• Knowing the Philippine Army's BO-105 Helicopters

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  • Updates on the PAF's C-130J-30 Super Hercules Aircraft

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  • Phil. Army's Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge Project

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  • Navantia's Submarine Offer to the Philippine Navy

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  • Knowing the AW-109 Helicopter of both PAF and PN

    Both the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy possess this type of helicopter that basically define as a first step towards a more capable Armed Forces, implemented during the First Horizon of the AFP Modernization Program.

  • The Phil. Army's Interest on the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM

    The Philippine Army is improving its firepower capabilities, and it witnessed the performance brought by this anti-tank missile during the Balikatan 2023 Exercises. Now they are considering it for their systems.

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The Final Specifications of the New Philippine Frigates

The Philippine Navy is set to have new large vessels that will soon become part of its growing fleet as part of the Horizon 1 process. We are referring to the New Philippine Navy Frigates that is set to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries. In line with this, we are about to unravel the entirety of the ship and its specifications as agreed between the shipbuilder and the Philippine Department of Defense with details specified where a big picture of the frigates will be disclosed. This is with collaboration with our other defense community counterparts.

Department of National Defense Representatives led by Sec. Lorenzana with Hyundai Heavy Industries workers in Ulsan Shipyard.
Last May first, South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) starts building the two hulls, namely P159 and P160. These are the project numbers that refer to the New Philippine Navy Frigates that will be delivered sometime two years from now in 2020. This comes after months of negotiations and reviews agreed between the Department of National Defense (DND) and HHI at a certain point that controversy was made over the project worth the contract price of approximately 16 Billion Pesos. Nevertheless, the project proceeds as usual with incurring delays and at present, it is now taking shape in a shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. With this project rolling comes with two questions: "What are the ship's specifications?" and "How its final design look like?"


To answer the question, it definitely goes like this: It was taken note that a year ago, we posted an article here on Pitz Defense Analysis regarding the partial specifications of the ship before the revisions made by both HHI and DND. Take note of the CGI created by Hyundai Heavy Industries for the ship. 
The CGI of the Philippine Navy ship to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
This will be the final design of the ship with minor changes that took place during the design review of the project initiated by the parties involved. The design will be the first for the Philippine Navy to have in which it will soon obtain a ship with a hull that reduces the hull's radar cross-section or the radar signal bouncing back to the enemy radar receiver. 

Such reduction of the ships' radar signature is given due to the clean superstructure incorporated into the ship's design wherein it partially deflects radar which in turn, decreases its susceptibility when detected by enemy radar. This is a trend on modern warships where the superstructure blends with the ship's hull with degrees in inclination are shown. 

ASEAN Navies like Singapore have these attributes on their Formidable-class Frigates as well as Indonesians on their Sigma 10514 Frigates. Technically speaking, these ships can be called as "stealth frigates" given its partially-sleek structural setup where, it may be better if the middle portion of the ship where the small Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB), the torpedo, and the anti-ship missiles are situated shall be covered as well to further reduce its naval signature. This is if, both sides decided to have it included to have its susceptibility even lower. Nevertheless, this is a good start for the navy that still obtains old World War 2 vessels at a present date where it lacks the stealthiness that these ships will possess once in action.

The ship's design is among those that are revised aside from the subsystems that both the Hyundai Heavy Industries and Department of National Defense agree in which it composes the finalized specifications of the warships once being in active service with the Philippine Navy two years from now. 

Before we proceed, here is the tidbit for the Finalized Philippine Navy Frigate Design. Chances are, the scale model of the ships may find its way displayed on the upcoming Anniversary of the Navy as an organization part of the Armed Forces several weeks from now. So, from there, the opportunity perhaps may be provided to see the final design at hand, up close.


Just to take note folks, this is the diagram that shows partial specifications originally provided by Hyundai after they won the bid where its specifications going in this way:
Before Revision.
And here is the revised and final version of the frigate subsystems with slight changes on the dimension of the ship and the positioning of several of the components available on the ship. Take note of the revised specifications as agreed by both the shipbuilder and the Defense Department that can be found in this new diagram made by this page in collaboration with our counterparts in MaxDefense Philippines:
After the revision/final specifications of the ship.
Now that two of the diagrams are shown out, one will ask: "What's the difference between these two ships?"

First, let us discuss the dimensions of the ship. As observed, there is a slight change in the beam and length of the ship in its entirety. The difference in these dimensions between the original and revised version of the ships are 107m / 106.4m in length and 12m / 13.8m in the beam, respectively. The ship's hull, in this case, became slightly shorter while it became wider where flows in the terms involving the Length-Width Ratio of the ship. Its size is roughly almost similar to the Sigma 10514 ship design of Damen Schelde that is in service with the Indonesian Navy as the Martadinata-class Frigates.

