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The Details Regarding HD Hyundai's Plan on Setting Up Maintenance Facility in Subic

The South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries is notable in securing at least three of the Philippine Navy's acquisition projects, as these contracts come with at least ten (10) warships, with eight (8) of those vessels still in the process of either in the finalization of critical design review to at least the actual construction process of the vessels.

This makes it viable for the shipbuilder to set up shop in the country, specifically a facility that can cater not only the warships that the Philippine Navy ordered but also serve as a potential facility that may actually produce warships if the naval service branch opts for adding more warships into its fleet.

Agila Shipyard, Jose Rizal-class Frigate, Philippine Navy, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Subic Bay, Naval Operating Base Subic
A Jose Rizal-class Frigate moored in the Philippine Navy's Operating Base Subic, which itself was once part of the former Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructions shipyard.
Image Source.

South Korea's HD Hyundai Heavy Industries is now opting to have a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility inside what is now called the Agila Shipyard in Subic, itself once known as the facility of another South Korean shipbuilding firm, the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction or HHIC. 

This comes as the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries' market share in the Philippine Navy naval market increases with the current warship production contract it has with the Armed Forces of the Philippines' naval service branch.

This refers to the ongoing construction of both the Offshore Patrol Vessels, itself being an HDP-2200+ derivative that comes with at least six (6) units, and the Corvette Acquisition Project, itself being an HDF-3100 variant or also known as an improved variant of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates (image above), of which both the HDF-3100 and the Jose Rizal-class Frigates comes with a pair of warships each.

The two acquisition projects, on top of the Frigate Acquisition Project that made the Jose Rizal-class Frigates that are also built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, makes it viable for HD Hyundai Heavy Industries to have a maintenance repair and overhaul facility in Subic, near the Philippine Navy's Operating Base Subic, within the Agila Shipyard facility that both entities leased from Cerberus-Agila, the owner of the facility

Hyundai Heavy Industries sees this MRO facility approach as an opportunity to secure not only its support for the 10 Philippine Navy warships that it produces, but also to give a potential leverage as an active shipbuilding facility that will cater not only the usual civilian customers that have come with the former Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, but also for any future Philippine Navy warship projects that potentially gets awarded to the South Korean shipbuilder to produce in their Subic facility.

This means that this gives a potential for Hyundai Heavy Industries into contributing not only to the local economy of Subic and its environs but also to revitalize the country's shipbuilding industry either to the former glory that Hanjin has provided or may even go further than that, as this will surely give employment for the local citizenry in the area and the Philippine Navy may get a set of warships that are made by Filipinos.

HD Hyundai, HDC-3100, Philippine Navy, Corvette Acquisition Project, Frigates, Re-categorization
The HDC-3100 Corvette pair are just one of many warships that the Philippine Navy has bought from South Korea's HD Hyundai Heavy Industries.
Image (c) Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The rationale behind the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries' plan for having a maintenance repair overhaul facility in Subic Bay's Agila Shipyard is not complete without recalling the orders made by the Philippine Navy, spanning at least three warship acquisition projects, with the potential that it may get added later on as Horizon 3 still has a requirement for an additional pair of Frigates or Corvettes, with finality subject to the decisions of the leadership and, as usual, subject to the availability of funds.

First project in this category is the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project, with its byproducts now counted as the Jose-Rizal class Frigates. It comes with two warships of this class, namely the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151). Currently, both warships count as the most sophisticated ones that the naval service branch has in its active duty, until this next project gets commissioned into the service.

This next acquisition project refers to the currently materializing Corvette Acquisition Project, with its design being the HDC-3100 Corvettes (see image above) which is an improvement over the Jose Rizal-class Frigates or known in the design number of Hyundai Heavy Industries as the HDF-2600 Frigates. This comes with a dedicated CIWS battery, four more additional SSM-700K Haeseong anti-ship missiles than the Jose Rizal-class, and a 16-cell VLS system that the current warships don't have at the time this article has written.

