Up-Arming the MPACs for the Anti-Ship Role

A Mk2 Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC). Photo courtesy of the ASEAN News Website
A Mk2 Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC). Photo courtesy of the ASEAN News Website

The Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs) are some of the Philippine Navy’s (PhN) newest ships, and were first built by the Taiwanese company “Lung Teh Shipbuilding” and then by the Philippine company “Propmech Corporation”. The MPAC is a type of “Fast Assault Craft” that can reach speeds of up to 40-45 knots, carry 16 fully equipped soldiers (along with 2 officers and 3 crewmembers), and then land the soldiers on the beach by virtue of its shallow draft and water jet propulsion system. It has an aluminum hull and a range of around 560km.[1]

The first 3 Lung Teh built ships are considered as the Mk1 versions delivered in 2009, while the next 3 Propmech built boats designated as the Mk2 versions were delivered in 2012. The Mk2 was redesigned as per the lessons learned from operating the Mk1 ships, and the most obvious difference between the two is the design of the Pilot House and placement of Machine Guns. Another 3 MPACs are on order by the PhN, and these will likely be designated as Mk3s.

‘Iranian Example?’
These ships were built to carry troops quickly to the shore, so imagine my surprise when the PhN announced that they were going to use these for “harassing” enemy ships also.[1] Because of their small size and fast speed, perhaps the PhN wanted to use these MPACs the same way the Iranian Navy uses small, fast boats (also known as “Swarm Boats”) against bigger ships as part of their Assymetric Naval Warfare doctrine.

Iran developed the use of these Swarm Boats based on lessons they learned in encounters with the United States, particularly in 1988 when the Iranian Navy suffered heavy losses in a series of naval battles against the US Navy. Despite the losses, the skirmishes did confirm the vulnerability of large ships to missile attacks, and the efficiency of the use of small and fast boats in combat, and since then heavily-armed fast attack crafts have been a major part of the Iranian Navy.[2]

‘Incomplete Details’
Writing about these MPACs turned out to be a bit challenging mainly because some information about them are missing. For example, the press releases never really discussed the displacement weights of the boat, its not even on the Lung Teh or Propmech websites, which is strange as this is a normally available data for boats. When I e-mailed Lung Teh for details like the empty weight, fuel capacity, maximum displacement, etc. for the MPACs, they replied that they were not at liberty to release them due to a “… non-disclosure agreement with the owner …” I never asked them back about who the “owner” is, but I assume it is the PhN.

Also, the differences between the Mk1 and Mk2 were never truly discussed in the Press Releases, but as per Lung Teh’s website, the Mk2 is faster by 5kts and longer by 2m.[3][4] The lengthening of the fuselage seems to be more for improving the accommodations and seaworthiness of the vessel because they retained the same number of complement and passengers for the boat.

I am not sure why we have all these missing information, and it remains to be seen if the PhN will go out and release more complete details about these MPACs to the public.

‘Assumptions’
At any rate, I am just going to assume that the MPACs have the same displacement weights and the same carrying capacity as the Swedish CB90 Fast Assault Craft upon which these MPAC were based on. There are a lot of similarities with CB90 and MPAC, ranging from the overall lines of the ship to the capacity and speed, hence whatever weapons the CB90 can carry, the MPAC will likely be able to do so also.

The PhN was not specific on how they are going to “transform” these MPACs to harass enemy ships, but there are two ways they could go about this: First is to up-arm the current Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3 boats while still retaining their troop-carrying capability; Second is for the PhN to build a separate, new class of boat based on the MPAC but designed specifically only to carry anti-ship weapons. It is likely the PhN will do only the first choice, but perhaps they will do the second choice also, who knows. The redesigned MPAC is more interesting, but this initial blog will be dealing with the up-armed MPACs only.

‘Missile-Armed Example’
Looking at the CB90, its Swedish manufacturer “Dockstavarvet” does mention Hellfire missiles as an option for arming the CB90, so it seems that Hellfire missiles and SIMILAR missiles of its weight class and size are about the heaviest weapons that can be added into the MPACs while still being able to carry troops. An AMOS Twin Mortar system is also an option, but this seems to indicate doing away with the troops altogether and turning the craft into a dedicated Mortar Platform.[5] Installing heavier weapons might have issues with other factors like SPACE and the BALANCE of the ship, which could in turn seriously affect the ship’s performance and seaworthiness.

