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Additional Pohang-class Corvettes for the Philippine Navy?

The Philippine Navy acquires its own first Pohang-class Corvette wherein it bears the name BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), in which it is currently known (at the time of this article is published) as the most capable navy warship to have, only to be surpassed by the Jose Rizal-class Frigates upon its delivery next year.

With that acquisition comes with the endless possibilities of purchasing more ships of such class in its inventory as additional acquisitions do come with economic advantages that are helpful for the Philippine Navy continuously sustain the operations, repairs, and maintenance of these ships as it bolsters up the numbers required in patrolling the country's vast archipelagic, territorial and extra-territorial waters.

The Pohang-class Corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).
Obtained from the Philippine Navy via Wikimedia Commons.
The Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea in the past couple of years have numerous successful deals which relate to several small and big-ticket defense purchases that are considered a big boost for the former's desire to Modernize its military as they face threats especially with a neighbor encroaching in the country's western seas.

Among the military assets that have procured from South Korea is the former ROKS Chungju (PCC-762) which is now named within the Philippine Navy fleet as the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) which is currently considered as the most capable warship that the Navy obtains to date - until the arrival of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates by next year.

Currently, obtaining such a vessel is a welcoming addition for the fleet's capabilities as it comes with fitted weaponry that doubles that to the existing vessels that the Navy obtains as well as having torpedoes and sensors that are meant for antisubmarine operations as it goes integral for the country's patrol and defense of the waters that surround the country which composes of an archipelago.

While obtaining one capable vessel is an improvement for the fleet's overall capability, simply retaining to such number goes insufficient as the country's vast waters to patrol and defend is something that is not sufficing to the fleet's current composition of ships, not to mention that obtaining a fleet of ships of similar built and class is something that benefits the logistical chain of supplies on spare parts in the long run.

Other than that, there is also the benefit of compatibility especially with regards to the procurement of additional ships of a similar class in the long run as the skillsets between the crew and maintenance teams in terms of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations are shared along as this streamlines any training that involves the performance and roles that these ships play within the Philippine Navy.

To take note, the South Koreans still obtains a handful of Pohang-class Corvettes on its fleet that is now pending replacement which means a lot of opportunities for the Philippine Navy to obtain two or more vessels which may equate the overall number of such warships within the naval inventory which may satisfy the necessities that may vary within the fleet as well as the certain numerical rule of ship operations that will be explained later throughout this article.

This discussion talks about the possibility for the fleet in having more Pohang-class Corvettes in the Philippine Navy as the inputs provided will give us an insight into the prospective composition of the fleet that correlates the capabilities it obtains and also to the respect of its existing vessels that it currently obtains in which several of it was old and needs replacement.

The BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) sets the precedent on the idea of
acquiring more Pohang-class Corvettes for the Philippine Navy.
Obtained via Inquirer.net website.
Before proceeding, we recommend to read this related article regarding the to the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) dated August 31, 2019, here:

Recalling the contents of the article, let it be known once again that the Philippine Navy's Pohang-class Corvette was delivered in the country way back August of 2019 in which this is considered one of the latest vessels that were added in the fleet alongside the more-recent Multipurpose Attack Craft Mk. 4s which came in three units that were commissioned into service alongside four more Amphibious Assault Vessels for the Philippine Marine Corps.

Like any other Flight III Pohang-class Corvettes, the ex-ROKS Chungju (PCC-762) came up with two units 76mm Oto Melara Guns, two units 40mm OtoBreda Twin Guns, two units Mark 32 Triple Torpedo tubes intended for munitions like the South Korean-made K-745 Blue Shark Torpedoes, Signaal (Thales) PHS-32 Hull Mounted Sonar, and Signaal (Thales) WM-28 Fire Control System.

Before the ex-ROKS Chungju was considered by the Philippine Navy to be the BRP Conrado Yap, another Pohang-class Corvette was considered and assessed wherein such ship that was checked upon was the decommissioned ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759) which belonged to the Flight II Pohang-class Corvettes with a minimal difference on the weapons fit as compared to the Flight III variants that were received by various countries which will be discussed through this article.

Speaking of Flight II variant of the Pohang-class Corvettes, let it be known that there is also one recipient country that has also received such military assets, in which it came along with the rejected offers like in the case of the Philippines for the ROKS Mokpo, rendering the number of ships on this variant available for sale at two units - PCC-757 (the ROKS Gunsan) and PCC-759 (the ROKS Mokpo).

Some additional information about the South Korean offer of the PCC-757 ROKS Gunsan to the Colombian Navy, it was apparently rejected in favor of the earlier Donghae-class Corvette ex-ROKS Anyang (PCC-755), in which it was renamed to ARC Narino (CM-55) and is considered a sole Corvette in service within the Colombian Naval fleet - rendering and affirming that like the ROKS Mokpo, the ROKS Gunsan was also rejected by the Colombians which render the possible availability of the ships.

Back to the topic of the BRP Conrado Yap's role and composition in the Philippine Navy, it is worth notable that with the arrival of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates by the year 2020, it is currently the most capable warship to date as it comes with weapons fit that comes with more firepower as well as the aforementioned torpedo launchers that even the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels still didn't obtain at present although such vessel has room to improve its capabilities as it is now in the process of getting an upgrade.

With its capability, it gives a precedent for an idea of an additional unit or more Pohang-class Corvettes that will surely give the Philippine Navy more tools it needs to uphold its duties and responsibilities in maritime defense as more waters will be covered by vessels that come with better firepower as compared with other vessels in the fleet.

