New Frigate Bidding Candidate: Modified Avante 2200 Combatant class

Front view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr
Front view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr

I was lucky enough to have had the chance to attend the Asian Defense and Security (ADAS) Exhibit at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Pasay last July 18, 2014, and after spending about an hour or so ogling the exhibits and taking pictures, it finally dawned to me that there is one important thing I could do during this event, and that is to confirm with the manufacturers which of their ships they entered into the Philippine Navy’s new Frigate bidding. This information was never revealed by the Department of National Defense (DND) or the manufacturers to the public, so I quickly proceeded to the Navantia display area.

Upon arriving at the rather sizable Navantia area, I saw a couple of people who looked like they were part of the company, but they were talking with other attendees. So I stood around for awhile, trying to ascertain if there were any other Navantia representatives I could ask around. Finally a Spanish gentleman in a business suit whose name I never got asked me nicely if there was something he could help me with, and so I asked him directly which ship they entered the bidding. He then motioned me to one of the models on display and confirmed that it was one of they had entered in the bidding. We talked for a couple more minutes, and I will slowly divulge below some of the details he mentioned about their candidate ship.

‘The Avante 2200’
I knew that Navantia had a couple of models in their Avante lineup, hence I asked him what was the displacement of the ship they entered, and he said it was 2,400 tons. Initially I thought that this should be the Avante 2400, but as per Navantia’s latest brochure,1 they have streamlined their lineup and thus there is no more Avante 2400, but instead there is the Avante 2200 Combatant (A2200C). It fits the description as the A2200C does have a displacement of around 2,400-2,500 tons.

The Avante family is actually a series of ships with different displacements or weights, but built along the same hull lines, compartment divisions, arrangement of common spaces, and with maximum commonality of propulsion and auxiliary systems. This means that similar ships can be made for the different tasks for Patrol or Research. To date a total of eleven ships in this family have come into operational service in various navies around the world, including Venezuela’s Guaicamacuto-class Patrol Boats (the Avante 1400) which entered service in 2008, and Spain’s Buque de Accion Maritima (BAM)-class of Offshore Patrol Vessels (the Avante 3000) which first entered service in 2009. As can be seen, these ships are of very contemporary design, entering service just a couple of years ago.

As for the A2200C, it first entered service with the Venezuelan navy in 2009 as the Guaiqueri-class Patrol Vessel, and they actually have a fancy name for it as the Patrullero Oceanico de Vigilancia de la Zona Economica Exclusiva (POVZEE) which roughly translates in English to “Oceanographic Patrol Surveillance for the Exclusive Economic Zone”. So far four has been built and in service, and here are some of the more important physical characteristics of the ship:
Displacement: 2,500 tons
Length: 98.9 m
Beam: 13.6 m
Draft: 4.1 m
Complement: 92

‘As Is Systems’
As it is right now, the A2200C has a couple of features that would meet the current bid requirements already,2 and these are:

  • Speed and Range – In terms of performance, the A2200C already exceeds some of the requirements, like for example it has maximum speed of 28 knots while the requirement is only 25 knots. Its range of 9,000 km @ 15 knots also comfortably exceeds the requirement of 8,100 km @ 15 knots.
A model of the Avante 2200 Combatant at the ADAS 2014 exhibit. Photo courtesy of Roy Kabanlit
A model of the Avante 2200 Combatant at the ADAS 2014 exhibit. Photo courtesy of Roy Kabanlit
  • Main Gun System – Its 76 mm main Gun also fits in nicely with the requirement of 76 mm caliber minimum. The Guaiqueri class of ships have the newer Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid (SR)3 which is better than the older model Oto Melara 76/62 Compact Cannons we have on our Jacinto and Del Pilar-class ships as the SR has a higher rate of fire of 120 rounds per minute (rpm) compared to the 80 rpm on the older model cannon. It also has a “stealth profile”, designed to reduce the radar cross section of the gun; The ability to switch quickly between two different types of ammunition thru its multi-feed system; And a Muzzle Velocity Radar giving it better accuracy by inputting the actual velocity of the round when computing for ballistic trajectory.

  • Torpedo Launchers – The ship has two triple Torpedo launchers, one on each side, probably the standard and ubiquitous Mk 32 Launcher with Mk 46 Lightweight Torpedoes, and these will be kept as it fits the minimum requirements.

  • Softkill System – The ship has an unnamed Radio Frequency (RF) and Infra-Red (IR) decoy launchers, and actually exceeds the requirement as it has twelve launchers, six on each side whereas the requirement only asks for six launchers, three on each side.