The AGM-114 Hellfire is a good missile, but one problem I see with it is its Semi-Active Laser Homing (SALH) guidance system which requires laser “illumination” of the target until the moment of impact. If the launching ship does the illumination, its ability to make evasive maneuvers will be limited and it won’t be able to disengage quickly from the attack. A version of the Hellfire, the AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire does use millimeter-wave guidance and is a fire-and-forget weapon, but then we come to the next problem, which is the range of these missiles at only 9km.[6] The closer the MPAC is to the enemy, the more vulnerable it is to enemy fire, hence it is ideal to have weapons with as long a range as possible.

There is another option in the Spike N-LOS missile which has a fire-and-forget-with-datalink-update guidance system and a much longer range of 25km, but it does have issues of its own also in that the manufacturer, Rafael, refuses to publish its speed,[7] and the assumed speed of the missile is only around 175m/s or 630kph,[8] which is slow for a missile, indicating it will have to be fired at a closer range than its maximum range to ensure a successful interception of a moving target.

For example, the time-of-flight of an N-LOS at maximum range is 2 minutes and 23 seconds, and with that time a ship traveling at 30knots would’ve moved more than 2km already, hence the N-LOS should be launched closer at 22km instead of 25km. As for its warhead, again Rafael refuses to publish it and the assumed value is only 6kg, and even that data could be wrong with the actual value even lower.

A Spike N-LOS Missile. Photo courtesy of the Korearms Website
A Spike N-LOS Missile. Photo courtesy of the Korearms Website

‘Impact Energy Equivalent’
One question now would be how much damage missiles like the Spike N-LOS do to enemy ships? That is not an easy question to answer, and one way to get an insight into this is to use what I call the IMPACT ENERGY EQUIVALENT (IEE), which means determining the energy of a weapon upon impact by calculating and then combining both its KINETIC ENERGY* and TNT EQUIVALENT*. The resulting value can then be used to compare the weapons with each other.

In the matrix below I have listed down a couple of weapons and their computed IEEs, which I then compare to an Oto Melara 76mm High Explosive (HE) cannon round (used by the standard naval gun nowadays for most ships) and also a 155mm Howitzer round as fired from an M114 (one of the Howitzers used by our Philippine Army). Sources taken from the following:[6][7][9][10][11][12].
Impact_Energy_Equivalent

As can be seen from the matrix, the IEE of the Spike N-LOS may not be as large as that of a Delilah-GL or Penguin Missile, but each N-LOS missile is still roughly equivalent to 6 76mm cannon rounds or almost 1 M114 155mm Howitzer round. A single hit on Patrol Boats less than 100tons would probably be devastating, while a hit on ships several hundred tons in weight could be enough to incapacitate them. But for even heavier ships weighing in the thousand of tons, multiple hits would likely be needed to neutralize them.

The Spike N-LOS’ warhead weight will still need to be confirmed if it is really at least 6kg, but if so, then that would make it a viable weapon for use with the MPACs. If not, then a compromise will have to be made, like perhaps using a missile with less range like the Longbow Hellfire, or still going ahead with the N-LOS despite the less damage its warhead can do.

‘Missile Quantity’
To increase the damage on larger ships, multiple hits would be needed from the Spike N-LOS to incapacitate them, but weight restrictions on the MPACs will limit the amount of weapons it can carry. At 71kg for each Spike N-LOS missile, an MPAC can probably carry only a maximum of two each ready at the launcher if the provision for carrying troops is to be retained.

More missiles might be carried outside of the launcher, but these will have to be added or removed as the ship moves back and forth from its Anti-Ship and troop-carrying roles, which is a bit of an inconvenience considering the weight of these missiles. Reloading would also be slow and require a lot of muscle power.

An unclassified study by the US Naval Postgraduate School concluded that against a WELL-DEFENDED ship, missiles are effective only about 45% of the time[13], hence with two missiles per MPAC only ONE will be expected to score a hit. Multiple MPACs then will have to be assigned against large targets in order to score multiple hits.

‘Vulnerabilities’
With its small size, high speed and high maneuverability, the MPAC is a difficult target to spot and hit, giving it a natural defense against unguided munitions. However, it will still have some vulnerabilities to other types of weapons.

Without Sonar equipment, these MPACs would be vulnerable to enemy torpedos because it won’t KNOW if it is under attack and where the direction of the attack will be coming from. However, as long as it stays a good distance from enemy ships and uses hit and run tactics, it will be well beyond the practical reach of most Torpedoes. The MPACs can also always run to shallow waters as a precautionary measure where Torpedoes will have a harder time going after it.