Completing the list is the Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project, whereby the design presented comes as a stretched derivative of the HDP-1500 OPV design that was once named as the HDP-2400 Offshore Patrol Vessel, and eventually became known as the HDP-2200+ variant. The acquisition project comes with at least six units of Offshore Patrol Vessels in mind, with the construction of the first OPV projected by at least in the year 2025.

In totality, the after-sales support commitment of Hyundai Heavy Industries will span for at least three acquisition projects of the Philippine Navy, totalling at least ten warships. Add also to this any future prospects that will let Hyundai Heavy Industries use this part of Agila Shipyard they leased from Cerberus not only as a maintenance repair and overhaul or MRO platform but also as a potential facility for the construction of future Philippine Navy ships if the leadership opts into Hyundai Heavy Industries for its future orders.

Agila Shipyard, Subic Bay, Philippine Navy, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, HHIC
Agila Shipyard, once known as Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Shipyard in Subic.
Image Source.

The current Agila Shipyard (image above), once known as the facility of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, was the largest shipyard ever operated in the Philippines, itself established in 2006 with its primary customers being large shipping companies that are looking after their container ship vessels, bulk carriers, and large tanker vessels. 

This ranks the Philippines among the top ranking shipbuilding nations in the world, as this industry employs thousands of Filipino workers, which itself also means feeding and sustaining thousands of Filipino families of these workers that are employed in any of the shipbuilding companies in the country, including the once-existed Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction.

One of those commercial vessels that the Hanjin shipyard in Subic has built for international customers is the CMA-CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery, a 20,600 TEU (twenty-foot container equivalent unit) container ship that comes with 400 meters overall length, 59 meters in beam, and 33 meters in depth. 

In comparison, the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks only comes with 123 meters length and 22 meters beam, making the Agila Shipyard's facility viable for both maintenance and any future prospects for both naval ship and civilian ship production by Hyundai.

Another civilian vessel that the Hanjin Subic shipyard built is its first one, the M/V Argolikos, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned container vessel which was also its first vessel built in 2008. The vessel, as of the date this article has published, is still in operations. Apparently, the second container vessel built by the shipyard is also an order made by Dioryx Maritime Corp., a company that owns M/V Argolikos.

The capacity of the shipyard facilities left by Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction may help its compatriot HD Hyundai Heavy Industries expand not only on any of its future warship business in the Philippine Navy, but also bringing back the former shipbuilding essence with the existing facility. 

This move will generate more jobs back to provide services for production of warships and also to maintain existing vessels that the Philippine Navy fleet bought from the South Korean shipbuilder.

South Korea, BRP Jose Rizal, Philippine Navy, Jose Rizal-class Frigates
With the MRO facility made by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Subic Bay, warships like the BRP Jose Rizal may no longer need to go to South Korea for its maintenance repair and overhaul process.
Image Source.

The recent move made by HD Hyundai Heavy Industries by opening both a maintenance repair and overhaul facility that serves Philippine Navy ships they’ve built, along with their plans of getting some of the Agila Shipyard drydock operational for both its commercial business and future acquisition plans for the Philippine Navy, presents itself as an opportunity that will surely benefit all parties involved.

First is that it will revitalize the Philippine shipbuilding industry into new heights and new opportunities since the bankruptcy of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction or HHIC in 2019, whereby its fellow South Korean compatriot will take over the slack and will provide additional opportunities for every aspiring Filipino worker who wants to be with the South Korean company, sustaining the basic needs of their families.

Another is to fully bring the convenience to the Philippine Navy in relation to the maintenance of its warships, enabling the naval service branch to just have the likes of the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150, see image above) serve its maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations in a HD Hyundai Heavy Industries facility in Subic Bay within the country without the need of sending the warship and its crew abroad in South Korea to do the same operations. 

This move reduces the cost needed to provide any resources required for the travel, plus the cost of repair may reduce as the maintenance may get done by local Filipino workers.