Another slight change given in this ship is its superstructure especially in the hangar portion of the vessel. Take note that the T-shaped platform intended for the Close-in Weapons system and the Decoy Launching System that improves the setup in that portion of the ship more from the previous design. Also, the other change that is not depicted in the diagram is the bridge where its structure and design are inclined with the windshields facing downward, just like the ones seen on the South Korean Navy's Daegu-class Frigates rather than the stealth-based depicted in the CGI.

There are no changes given on the ship's engine configuration as well as on speed and endurance. More of the noticeable changes are seen on the frigate's subsystem or components that define its capability as a combatant. Let us discuss the "final subsystems fitted into the ship in deep detail.

Note: The ships usually have a helicopter from the Naval Aviation designated in its respective hangars. In this case, the new frigates will come up with the Leonardo AW-159 Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters. Being a separate asset on its own worth, this bird will be discussed in a different article.

Elbit Elisra NS 9003 Aquamarine ESM
Here is SAAR 5 or known as the Eliat-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy.
The Elbit Elisra ESM is seen on the uppermost mast of the ship.
From Naval Technology
As seen on the uppermost tip of the ship's mast, the Elbit Elisra NS9003 Aquamarine ESM is designed as an early warning sensor about ship self-defense especially when it is related to electronic warfare matters. This will enhance threat detection such as enemy radar signature as well as situational awareness where it can detect advanced threats that provides reaction time for the navy personnel on board to do evasive action. This is considered a leap of capabilities for the Philippine Navy with regards to this kind of technology where this is the first within the fleet to obtain this electronic weapon suite.

Harris Model 997 Hull-Mounted Sonar

The Harris Model 997 Hull-Mounted Sonar as described in the company's product section is a medium frequency sonar which functions as it is intended - to detect submarines and torpedoes at a depth which is an attribute for the frigate's antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. 

This will come in a combo with Tow Array Sonar which will come separately or in defense terms, Fitted-for-but-not-with (FFBNW). This platform in itself like the Elbit Elisra is an improved capability for the Philippine Navy to obtain where this once-obtained capability is once again gaining on-hand the same way as FA-50PH LIFT jets helping the Philippine Air Force returning to the jet age after the retirement of F-5A/B fighter jets.

MBDA Simbad Remote Control Launchers

Being one of the subsystems that went unchanged, the MBDA Simbad RC Missile Launchers as advertised is a lightweight launcher intended for ship defense. This may be seen as an immediate solution over the Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) that is also categorized as a system primarily intended for ship defense. 

Both of these weapons are the last line of defense for a ship like these frigates may have. Given the "fitted for but not with" attribute of the Philippine Navy frigates over the CIWS, these Simbad Launchers that is situated the hangar portion at both sides with the SMASH Gun System, will provide the defense needed in the ship with its Mistral Missiles being its ammunition. 

Oto Melara 76mm/62 Super Rapid Main Gun

Also being one of the unchanged subsystems since the shown original design, the Oto Melara 76mm/62 Super Rapid Main Gun is officially the one that will install on the new Philippine Navy Frigates. Take note that the information provided by the Navy Recognition that the Hyundai WIA 76mm main gun will be used is definitely false. For the sake of discussing this in detail, here is the requirement is given on the maker's list of the Philippine Navy for the frigates.
The photo source redirected from here.
Given the details, the requirement fits more to the Oto Melara 76mm/62 Super Rapid Gun considering that this main gun fires as what the operational requirement suggests which is at 120rpm or rounds per minute. Meanwhile, the Hyundai WIA 76mm main gun operates at only 100rpm which falls short to the requirement. Some side note folks, there is at one time that Oto Melara S.p.A and Hyundai Wia Corp. caught up in a spat against each other with the former claiming that the latter committed a trade secret infringement in which the South Korean Court rejected on technical grounds. Despite these things rolling around, the Philippine Navy will end up having Oto Melara guns which are ideal considering that it also runs compatibly with the main guns that the Jacinto-class corvettes and Del Pilar-class frigates use where it lessens the complications in maintenance and logistical matters on spare parts.

Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye X and S-band Navigational Radars

This is definitely a piece of good news on its own worth considering that this is definitely a navigational radar far more sophisticated than commercially-based radars. In this article news posted by the maker Kelvin Hughes, these radars obtain a sort of solid-state technology with systematic features that are applicable for naval and maritime security operations. This navigations system is ideal for a naval ship like these New Philippine Frigates to have, considering that the Del Pilar-class frigates also obtain such technology onboard in the form of MantaDigital surface radar system.
SharpEye's Radar Display. From Kelvin Hughes' Website.
Leonardo NA-25X Fire Control Radar
Check its technical details in a document here.