The Vietnamese Navy also obtains Pohang-class Corvettes, coming
at two units.
Image obtained from VietDefense via APDJ.
Let it be noted that aside from the Philippines, other countries have obtained their respective Pohang-class Corvettes from South Korea in which the transferred ships are in active service and are currently continuing upholding its functions which goes beyond their service of the ship's first user which is the Republic of Korea Navy.

These countries aside from the Philippines are the following - Vietnam, Egypt, and Peru with the inclusion of Colombia shall we consider the Donghae-class Corvettes as the Flight I variant of its own class that shares design attributes with the succeeding Pohang-class Flight variants wherein the Vietnamese obtain two ships - formerly the ROKS Gimcheon (PCC-761) and ROKS Yeosu (PCC-765) which are now called as the HQ-18 and HQ-20 (as depicted on the image above) respectively, Egypt with the former ROKS Jinju (PCC-763) now called the ENS Shabab Misr (1000), and Peru with the former ROKS Gyeongju (PCC-758) now called the BAP Ferre (211).

Among these countries including the Philippines, it is the Vietnamese Navy who received more ships than South Korea as they obtain two of such class, and there comes a possibility on their end as well as on other prospective users to add more of such class in their fleet given that the rationale of such purchase goes with the idea of a lesser burden on logistics of spare parts especially if it goes by bulk as well as more units of a similar platform for respective navies to familiarize on.

Including the Colombian offer, the number of ships that have transferred to foreign navies from South Korea as of this entry comes with six units wherein it is in operation by at least six countries including the country of origin, with all ships under the Flight III variant of the Pohang-class Corvettes transferred to these said users.

Pulling this number out, it is worth to consider that South Korea is still the largest user of such type of Corvettes wherein they obtain the more modern Flight of the Pohang-class which is the Flights IV and V variants, of which they may later go on up for grabs for any prospective country like the Philippines itself.

Speaking of these Flights of ships, it will be worthy to be discussed in depth its improvements over the Flight III variant which includes the BRP Conrado Yap that currently is in operation with the Philippine Navy given that there goes the variation regarding the subcomponents and weapons fit that these respective vessels obtain wherein it goes with their respective roles as either anti-surface (ASUW), anti-submarine (ASW) or anti-air (AAW) components.

Hence, the on-going modernization efforts within the South Korea Navy as these ships are to be replaced by larger Incheon-class Frigates and eventually the Daegu-class Frigates, of which the Jose Rizal-class Frigates that the Philippine Navy obtains is considered as a subclass of these newest additions within the South Korean Fleet may render the remaining Pohang-class Corvettes open for grabs in which it is considered an opportunity for the Philippine fleet to get more ships that augment the BRP Conrado Yap in filling up the ship of its class.

A Flight IV Pohang-class Corvette. Image Source.
Currently, the total number of Pohang-class Corvettes in service with the South Korean Navy is at 13 units with 7 units active from the Flight IV variant which composes of the following: ROKS Suncheon PCC-767ROKS Wonju PCC-769, ROKS Andong PCC-771, ROKS Bucheon PCC-773, ROKS Seongnam  PCC-775, ROKS Jecheon PCC-776, and ROKS Daecheon PCC-777.

Completing the number of total units of active Republic of Korean Navy Pohang-class Corvettes to 13 current serviceable assets is the Flight V variant which comes with six units active that composed with these ships: ROKS Sokcho PCC-778, ROKS Yeongju PCC-779, ROKS Namwon PCC-781, ROKS Gwangmyeong PCC-782, ROKS Sinseong PCC-783, and ROKS Gongju PCC-785 which is considered the last ship of the class that was built for the South Korean fleet use.

Take note that the ships that were decommissioned from any of these mentioned Flights are the ROKS Jinhae PCC-766, and ROKS Iksan PCC-768 wherein both of these vessels belonged to the Flight IV variant of the Pohang-class fleet, with the ROKS Cheonan PCC-772 (still a Flight IV variant Pohang vessel) being the one who fell victim to a North Korean Submarine.

Given the number of Pohang-class vessels that are still in service in the South Korean Navy, there goes the opportunity for the Philippine to grab more, especially in obtaining two more vessels to satisfy the rule of three needed for its operations wherein not to mention that its subcomponents are something that the country may obtain along serve as an enhancement over what the BRP Conrado Yap may currently provide within the fleet.

Moreover, it is nice to take note that these later Flight variants of the Pohang-class Corvettes are younger as opposed to the BRP Conrado Yap itself in which its service life may still be utilized more shall it be integrated into the Philippine Navy fleet composition with other factors involving excellent upkeep ranging from maintenance, repair, and operations.

These later versions are known to be built between 1988 and 1993 which is considered younger than both the Del Pilar-class Frigates and the Emilio Jacinto-class Patrol Corvettes are in terms of its age in correlation to the dates the hulls were made in which this will be something for the fleet composition that still operates World War 2 era vessels at the current date.

It will be nice to see on the developments which involve any of the ships from these flight variants of the Pohang-class Corvettes which in any way increases the number of capable vessels that the fleet needs amidst its current Modernization efforts as it keeps on building up its inventory of tools, resources, and manpower to get the job done.

BRP Jose Rizal on a sea trial. The Corvettes will be an improved
iteration of this warship.
(c) Philippine Navy.
One idea to consider regarding the development of this project of additional Pohang-class Corvettes in the fleet is the procurement of newer, more sophisticated corvettes under the Philippine Navy's Corvette Acquisition Project or CAP wherein the preferred shipbuilder is the one who built the Jose Rizal-class Frigates for the Philippine Navy.