The bigger problem would be enemy missiles as the Gulf War highlighted the vulnerability of these small boats to missile attacks. During that war in a battle around the Bubiyan Island in Iraq, Sea Lynx Helicopters armed with Sea Skua missiles destroyed 7 Fast Attack Crafts and Patrol Fast Boats as well as 14 other types of ships.[14] One of the main reason for the lopsided result was because the Iraqi TNC 45 FAC[15] and Zhuk-class Patrol Boats[16] were only armed with manually-aimed Machine Guns and cannons for Anti-Aircraft/Missile defense, which were proven to be ineffective against the Sea Lynxes and their Anti-Ship Missiles.

It MAY also be possible to arm these MPACs with Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) or Very Short Range Air Defense Systems (VSHORAD) like the Stinger or Mistral launchers on manually-aimed mounts as I mentioned in a previous blog[17] to lessen their vulnerability to missiles and thus give them better chances of survival. These systems don’t take up a lot of space or weight and thus a place could be found for them on the craft, even with the additional weapons payload.

‘Tactics’
The Iranian Navy Naval Warfare doctrine for the use of fast boats calls for a tactic called “Dispersed Swarming“. It meant the use the heavily armed boats to be dispersed into different locations around a target, hiding behind any cover that they can find. They are then to coordinate their attacks on the same target at the same time, closing in on the target at high speed. Depending on the range of their weapons, they are then to launch these at as standoff a distance as possible. Ideally the weapons should have a guidance system that allows the boats to disengage and turn away quickly after launch.

Since the attack will be coming from different directions, this will spread out the defenses of the target giving it little time to counter MOST of the attacks. Here is an illustration of a similar attack from a document called “The Threat of the Guided Missile Patrol Boat[18]:
Mass_Swarming_Attack

‘Parting Shot’
Multiple MPACs armed with at least 2 Spike N-LOS (or similar missiles) each launched from stand-off ranges of around 20km and using “Dispersed Swarming” tactics can do good damage on even larger ships, making the idea of using them to harass enemy ships feasible. However, due to their vulnerability to missiles launched from enemy ships or aircraft, target type selection will be crucial for them to have a good chance of survivability. Less-defended, non-missile armed ships like Coast Guard ships would be a prime and ideal targets for these up-armed MPACs.

Against better-defended, missile-armed ships, I think a better, redesigned MPAC carrying heavier, more powerful weapons and with better defensive capabilities are needed for them not only to be able to actually sink larger ships, but also be more survivable. I think a redesigned, anti-ship MPAC can be done since the basic designs of the MPACs are with the PhN already and they’ve gotten very familiar with the ships in terms of operational experience and making redesigns for the boat, so the potential is there.

In parting, here is a video from Propmech Corp. showcasing the speed and maneuverability of the MPAC Mk1:

A Mk1 Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC). Photo courtesy of the Lung Teh Shipbuilding Website
A Mk1 Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC). Photo courtesy of the Lung Teh Shipbuilding Website

SOURCES:

^[1] MPACs to be transformed into ‘harassment force’, http://balita.ph/2014/02/08/mpacs-to-be-transformed-into-harassment-force/

^[2] Iran’s Doctrine of Asymmetric Naval Warfare, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/irans-doctrine-of-asymmetric-naval-warfare

^[3] MPAC Mk1, http://www.lts.com.tw/web/ProductOverview.jsp?productId=7ed18005363806d96d5bf00f3ef59f38

^[4] MPAC Mk2, http://www.lts.com.tw/web/ProductOverview.jsp?productId=0e31501e06e7238ad53d6d6d2f54f253

^[5] Specification – CB 90 H, http://www.dockstavarvet.se/Products/Combat_patrol_boats/CB_90_H/Specification.aspx

^[6] AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire, http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-114.html

^[7] Spike N-LOS Brochure, http://www.rafael.co.il/marketing/SIP_STORAGE/FILES/6/1026.pdf

^[8] Gil / Spike / NT-Dandy, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/spike.htm

^[9] OTO Melara 76 mm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OTO_Melara_76_mm

^[10] M114 155 mm howitzer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M114_155_mm_howitzer

^[11] Delilah GL, http://www.imi-israel.com/vault/documents/delilah_GL.pdf

^[12] Penguin Mk2 Mod7N, http://www.redstar.gr/Foto_red/Book/Penguin.pdf

^[13] An analysis of the historical effectiveness of anti-ship cruise missiles in littoral warfare, http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADB192139