From the manufacturer of AW-109s that both the Philippine Navy and Air Force presently obtains actively in service an soon the supplier of AW-159 anti-submarine warfare helicopters that are also assigned to these new ships, the Italian weapons company Leonardo will supply the NA-25X Fire Control Radar in exchange to the original specifications for a fire control given which should be Thales with its STIR EO Mk. 2 Fire Control Radar. This Fire Control Radar is in service with the Italian Navy and, as the document claims, in service with 20 other navies of the world. Hence, the NA-25X FCR is worth for itself wherein given the present assets available in the fleet, this is an important improvement with a more sophisticated fire control radar in the fleet since the Navy presently obtains the older Mk. 92 Fire Control Radars installed in the Del Pilar-class Frigates.

Safran PASEO NS Electro-Optical Tracking System
Check its technical details in a document here.

Given the news reports from the maker's website [link here], the Philippine Navy seems to be the first user of these Safran PASEO NS Electro-Optical Tracking System that also doubles itself as a Fire Control System just like the Leonardo NA-25X that precedes this one. Given this nature, it technically makes the Philippine Navy some sort of a "testing platform" where the actual performance of this system will be pushed through by the end-user at the expense that there are no guarantees whether this Electro-Optical Tracking System will work or not. 

This will definitely go against Republic Act 9814 or the Revised Government Procurement Act that safeguards the end-user from kinds of transaction like this one, preventing an organization into being some sort of "guinea pig", while risking of having a failed system which affects the overall performance of the vessel, wasting taxpayers' money in the process. Nevertheless, take this as a benefit for the doubt, where only time will tell whether this system works for not. Side note folks, this is the system in place of the more proven LIG Nex1 SAQ-540K Electro-Optical Tracking System which is in service with the Korean Navy.

ASELSAN SMASH 30mm Secondary Gun System

The Turkish-based company ASELSAN will provide these 30mm Secondary Gun Systems for the New Philippine Navy Frigates in place of the Original Spec's MSI Defence Seahawk 30mm Remote Controlled Weapons System (RCWS) which is ideal for the Navy to have considering that it obtains a 25mm variants of this weapons system on some of the Philippine Navy Ships, simplifying logistical issues on spare parts and maintenance in the process. 

The SMASH is fitted with a 30mm Mk. 44 Bushmaster II Cannon that is in service with various armies and navies across the world. So far, the Philippine Navy presently obtains BAE Mk. 38 Mod 2 RCWS which is in service with the Del Pilar-class Frigates alongside the 25mm MSI Defence Seahawk RCWS in service with ships like the Jacinto-class Corvettes.

Terma C-Guard Decoy Launching System

These Decoy Launching Systems from Terma as advertised is a self-defense or self-protection solution that keeps the ship and its crew safe from coordinated attacks ranging from multiple missile barrages up to incoming torpedoes. 

Reports from Naval Technology dated November 9, 2017, provided the details with regards to the capabilities that this decoy system can give to these new Philippine Frigates such as providing whole 360-degree coverage on the ship's defense as well as using SeaGnat 130mm decoy rounds for its function. Some interesting information about the SeaGnat folks. This countermeasure made by Chemring is in conformity with NATO standards which in it comes to the guarantee that this is a sort of solid-state technology sufficient to defend the warship from threats.

2x2 LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star Anti-ship Cruise Missiles

This missile system intended for the new Philippine Navy frigates will be considered as a milestone where at present is being started by MPAC Mk.3s in a form of SPIKE-ER Missiles from the Israeli Defense Company Rafael

More commonly known as the Haesong Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, this weapons system is in service with the Korean Navy where it is seen installed on ships like the Ulsan-class Frigates and the Incheon-class Frigates where the latter serve as the basis for the New Philippine Navy Frigate design. 

In the ships, there will be two twin launchers with aims both at the port and starboard sides of each vessel that goes with the usual antiship missile setups of present combatants at the fleet. 

This may be upgraded up to the discretion of the key decision-makers on the later date where each ship may end up having two quad launchers in the same way as the ones in service with the South Korea Navy.
This Incheon-class frigate obtains two quad-launchers for C-Star Haesong.
Credits to its photo owner.
To see how it functions, here is the video with various South Korean Navy ships launching the missile from its respective launchers.

Once in service, the C-Star Haesong will serve as one of the primary armaments with having a long-range anti-ship missile installed in the ships that make these newest assets armed to the teeth. Aside from this missile system, there is also another component in the New Philippine Navy Frigate specifications that is as important as this one.

SEA J+S Triple Torpedo Launchers

This is the torpedo launcher system that aside from the Philippine Navy, their counterparts in fellow Southeast Asian Countries Thailand and Malaysia will also obtain this platform which is in conformity with NATO standards and presently in service in various NATO members like the United Kingdom

With this notable development with regards to the increasing number of users, this provides a good opportunity in the long run where numerous source for spare parts provided for these launchers to function is in place, decreasing the burden for troubleshooting and maintenance, as well as for logistical-related matters. 

The ships will obtain two units of these triple launchers per hull where it will install on both port and starboard sides of the ship in front of the RHIBs or Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (see illustration as provided in this article).