Since the shipbuilder is the Hyundai Heavy Industries or HHI, it comes as a factual thing that they will have these corvette designs derived from the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, only with more weapons subcomponents fitted onboard the system as well as having several Fitted For But Not With subcomponents included as well, wherein such feature is still not available onboard the Jose Rizal-class vessels.

It is with this project that an idea on sweeteners came along as the Department of National Defense sees the Corvette Acquisition Project as an opportunity to have additional Pohang-class Corvettes included in the deal as it will augment the capabilities of the BRP Conrado Yap which equates to the number of operating ships of that class up to three.

It is worth taking note that the rule of three applies in the operations of the Philippine Navy as they see the idea of having a single squadron of three ships that are doing their mandated duties and responsibilities of protecting the country's maritime domain and national interest as these ships obtain the capabilities needed in terms of increased firepower and antisubmarine detection which are not available on the older vessels that the fleet obtains.

To take some example on this rule of three, let it be known that ships like the Jacinto-class Patrol Corvettes/Offshore Patrol Vessels as well as the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels consist of three vessels that are forming these classes of ships wherein these are considered as a single naval squadron of its own right.

From here, one may give an idea about the essentials of having additional Pohang-class Corvettes in the future wherein having these vessels serve as a force multiplier wherein a collective of vessels in the fleet will help provide that maritime security as needed for the county's national defense.

It remains to be seen now regarding the implementation or the materialization of this proposal, although it comes with the potential that goes with the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that this project for additional assets to push through as it means a lot for the fleet's necessity of such platforms for its combat duty which is intended to patrol the country's vast coastline and maritime domain.

Differences depicted between different flights of the
Pohang-class Corvettes.
Image Source.
The idea of additional Pohang-class Corvettes is seen as a possibility given that the Philippine Navy is sticking to the rule of three as there will be rotation on the ship operations as one is needed for repairs and maintenance, the other for actual patrol operations, and the other being on standby.

It is worth taking note that other nations operate such type of ships and other potential customers are interested in getting these remaining Pohang-class Corvettes up for grabs, in a way that there is some sense of competition for the Philippine Navy to have in getting more ships needed to augment the ones existing on its fleet.

Currently, the BRP Conrado Yap PS-39 is seen as the most sophisticated ship within the Philippine Navy to date given its weapons fit aforementioned wherein it will be multiplied further on the idea of additional Pohang-class Corvettes in the fleet wherein there will be more ships on patrol that is also capable to hunt submarines.

South Korea still obtains Flight IV and V variants of the Pohang-class which are still up for grabs, wherein it has a variation on its weapons fit which may provide the Philippine Navy additional capability that it needs like anti-ship missiles that may help induce harm against other warships that are posing the threat against the country's national security.

The plan comes as the Defense Department is seeking it as some sort of a freebie from the construction of two new corvettes which is still considered as another variant of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates wherein they are expected to add more firepower that the fleet needs wherein these ships are seen as an improvement over the existing ships that the fleet obtains, with the percentage being old World War 2 vessels.

Shall these things push through, it will be an interesting thing to see for the fleet component of the Philippine Navy as they are kept on improving their capabilities which in itself is commendable given the number of assets they are aspiring to have ranged from the Frigates which will be delivered next year down to the planned Corvettes and FAIC-M.

These things are several of the projects that push the Armed Forces of the Philippines into an organization in which it obtains the capabilities that are in line with its Modernization Efforts specified in the Revised AFP Modernization Program thru the R.A. 10349, as it goes to provide that needed minimum credible defense posture that the country needs in defending its territorial integrity and national interest from both internal and external threats.

Updates for the Philippine Air Force Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project

It is been more than a year now since the last information regarding one of the Philippine Air Force's very important big-ticket projects has provided on this website as there is additional information that is added to this procurement process which is currently being observed and checked across the defense community.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Display in ADAS 2018.
Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.
Before proceeding into details, we encourage everyone to read these articles which provided insights regarding this project wherein most of the content was originated at the start of the Horizon 2 which took place last year, 2018 with its timeline running up to its completion by the year 2022 - the Philippine Air Force Waypoint objective.

- Is Phil. Air Force Ready To Have Multi-role Fighter Jets? - dated July 4, 2016
The Philippine Multirole Fighter Jet Procurement Program - dated June 24, 2018
The SAAB Gripen and the Marketing Over Philippine MRF Program - dated Feb. 10, 2018
More Details on the Philippine Multirole Fighter Jet Program - dated Oct. 31, 2018
The F-16 Fighter Jet and the US Offer for PAF Flight Plan Modernization - dated Sept. 11, 2018

It is on everyone's knowledge that the competition is between the Swedish SAAB JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D against Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70/72 Viper wherein these assets come with the aspiration of the air branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to improve its capabilities that have come along with its implementation of a systemic airspace defense known as the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ.

At these times, the Air Force is now nearing to a closed deal regarding this project as they have made a decision on which Multirole Fighter Aircraft platform will it be to do the duties and responsibilities that the organization will have in protecting the country's national airspace as a means of protecting its overall security from incursions that may have originated from the sky, with sweeteners on the deal is apparently added which makes it more enticing than the original numbers procured.

Let it be known once again that the details of the contract include the procurement of 12 units of such aircraft which is considered a squadron within the Air Force at a deal price of Php 61,200,000,000.00 with terms may include Foreign Military Sale and Foreign Military Financing that compensates the deal further especially if it means the procurement of the U.S. made platform under this program.

With updates now provided, let us have it discussed here where additional information will be entailed to the developments that are currently unveiled in the program as the Armed Forces keep on Modernizing its military equipment along with other areas of improvement like additional personnel, the re-organizations, and opening of new units as well as enhancements being provided on military facilities that will cater such development.

