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Knowing the Specifications of the HHI's Philippine Navy Corvette

The Philippine Navy Corvette Acquisition Project will be the largest project for the naval branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, surpassing the current capabilities and sophistication of its new Jose Rizal-class Frigates, in terms of firepower and threat detection.

The shipbuilder who built the will provide the said project will be the South Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries, the conglomerate that also built the Jose Rizal-class Frigates.

HDC-3100, Corvette, Philippine Navy
The prospect design of the Corvette Acquisition Project, patterned after the Hyundai Heavy Industries' HDC-3100 design. Hyundai Heavy Industries, image got via Naval News.

Last December 28, 2021, the Philippine Department of National Defense and Hyundai Heavy Industries signed the contract for the production and delivery of two units of warships under the Philippine Navy's Corvette Acquisition Project, which is one of the big-ticket projects that has successfully materialized under the Second Horizon of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (R.A. 10349).

This was after the Philippine Navy bid out the Acquisition Project to prospective bidders that have taken part in the project, with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Turkey's ASFAT being one of those participants, with their offers being the HDC-3100 design and the MiLGEM (Ada-class corvettes), respectively. Both of which have their separate discussions on this website, in which they are accessible by just clicking the links highlighted in red above.

With the contract now signed, we expect that both the Department of National Defense and Hyundai Heavy Industries, along with the officials from the Philippine Navy, will undertake the next process of the Acquisition Project, which is the Critical Design Review, wherein there will be some tweaks with the design, and it will be done with finishing touches before issuing the Notice to Proceed document, allowing the shipbuilder to start the work in manufacturing the ships, starting with a ceremonious steel cutting ceremony between the shipbuilder and the end-user of the upcoming vessels.

As for the Critical Design Review stage, we expect things to be smooth, given that some subcomponents of the new Corvettes are getting compatible or aligning to the specifications provided for the HDF-2600 design, or what is now the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. Also, the design improvements are getting tackled in this stage, with the completed and improved version serving as the reference for the shipbuilder like the Hyundai Heavy Industries to produce these vessels.

Since that the project has made it to this point, let us discuss the specifications of the HDC-3100 design, wherein we can say that the Corvettes will come as a more capable vessel packed with more firepower, as compared to the Jose Rizal-class Frigates that produced by the same shipbuilder, especially that these new ships will come with extra weaponry that are lacking or currently not found onboard the Philippine Navy's current sophisticated warships.

Philippine Navy, Corvette Acquisition Project, HDC-3100, Hyundai Heavy Industries
The same CGI as the first one from Hyundai Heavy Industries, although it now comes with an infographic that points out potential subsystems, basing from logistical data and info from other defense outlets.

Note: The infographic content provided above isn't totally complete, as things may still change in Critical Design Review, regarding the subcomponents which either originated from existing subcomponents onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates as a reference (as this will make sense from a logistical and commonality point of view), and with other information originated from other defense outlets as specified in the infographic itself.

Update as of May, 5 2022: Hyundai Heavy Industries chose Israel Aerospace Industries' ALPHA 3D AESA radar for the Philippine Navy's primary radar system for the two new HDC-3100 Corvettes, of which it came in either 200 nautical mile or 400 nautical mile coverage (and this remains to be seen). Previously, the radar selection for the project was unknown, labeled on the infographic as an AESA 4D Radar. Check this article for reference use.

Given the infographic above, we observed that there are several subcomponents that are currently unavailable onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates will find its way to the new Corvettes, considering that the Corvette Acquisition Project itself does not have any provisions that will count a sensor system or weapons subcomponent as a "Fitted For, But Not With" or "FFBNW" item, a thing that the Jose Rizal-class Frigates have, wherein its current unavailable subcomponents may get bought separately.

The known subcomponents seen here, that are also seen onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, are the 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun, with an older variant being the mainstay gun for both the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels and the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels, and these three indigenously made South Korean subcomponents such as the Hanwha System's Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System, LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, and K745 Blue Shark Torpedoes.

The interesting subcomponents that were added in the Corvette Acquisition Project, that are not available currently in the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, are the ASELSAN GOKDENIZ 35mm Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) from Turkey, and the 16-cell MBDA VL-MICA Vertical Launch System, both of which are helpful in adding necessary air defense for the two new warships of the Philippine Navy.