  • Main Radar System – The requirement is for separate 2D Air and Surface search radars, but the Guaiqueri class Frigate has a Thales Smart-S Mk2 3D Radar which does the function of both radars and actually exceeds the specs and I THINK this will be retained. Actually the radar was one of the things I forgot to ask about as my head was already spinning from all the other information I was getting, hence the omission. The Smart-S has an estimated detection range of at least 81 km for an aerial target with a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of 5 m^2, which is okay. Detection range for a surface target with an RCS of 30,000 m^2 is estimated to be at least 32 km, better than the AN/SPS-73 Radar on the Del Pilar class ships which can only detect the same size target at around 22 km.4

  • Anti-Ship Missiles (AShM) – The ship carries two quad launchers for AShMs, comfortably exceeding the two twin launchers of the requirements. The Navantia rep specifically mentioned the RGM-84 Harpoon AShMs, although I forgot to ask if the two quad launcher configuration will be kept or they will change it to a two twin-launcher system.

  • Helipad Capacity and Enclosed Hangar Space – The A2200C has an enclosed hangar space rated to have the weight and space to accommodate a ten ton Helicopter which meets the bidding specifications.

‘Modifications’
A feature or so will have to be upgraded to meet the bidding requirements, but most of the modifications actually involve the downgrade of the weapons and sensors from the existing A2200C model.

  • Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) – The ship has provisions for an eight cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) for SAMs, but the Navantia rep specifically said that it will be omitted, and that an unnamed shorter-ranged SAM will be used instead. This is probably a cost-saving measure that will still fit the required specifications which only calls for a quadruple launcher with missiles with a minimum range of six km.
Side view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr
Side view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr
  • Sonar System – Provisions for a Towed Array System (TAS) is available on the A2200C, but the Navantia rep said that an unnamed Hull-Mounted Sonar (HMS) will be used instead. This is probably another cost-saving measure as it already meets the specifications as the requirement did not specify which type of Sonar system should be installed as long as it has one.
  • Close In Weapons System (CIWS) – The ship usually has an Oerlikon 35 mm Millennium Naval Gun System as CIWS, but the Navantia rep said that it will be changed into an unnamed 30 mm gun on a Remote Weapons System (RWS) setup. Again this is a cost-saving measure as the requirement only calls for a stabilized system that can be used in conjunction with the ship’s Fire Control System, similar to the MSI Seahawk A2 mount with a 30 mm gun which will meet the specs.

  • Endurance – The ship has a listed endurance of 21 days, but the minimum requirement calls for 30 days, hence the ship will have to increase its consumable provisions (i.e., food, oil, water reserves, etc.) by 33%. Space will have to be found for these and will also result in a corresponding slight increase in the weight of the ship.

‘Reflections’
The A2200C is SUPERIOR in almost all aspects to the modified Floreal-class that France’s STX is fielding in because while the Floreal will have to be UPGRADED on most points like installing Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability, installing more missiles, changing to a RWS setup for its minor-caliber cannon, etc.,5 the A2200C actually EXCEEDS most requirements already and in fact had to DOWNGRADE some of its weapons and sensors for cost-saving purposes. The A2200C also already has a sleek, stealth profile while the Floreal may or may not add in this feature, and is built along military standards unlike the commercial specifications of the Floreal which makes it less equipment and weapons “dense”.

The only real advantage of the Floreal over the A2200C is its extremely long 50-day endurance and superior range. I suspect that even if the change to larger, heavier and more powerful engines eats up on the Floreal’s range to boost its speed to meet the minimum specifications, it will still have a 1,000 km or so more range than the A2200C. The Floreal’s DAGAIE Decoy System also carries more rounds at ten per side compared to the only six per side of the A2200C.

The downgrade of some of the weapons and sensors are a bit of a letdown, but these are expected given the humble budget that we have of USD 200 million per ship, and because European-standard design and manufacturing also means more expensive European-standard costs and pricing. The original weapons systems themselves are expensive, for example a Mk 41 VLS costs USD 4 million for an eight cell launcher,6 not counting the missiles like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) where you would need 32 to fit into those launchers costing an additional USD 26 million assuming a unit cost of USD 800k per missile.7 The Millennium gun costs around USD 8 million each,8 and the change to a RWS could cut that price to around half, resulting in significant savings and putting them on the manufacturer’s slim profit margins.