Finally, the ultimate opportunity that this move may bring is for HD Hyundai Heavy Industries to take part in future acquisition projects to an advantage that the warships ordered may take place in the country, in the same manner that the Australian-based shipbuilder Austal at one point showcased its Balamban Cebu shipyard during its Offshore Patrol Vessel marketing, only for the leadership to opt for the HDP-2200+ design of the South Korean shipbuilder.

Overall, this move made by Hyundai Heavy Industries will provide many opportunities that benefit not only the shipbuilder and not only the Philippine Navy but also the families of these aspiring workers who may end up working with the South Korean-based shipbuilding company and also the Philippine shipbuilding industry in its entirety

This comes as their investments will provide a boost in this portion of the Philippine economy, as taking the slack of its bankrupted compatriot helps revitalize this industry into its new potential. 

A potential that this shipyard may end up catering to both large shipping companies and even the Philippine Navy itself, or even other concerned maritime agencies like the Philippine Coast Guard.

Philippine Navy, Offshore Patrol Vessels, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries
The Philippine Navy ordered six units of Offshore Patrol Vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries.
© Hyundai Heavy Industries, via Naval News.

As the Philippine Navy’s order of naval products from HD Hyundai Heavy Industries increases, so does the opportunity for the South Korean shipbuilder to provide a maintenance repair overhaul facility that not only will benefit the naval service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of no longer sending the warships overseas like what the crew of the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) did in sending the ship in South Korea, but also in securing another revenue of income for the shipbuilder.

To add it further, the Philippine Navy sail plan comes with having at least another pair of naval vessels that the South Korean shipbuilder may secure a contract shall it win a project in the future, as they already have the reputation and good relations with the leadership within the Philippine Navy as this has showcased when the Frigate Acquisition Project successfully comes into fruition despite some of its shortcomings. 

The said project comes as what is now known as the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, whereby these warships are the most sophisticated ones that the Philippine Navy fleet has to-date.

Any future warship acquisition projects of the Philippine Navy that may get awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries will benefit all parties involved, especially the Philippine economy and the Philippine shipbuilding industry itself, as this shows that the government provides indirect support to the industry along with the workers and their families that relies in this livelihood that sustain their basic needs. 

These said benefits come on top of the Philippine Navy receiving warships that are made by Filipino citizens, and may add that experience to whatever future Self Reliance Defense Posture or SRDP prospects that the government aspires to have along the way.

To simplify, the plan made by HD Hyundai Heavy Industries comes at the highest level of opportunity not only to provide services for the Philippine Navy in terms of after-sales support, but also with its regard of revitalizing the Philippine shipbuilding in its new levels, as their expression of operating a commercial shipyard for shipping customers plus any future Philippine Navy acquisition plans makes this move viable than ever.

As the Horizon 3 is now rolling, and the Department of National Defense now requesting for more funds to sustain the said phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program under R.A. 10349, this will be an interesting development that may unfold in the latter half of the year 2023, as HD Hyundai Heavy Industries setting up shop in the country provides any type of opportunities that benefits prospects of both Philippine defense and Philippine economic developments.

(c) 2023 PDA.

Developments on the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone Implementation

Here is a short and detailed update relating to the development that has unfolded regarding the deployment of additional radar sites across the country as part of increasing radar coverages under the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone implementation, and on the larger scale the implementation of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

IAI Elta, Philippine Air Force, ELM-2288 ER, air surveillance radar
This is one of three ELM-2288 ER radars installed across the country.
Image Source.

Earlier this year, developments have unfolded regarding the increase of air surveillance radar across the country with the delivery of the J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar systems from Japan, itself marked and counted as the first ever export of defense and military-related hardware overseas by the Japanese, while the Philippines count as the first overseas user of the air surveillance radar system.

In context, the J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar systems count as a mainstay radar system currently in-place in the Japanese mainland, along with its other newer radars like the more-advanced J/FPS-5 radar that relies on L-band and features as a 3D surveillance radar that can track ballistic missiles as this is a necessity in the country given their constant threats they received from North Korea's missile launches.