We will discuss these two aforementioned subsystems as we get along with this article, focusing more on its capabilities and specifications, while briefly discussing the developments surrounding these subsystems, although an in-depth discussion for both the GOKDENIZ CIWS and the MBDA ML-MIVA VLS, especially in its background, deserves its own separate discussion in a separate entry.

The Turkish-developed and produced Close-In Weapons System or CIWS. Image Source.

As one of many weapons subcomponents installed onboard the new HDC-3100 designed Corvettes of the Philippine Navy, the Turkish company ASELSAN plays a role in providing an essential defense weaponry that eliminates air threats like incoming drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and anti-ship missile, giving a layer of protection that keeps these sophisticated warship and its crew from harm of destruction and casualty.

Aside from eliminating incoming UAVs and anti-ship missiles, the GOKDENIZ 35mm Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) can eliminate enemy helicopters, fighters, and asymmetrical surface naval threats, at least coming from the brochure of ASELSAN and with these mentioned capabilities serving as a main selling point for the Turkish defense company intended for prospective customers that has seen interest in having this weapons system fitted onboard their warships.

Also, the GOKDENIZ 35mm Close-In Weapons System can eliminate threats coming from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs, as well as both subsonic and supersonic anti-ship missile threats that can pose the threat against the survival of the new Corvettes of the Philippine Navy and its crew onboard, as this system comes with an Automatic Linkless Ammunition Feed Mechanism as a feature, which it allows the loading of both HEI and Airburst Ammunition at the same time and switching between the said ammunition types as required.

The GOKDENIZ itself is a sea derivative of the Korkut Self-Propelled Air Defense Gun System, itself also developed by Turkish defense company ASELSAN for land-based air defense operations specifically for the Turkish Land Forces, in collaboration with another Turkish Defense Company FNSS Savunma Sistemleri, wherein the first units of such type were first produced in March 2017, and delivered to the Turkish Army in May 2018.

The Gokdeniz Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) comes with an automatic target tracking feature with an integrated tracking platform, which it includes a tracking radar and electro-optics sensors, with the optional configuration for a 3-D radar sensor installation wherein the air defense close-in weapons system can detect air targets at a range of up to 70 km.

The discussion of the Turkish Close-In Weapons System in-detail will provide in a separate article, as it will deal more with the development of the system and its timeline, detailed specifications, and other information that will specifically focus on this topic about the Turkish-made subcomponent that gets its way to the new Philippine Navy Corvettes.

A systems configuration of a 16-cell MBDA VL-MICA Vertical Launch System.
VL MICA MG is an improved derivative of the same family of Vertical Launch Systems. 
Image Source.

MBDA's VL-MICA Vertical Launch System is basically a sea-based version of the VL-MICA Ground-Based Air Defense System, which is a ground-based air defense variant of the MICA multi-mission air-to-air missile that is fitted onboard multirole fighter aircraft like the Rafale and the later variants of the Mirage 2000 Multirole Fighter Jets, both made by the French Aerospace Company Dassault Aviation

This comes with the similar concept of the Philippine Air Force's upcoming SPYDER Ground-Based Air Defense System from Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, wherein the SPYDER GBADs are a variant of both Python and Derby missiles, both of which are air-to-air missile munitions produced by Rafael for the Israeli Air Force, all of which have developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Aside from the Rafale and the later variants of the Mirage 2000 Multirole Fighter Jets of Dassault Aviation, the MICA multi-mission air-to-air missile can also fit onboard the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen Multirole Fighter Jets, of which it is one platform showcased for the Philippine Air Force's Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Program, which have no updates currently and may go more likely as a Horizon 3 project at the time this article has published.

MICA as an air-to-air missile munition started development in the 1980s by France's Matra Electronics, intended as a replacement for the R-550 Magic Short-Range Missile and the R-530 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, both of which have also developed by the said French company. MICA has abbreviated in French which, if translated, means "interception and aerial combat missile".