‘Parting Shot’
Among the known candidates out there for the Frigate bidding, I have to say that the A2200C is my personal favorite as it has the sleekest, cleanest lines in terms of appearance and in fact can be considered as one of the most beautiful ships in the world right now. I also like the fact that it is built along European design and manufacturing standards, which I feel is slightly better than the Asian standards, and that it is less manpower-intensive requiring a lesser number of crew. But this is just my opinion, of course.

The downgraded weapons and sensors are unfortunate but on the other hand means there will be a lot of room for future growth. For example, the VLS might have been omitted, but I suspect that the space for it may still be used if need be in the future. However, overall I think the A2200C could still be better, just like the Floreal additional systems like longer ranged SAMs, a better CIWS system and a Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) system should be installed on it to make more competitive. Unlike the Floreal, though, its radar system I feel will be sufficient enough.

It was a fantastic opportunity at ADAS 2014 to be able to talk to the representative and get all of these information in, I wished I was more prepared with a list of questions to ask so I wouldn’t miss out on some details like I did above. In the end I thanked the Navantia Representative and told him that I wished them luck in the bidding. And then it was off for me to the Hyundai display area …

Rear view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr
Rear view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr

SOURCES:


  1. The Avante Family, (https://web.archive.org/web/20160222025053/http://www.navantia.es/ckfinder/userfiles/files/sala_pr/familia%20avante_ingl%C3%A9s.pdf
  2. Avante 2200 Combatant, (https://web.archive.org/web/20161111071952/http://www.navantia.es/ckfinder/userfiles/files/Avante%202200%20Combatant%281%29.pdf
  3. Oto Melara 76/62 SR,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140701021737/http://www.otomelara.it/documents/1287567/3808381/body_76_62_sr_rev_2013_1.pdf
  4. Smarter (and Simpler) Radar in Harpoon, (https://web.archive.org/web/20160313125508/http://clashofarms.com/files/smarter%20radars%20for%20hpn.pdf
  5. NEW FRIGATE BIDDING CANDIDATE: UPGRADED FLOREAL-CLASS,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20161116020840/https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/new-frigate-bidding-candidate-upgraded-floreal-class/
  6. Lockheed Martin Receives $16 Million Contract to Provide MK 41 Vertical Launching Missile Systems for Australian and Spanish Navies,
    (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lockheed-martin-receives-16-million-contract-to-provide-mk-41-vertical-launching-missile-systems-for-australian-and-spanish-navies-57946802.html
  7. Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) (RIM-162D),
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20160417215509/http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=2200&tid=950&ct=2
  8. A European Navy orders two Oerlikon Millennium automatic cannon from Rheinmetall,
    (http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/year-2014-news/february-2014-navy-naval-forces-maritime-industry-technology-security-global-news/1559-a-european-navy-orders-two-oerlikon-millennium-automatic-cannon-from-rheinmetall.html
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43 thoughts on “New Frigate Bidding Candidate: Modified Avante 2200 Combatant class”

    1. It will make logistics just a little bit more complicated, but the 127 mm will give our ships much greater range …

    1. Thanks, Deewii. I was having 2nd thoughts of writing these additional blogs about the candidates because I thought the announcement of the winners of the bidding would come out before I could publish them, but sadly it seems there will be a delay in the announcement. ‘Matatapos na ang July, wala pa rin, so baka nga ma delay talaga …’

  1. It could only mean two things: bad or good developement. and I believe it’s the former and the culprit may be the DAP controversy…

    1. Yes, my thoughts also. Notice that up to now the Letter of Credit for the FA-50s and the SSVs have not been released yet, so the bidding announcement schedule could also be the casualty of this DAP issue …

  2. we have a lot of issues and concerned affecting politics that really affected our nation progress. our politicians have put military to the minimum level of concern due to personal interest and presence of militant groups in congress that is against the military. (really dont understand why we have these party list. are congressmen representing every districts did not represent all sectors?).

    now we have a problem of credibility such as Letter of Credit not yet released for the FA-50s and SSVs. this only show that we cannot be trusted these will make our suppliers more cautious in dealing with us.
    security of the nation is at stake and our politicians are playing on the lives of our soldiers now in the front line at WPS. It is only PINOY is concerned but the whole congress and senate did not take up in their plenary the serious concern of the issue of lossing territory and support for the military for the external defence.

    look at singapore it has no adversary or dispute with other countries but they put military their no. 1 priority to protect their economy.

