Category Archives: Ships

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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Hatsuyuki or Shirane class Destroyers for the Philippine Navy?

A Shirane class Destroyer of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A Shirane class Destroyer of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

An article in the Malaya newspaper mentioned recently that aside from P-3C Orion aircraft, one other item for possible transfer to the Philippines from Japan is “… a Destroyer or a Frigate type of vessel …”[1] No mention was given on specifically which Destroyer/Frigate were being considered, but speculations point out to at least two types: The Hatsuyuki and the Shirane class Destroyers, and with good reason as both Destroyer classes have either been retired recently, or on its way to being retired soon. So let’s take a close look at both vessels.

’The Hatsuyuki and Shirane Classes’
The Hatsuyuki-class is a class of twelve General Purpose (GP) Destroyers of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) which first entered service in 1982. The dozen ships were made by five different manufacturers, and since then the class has been succeeded by an improved version, the Asagiri-Class Destroyers. Three of the Hatsuyuki ships have been converted into Training Ships starting in 1999 while five have been officially retired since 2013.[2] The remaining four ships were scheduled to be transferred to the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) starting in 2013,[3] but it seems no English language reference is available to confirm if the transfer has indeed been made.
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Designing a Better Anti-Ship MPAC?

The Iranian Navy's Zolfaghar variant of the IPS-16a Peykaap II Fast Attack Craft. Photo courtesy of Vahid Reza Alaei thru Borna News Agency.
The Iranian Navy’s Zolfaghar variant of the IPS-16a Peykaap II Fast Attack Craft. Photo courtesy of Vahid Reza Alaei thru Borna News Agency.

I initially wrote this blog a couple of months ago, but eventually cancelled it. The reason for the cancellation was because I realized that the “Swarm Boat tactics which these missile armed Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs) are supposed to use have NOT worked in actual combat situations so far, at least not without using SUICIDE as a weapon. During the “Yom Kippur War”, for example, Egyptian and Syrian Missile Boats used TEXTBOOK PERFECT Hit and Run Swarm Boat tactics against the Israelis, but only ended up being massacred when their missiles missed and the more heavily armed and more sophisticated Israeli Missile Boats counter-attacked. [1]

The Sea Tigers (the Naval arm of the Tamil Tigers) have had considerable success of using Swarm Boats tactics against the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN), but only because they used suicide to go along with their Swarm Boats. Eventually the SLN did find a way to neutralize them by using SMALL, FAST BOATS of their own as part of a LAYERED DEFENSE. [2] Now, I don’t imagine our Navy espousing the use of suicide as doctrine to offset China’s qualitative and quantitative advantage, so I thought of just forgetting about writing a blog on building a better MPAC.
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A Bonanza of South Korean Warships?

The Ulsan-class Frigate FF-956 Kyong Buk. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
The Ulsan-class Frigate FF-956 Kyong Buk. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

‘A Second Pohang?’
The Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said recently that the Pohang-class Corvette that will be donated to the Philippines by South Korea will arrive in October, 2014.1 While reading around about the Incheon-class Frigate, I noticed that a new such Frigate, the Gyeonggi will also be commissioned on the same month.2 Putting two and two together, it looks like the South Korean Navy (SKN) in this case will be making a straight swap, retiring a Pohang and commissioning in a new Incheon vessel at just about the same time.

The more interesting prospect though is the fact that the SKN also intends to commission another Incheon-class vessel, the Jeonbuk,2 by December 2014. The big question is, will the SKN also retire another Pohang? No news yet from South Korea on this, but if so, what will happen to this ship? And more importantly, will the Philippines have a good chance of getting this vessel also? Right now we can only speculate, and time will tell if another Pohang will really be retired, and as to what its possible fate will be.
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Pohang-class Flight II Corvette for the Philippine Navy

The Pohang-class Corvette PCC 758 Geyongju. Photo courtesy of the Poder Naval website
The Pohang-class Corvette PCC 758 Geyongju. Photo courtesy of the Poder Naval website

The relative stillness of my late afternoon was jolted by the announcement that the South Korean government was going to donate a Pohang-class Corvette to the Philippines, and that it is going to arrive by the end of 2014.1 There had been a couple of rumors about this since around 2011, but nothing official has come out of it … until now. The Philippines highly appreciates this “gift”, the Korean government said it is a token of appreciation for the sacrifices made by Filipino soldiers during the Korean War.

This donation came after we bought a dozen FA-50 Fighting Eagle Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) and eight Armored Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) from South Korean defense companies,2 3 and there’s also the issue of the upcoming bid for the two new Frigates where South Korean companies are involved. France sent a demonstration ship in the Prarial to help STX France’s bid using an upgraded version of the Floreal-class Frigate,4 and this donation will also help foster a lot of good will between the Philippines and South Korea.
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Modern Large Ship Naval Battle Lessons

A Type 42 Destroyer of the Royal Navy. Photo courtesy of Luis Holden thru Wikipedia Commons.
A Type 42 Destroyer of the Royal Navy. Photo courtesy of Luis Holden thru Wikipedia Commons.

This is a continuation to my previous blog, “Missile Naval Battle Lessons”, except this time I am summarizing battles involving larger missile-armed ships of least 1,000-tons, or what most navies would call as “Frigates”. By summarizing results from actual battles, I am hoping we could get valuable information on how weapons and equipment performed in actual battle conditions.

‘Battle Examples’
There aren’t that many major battles in modern times involving these large ships, in fact it seems there are only 2: The Falklands War, and Operation Praying Mantis. Because of this I have slightly relaxed the criteria for the examples of battles to be included in this summary to as follows:
– Must involve at least 1 missile-armed large ship;
– Must involve a ship having been sunk, or heavily damaged enough to be stopped dead in the water, or put out of commission for the duration of the conflict.
– Also included examples of ships shooting down aircraft or missiles.
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Missile Boat Naval Battle Lessons

A Saar 4 class Missile Boat of the Chilean Navy, the same type that performed very well during the Yom Kippur War. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
A Saar 4 class Missile Boat of the Chilean Navy, the same type that performed very well during the Yom Kippur War. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I decided to write about modern Missile Boat naval battles because it is not a common topic, you are more likely to read or watch topics involving wars like World War 2, or the Vietnam War, etc. than topics like this. Part of the reason its not so common is probably because modern naval engagements don’t last very long, usually only days, hence you can’t generate a lot of material about them unless you collect them up like what I’m doing now. As to why the topic of Missile Boats, its because these boats are smaller and cheaper than other naval platforms out there like Submarines, Frigates, etc. and thus acquiring them would be a cost-effective way of modernizing our navy.

But first, what is a “Missile Boat”? Wikipedia defines it as, “a small warship armed with anti-ship missiles”. That’s a pretty general term as it doesn’t really specify what “small” means. For me, though, it means ships which are under 1,000-tons as we do need to draw a line somewhere. This will also mean covering missile-armed crafts usually described as “Corvettes”, though, but I will be referring to them as Missile Boats also. The term “Fast Attack Craft” can also be used, but it is a more general term in that it can also be used to describe ships armed with other weapons like Torpedoes or guns-only, while there is no mistaking what a Missile Boat is supposed to be armed with.
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