^[14] Battle of Bubiyan, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bubiyan

^[15] TNC 45, http://www.deagel.com/Corvettes-and-Missile-Boats/TNC-45_a002140001.aspx

^[16] Zhuk Class, http://weaponsystems.net/weapon.php?weapon=GG02+-+Zhuk+class

^[17] MANPADS as CIWS for the Philippine Navy, https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/manpads-as-ciws-for-the-philippine-navy/

^[18] The Threat of the Guided Missile Patrol Boat, http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/89801/DOC_0000886761.pdf

* GLOSSARY:

-> KINETIC ENERGY = is the energy which a body possesses due to its motion. Formula used is (Mass times Velocity-squared) divided by two. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_energy

-> TNT EQUIVALENT = is a method of quantifying the energy released in explosions. Formula used is 1kg of explosives (in the warhead) is equal to 4,184kJ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TNT_equivalent

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50 thoughts on “Up-Arming the MPACs for the Anti-Ship Role”

    1. Excellent observation. They used it as a basis, and made it their own also using small, fast boats instead. I think the Iranian Naval Warfare model is a good example to follow for us because first, like us they are against a naval superpower (which is ironically our ally the US);

      Second, they don’t use large or state of the art ships, they use much smaller and thus much cheaper boats. Their Peykaap and C-14 class of boats are only around 20tons in weight and yet carries missiles in the class of the Penguin missile, and we’ve seen how powerful it is based on its IEE.

      1. So why doesn’t our government procure 500 to 1,000 of these MPACS instead of buying a few frigates which can easily be sank by Air-to-Sea missiles of Chinese stealth fighter aircraft. Wit hsuch numbers, we can easily protect our outlying reefs, atills and shoals…

      2. These boats don’t have the adequate displacement and deck space for long ranged ASMs. The PN will have to accept the fact that these new hardware are mission-specific and not multi-role. They may have a decent armor to engage smugglers and island hopping rebels carrying small firearms but it is really useless in engaing frigates and corvettes that use missiles, cannons, and gun turrets. And they cost 90M each so it’s really painful on the budget. Our navy has to window shop for better boats that can be used in “swarm tactics”. Or better yet commission our local foundries to build them. A pvc or fiberglass boat can be built quickly with appropriate provisions for both long ranged ASMs and SAMs. They can be customised to be bigger, stealthier, lighter (hence faster) and more importantly 100x cheaper than these bulky metal MPACs.

      3. Good Idea. If our local fishermen are able to go to as far as Spratley Islands and Scarborough shoal to do their fishing livelihood, then our government can afford to buld 10,000 small pvc or fiberglass fishing boats for our fishermen with each boat accompanied by a marine carrying a bazooka to protect the fisherman from being bullied by Chinese coast guard boats. A couple of bazooka shots I think is powerful enough to destroy the Chinese coast guard boat rudders to disable it from running back to Mainland China or sink before it reaches China.

      4. Against a modern Chinese frigate, I think 20-50 bazooka armed fishing boats surrounding it and accompanied by 3 FA-20 fighters for air cover has a better chance of sinking it than using 1 old re-conditioned Phil. frigate 1-on-1.

      5. I initially thought that the Peykaap II and Chinacat C-14 boats would be a good example for us to follow, but after studying modern naval battles, I’m afraid they might be just too vulnerable to missile armed aircraft as well as Remote Weapons Stations and missiles designed for use against them. A way might be found to make these small boats more survivable against large ships and aircraft, but I haven’t figured that out yet …

  1. It can hide to our Island and sweep and deadly we can armed them with Marte Mk2/N missile system like the Ghannatha Phase2 missile boat of UAE Country ..

    1. The Spike has many versions, they differ in size and range. The Mini-Spike is the smallest in the Spike family of missiles, while the Spike N-LOS is the biggest (so far) …

  2. Does this mean that the DnD made a mistake purchasing the MPACs? They don’t seem to have the adequate displacement to carry the launchers of longer ranged ASMs. Just the puny spikes that won’t even make a dent on a ship’s hull.

    1. No, of course not. The main task of these boats is to carry troops and land them on the beach, any missiles fitted to them for use against ships are just an added bonus.

      How can you say that the Spikes won’t even make a dent on a ship’s hull when as we can see it is almost equal to a hit from a 155mm Howitzer round?