    1. I attended the Finex and MAP joint membership meeting because Binay was the speaker. The theme was SME = Inclusive Growth. My interest was to ask Binay 2 questions 1.) a categorical statement on his position regarding the EEZ and his foreign policy towards China and 2.) his support for the modernization of the armed forces. Everyone went home disappointed. He did not even cover the topic on SME but merely presented his “report card” for Makati and Pagibig, sooooo domestic and he did not allow for a Q&A. He spent however a lot of time talking to media even way after people were long gone. I don’t think he was comfortable with that crowd particularly Peter Wallace was around and our votes does not count much, its the masa vote. That’s the future for us.

      1. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. Sad future for the Philippines. He has been pretty quiet about the AFP Modernization, he hasn’t talked about it in public. As for his position on China, he did outline this in an article a couple of years ago, and he favors joint exploration of the Spratlys with China …

      2. Hope Pnoy will pass the law for the 2nd phase before he leaves. That gives the AFP Modernization a good chance of not losing steam.

      3. He’s been pretty bogged down with the DAP issue, so I am not sure if the focus is there right now. Plus his opponents ranging from Gloria Arroyo, Bongbong Marcos, the corrupt Senators, the paid communist hacks, etc. have been mounting a Public Relations campaign on social media to discredit his as much as they can using this DAP issue, so we can actually do him a favor by supporting him wherever we can, especially in social media.

      4. Binay attended a forum in the Washington DC area and was asked to name 2 specific things he would do for the Philippine economy. He literally said something like, “like I said before, change the rules on FDI.” That’s it. A one sentence answer to a question on the economy. Then he went on to tell Erap-like jokes to flatter the audience. I assure you, I was not impressed.

      5. Well, that is a let down. He is a many term Mayor, and one of his selling points is supposed to be that is competent in running the Executive branch of the government. If he turns out to be a mediocre President and at the same time CORRUPT, he might end up being chased out of the government.

  3. Feather in you capm indeed, Rhk111

    Thank you for the many contribution you are providing the country’s defense. Please keep it up

    I will look forward to your blog on the Hyundai bid

    Navantia’s omission of the VLS is a letdown in my view. When the ANZAC frigate was reviewed to improve it’s capability applying a limited budget, AshM defense came out as a key priority.

    The CIWS and 6km SAM requirements are outdated against a salvo of Chinese AshM’s which are supersonic and zig-zag’s at its terminal phase

    1. Thanks, rhoydec. The Hyundai blog will be out in 2 days, just making finishing touches on it.

      I think the CIWS and 6 km SAM requirement are okay … As long as it is used as it is used to complement medium range SAMs. Hence your hard-kill defense would be something like Medium-range SAMs -> Short-range SAMs -> Gun-based CIWS. Plus there’s also the decoy system which will help fend off AShMs. Hence, if we can install the VLS in the future then together with the current anti-air weapons it improve the ship’s Anti-air defense.

    1. The problem with this country is that it has forgotten what democracy means. Democracy means RULE OF THE MAJORITY, hence if you are a minority, then sorry ka na lang. What is happening in the Philippines is that there is VERY NOISY MINORITY who are holding the majority hostage just because they throw a lot of tantrums.

      The government should get more backbone and implement the rule of the majority. Mag ingay na sila ng mag ingay diyan, but unless they can show they are the majority then sorry na lang sila.

  4. Can’t wait for that. Hope you covered a bit of what the Pohang has that may be used as a training platform for the HDF 3000.

    1. Unfortunately, most of the equipment and weapons between the Pohang and Incheon are different, hence training in specific items will not be possible. A generalized training will be possible, after all the Pohang have more modern equipment and weapons than most of our ships.

      Most of our ships are still using WW2 era, manual weapons like the 40 mm Bofors in a Mk 3 Mod 0 mount, or 20 mm cannons on Mk 16 mounts, for example, which are mechanical in nature. The Pohangs with its more modern guns filled with electronic systems will be a good exposure for them.

      I think the Navy should hire more people with at least Technician-grade education (preferable will be Engineering-level), or invest in their people and train them on short Technician-grade courses.

      1. Thanks RHK for your response. I think it will be a good step up training platform, though we know that the Pohang serves as the “fifth column” for the Koreans to win the bid but I don’t mind as long as their technology is close or is even as good as the others.

  5. These leftist and so called nationalistic @holes should be cannon fodder when the chinese get antsy. They insist on stopping the edca when they do not even have an alternative to show for. Protect ourselves with what? People power in the ocean? Wtf. They themselves do not even support the military. After more than 30 years these leftists have nothing to show for. Now look at us buying second hand stuff and relying on handouts.
    Though the navantia is great i woyld rather go for the hyundais as long as we get a buy one take one scheme hehe. Buy an incheon get a pohang or an ulsan free.