And so, the deal is now at the crucial times that correlate to the funding that the project seeks in a manner where it will surely get bulk from the annual Php 25 Billion budget that is allocated for the AFP Modernization Program where it may be more if such allocation were provided in higher amounts as to satisfy the necessities the Armed Forces will have for its mandate.

There are freebies included. Image Source.
First on the updates provided is the preferences of which aircraft will it be for the Philippine Air Force Multirole Fighter Jet program wherein it was discussed several times across the defense community especially on our Facebook page that the preferred asset goes to the Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70/72 Viper.

It is already known that the fighter aircraft provided is in itself the latest iteration of such aircraft with its avionics being the most sophisticated one available wherein it is available on the United States Air Force's more modern aircraft in its inventory such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

Apparently, the production line of F-16s by Lockheed Marin in Greenville, South Carolina is getting traction with expectations of additional orders coming on its way, with the recent one coming from Taiwan who orders at least 66 units of such aircraft with its latest development coming with the approval of its budget that will set precedent to its production and delivery to a country that sees China as its everyday threat to its survival as a nation.

With such anticipation over the upcoming influx of additional orders, it will be for sure that the production time for the units to be manufactured will be ramping up to four units per month instead of one, wherein the 2022 timeline provided by Lockheed Martin to the Philippine Air Force may go achievable, given that this military branch managed to secure the funding and signatures that seal up the deal before any other nation like Indonesia whose plan is to buy 2 squadrons of F-16 Viper getting along the way and defer the timelines provided for delivery.

Aside from the timelines, another consideration is the freebies that may have come with this deal as it may come with another set of Block 30s that are upgradable to the Block 50 variant which will serve not only as an interim shall the timelines for delivery defer but also to serve as a force multiplier that satisfies the needs of the Philippine Air Force for the defense of national airspace more than what a single squadron may provide for such a purpose.

As of this time, there will be more steps to be done before the finalizations that will close the deal such as regarding its budget and also the approval coming from the chief executive as convincing and explaining it up to the best interest of the Armed Forces and the country's national security is at stake, clarifying that the necessities of these tools are essential for the whole nation's minimum credible defense posture.

These steps though are seen as crucial as passing it through will mean the finalization of the deal in which it will be set and sealed as it will prompt the following processes ranging from the signing of the contract up to the issuance of notice to proceed that informs the supplier to start manufacturing the units for the Philippine Air Force up to the compliance of delivery dates agreed upon by both sides.

Some perspective of what will be two to three years
from now.
Image provided by Efrain Noel Morota.
As the insights are provided, here are some information regarding the development of this project as it is one of the most important procurements that the Philippine Air Force obtains up to date as the proposal of obtaining such fighter aircraft traces back two decades ago when the first AFP Modernization Program or the Republic Act 7898 was in effect, only that the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis diminished the possibility of procuring multirole fighter aircraft at that time.

First is the details regarding its budget where it is worth notable that the Armed Forces of the Philippines annually receives Php25 Billion which is specified actually for such a purpose and it covers a lot of projects across the Armed Forces branches such as the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force wherein it comes at no surprise that there will be priority projects in one military branch that needs to be funded while the other procurement processes are either to be delayed, deferred to the second list or to be implanted on the Horizon 3 lineup as opposed to the current Horizon 2 timeline.

Talking about the annual budget allocated to the Armed Forces, it may go ascertain that the funding for such a project (referring to the Special Allotment Release Order or SARO) may get its approval either on the first or second quarter of next year, of which chances may go on along the way as procurement budgets seem to get a concern lately as such funding program usually goes in line with the government's General Appropriations Act or GAA in a fiscal period or through Multi-year Obligations/Contracting Authority (MYOA/MYCA) wherein compilations of different programs for different expenses ranging from Personnel Services (PS) down to the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) as well as Capital Outlay (CO) of different agencies are to be debated, added, and reduced until it reaches the table of the President for its approval.

The budget provisions are an essential part of any project including this one as it will serve as a needed financial resource where it is provided from the national coffers to fund the project's procurement cost which helps a certain manufacturer like Lockheed Martin to keep its operations as a defense industrial complex that supplies its key military equipment like the Multirole Fighters such as the F-16 Vipers for them to have as that will help sustain the growing requirements of the Philippine Air Force, along with other branches in their efforts of improving their capabilities and satisfying that desire for defense which has years to set up as these developments unfolded, where slowly the process makes the idea of having such assets becoming a reality.

Another information comes that it has now come at the President's table for final approval as this approach will surely be considered a fairly vital one as the funding portions of the deal wherein convincing powers from the Defense Secretary as well as national security advisors are needed so as to justify the purchase and also the necessities that have come with the deal itself, given that such a project is primarily for air interdiction missions and is a component for the implementation of PADIZ.

Finally, the details that will complete these sets of information for this discussion will be the letter of request to the prospective aircraft's country of origin wherein such an update will be provided publicly just by accessing the website for Major Arms sales like in the case of the Defense Security Cooperations Agency of the United States Department of Defense, as it will be determined there so as to whether the request was granted or not that may play a factor for the project's status.

So, it is worth to see these developments slowly unfold as any of these provided factors are something that will define the direction of this project to the upcoming years as well as to that significant portion of the capabilities that will be provided in a military branch within the Armed Forces of the Philippines such as the Philippine Air Force.

The movement of the production line is a factor for the
procured unit's delivery date.
Another significant detail on a certain deal such as this one for the Multirole Fighter Jet Program is regarding the supplier's upholding commitment of having the procured units delivered on time as it means a lot not only to the reputation of the prospective contractor who won the deal but also for the combat readiness of the Philippine Air Force where it anticipates its capability by the time its needed tools are delivered and eventually turn-over for commissioning it up into active service.