  3. Taiwan used to operated 50 20-m FAC armed with Gabriel missiles. If our navy put missiles to these newer MPACs that are inferior to these Gabriels, I would be terribly disappointed. We should do better than what the Taiwanese did.
    It would just a waste of money and effort, I mean, what would they expect this missile-firing MPAC to go against? Just chinese fishing vessels?

    1. Baby steps, baby steps. Remember that our Navy has NOT had any experience handling missiles before, so these small missiles would be an excellent START for them. Besides, I am sure plans for missile-arming ships like the Del Pilars are in the pipeline, its just a matter of time (I think) …

    2. The Taiwanese navy used a modified Gabriel missile (Hsiung Feng I) with a maximum range of 40 km. This should also be the range of the missile we are going to use in our new, stealthy MPACs. Its because 40km is greater than the radar horizon (37km) which is the typical limit of any ship-borne maritime radar. This means further that our MPACs have high probability of launching a missile attact on the enemy vessel just before it is detected by the enemy radar, thereby increase chance of survival before and after attacking.

      If the range of the missile is less than 37 km, like the 25km range of the Spike NLOS, then our troops will be essentially making a one-way, suicidal trip just to attack an enemy vessel. Very impractical.

      1. One problem with the proposed missile-armed MPAC is that it is supposed to be able to be armed with a missile and yet still be able to carry troops at the same time, which will limit the weight of missile that will be put into it.

        Actually, I was making a blog about an ideal missile-armed MPAC, but decided to ditch it as I just don’t think very small missile boats the size of the MPAC would be survivable in an actual combat environment. It is just too vulnerable to aircraft, or to counter attacking enemy ships.

      2. rhk, I myself admit that the PN seems to be going with lighter missiles like Spike N-Los or Sea Skua to arm the new MPAC, since the whole mounted weapon systems shoule weigh no more than 1500kg as indicated on the bid supplemental document.

        Its just that I highly doubt the effectiveness of this approach. If a 800-ton, 44-m Argentine tug boat can survive 3 direct hits from Sea Skua fired by British Lynx, I dont really think that a similar missile can significantly damage any PLAN vessel in the WPS in case of a skirmish.

        At best these new MPACs are mere nuisance to enemy vessels; it is easily blown in the water if it tries to attack.

      3. For a boat the size of an MPAC, you can’t mount a large gun on it, probably the heaviest gun you can mount on it would be a 30 mm cannon. If that is the case, then perhaps smaller missiles like the Spike or even Sea Skua would be better in that they can at least provide more punch.

    3. I am going to correct my stated info above. The 37-km radar horizon was for an attacking plane flying 15-20 m above sea level.

      If we change the platform to that of an MPAC with 15 ft in height, the radar horizon is reduced to 27-28 km, assuming enemy radar is typical 70ft above sea level.

      And if the MPAC has a lower-profile and radar absorbing paint coating, the distance for probable detection could be reduced even further.

      Hmmm.. that would put the MPAC closer to enemy vessel, probably within 25 km and withing range of the Spike. This is just close enough for the MPAC to fire a few round, then scoot away before being fired back.

      1. * A stealthy MPAC launching missiles from just over the horizon for a hit and run attack … If the targets have air support (i.e., armed helicopters or fixed wing attack aircraft), the MPACs might still be very vulnerable since aircraft can cover large distances. Even if an MPAC is stealthy to radar, other sensors can still be used by aircraft to track it, like visually, for example, or using low-light TV or IR sensors.

        * Yes, when it comes to ship to ship radar detection, not only the RCS is important, but also the HEIGHT of the vessel relative to the surface of the ocean. The lower a boat sits in the water, the harder it is for radar to detect. So far nobody has published in the internet that I know of has worked out a formula on height versus radar detection, I am still researching this.

        * If we want an effective weapon to harass Chinese ships, I think Coastal Submarines (i.e., 150-1,000 ton submarines) might be better. But they are a lot more expensive to buy and maintain than MPACs. They might be effective as long as they are:
        a) Used for hit and run tactics only;
        b) Have a safe havens to run to after the attack.

      2. The lack of air defense of the MPAC can be mitigated by operating under air coverage from a PN vessel equipped with SAM or with some support overhead from PAF fix-wing aircraft like the FA-50. Also, its good to have MPADs on the MPAC as you suggested in your post.

