being a “Lose-Lose” situation as not only did we not end up with the Lynx, but we also did not end up with any of the FPEs he wanted bought instead. Irriberi had the opportunity to be remembered as the AFP Chief of Staff to usher in the “Missile Age” for the Army, but instead he will be remembered as the one who had DELAYED it.
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Arming and Equipping the Tarlac-class Ships of the Philippine Navy

The LD-601 BRP Tarlac. Photo courtesy of Pr1v4t33r from the Pakistan Defence Forum.
The LD-601 BRP Tarlac. Photo courtesy of Pr1v4t33r from the Pakistan Defence Forum.

The first of our Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs) was finally launched a couple of months ago and has been officially named as the LD-601 BRP Tarlac. As of this writing it has already completed and passed its Sea Trials, and is scheduled for delivery to the country by May 2016.[1] However, while there are plans to arm the ship with modern weapons, it will be arriving without them. In fact, it doesn’t seem like the budget for those has been set aside or approved yet. In light of this, I am speculating on how it will be initially armed, and also offering my opinion on additional weapons and defensive systems that I feel at the very least it should have.

’The Tarlac Class
We call these ships as SSVs, but most navies around the world also classifies them as Landing Platform Docks (LPDs), ships that are designed to support Amphibious Landing Operations by carrying a combination of Helicopters, Vehicles, Landing Crafts and Troops. The BRP Tarlac is the first of two such vessels we ordered from Indonesia’s PT PAL for USD 46 million each, with the second one due to be delivered no later than 2017.
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The Philippine Navy’s “Desired Force Mix 2015”

The Philippine Navy published an updated version of their “Desired Force Mix” last December 2015 on an article in their official website,[1] and it turned out to be quite interesting, although it was just a brief overview contained in one graphic. It lacked many important details like the exact timeline or the budget they needed to get all those equipment. But they did note down the exact quantities and the description of the equipment they want, as well as a general or approximate timeline of when they intend to get them. Below is the said graphic:
PN_Desired_Force_Mix

’Summary’
I have re-ordered the contents of the graphic into a matrix, as follows:
PNDFM-2015 Summary

As we can see, the procurement is divided into three different “Horizons” which was first mentioned by former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang in 2014.[2] So far the AFP has not released to the public the SPECIFIC details of these Horizons, they just provide bits and pieces about it here and there in news reports every now and then. As far as I can tell, the Administration of Benigno Aquino Jr. covers the FIRST Horizon, and so I assume that the next two Administrations will be the second and third Horizons.
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Philippine Navy Frigate Acquisition Project Revised Technical Requirements – February 2016

Top view illustration of the AW159 Wildcat. Illustration taken from the Department of National Defense (DND) document DND/PN-FAP-16-01.
Top view illustration of the AW159 Wildcat. Illustration taken from the Department of National Defense (DND) document DND/PN-FAP-16-01.

The bidding for the Philippine Navy’s new Frigate Acquisition Project officially resumed when the Department of National Defense (DND) posted recently on the official Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) website the schedule of the Bid Submission and Opening of the Second or Final Stage of the bidding. It was initially set for February 16, 2016,[1] but was later reset to March 3, 2016,[2] then reset again to March 10, 2016.[3] Along with the initial announcement, they also published a REVISION to the specifications of the Frigates, and it is quite long at over 71 pages.[4]

The revisions resulted in a more detailed and comprehensive technical specifications compared to it was before,[5] thanks probably in no small part to help from the P 25 million Consultant/s that they hired[6] and also from the Technical Working Group (TWG) that helped review the bids.[7] The revisions are quite numerous, so I am just summarizing on what I think are the most important and interesting ones. If you want to read the old and new specifications yourself, just refer to the End Notes.[4][5]
Continue reading Philippine Navy Frigate Acquisition Project Revised Technical Requirements – February 2016

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