It is said that with demands coming in regarding the countries' interest for the latest iteration of the F-16 Viper MRF, one may hold on the idea that the production of the aircraft may get ramp up from a single unit per month to at least three units produced per month which in the process hastens the process for these aircraft to be manufactured, providing that possibility that the commitment for a 2022 delivery for the Philippine Air Force possible, unless otherwise, another deal from another nation gets in before the PAF gets its own deal with the manufacturer.

Currently, the orders for the F-16s are from Bahrain, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Taiwan, and soon, Indonesia shall its orders proceed along with the Philippines if it manages to seal the deal before any prospective buyers and end-users decide to purchase and fast-track the process of their respective procurement in which the queue for the order backlogs lengthens the time needed for the delivery of these newly-built combat aircraft.

With the increase of backlogs and also the final steps that this acquisition is in, it is worth to see the timeline for the deal to be finalized and signed as it is with these periods that determine the overall outcome of the whole project in its entirety with the factors mentioned making the influence over the direction that the project may partake or the future perspective of which assets may compose the Philippine Air Force for the years to come.

Now with the funding to launch the project will be expected in the first half of the year, there may still change that may happen as there will be new orders coming in before that period or the plans itself may take another direction without prior notice. Nevertheless, it comes with the hopes and dreams that the project will stay on the track.

Additional information sets in with the visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in the country wherein these close-to-accomplishment acquisition deals such as the Multirole Fighter Jet Program, along with the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project, may get along in the discussion as it is with these people where they play a factor to the outcome of such projects like this one and the participation of the U.S. Defense Department on these deals.

It remains to be seen aside from the fundings regarding the development of this project as it means a lot for the Philippine Air Force to obtain as it will define more of their duties and responsibilities of protecting the country's national airspace against any intruders which it comes as part of the desired minimum credible defense posture that the nation aspires.

There comes the certainty for such an asset as the F-16 to push through.
The Philippine Air Force is inching closer in having a Multirole Fighter Jet as fewer steps are to be made before the deal is considered as a sealed one wherein one of the latest information regarding this development is the one where the President of the Philippines was presented by the 5th Fighter Wing regarding the importance of Multirole Fighters in air defense operations.

Take note that in the presentation, they utilized the module that resembles one of the competitors of the Multirole Fighter Project wherein it will be not much surprising on its preference as both the FA-50PH and the F-16 share its design DNA as the former comes as a joint development between the Korean Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin.

All it takes now is for the budgeting matters to roll along as it comes as one of the requirements wherein 15% of the overall contract price will be needed in order to materialize it further to sealing the deal and eventually to have it approved by the commander in chief of the Philippine Armed Forces which is no other than the President of the Philippine Republic.

There goes some certainty that this closely-monitored project may push through given that it will come in the good conscience of the people in the Defense Department as well as the end-user which is the Philippine Air Force wherein they are the ones that will give some wisdom on the idea of such platform's importance especially that the organization is on its way in implementing its Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ.

The period of which we will check the developments of this project as well as on others may cover along as the year 2020 may provide interesting updates regarding the details for platforms like this one as the funding will be covered once again under the allocated Php 25 Billion for the AFP Modernization Program in which they may have the opportunity to grab the portion of the pie as it comes with the stiff competition on which military branches regarding their share.

This goes with the dreams and aspirations of the Philippine Air Force in its aspiration in getting such platforms as it will help augment the FA-50s in air interdiction patrols as well as to improve further the numbers and capabilities that are needed in protecting the country's airspace. 

It will be worth the time waiting and determine the outcome of the project in which it will be a significant step of what will it be on the overall progress of the AFP Modernization Program especially that several projects are on the line, awaiting further push with the aims of having a capable Armed Forces that push for minimal defense posture.

Discussing the K-136 Kooryong MLRS Acquisition of the Philippine Armed Forces

The Armed Forces of the Philippines through the years relied on towed artillery which in itself is reliable in pulverizing enemy positions especially with the country's ongoing counterinsurgency efforts against the communists and Moro separatists (plus radicalized terrorists) that poses the threat against the country's overall national security as converted to its economic and societal development.

The Philippine Army and the Philippine Marine Corps are set to have this platform that packs sufficient firepower that can conduct area suppression with continuous rocket barrage which inflicts damage on the enemy, both in terms of physical and psychological terms.

K136 Kooryong Philippines, Kooryong Philippine Army, PA MLRS
This is the first for the Philippines to have Multiple-Launched Rocket
Obtained via Military-Today website.
The Philippine Army recently launched its new military units and sub-units within the organization which preferences the potential plans of the service branch on acquiring new military equipment for their mandated duties and responsibilities as well as the anticipation over the arrival of several assets that may mean additional capabilities for them to obtain as it increases their effectiveness in combating an enemy that poses threat to the security of the whole nation.

One of those activated is the 2nd Multiple-launched Rocket System (MLRS) Battery wherein this sub-unit within the Philippine Army will be the one who oversees the responsibility of operating incoming MLRS for the service branch to have as it may fall under the larger Artillery Regiment. 

That may also come with another launched sub-unit that is the 1st Land-based Missile System (LBMS) where it will soon oversee the responsibility of operating missile platforms intended to be launched from land and to target opposition forces from both land and sea.