        But in any case, MPAC operation is highly doctrinal and it will not operate as stand-alone. Example, it wont approach the enemy if its chopper is in patrol. Also, since the area of engagement is in the WPS, it is most probable we have some air superiority (provided we have MRFs by then)

        Also, if it is going to fire a Spike at stand-off distance, it most probably has support from an OTHT helicopter, which can also double as limited air cover against the enemy chopper, while the MPAC scoot away.

      3. * After going thru my “Modern Large Ship Naval Battle Lessons” and “Missile Boat Naval Battle Lessons” blogs, I changed my mind and I don’t think MANPADS are going to cut it anymore as far as air defense is concerned. To be effective, what is needed are larger missiles with heavier warheads and longer range in the class of Barak 1 SAMs.

        * Joint operations are fine, but things could go wrong there, too, like the planes could be needed elsewhere, or they could be decimated due to combat attrition, that is why I prefer ships that can stand alone if necessary.

        * The Spike N-LOS had good range, but weak warhead of only about 6 kg (estimated), hence it won’t do a lot of damage, really. What is needed are bigger missiles.

        * If the PhN really wants a small boat for Anti Surface Warfare, then it could look at the PEYKAAP 2 and CHINA CAT 14 class of Missile boats as initial examples. These are small boats the size of MPACs (20 tons), but are armed with medium sized AShMs in the class of the AGM-119 Penguin missile. However, these boats are so small that they couldn’t carry anything but those 2 AShMs. After they fire those missiles, they are virtually defenseless. Remember also that Komar and Osa-class missile boats are very similar to these Peykaap 2 and Cat-14 boats, but are 2-9 times heavier and more heavily armed, and yet they didn’t do well in actual battle, always being beaten by bigger, more sophisticated ships.

        * But, if say, we really want to design a cheap and light missile boat, perhaps we could get inputs from the Peykaap 2, Cat 14, Komar and Osa-class boats. First, lets say a boat in the weight class of the Komar at 60 tons, but armed only with 2 medium-sized Penguin missiles. This will enable other weapons and equipment to be integrated to it, like an 8-cell Barak 1 launcher and a DARDO twin 40 mm gun turret, for example, plus decoys. If stability will be a problem, then use a Catamaran hull design which will make the boat stable despite all that weight of equipment and weapons. Then add stealth and you have a relatively light ASuW boat that will have better chances of survival in combat. It will be a lot more expensive than MPACs, though, but not as expensive to buy and maintain like a Coastal Submarine.

      4. rhk, both you and me feels that the new MPAC design leaves so much to be desired; that is why we both have our own ‘suggestions’.

        But based on the existing bidding infos, I have now accept the fact that the PN is going in a direction that is not what we prefer. Perhaps they know something we dont. That is why personally, I am now trying to interpret things thru the CONTEXT of the WPS situation, especially in every high-intensity stand-offs, for this is the immediate focus of the AFP and not to win a protracted war with China.

        Take for example the possible use of Spike N-LOS. It is a small missile but it is appropriate for the MPAC. Since the MPAC is supposed to carry 10 missiles (in the cannisters and mounted), a Spike is very appropriate since it is only 71kg each. Sea Skuas might not be prefered since 10 of these plus the firing platform would already be beyond the 1500 kg limit.

        Yes, the Spike has a very small warhead, but what if the PN is using this missile NOT TO SINK an enemy vessel in the WPS, but just to damage enough to disable it in case of a low-level skirmish. Despite its limitations, the Spike is very accurate with high capacity for selective targetting by virtue of its on-board camera. It can be used to hit the radar mast, or the gun, or the bridge to bloody the enemy, but not sink it and give it an oppurtunity to withdraw, or just disable its fighting capability.

        In case of a skirmish, only the MPAC can give us this strategic equalizer. If we get attacked first, we can respond in roughly equal terms, so as to prevent escalation. And this is what the MPAC can give us: a cheap, low-risk option to calculatively punch back, if we get punched first.

        And to keep the WPS conflict as low-level as possible, we should NEVER use any platform like MRF or sub, or else the skirmish would escalate into a full-blown conflict where there is no turning-back.

      5. For the MPAC Mk3, I think the Spike N-LOS will do. Any shooting war with China will likely be contained in the Spratlys only, but it will likely involve major war assets, just like the Spratlys shooting war between Vietnam and China the 70s and 80s.

      6. If you are asking how to make the MPAC Mk3 stealthy enough so it won’t be detected at 20-25 km, I am not sure if that will be possible. They can make the shape of the craft with stealthy features, but I don’t think that will be enough to keep it from being detected at that range. Other considerations need to be considered also to make it truly stealthy, like the height of the boat from the waterline and also the material.