After all of these weapons subsystems that compose of the Philippine Navy frigate are being enumerated, let us proceed to the very important feature of the ship which at some time plagues with controversy where, in no avail, the shipbuilder's preferred system still finds its way to the ships despite the objections of the end-user. 

Aside from these matters, the Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW) features are also being discussed where the potential candidates of these separate purchases may be ideal to have its way installed on the warships.

Hanwha Systems Naval Shield Baseline 2 Integrated Combat Management System
Read the related article for this system in a Pitz Defense Article Here.

This controversial Combat Management System stands in place against the Thales TACTICOS CMS which is in service with a couple number of navy ships across the world. As discussed across the two linked articles about our previous discussions on these systems, the Hanwha Naval Shield in itself was derived from the Baseline 0 of the Thales TACTICOS as a result of the then partnership of Samsung Thales before the breakup years ago with Samsung's successor Hanwha and Thales going separate ways. 

The arguments here are that several key Navy officers prefer the Thales TACTICOS CMS while the Department of National Defense together with the shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries prefers the Hanwha Naval Shield. 

Nevertheless, both Combat Management System, in each and every way, is still an improvement for the Philippine Navy with the naval field composition not obtaining such a sophisticated system as this one. 

One argument that entangled this matter is the compatibility of the Tactical Data Link 16/22 to a Combat Management System wherein the assurance is more firm with the Thales TACTICOS given its record compared to the Hanwha Naval Shield. And for the record, both companies that create these said CMS also creates the Tactical Data Link with Hanwha's version is named as follows:

Hanwha Systems Link-P Tactical Data Link; Allocation for Link 16 and Link 22

This is Hanwha's offer of a Tactical Data Link which comes in line with its Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System in which it is only limited to the Korean Armed Forces

Apparently speaking, their Baseline 2 of the Naval Shield is seemingly not in line or compatible with the required or should-be subsystems such as Link 16 and Link 22. This is the preferred Tactical Data Link of Hyundai Heavy Industries over Thales Link Y Mk. 2 with Allocations for Link 16 and Link 22, both of which being originally Fitted For, But Not With. 

In the compatibility issues that prevail on this matter, one can only be certain on its functions whether it goes as designed once it is active along with the ships. Nevertheless, the good thing that this is an improvement for the Philippine Navy fleet on its own worth wherein having more firm communications suite is in place on an organization that does not obtain such technology. 

This may pave the way for the personnel to enhance the skills needed to operate it where it provides the experience and knowledge needed for more future vessels that will obtain such tactical data link more solid-state than this product from Hanwha.

MTU/STX 12V1163-TB93 Combined Diesel and Diesel (CODAD) Engine
Check a Document for STX Naval Engines including this one here.

These naval diesel engines are indigenously produced by Korean Company STX Engines that are under license from the German company MTU-F. Given on the document linked above [in PDF form], each of these 12V 1163 TB93 engines produces 3,600kW to 7,400kW with 4,440kW on Fuel Stop Power with 1,300rpm on fast military vessels with low load factors. 

Take note that each ship as provided in the diagram will be provided four units of these massive engines in which it may help on the ship's propulsion and electricity needs as provided in the specifications in the contract where the ship will obtain a 25-knot top speed, on a 30-day endurance and having a 4,500nm range as well as the needs of keeping the electronic components of the ship functional.

Addendum: 4 x S&T Motiv Daewoo K6 12.7mm/50 general purpose heavy machine guns

For extra security just like any other ship in the navy, machine guns are meant to be installed on the ships wherein this manner, will be situated on the superstructure just behind the bridge where the MBDA Simbad RC Launchers is supposed to be installed as per original design. This Korean-made version of the M-2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun provides that small arms fire that will shoot small enemy surface vessels when approached within its range. 


Aside from these subsystems that will be installed on the vessels as agreed upon between two involved parties, there are also the subcomponents that simply come up later, once the ships are in active service. These are the Fitted For, But Not With subsystems which further improves each of the vessel's capabilities alongside the ones that are sure to be installed.

8-Cell Vertical Launching System

This "purchased separately" component aside from the C-Star Haesong will push the ship's firepower a step further. Ranging from defense to offense, anti-ship to anti-aircraft, this system upon the discretion of the end-user is helpful to give leverage especially in terms of the sailors on board to enforce their mandate of protecting the waters that embody Philippine Sovereignty and its Sovereign Rights covered under national interest. 

Given the Korean attribute of the ship, one possibility coming from this one is the idea of installing a Korean-made Vertical Launching System on the ships, considering the push of the shipbuilder to "go Korean" with the Hanwha System Naval Shield ICMS as an example. Just to take note folks, The Korean Vertical Launching System (or known as K-VLS) is also produced by the one that made the Tactical Data Link as well as the Combat Management System which is Hanwha Systems. 