This signifies the ever-increasing desire of the Philippine Army to increase its capability where aside from the aforementioned units, there is also the expansion of its Army Aviation Regiment that sought its own procurement plans of acquiring light attack helicopters and MEDEVAC platforms as well as the previously-discussed details about its Self-Propelled Artillery System as well as the Medium Tank and Tank Destroyer/Fire Support Vehicle wherein both of these assets fall under the single procurement program known as the Light Tank Acquisition Project.

Shall these respective projects getting into realization, it means a lot for the service branch under the Armed Forces of the Philippines' desire to enhance its CounterInsurgency operations that better, effective ways of delivering firepower against a target are now in place.

These facilities provide a helping hand for the Government troops to get an upper hand over the situation that increases the resolve for the country's defense and security alongside the efforts being made by other military branches such as the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force.

In this article, we will discuss the sets of enhanced artillery platforms that are on its way to the Philippines from South Korea where recently, most of the country's big-ticket defense hardware have originated where aside from the Jose Rizal-class Frigates and FA-50PH, this multiple-launched rocket system helps augment the country's existing artillery platforms that expounds the support needed for the ground troops to get hand-in-hand on getting the government forces to the top of a combat situation.

USSR/Russia's Katyusha Rocket Launchers are a classic example
of MLRS where it was employed during the Second World War.
Image Source.
While the idea of having a Multiple-Launched Rocket System is relatively new to the Philippine Armed Forces' point of view, the existence of such a platform is not new especially on several armies that have already employed them in several wars where the idea on area suppression of rockets in complement to the artillery platforms have already taken place.

One may trace things back to the fifteen-century (15th Century) Korea where they employ the "Hwacha" Multiple Rocket Launcher which signifies the sophistication of the Kingdom of the time, one that a Modern Korean may go on obtain with the modern Multiple-Launched Rocket Systems with the North Koreans employing the KN-09 MLRS while the South is now replacing the K-136 Kooryong with the more-modern K-239 Chunmoo MLRS.

During the Second World War, the well-known user of what will be the predecessor of a modern Multiple-Launched Rocket Systems during that time was the Soviet Union where they employ their Katyusha Rocket Launchers against the Germans who are that time are invading the vast Soviet Territory of what will be known as the Operation Barbarossa (nicknamed Operation Fritz) and eventually on their great counter-offensive all the way to the City of Berlin wherein they, along with their U.S. and British Allies at that time, have managed to defeat the German military in 1945. 

The principle regarding the MLRS comes with an idea that it is artillery, but it is rocket-propelled aimed at obtaining a continuous barrage of firepower coming to the enemy at a large number as opposed to usual artillery units that have come with a howitzer cannon and ammunition that is more of an enlarged caliber cartridge that it is fired one at a time before getting reloaded and the process gets repeated along once again.

A modern MLRS is now better and more sophisticated wherein several platforms such as the M-270 Multiple-Launched Rocket System came with a fire control system and may go with guided munitions onboard the platform which increases the accuracy of the rocket's trajectory as opposed to the target that is intended to destroy.

This evolution of the Multiple-launched Rocket System is something that the Philippine Army, as well as the Marine Corps, missed throughout its operations from its respective foundation up to the present date in which the one from South Korea will render this service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines into having one of such platforms which helps provide necessary fire support in augmentation to the existing artillery pieces and close-air-support aircraft such as the incoming A-29 Super Tucano.

Hence, the capability provided by a Multiple-launched Rocket System will be enhanced along the way as pounding a hostile enemy position may get simplified which may help the government gain the higher ground over a situation such as the ones that took place in the country's southern part with the recently-ended Marawi Siege as an example.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE KOORYONG - South Korean deterrence and growth in the local defense industry
Korea K1-36 Kooryong MLRS, Kooryong MLRS Philippines, Philippine Army, PA, Philippine Marine Corps, PMC
The rockets are fitted onboard a KM813A1 truck chassis which
is one of the Philippine Army's key transport vehicles. 
The South Koreans since the Korean War are weary to the threats being thrown unto them by their Northern neighbors whose ideology is to reunite the whole nation under the Juche-communist banner of its then-leader Kim Il-Sung which is the very reason to why there is the technicality that the 1950s Korean War is still being fought until the present day, with a full-scale conflict being held by an armistice which is considered the longest one to date.

Such a threat that continuously endangers South Korean sovereignty compels the country to develop its own array of weaponry wherein it comes at no surprise that its local defense industrial complex continuously grown over the decades, up to the point that they supply the Philippine Armed Forces with an array of military weaponry ranging from the Korean Aerospace Industries KA-50PH which itself as part of the T-50 family of jets, Hyundai Heavy Industries' Jose Rizal-class Frigates which is derived from the HDF-2600 design which in itself is also a derivative from the South Korean Incheon-class Frigates, and the license-built Korean Amphibious Assault Vehicles (KAAV-7) which is now being utilized by the Philippine Marine Corps.

Speaking of North Korean threat and the boom in South Korean Industry's Research and Development complex, let it be known that the former obtains a handful of Multiple-Launched Rocket System in a form of BM-21 Grad which it was obtained from the Soviet Union which may be considered as a direct successor for the Katyusha Rocket Launchers of the Second World War.

The North Korean BM-21 Grad serves as a threat against the South Koreans as well as an opportunity and inspiration to provide themselves their own version of such Multiple-Launched Rocket System which is considered a precedent to the development of a South Korean MLRS which is now about to provide the Philippine Army and Marine Corps its own firepower that will augment other components in the military that will ensure the completion of an objective against an enemy that endangers the safety, security, and welfare of the nation and its citizenry.