        A Fiberglass hull will make the MPAC Mk3 more “stealthy” to radar, but fiberglass is heavier, more susceptible to being punctured and more combustible than an aluminum hull (source: http://www.differencebetween.net/object/difference-between-aluminum-and-fiberglass-boats/). Some stealthy ships use Kevlar or carbon composites instead of fiberglass, but these materials are a lot more expensive.

        At any rate, an MPAC Mk3 may not be truly stealthy so it won’t be detected at 20-25 km, but stealthy enough to LESSEN the detection range and detection time by other ships, giving it a better chance of getting away. But really, if you ask me, if the PhN is looking for a small ASuW boat, they will have to design a new one. An MPAC Mk3 to be used for ASuW and landing troops also will always be a compromise, hence it will always be more vulnerable in the ASuW role.

      7. Based on the requirement, it is a new design (well, almost) incorporating elements of stealth, though the word is not used in the bidding document.

        The requirements include a “low-profile structure” so it indicates reducing the general height of the MPAC and smoothing its outline, thereby reducing RCS. With this particular requirement together with the increase in length (2-3m), in fact, we can expect overall appearance of the Mk3 to be somewhat different from the Mk1 and Mk2.

        This is still not a fully-stealthy since RAM is not used, but almost nearing it. The material for the hull is still aluminum so I just hope the hull is coated with some radar absorbing paint, though this may not be included. The PN can add this special paint later in the future.

        As far as actual detection range, we may never know since this is critical info. I am sure the PN has a more concrete figure about this. Obviously this is a trade-off.

  4. Mpacs are the most cost effective strategy for the current situation. Imagine the horror of the Chinese coast guard when 2 Mpacs come out of nowhere and play around their ship (with coast guard color scheme of course so as not to increase the tension) and suddenly retreat. Looks like a Captain Philips Somali pirate tactics hehehe. If they fire on our fishermen with guns we can just climb aboard and say hello. kidding aside there are also reports the US is gonna sell us additional used navy vessels. My question is are they the same as the Hamilton class high endurance vessels or the retiring Oliver hazard class? The australian navy has one but they fitted it with caterpillar diesel engines maybe we could do that to the oliver hazard so we can replace the gas turbine engines. And let the israelis up arm them (i bet the US would completely strip down the weapon systems of the ohc when they would turn it over).

    1. The Oliver Hazard Perry ships of the Australian Navy were built in Australia, and known as the “Adelaide-class”. As far as I know they were not re-engined with Diesel engines. Not sure which vessels we are getting from the US (if we are getting some), that area is kinda hazy as the PhN was never really specific on which ones to get …

      1. There are reports that PN is looking for another 2 frigate-like vessels in addition to the 2 pf’s and the new frigate to be purchased to close the gap of 6 frigates for minimum defense. They will most likely be sourced from the US navy’s excess defense assets and aid promised by Kerry. btw, can these MPAC’s fit inside the well deck of the LPD we just comissioned from PTPAL? Then we have a carrier of sorts, MPAC carrier that is.

      2. The US Navy lists some boats available thru Foreign Military Sales (FMS) on this website: http://www.nipo.navy.mil/ABOUT/security-assistance/Foreign-Military-Sales/small-boats/

        Interesting that they have an almost 600ton Fast Missile Craft (FMC) offered there, which would be a pretty good platform if available thru FMS: http://www.nipo.navy.mil/Images/fast-missile-craft-fmc.jpg

        As for the MPAC fitting into the SSV’s Well Deck, not sure, there has been discussions about it in forums but nothing definite …

  5. They’re also gonna start decommissioning the A10’s, U2’s. and aerial refuelling tankers. I just read the Chinese back channeling with RP in the Philippine Defense News article. The last time RP accepted the terms with the Chinese brokered by the US we were conned into leaving Panatag and they broke their word by staying. Now they expect RP to fall for it again. Some politicians will again be the emissaries of the Chinese and they will most likely be using the excuse that the RP will not be able to defend itself when the Chinese attack. They would sell their own country just to avoid conflict.

  6. Sir, I think there is a problem w/ these MPACs technically (engine). I’ve always seen these boats in a specific yard having engine premature overhauling (means not yet on desired overhauling schedule based on engine manufacturer). And I knew that this was the problem when Mr. Tulfo reported about its worthiness a few months ago. I’m very familiar w/ the maker of these boats, Propmech, and I know so much about the engine installed on these boats, 2 Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines. This type of engine sucks that you’ll always encounter problems.