And with that, the possibility for this VLS for installment is high given its compatibility with the respective Combat Management System due that it is produced by the same manufacturer.  Albeit the possibility, there are still chances that other suppliers of the Vertical Launching System may have their products on the way to the Philippine Navy Frigates depending on circumstances that may take place later on.

Close-in Weapons System (CIWS)

This component is considered the last line of defense that protects the ship from incoming surface threats like missiles and small hostile vessels. This works in unison with the installed components like the MBDA Simbad RC Launchers which obtains the same function as well as the Decoy Launchers by Terma. 

With regards to the question "Which CIWS will be the ones installed on the frigates?" The possible answer may come two things, that is either the Phalanx CIWS or the SeaRAM. The thing with these two CIWS is that the former is compatible with the Hanwha Naval Shield due to its service with the primary combat ships of the Korean Navy like the Incheon and Daegu-class Frigates and the latter being in the interest to be fitted in the ships wherein it will also function accordingly given that it is a rolling airframe missile version of the usually gun-based Phalanx which are both products of Raytheon.

Towed Array Sonar 

Another feature in this Fitted For But Not With subcomponents is the towed array sonar. As we took note, the frigates will be produced with the Harris Hull-Mounted Sonar installed on the ship which gives it the detection on subsurface elements such as submarines or incoming torpedos. 

Alongside the hull-mounted sonar, this component will provide the additional picture of the seafloor as well as for enemy detection which its function where necessary actions will be made for it like evading from an attacking submarine that fired torpedoes to eliminating it altogether. 

So far, there is no information with regards to which towed array sonar will be provided to the ships separately. Nevertheless, this FFBNW feature is a plus for the capabilities of the Philippine Navy especially in terms of the tools provided for anti-submarine warfare.


The final specifications of the Philippine Navy frigates are different and a bit less capable than the partial designs provided by Hyundai Heavy Industries after it won a bid for the project. Given the situation, somehow, the fleet will end up, still with a capable warship that is better than the ones provided in its inventory at present.

From an incorporated design that reduces radar cross-section of the ship's hull to the sophisticated weapons and sensors that each vessel will carry, this provides the first for the Philippine Navy to obtain which is to have a warship that can be said as a "par" with the more-capable warships in the region. This is something that will boost morale for the sailors as well as for providing the way to a more-capable fleet with better-armed warships as the time passes by. Should various mistakes that may take place in this project that sparks controversy, that may serve as a lesson that provides the necessary actions on a next big-ticket project such us the Corvette Acquisition Project that an organization like the Philippine Navy will undertake, with decent funding and planning.

The new Philippine Frigates is still worth having for despite the imperfections that it obtains, considering that in each and every way, these warships, in the end, will conduct the mandate of the Armed Forces in the same way as other vessels on the fleet will do. Once active, the ships will further enhance and improve its overall capabilities that are designed to do the duties and responsibilities of a navy sailor that is to defend territorial waters and sovereign rights which is detrimental to the peace and security for the country, its sovereignty, and its citizens. 

UPDATES as of August 11, 2018

The scale model of the Philippine Navy ships was already released across Defense outlets including our Facebook Page with regards to what the final design (unless changes are requested to be made), will be for the Philippine Navy Frigates made by Hyundai Heavy Industries. As noticed, the center portion of the ship is exposed with the anti-ship missile, drafts for the RHIBs, and torpedo tubes showed up which by any sense induce its radar cross signature upon detection by some enemy ships.
The scale model of the ship. Photo from the FB account of Rafael Alunan.
But so as just to take note, such design may have a justification to why the shipbuilder opts to have it in the first place given the fact that the steel is cheap and it may get covered if revisions are provided. 

One consideration to be taken is that this ship may get slower than its intended speed of 25 knots (or slower if based on other vessels with the maximum speed of 30 knots) which makes it less ideal for maneuvering given that the steel makes it much heavy. 

Another consideration is that the set-up of the weapons and RHIB components in the middle portion renders it not ideal, given that the design was provided by the shipbuilder in such a way that the RHIBs may freely move or the anti-ship missile tubes having an exit for its fuel exhaust that provides the power for these weapons to propel and set for the target. 

Take note that several South Korean ships such as the Incheon-class frigates have its middle portion exposed as well, with so far no concerns for radar cross-section as far as information is concerned. 

Nevertheless, the platform is still better than what the Philippine Navy obtains at present. To add it further, another design feature that can be seen on this ship is the L-shaped pedestal for the Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) to be installed. 

From a point of view, it may be seen as an awkward feature where it is more ideal to simply have an island for the CIWS to be installed given that it may be seen by several observers as an uneven distribution for the ship that may affect its stability. 

While such issues on stability may not be held on the account is given that fewer proofs can suffice the justification, perhaps such a feature is something that only the shipbuilder knows where its usefulness remains to be seen unless proven that it may be seen as an annoyance.