Like the Turkish GOKDENIZ Close-In Weapons System (CIWS), the MBDA VL-MICA 16-Cell Vertical Launch System serves as an additional layer of air defense system installed onboard the new Philippine Navy Corvettes, assuring that the ship and its crew gets fully protected against incoming threats from the air, ranging from other aircraft to anti-ship missiles. 

The in-detail information of the French-made Vertical Launch System will cover on a separate article, discussing its specifications, detailed information on its development, and variants made through the years since its introduction to the French Armed Forces, particularly the French Air Force.

Specifications of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. Correction: The design derived is from HDF-2600, and not HDF-3000. PDA/Max Defense.

This article will not be complete without discussing other subsystems that can be available on warships that are already in service with the Philippine Navy fleet, especially the ones found onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, the base design that the HDF-3100 is now being derived from and both are designs from Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea.

Like the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, the HDC-3100 Corvettes that the Philippine Navy is about to have later on will come with LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star Anti-Ship Missiles, now comes at the 4x2 configuration or 8 anti-ship missile launch canisters, as opposed to only 4 launch canisters at 2x2 configuration that are found on the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. This means that the new Philippine Navy Corvettes came with more firepower that itself is a force reckoned with against naval threats at sea.

Another will be the SEA J+S Triple Torpedo Launchers, wherein it designs to load K-745 Blue Shark Torpedoes, produced by South Korea's LIGNex1, the same company that produces the SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles that were originally developed and made for improving the Republic of Korea Navy's firepower capabilities, with its export prospects now growing as this may likely came onboard the Philippine Navy corvettes based on easing logistics and keeping commonality of subcomponents across its naval vessels.

As for its Combat Management System, chances are likely that it will still be the Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management Systems of South Korea's Hanwha Systems, given that its integration on both the Jose Rizal-class Frigates and the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, although it remains to be seen whether they will introduce either the Baseline 2 found on the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, or the newer Baseline 3 that Hanwha made as an improved variant of the Naval Shield family of Combat Management Systems.

Completing the list will be the mainstream Oto Melara Super Rapid 76mm gun that belongs to the Oto Melara family of main guns that are found on the primary warships of the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force, Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats or RHIBS that are available on the fleet's capital warships which include the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks, and typical S and X-Band Sharpeye navigational radars from Kevin Hughes.

A Jose Rizal-class Frigate taking part in Amphibious Operations as part of AJEX DAGIT-PA 2021.
Image Source.

The Philippine Navy is continuously pursuing its modernization efforts under the Navy Sail Plan 2028, although in a diminished form that only few big-ticket projects have passed through the procurement process and has guaranteed its materialization and implementation of the production and delivery process, such as in the case for the Corvette Acquisition Project and the Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project that is expected to be awarded to Austal shipbuilding from Australia.

This new corvette design from Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea, although derived from the HDF-2600 that the Jose Rizal-class Frigates based from, will be more sophisticated and will have more firepower than what the said brand new Frigates that the Philippine Navy currently has, giving an improvement for the maritime branch of the Philippine Armed Forces with regards on having capital warships in its fleet that has sufficient anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-air capabilities at its disposal.

Take note that once again, the design and subcomponents for the HDC-3100 Corvette Design of the Hyundai Heavy Industries will have finishing touches under the Critical Design Review, although most of the subcomponents, basing on commonality and easing logistical chain, will pattern to what the Jose Rizal-class Frigates currently have, now with additional armaments in its disposal like the Vertical Launch System and Close-In Weapons System and will not go as a separate item under typical FFBNW provisions.

For the other subcomponents that are counted as currently unknown, it will determine through time as defense updates will come in and add additional information on the overall composition of the HDC-3100 Corvette Design, as this will provide a clear picture for the capabilities of what will be the Philippine Navy's newest warships in its fleet upon entry into service a year or two from issuing Notice to Proceed documentation that starts production of the warships.

Now that a notice of award has provided to the Hyundai Heavy Industries, and a contract has signed between the South Korean shipbuilder and the Department of National Defense, it is only a matter of time to see the new Philippine Navy Corvettes taking shape and seeing its capabilities, as it will eventually gets introduced into the fleet as an active vessel that is capable to defend the country's national interest on both of its territorial and exclusive economic zone waters and domains like in the West Philippine Sea.

(c) 2022 PDA
First revision 5-5-2022.



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