    1. Thanks for the information, blacksparrow. The boats were delivered in 2009 and 2011, so has the warranty expired and the PhN paying for all the repairs and overhaul? This may also be the reason why the PhN suddenly has become stricter in the last MPAC bidding where even Propmech Corp. (maker of the MPAC Mk2 version) failed to qualify.

      I searched around the internet, and it seems to be a popular engine, although I can’t find anybody having serious problems with it so far. At any rate, glad to read inputs like yours …

    2. Pre-mature overhauling? Is this accurate?

      I am aware of the usual problem of the water jet engine due to foreign objects getting sucked (i.e. stone, stick, weeds, plastics,fishing lines, etc ) in the water passage and blocking the intake or getting lodge in the pump shaft. But does this lead to pre-mature overhauling?

      Anyways, the new MPACs because these are new designs may/will not have commonality with the previous 6, as stated in the supplemental bidding documents. So we can expect a new (better?) engine for water jet propulsion.

  7. I’m disturbed about the Iranian swarm tactics I saw on youtube. I saw a swarm of boats consisting of a few dedicated naval boats mixed in with several other boats that appear to be civilian fishing and passenger boats of all shapes and sizes temporarily conscripted for naval use. Most of them are even much smaller than our purchased MPACs and they are all capable of firing missiles. Is it possible to do the same bureaucratic flexibility in our country? If our DnD is serious in pursuing this battle plan, there should be a rule in place requiring all registered passenger and fishing vessels of a certain size to install deck mounts at the expense of the government for the standard missile launchers and communications equipment it intends to procure in the future. Such that when war breaks out, these civilian boats will be quickly armed and manned by a single naval personnel directing the civilian operators. Most of our local fishing boats are just makeshift wooden trimarans painted with pioneer marine epoxy, I wonder if they will be qualified.

      1. Of course we won’t be using civilian boats for suicide bomber tactics. We just need to arm them with missiles to serve as force multipliers for our dedicated naval vessels. And most importantly, it will save us money. The MPACs we purchased are just knock-offs of the original thing. They are much smaller and less capable and yet they cost 4X more than the original. Just imagine if we are planning to buy hundreds of these for swarm tactics, No doubt some people in the government are making a lot of money from these purchases.

      2. Not sure where you got things like how the MPACs are less capable than the original, or that they cost 4x than the original, or that some people in government are making a lot of money from these purchases. I don’t think those are factual.

  8. I was comparing the price of the MPAC with the original boat it was based on: the swedish CB90. It costs about $0.5M, already fitted with standard armaments. The MPAC costs about 90M pesos each so it is 4X the price
    CB90 price:
    http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.com/2012/01/royal-marines-test-campaigns-pacscat.html
    CB90 specs
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CB90-class_fast_assault_craft
    MPAC specs
    http://kalasagnglahi.angelfire.com/content07.html

  9. Wiki says US Navy asked for a $2.8M prototype for riverine testing in 2007. So prices has to be above $3M today.

    Anyway, the MPAC Mk3 is 20m long compared to CB-90 at 16m. Also, it is going to be somewhat stealthy. So at P90M each, it is a good price, even more so since it includes transfer of technology.

  10. I think lightly-armed MPACs are more useful for the PCG than for the PN in catching Chinese poachers, sea pirates and smugglers w/o the need for installing missiles. What the PN needs are Missile Corvettes and Missile Frigates against Chinese naval vessels.

    1. Yes, the MPACs right now would be more than enough for just Poachers, Smugglers and even Rebels. As for Missile Boats, I think the PhN was looking for a way to acquire them for as cheap a price as possible, hence the idea of using “Swarm Boats” just like how Iran intends to use them against the US.

      But Iran’s “Swarm Boat” concept won’t work unless you are willing to lose a lot of them, which is not a problem for Iran as they did use suicide attacks in their war against Iraq. There are no “shortcuts” against China, we either have to spend to get the proper military equipment, or we don’t.

      1. For defending our Exclusive Economic Zone, I think it would be more effective to use shore-based & long-range Multiple-Rockets and Anti-ship Missiles than the “MPAC Swarm Tactics” of the Iranians. A barrage of guided multiple rockets first then followed a few seconds later by a series 3 homing anti-ship missiles will most likely succeed in sinking a Frigate or Destroyer with no risks of personnel casualties.

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