Hence, as the ships are now being built, things remain to be seen to whether the L-shaped pedestal or the open middle feature of the ship pushes through as what the scale model was depicted. 

Nevertheless, if the design itself proves itself to be insufficient, it might as well a nice lesson to consider where better deals may come up after this warship later on. To keep the benefit of the doubt, it is a nice thing still, to see a ship that is suited to replace the old, World War 2 vessels the Navy presently obtains alongside the pending Corvette and Offshore Patrol Vessels of the Second Horizon. 

Hence, at the time of its delivery, we can see how the warship fare with what it is to be within the fleet, in active service.

UPDATES as of May 20, 2019 (exactly one year since this article was first published).

The ships, now called the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, are now shown on the following image provided by our friends in the other defense-related outlet which is the MaxDefense Philippines.
Image Source.
Key Summary (obtained from MD page):
Frigate Acquisition Project - Lot 1 Frigate Platform with Launchers

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)
* Quantity: 2 units
* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 Phase of RAFPMP
* Project ABC: Php16,000,000,000.00
* Acquisition Mode: 2-Stage Public Bidding
* SARO Release: TBA
* Winning Proponent: Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea
* Product for Delivery: HDF-2600 frigate (Jose Rizal-class)
* Contract Price: Php15,744,571,584.00

Additional information:

The expected date for the launching of the ship may depend on the conditions that will satisfy between the South Korean and Philippine side where estimates may range from within this month up to the next month. 

Nevertheless, it will take a certain period of time more before this will be delivered in the country and eventually to be put into service within the Philippine Navy as the most armed and capable vessel that will it handle as a service branch within the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

What It Means to be a Treaty Ally?

Each and every nations' aim is national interest particularly on something it sees as either significant or helpful that will help to pursue it for the betterment of its citizens. 

And that means having an ally in which it mutually pursues the interest of two countries in various avenues like emphasizing national security. 

Although the nature of it is simple and good to grasp, its deeper understanding is something an ordinary citizen cannot comprehend. 

Hence, here comes a question on the matter: What it really means to be a treaty ally, and what is the responsibility that a participating nation entails from it?

The Philippines is already a staunch US Ally since the former's
Independence from the latter. Photo of Balikatan 2018 Amphibious Exercises
Obtained by Xinhua News Agency.
In the civilian understanding of foreign relations, belonging to an alliance is definitely a benefit for a nation he or she belongs where his or her country is guaranteed that in a case of conflict or say, an invasion of the home nation, there will always be somebody that will come to the rescue and help the local armed forces repel the threats back from where they belong. One may call it as a heroic thing ala-known superhero of sorts or somewhat equivalent because most of the civilian people see it as such.

Well, such interpretation of alliances holds some truth on itself in which by nature, that country with strong armed forces will come and help its lesser-than-thou allies on the premise that reflects the national interest and international diplomacy. Take for example the context of Russians helping the Syrian regime flushing out its local rebellion which is apparently, receives "condemnation" from Western Countries, citing humanitarian concerns over the said conflict. 

However, such help isn't always going as intended or up to the expectations of several citizens on their perception that an ally nation is always there to provide assistance especially in terms of protecting a nation or improving its armed forces in a sense that only one side is doing an effort to do all those things while the other side simply keeps on receiving things without giving something in return. The keyword in any alliance points to this very principle that both nations needed to help each other. Such a thing  Mutualism.


So, let us take the word "mutualism" in its usual definition. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the word "mutualism" refers to the association of organisms of two different species in which each benefit. That is definitely the way alliances work especially on the embodiment of various Mutual Defense Treaties such as the one between the Philippines and the United States have.

By that sense, the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty is what makes the United States and Philippines' role as "treaty allies" are bound together, with conditions given in the case of an armed attack that both sides have roles and simply not relying on what a single side has to offer. Well, to point it out, here is the quote coming from the treaty itself, on the Article 2 provision:

"In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty, the Parties separately and jointly by self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack."

There is no need for a further explanation over this matter. The words in the article 2 provision are sufficient enough to understand especially the part that self-help alongside mutual aid is a necessity for such a treaty to achieve its aims. As far as these things are concerned, the effort made by the Philippine Government to modernize its Armed Forces to cope up with internal (terrorists and rebels) and external threats (China) somewhat makes it helpful to make the Philippines achieve the objective at least on the self-help part.

The modernization process also may not be possible without my part, the help of an ally like the United States. From Foreign Defense Articles to Military sales, many military assets and munitions help enhance the country's military capabilities at present as well as the number of assistance made on recent conflicts and standoffs, both with direct and indirect impacts to the Nation's interest.


These examples are somewhat already known to the people where official media outlets, social media users, and forum members gave the number of reports to the contributions the US gave to the nations like the Philippines. Let us enumerate some of the projects here to give the idea about the assets they give which is a big help for the armed forces.