The development of the K-136 Kooryong started in 1973 and it took almost a decade until the first unit for such a platform got deployed in 1981 wherein it served the South Korean armed forces for many years, helping their own defense industry to flourish and to keep their rouge neighbor in the north in check, wherein the constant threats thrown against them serves as an inspiration to improve their defense weaponry in such a way that an improved version of the K-136 which is the K-136A1 was put in service on its deployment in the late 80s.

This helped the South Koreans improve their expertise in creating, developing, and producing an MLRS or Multiple-Launched Rocket System wherein they are now starting to replace these older K-136 Kooryongs with the newer K-239 Chunmoo MLRS with newer features integrated and experience on weapons development applied on their own worth, paving the way for these older MLRS platforms to be provided in countries that need such a platform such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, through the Army and the Marine Corps.

The K-136 Kooryong MRLS' Specifications. Click the table to enlarge.
Image Source.
Regardless of its age in which it is on the process of being replaced by a better and newer Multiple-Launched Rocket System in the South Korean Armed Forces service, such a platform is considered a welcoming improvement for the capability of the Philippine Army as well as those of the Marine Corps, especially in terms of providing firepower support that is meant to pulverize enemy positions in combat.

It comes with 36 tubes that render the capability of this Multiple-Launched Rocket System to fire a full salvo of massive delivery of firepower against the target within 23 kilometers range, giving it additional support for the ground troops on its objective that requires such scale of destruction which assures that the target is obliterated and the area is flattened for the ground troops to move forward on its objective and finish the remaining pockets of the enemy in its position.

Now with the vehicle that the Korean Armed Forces utilized for its K-136 Kooryong that the Philippine Army sees commonality - the KM809A1 6x6 truck chassis wherein it was derived from the United States-developed M-809 heavy tactical trucks that it obtains wherein it will not be seen as much of a concern in terms of commonality and logistics chain as its integration within the Armed Forces will be smooth in terms of operating and maintaining the truck chassis that carries the K-136 Kooryong MLRS.

The M-809 trucks that the Philippine Army obtains usually comes as a cargo truck type which comes with a 250hp engine with a maximum speed of 84 km/h and a range of approximately 800 kilometers which is seen as greater than the Korean variant provided that comes with a 236hp engine with a maximum speed of 80 km/h and a range of 550 kilometers. 

Nevertheless, it is with this type of vehicle that the K-136 Kooryong MLRS comes wherein it comes with a rocket launcher and components such as at fire control in a manner that with maneuverability comes the accuracy and efficiency required that will effectively achieve the purpose of these platforms at the expense of lesser munitions required to get the job done.

Its munition comes with two variants - the K30 standard rocket and the extended K33 rocket, of which it only comes as the only ammunition fitted onboard the K-136 wherein it needs 10 minutes for each platform to reload after a salvo of rockets was fired against the enemy - and such operation was done by maneuvering the launchers from its attack position to a safe place while getting it armed with a supply companion coming in a form of another KM-109 truck that has 72 rockets for reloading.

Like the munition, the K-136 Kooryong MLRS in itself comes at two variants - the original K-136 and the improved K-136A1 with the latter having the chance to be the one that will be supplied to both the Philippine Army and Marine Corps wherein it may come with improved materials that can be found on its tubes in the form of stainless steel.

Its low acquisition cost prompts South Korea to produce these
platforms rather than sophistication that is seen on the
K-239 Chunmoo successor. 
The Philippine Armed Forces especially the Philippine Army getting at least two batteries (with other reports suggesting to have four batteries of such platforms with one will be getting by the Philippine Marine Corps) wherein each battery consists of at least six units, equating the overall purchase on its entirety up to 12 units (or 24 units) of which some of it will be handled by the Army's newly-organized 2nd Multiple-Launched Rocket System Battery.

Its feature of mobility especially of its composition as an artillery platform comes parallel with another Philippine Army project on the block that also comes with such mobility, only that it is fitted with a howitzer cannon as opposed to the MLRS attribute of the K-136 Kooryong which both obtains the same function as towed artillery although they vary in terms of firepower aside from the aforementioned feature.

Such artillery we refer there is the ATMOS 2000 Self-Propelled Howitzer is being produced by Elbit Systems through its artilleries subsidiary Soltam Systems which is utilized currently by countries such as the Kingdom of Thailand and the African Nation of Rwanda where it is being considered by the Army in which just like the K-136 Kooryong is something that helps improve the efficiency of having it deployed from one place to another without taking another vehicle to tow it up such in the case of Soltam M-71 155 meters towed howitzers that were delivered to the Philippines.

Apparently, its low acquisition cost and perhaps its low operational cost is something that these assets will help the Armed Forces attain its objective without any logistical concerns, given the commonality that its launch vehicle has with the ones such as the M-809 that the Philippine Armed Forces obtains wherein while it is losing relevance in an ever-changing landscape of the battlefield that is being fought by systems warfare of which the Chinese seek to wage it up, the continuous infestation of numerous communist and radical terrorist elements in the country makes this platform more relevant as it will showcase the government's resolve to enforce its power to these said enemies of the state which inflicts more harm than good as they hamper the country's overall peace, security, and development as citizens of the nation.

The platform's manual process from the assembly of the munitions in the field down to gun-laying which pinpoints the aim of the Multiple-Launched Rocket System to the target, these set of skills are something that will help the Armed Forces of the Philippines improve their capability to operate this kind of artillery piece which may go handy whether they consider the plans to purchase a sophisticated MLRS later on which in it goes the increased firepower that the government seeks that inflict devastating damage against the enemy.

