Philippine Navy New Frigate Bidding Candidates – August 2013

The Philippine Navy (PN) is set to open the bidding of 2 brand new Frigates worth P18 Billion (USD 418 million), and although no specific timeline has been put forward, it is hoped that it will happen within the year.[1] So far only Spain’s Navantia has publicly stated that they intend to join the bidding to offer their Avante 1800 (A1800) Corvette[2]. Also, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea as early as last year had talks with the Department of National Defense (DND) on the possibility of them joining any new Frigate bidding thru their Incheon-class Frigates.[2]

I have prepared a table below comparing some of the important statisctics regarding these 2 candidates, and comparing them also to the BRP Ramon Alcaraz we have right now. Sources of these statistics can be seen at the “Sources” section at the end of the page.[4][5][6]

* Air Defense:
– Here the Avante has the advantage as its vertical launchers for Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) can accommodate various medium-range SAMs, like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) the Spanish Navy uses. The Incheon does have a redundant gun (Phalanx) AND missile-based (Rolling Airframe Missile or RAM) Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), but these are for short-range air defense only. The ESSM has around 456% more range than the RAM (9km versus 50km).[7][8]

* Anti-Ship/Land Attack:
– The Incheon can carry more 4 more missiles and their launchers as is. Even if the PN will not use Cruise Missiles, these can be allocated for Anti Ship Missiles (ASMs) instead, increasing its ASMs by 66% to 12
– The Incheon’s gun has a much higher caliber, 106% larger, and can hit targets 50% farther, although it has a 112% slower rate of fire than the A1800’s gun.

* Size, Speed and Range:
– The Incheon offers 20% more speed and 66% more range than the A1800.
– The Incheon is also a huge 71% heavier and 27% longer than the A1800 in terms of physical size

As we can see, gallant though is Navantia’s offer maybe, but it is beaten in almost all parameters by the Incheon. Hence, its a no brainer that if the Incheon can be bought by the same budget, then it will be the one that should be bought.

However, what bothers me is why Navantia is offering such a small and inferior ship for that budget range? One way to interpret this is that Spain’s labor and other costs are so high compared to an Asian country like South Korea (Sokor) that it cannot compete anymore in terms of price. But the thing is that Sokor is not really an impoverished Asian country, it is in fact one of the most developed countries in Asia, hence in terms of costs I don’t think the gap between them and Europe is really that great.

Another way to interpret this is that the PN’s budget for a brand new ship will is only enough for these smaller ships similar to what Navantia is offering rather than ships of the size and capability of an Incheon-class Frigate. Remember that HHI has not formally announced they are joining the bid and with what model yet, hence it is possible that HHI may not even join the bid, or that they may do so with a smaller or lighter ship or variant.

Also of note is how the Hamilton matches up well with the Incheon in terms of performance. It has about the same speed, and more than twice the range. The only thing it lacks is a stealth profile, typical since it is an older ship from the 60s. If upgraded to USCGC Mellon standards[9], it should be pretty respectable Frigate for our PN.

‘Parting Shot’
We’ll have to wait for the other bidders who will come forward in the next couple of months, if there will be any other bidders. The the type of ships these other bidders will enter will reflect on whether Navantia’s offer is really overpriced for its size and capability, or if it is just right. Hopefully we can also make more comparisons and see which ship will have the advantage, at least on paper, and I am looking forward to that.


[1] Navy to open bidding for brand new warships,

[2] Navantia ha presentado a Filipinas el sofisticado patrullero Avante 1800 para optar al concurso que convocará a final de año,

[3] South Korea Offers Incheon-Class-Frigate to Philippines,

[4] Avante 1800 Corvette rev. 01, 2013-08-04_Avante_1800_Corvette_rev_01

[5] BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16),

[6] Incheon-class frigate,

[7] RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile,

[8] RIM-162 ESSM,

[9] Upgrading the Philippine Navy’s Hamilton Ships,


10 thoughts on “Philippine Navy New Frigate Bidding Candidates – August 2013”

    1. i think Philippine Navy should purchase at least one USS Arleigh-Burke class destroyer and three USS Oliver Hazard-Perry class frigates and some air superiority figter like F- 15 Silent Eagle

    2. Yes your right because avante 1800 is not a frigate it is a corvette. And it is being offered to the OPV(offshore patrol vessel) requirement of the Philippine navy.

  1. Incheon Class is the best deal for Phil. specially if we can get more freebies from SOKOR. Since Phil. govt is also targeting to purchase 1 squadron of FA-50 then we can probably ask 1 submarine as freebie….

  2. You missed the CIWS 35mm cannon revolver for the Avante. You also failed to mention that Avante has an electric propulsion which greatly increases its range depending how often it will be used. And if it is doing ASW, then hands down it is superior than the Incheon.In AAW, the VLS offers better range and more ammos. It meets the PN’s objective of a true AAW frigate.

    1. Having an electric propulsion, smaller and lesser manpower means lots of cost savings. And yet more powerful, armament wise, especially aaw threat which is the main objective of the frigate program. Therefore, a better deterrent.

    2. The brochure says the Avante 1800 will have a 25-35 mm cannon, but its doesn’t specify if this will be for Anti-Missile defense like the Phalanx, or just for Anti-Fast Boat defense like the Mk38 Mod 2.

      As for electrical propulsion, we don’t exactly know how much range the ship can get out of those, hence we can’t say if it will increase the ship’s range greatly. As for using the electric engines for ASW, I mentioned that clearly in my other blog dedicated specifically for the Avante 1800.

      Lastly, true AAW ships like the De Zeven Provincien have SAMs with ranges of over a hundred kilometers, and they carry more than 2 dozen of these. The Avante 1800 can only carry 8 of those missiles. It can carry instead 32 of the smaller ESSMs, but these have ranges of only up to 50 km, hence they really can’t be called as true AAW weapons the way other navies are using it.

      1. I based my assessment on the picture in the rear just above the halo house. It looks like a 35mm Rheinmentall revolver cannon. Plus it says 1 and I’m sure they won’t put just one Mk 38 just on the starboard and not on the other. So it is not the Mk 38 mod2.

        If a ship has an electric propulsion and travels just below 12 knots and using only the electric and not the diesel or gas, it can easily double its range by using the diesels or gas only to charge its batteries. Or for the same amount of distance it may take just half of a normal diesel or gas usage. These are now prevalent in automobiles. Obviously speed is disregarded.

        Lastly, it may not be a true AAW frigate for it lacks the long range SAMs like the SM-2 but the 32 missile-50 km range ESSM is much better than the 21-missile-10-km RAMs of the Incheon. At least you won’t be a sitting duck unable to wardoff anyone past the RAM’s range or even the 127mm.

        I like the upside of the Incheon, because it is bigger but sometimes it is just wishful thinking and we may not see any upgrades down the road.

        I’d rather have it now and get the best bang for the budget that is in front of us. With a measly $420 million for 2 frigates, I would take the Navantia. I know they can throw some freebies just like what Korea can do also.

        I’m curious how this will pan out.

      2. The Avante 1800’s CODOE configuration probably doesn’t use batteries that is charged by the diesel engine and then runs the propeller like on submarines, or else the stated range of the ship would be much more than the 4,800 km the manufacturer stated. The setup is probably where the diesel engines drive diesel generators which then drive the electric engines.

        This type of setup has the advantage of optimizing the ship’s efficiency more as the electric engines is better at responding to various load changes depending on the state of the sea, and is also reportedly quieter overall …

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