Military Assets

Throughout the years, the United States somehow provided military assets as they support countries like the Philippines as well as other countries in the form of sale or aid through Foreign Defense Articles. Notably, a portion of those assets is considered "second-hand weaponry" which are already in service within a certain branch of the United States military before being handed over to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for capability enhancement.

Examples of military assets that are sold or given by the United States to the Philippines include the Gregorio del Pilar-class Frigates (ex-USCG Hamilton-class cutters) which improves the fleet's patrolling capabilities such as longer endurance or duration of staying at sea, additional M-113 armored personnel carriers that protect the troops being deployed while in combat, Boeing Insitu ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), as well as countless others that are already given throughout the history including the ones obtained or purchased when the United States still has a military base at Clark Pampanga, from F-86 to F-5A/B fighter jets as well as UH-1 Combat Utility Helicopters and C-130 Cargo Aircraft.

Add to that, the nature of military equipment Philippines obtain since its independence from the United States in 1946 and the enhancement of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951 makes it in line to the doctrines, maintenance, and operations the same way the United States and other allied nations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) do in which it defines the military ecosystem a country like the Philippines is lenient upon.

Photo source. (C) Erwin Fuguet
Case in a note during the Cold War, the United States, and Russia together with its respective allies have military weaponry that adheres to the standards that are followed either from two of these great powers at that time. Hence, difficulties are encountered with regards to the compatibility of it especially if an armed forces source it from both sides that definitely complicates logistics. However, there lies an advantage if one source decides to block arms sales where the other still help the military operate its assets. Countries like Indonesia or Venezuela, especially on its Air Force, obtain both Western and Russian-based weaponry. 

Military Munitions

Aside from operational, active military equipment that utilizes for defending the national sovereignty, an ally also provides munitions that serve as teeth for the military to surely strike its target as intended where mission success rate increases and guaranteed.

This includes AGM-65 Maverick air to surface missiles and AIM-9L air to air missiles that make combat aircraft like South Korean-made FA-50PH Fighting Eagles and soon to arrive Brazilian-made A-29 Super Tucanos armed further to the teeth where, alongside unguided munitions and gun rounds, it helps the air force pilots to do their job well as intended where their primary objectives were met and as well as the desired security and support from the skies is achieved. 

These given munitions especially the AGM-65 Mavericks are the first for the AFP especially for the Philippine Air Force in a sense that such capability is used against ground targets which are an improvement from the usual surgical dropping of unguided bombs that definitely requires enhanced pilot skills to undertake such a feat.
A PTV Screenshot of an FA-50 with the AGM-65 attached.
Case in a note once again. The munitions given here, just like the military assets are paid for by the Government where several instances, it includes purchasing or simply refurbishing it depending on whether it is brand new or not. Nevertheless, both of these things are given the significance that the AFP, as the result of having an alliance between the Philippines and the United States, receives or purchases its tools that are produced by the latter and other friendlies where that as well provide the equipment needed for the protection of the country against insurgent elements and other threats that may cause for concern in terms of national security.

Exercises and Technical Assistance

Throughout the years, both the Philippines and the United States exchange knowledge especially in the security field where tactics, strategies, ideas, approaches, and stronger bonds are made.

These things are done through military exercises and joint military operations which at present primarily aims against terrorism that hampers peace in the nation as well as Humanitarian operations intended to seek immediate assistance for those in need especially in times of natural disasters. The given examples here are the EDCA or Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Balikatan Exercises among others.

They also provide technical assistance where, although foreign powers aren't allowed to engage directly in case of a conflict, they indirectly engage wherein providing surveillance information, intelligence, and other technical matters are their things. One example is the conflict last year in the City of Marawi where the Government successfully end the terror campaign by Radical Sympathizers together with the Armed Forces fighting on the ground with the support from the air and of course, the technical matters like surveillance provided by alliances like the United States.

And to add this up, recent reports include that for the first time in the history of RIMPAC, the Philippines will send two of its ships which includes one Del Pilar-class frigate and a companion in a form of Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock to participate on the exercise where this involves the Navies across the Pacific Rim where naval drills, exercises, knowledge exchanges, and camaraderie are the benefits of this participation.  

Now since that this correlates to the Philippine-US alliance and diplomatic relations, this might be an opportunity that there will be a nice practice of interoperability between the navies that might come handy on the relations of the two nations as time passes by. Take note also of this year's Balikatan Exercises where it is still taking place at present despite the government warming up of relations to China as well as the threats posing in the disputed waters as the Chinese installs defense systems on its outposts situated in the highly-contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

This video on YouTube provided by Inquirer.net exhibits the good use of interoperability on an exercise in which U.S. Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) with both the Philippine and the U.S. personnel on board disembarks a Tarlac-class LPD and proceeds to conduct coastal insertion. Given the details, this is much useful considering that The Philippines set to acquire its own Assault Amphibious Vehicles from South Korea which will deliver later this year using its own funds. 