  6. Good observation. I’ve always like the Navantia offer than the Koreans especially against the Batch I. If Navantia has an advantage it will be in the SAM. If I were the Spaniards I would keep the VLS and place the least amount of missiles required. That way it will be up to PN to add the rest of the 32 its capable of just to meet guidelines. This way Navantia is way above shoulder compared to the Koreans and the French. I would opt also to put a BAE Bofors 40 Mk 4 as my CIWS purely for its longer range. Or keep the VLS and its system but keep it empty to save cost but place an MSI Seahawk Sigma with 7 missiles so this will meet the minimum guidelines for SAM and CIWS at the top of hangar. Its a fully stabilized cannon and has 7 missiles with minimum 6km range.
    Just kind of lame to be penny-pinching to squeeze everything in the tight budget and you have a looming administration crisis because 90 billion of the 270 billion in the illegal coffer is unaccounted for. We have a sick society. Everyone talks a good game but no one delivers.
    Sorry for the rant but always appreciate your deep and quality insight.

  7. As for me, I do hope its navantia. But it would have done them better if the vls was replaced by, say, a RAM launcher, considering of course that it wil raise the price a bit. I hope the dnd values capabilities vs cost. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed until official tech specs come out.

    1. Agree, the RAM is better than the MANPADS or VSHORAD systems out there which other manufacturers may use in the bidding as they do meet the 6 km specs, simply because the RAM has a much bigger warhead at around 9 kg …

  8. Omar, i’m afraid you are too lenient with your perception of the leftist. they have an alternative for the edca… that is, a chinese defence treaty. also, they want the military strengthened. however, they want all this only if they are the ones in power. Oh, i’m sorry, only if Joma Sison is in power. should that happen (God Forbid!), the Philippines’military budget would probably increase 10 times…. while many would starve, placed in labor camps and/or executed outright.

    As much as I love the sleek look of the Avante 2200 and for the very reason that it is made in España, it would be practical to get the Incheon. Not that it is way better than any of the bids but simply because of the close proximity of Korea to the Philippines. Easier logistics. Also, i would presume that the weapon system that would be used in the new frigates would probably be the ones to be upgraded on the two del Pilars as well.

    1. It is very possible that whatever missiles and other weapons the new Frigates will use will also be bought for the upgrade of the Del Pilar ships. Makes good logistical sense …

      1. Not really sure if there is really an agreement or something that specifies only US-made equipment and weapons will be used for the Del Pilars.

  9. well, the korean weapons are more or less licensed copies of the US made versions. so, should the Koreans win the bid, it wouldn’t be difficult to get nod from the US. That is of course we are assuming that the US has the right to refuse foreign upgrades. I would also look towards Israel for possible weapon upgrades.

    Sir rhk111, on a different note, i happened to stumble upon the specs of the Israeli made Delilah missile… it is a rather light missile (412 lbs) with a really long range at 250m. if i am not mistaken, these can be carried by the super tucano. could these be placed on the other RP ships like the Jacinto class?

    1. The Delilah GL probably won’t make a good match for the Jacinto-class ships since its launch weight is around 250 kg, while the reports I keep reading is that the Jacinto-class ships can only accommodate the Sea Skua, which only weighs around 145 kg.

      The best bet for the Jacintos would be the Sea Skua’s successor, the FASGW -ANL, reportedly ony around 110 kg in weight with a range of approximately 40 km … http://defense-update.com/products/f/fasgw.html

  10. The DND should have just specified for an anti-missile CIWS on the ships and a VSHORAD system, they should have specified immediately that we want an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid

  11. @rhk111 regarding your fb post about the spanish corvette (sorry I cannot type it because even though I have Spanish blood and speak a little Spanish, if the Avante 2200C won, then can we say goodbye to Ulsans and Pohangs?

    1. *(because even though I have Spanish blood and speak a little Spanish, the damned corvette class’s name is so f*cking hard to spell)

    2. I expect the South Koreans to give one or two more Pohangs if they win the bidding, but if not, then the Ulsans and Pohangs would still be available … But they won’t be for free, we’d have to buy them.

      1. I see, well if the Avante 2200C does win, now if the ship will be upgraded to have an 8-cell VLS and CIWS in the future then I am fine with it, but the Incheon, according to your blog already comes with RAM and Phalanx CIWS which is credible defense against Chinese missiles, whereas the 4-shot VSHORAD that the Avante 2200C will have wouldn’t do much, but if this ship wins, then will the D something class corvettes be available for free?

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