With age, these assets are getting more maintenance-intensive which at the standpoint of the Philippine Armed Forces, it may be seen as a potential non-feasible military asset to operate, although the decision to acquire and obtain them goes with the idea that its usefulness weighs along as the maintenance culture that came along with that decision shows significance on the improvements therein and the assessments that these platforms are up for the needs of the military for its desire of defense.

These things play to the factor that helps take the decision for the key officials in the Philippine Army as well as the Marine Corps in which the K-136 Kooryong MLRS is a platform that improves the overall firepower package that the organization seeks as part of its desired Modernization plan as getting formidable comes with the desires of providing the tools needed to protect and defend the nation and its citizens against numerous threats, whether it may be internal or external.

One of the tokens of the Philippine-South Korean defense relations
is the Jose Rizal-class Frigates produced by Hyundai
Heavy Industries.
Acquiring the K-136 Kooryong MLRS from the country that originated, developed, produced, and used is something that shows the vibrancy of the relations of both nations where its foundations were started when the Philippines sent its troops composing into what is known as the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea or PEFTOK which play a role for South Korea's survival from its neighboring communist north's invasion, assuring its existence up to the present day.

Recently, with the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines in the form of Republic Act 10349 rolls across the timeline from its inception in 2013 to the date that this article published, South Korea provides a significant amount of military equipment for each branch of the military to have wherein these assets are continuously operating and serving the country's primary defenders as these tools are an element for constant upholding of the organization's duties and responsibilities.

South Korean defense industries like Hanwha Systems, Korean Aerospace Industries or KAI, LIG Nex1, KIA, and Hyundai Heavy Industries have respective projects with the Philippine Armed Forces wherein they provided their respective military products, tools, and technologies that help the country's military defense posture improved a bit in which new capabilities are being introduced along the way as they present their equipment that will mean much for the defense capabilities of the nation as a whole.

The product they offered that managed to be part of the inventory of the Armed Forces of the Philippines includes the KAI FA-50PH which comes with a single squadron (12 units) purchased, Hyundai Heavy Industries' Jose Rizal-class Missile-Guided Frigates which comes with two ships - the BRP Jose Rizal FF-150 and the BRP Antonio Luna FF-151, Hanwha Systems' Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System or ICMS which are fitted on the aforementioned Jose Rizal-class Frigates and soon to be fitted on the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, munitions such as the Blue Shark torpedoes and SSM-700K "Haesong" Anti-ship missiles which are both made by LIG Nex1, and the Hanwha System's Korean Amphibious Assault Vessels or KAAV-7s that the Philippine Marine Corps utilized on its amphibious operations.

These assets are several of the military assets that the South Koreans supplanted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines alongside the K-136 Kooryong MLRS. Add to the mix are the ones donated by the South Korean government such as the Pohang-class Corvette BRP Conrado Yap PS-39 which is currently the most capable warship within the Philippine Navy to date, with the prospect of more ships of such type may be offered or considered for years to come as the Navy follows the rule of thirds in obtaining vessels in its fleet for continuous flow of operations without disruptions from maintenance and repairs in any of such ships in the fleet.

Further adding things up are some of the candidate military products that the South Korean defense industries pushed wherein there are lesser chances for these assets to be considered by the Philippine Armed Forces such as the Hanwha K21-105 Medium Tank for the Philippine Army's Light Tank Acquisition Project - tracked and the KUH-1 Surion Combat Utility Helicopters by KAI which was lost in favor of the S-70i Black Hawk Helicopters to be produced by Sikorsky's subsidiary in Poland.

The scale of these offers and procurements which include the K-136 Kooryong MLRS is something that may serve as an ever-growing tie between the Philippines and South Korea in terms of transactions that are related to defense with the former aspires to have an improved Armed Forces and the latter getting its defense industry flourish and grow further to its full potential.


The Philippine Army and Marine Corps will soon be having additional artillery pieces that will augment their respective existing towed artillery wherein this one provides a salvo of continuous bombardment of its munitions against a target which overwhelms its capability to defend up in a form of saturation attack.

Procuring the K-136 Kooryong serves as an addition on the list of the South Korean-made products that have been provided for the Armed Forces of the Philippines that enhances its own desire for defense wherein these platforms may help support ground troops in the case of another devastating conflict in the future where it may go needed against harmful elements that pose threat in the country.

With this, it may go hand in hand with other units within the Philippine Army such as the M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers with some fitted with Elbit ORCWS as well as from other military branches like the Close Air Support Aircraft of the Philippine Air Force such as the OV-10 and the soon-to-deliver A-29 Super Tucano wherein these assets puts the government forces at the upper hand against the communist bandits and terrorists.

Obtaining these Multiple-Launched Rocket Systems are a first for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to have, wherein they may gain additional skillsets and experience of obtaining such assets along the way wherein it may go handy as they will procure more sophisticated ones later on as other Southeast Asian Nations like Cambodia and Myanmar obtain such MLRS platforms like the BM-21 Grad as supplanted by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

To take note, it was also with the BM-21 Grad which is also obtained by North Korea that the South Koreans prompted the development of the K-136 Kooryong as its capability may help them match the array of MLRS assets that their rouge neighbor in the North obtains in terms of firepower capabilities for saturation attack between both sides.

As it gets delivered to the country, it will be interesting to see these platforms eventually entering active service within the Philippine Armed Forces as its performance, later on, may help suffice the need of the organization to enhance its capability which will ensure its efficiency in doing its duties and responsibilities in defending the nation.

The continuous effort of Modernizing the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines is considered an ever-increasing source of national pride that the citizenry is seeking for a capable military that has a sufficient array of assets to provide the necessary minimum credible defense posture required for the assurance of securing and defending the country's national sovereignty and integrity as a whole.




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