This will make the nation somehow a reliable ally in the sense that the country's armed forces will soon have its own AAVs to embark on. It is a small attribute of what it means to be a treaty ally which becomes more reliable by having the military providing its own tools to enhance the exchange of skills as well as training that takes place at present.

Should the modernization program keep on improving the capabilities of the Philippine Republic through its Armed Forces to defend itself, it gives a good sign that it may be a way of showing that the nation slowly becomes a reliable ally where, despite some political clout, it will make bonds stronger with brothers will rely one over the other, especially when needed on doing the duty of defending nations.

With these exercises taking place with more opportunities connected to it are in sight, the alliance will remain as strong as it is intended where, the times have tested it and even with some of the disagreements at present, both nations are still working hand in hand especially in terms of defense matters. This is something that will keep on going as time passes by.


Read: The Whole Text of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty

This is the main basis of the alliance between the Philippines and the United States where throughout the years, The Philippines obtains most of its military equipment from the United States at that time as well as hosting the military base in Subic Bay and Clark Air Field throughout the Cold War until they left in 1991.

Signed on August 30, 1951, this eight-articled treaty is legally binding both sides where they must support and help each other should one of these countries were to be attacked by any external offensive forces which pose the threat to each countries' national security and sovereignty. 

This treaty is still binding at the present date just as it was years ago where active participation from both sides retaining military alliances are still taking place, showing that the alliance of both countries is still strong in a way that there will be no other administrative policies at present, especially at soft diplomacy with China may hamper its essence

To be honest, this treaty may well be helpful particularly in terms of getting in line to the International Arbitral Tribunal set by UNCLOS which verdicts the decision on the contested waters in favor to the Philippines if given the provisions of the treaty especially to the ones that point on the Charter of the United Nations

However, the treaty was signed decades long before UNCLOS was initialized in 1982 and the United States on that matter is a non-signatory of this United Nations Convention. In other words, the treaty covers more of the Philippine Archipelago with perhaps the exception of the contested features such as the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal where, regardless of its categorization as a rock feature, a reef, or an island, lies beyond the Philippine territorial waters, albeit it is within the Exclusive Economic Zone which entitles the Philippines the sovereign right to exploit the maritime resources in the area ranging from marine wildlife to offshore underwater mineral and oil deposits. 

Despite being a UNCLOS non-signatory, the United States is doing its part where aside from the Philippine Claim over the West Philippine Sea, this body of water is essential for world commerce and trade in which may affect the world economy directly or indirectly should a shooting war sparked in this region if any miscalculations and misunderstandings are made. One will ask: What actions does the United States do in the disputed waters? 

The answer is they simply conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations or FONOPS. Several of the U.S. ships find time docking either in Manila or in the former U.S. Naval Base in Subic either coming from a FONOP activity or simply conducting routine patrols which is a usual thing that can be attributed from the strong alliance both nations obtain. 

It might be better for the Philippines to further enhance its capabilities in terms of equipment and further assert its claim in the highly-contested waters where the former awaits funding while the latter depends on how the government plays diplomacy at present with some unfavorable circumstance.

Hence, despite the situation today with the latest entanglements taking place in the West Philippine Sea like the recent defense system deployments on China's military outposts within the highly-contested area, the alliance will remain strong with the Philippines modernizes its armed forces slowly but surely in a sense that being a more reliable ally is essential in this two-way relationship. At present, military exercises and agreements are still helpful on its own worth albeit the diplomatic warm-up with China.
A U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) veering itself to the shore with the BRP Ramon Alcaraz in the background. This is in the US-PH Balikatan Amphibious Exercises.
Photo from Xinhua News Agency.


Since the Philippine independence from the United States in 1946, the alliance between two nations becomes firm when the mutual defense treaty was signed 5 years later with provisions about the obligations of both countries to stand and defend one over the other in case of conflict.

With the situation and diplomacy that is shifting to the east in particular to China, the alliance still standing firmly in a sense that bit by bit, the Philippine obligations as a reliable partner or an ally is getting better with the passing time. 

This is better where militarily speaking, newer pieces of equipment and newer capabilities help improve interoperability and reliance in the sense that the country is capable of carrying out a certain military activity or action with the equipment available to deliver it. 

As far as military exercises taking place and partnerships forging hand in hand in terms of other things such as humanitarian assistance, both the Philippines and the United States will remain allies with the sense that the former becomes more reliable on itself without relying too much on the latter.

Hence, being a treaty ally comes with benefits as well as obligations that are needed to uphold varying on the terms written in the agreement. Being a reliable ally means standing on one's own feet with a capable armed force rather than looking after for an ally to secure the country. 

And a reliable ally is something respectful to see where a more powerful ally may no longer incur more taxpayer expenses into an ally in which it invests itself for the better, using its own money into good use. 

Alliances definitely go with the saying: Respect begets respect.




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