Just recently, a Twitter defense enthusiast with the handle named @GrangerE04117 that has tabs on Philippine defense and also a part of our community on the said social media site (follow us @DefensePitz), shared images coming from the Philippine Air Force with the following caption with some parts edited for minor grammatical fix.

"Last March 20, Brigadier General Ronie Petinglay, commander of the 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing, presented to the Provincial Council of Antique during the 9th Regular Session, the proposal for the establishment of an Air Force Radar Station in Mt. Liwliw, Anini-y, Antique."
Then the thread goes on with the map of the Philippines, with respective radar coverages and additional radar sites under Horizon 3, aside from the ones implemented under the Horizons 1 and 2 (see image above). For some added information, the Horizon 1 radars come with Israel Aerospace Industries' EL/M-2288 air surveillance radar, whereas the Horizon 2 radar comes with J/FPS-3ME air surveillance radar installations.

With the added information regarding the Horizon 3 phase of adding more radar sites that will cover the entire, if not most, of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone, the discussion will cover the areas on where the Horizon 3 air surveillance radars will go, the radar coverage it brings to the overall objectives, and other relevant information that relates to the Philippine Air Force's air defense system initiatives and efforts.

PADIZ, Horizon 3 Radar, former U.S. Microwave Station Facility, Mt. Liwliw, Antique
This is an old facility found in Mt. Liwliw in Anini-y, Antique.
Via Twitter.

Based on the new pieces of information provided in our niche defense community in another social media site plus the ones coming from the Philippine News Agency, with the parallels seen with the provided images, there will be at least four more radar stations that will be part of the Horizon 3 planning, although it may still subject to change depending on the implementation set by the planners within the organization.

One of those areas is Mt. Liwliw, which founds on the southernmost tip of Antique, near the municipality named Anini-y. This area is already fond of military facilities, as the image above, as described by the Tweet provided above, shows that this was once a microwave relay station operated by the United States Air Force, which is one of many areas that serve communications among U.S. military installations in the region.

While microwaves have still considered by the United States Air Force as a secure line of communication such as the one regarding ballistic missile defense mechanisms, this old facility may likely see a new form of life sprouting in the area, in a form of a new radar facility, this time managed by the Philippine Air Force and its future radar systems that may come with a different setup compared to the first two types mentioned, in which this initiative has the full support of the local provincial government.

The other three sites under the Horizon 3 phase include Guiuan in Eastern Samar, Davao City, and the one in Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea. Speaking of Pag-asa island, it has recently received a lot of facility rehabilitation and improvement, in which, along with the island being a future radar site, will give not only an assertion of the country's legitimate domain in the West Philippine Sea, but also an extra capability in monitoring the area's airspace against any intrusions from other nations like China.

The sites provided will probably complete the overall surveillance radar systems coverage across the entire country's national airspace, completing one component under the Philippine Air Defense Identification System's mechanism, as other areas like air interdiction are still being materialized as the government pursues more multirole fighter jets and ground-based air defense systems for this operation.

ELM-2288ER Radar PAF, J/FPS-3ME Radar PAF, PADIZ, Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone, Philippine Air Force
Here is the radar coverage that defines the PADIZ, with the combined capabilities of both Israeli and Japanese-made radar systems.
CI Geography, with details on planned PADIZ provided by PDA.

As seen in the image above, the Horizon 3 radars dotted on the eastern part of the country such as in Guiuan Eastern Samar and Davao City will cover up the gaps that are not addressed during the installation of the Horizon 2 J/FPS-3ME radars that are primarily focused on Eastern Luzon, Wallace Air Station, and Mindanao’s Elum Air Station in Hill 900, Zamboanga City.

Basing further on the map, it is noticeable that the Horizon 1 radar system installations come with Israel Aerospace Industries’ ELM-2288 ER air surveillance radar dots along the country’s western coastline. 

It has the coverage that primarily faces the West Philippine Sea, either coming from Northern Luzon’s Gozar and Paredes Air Stations through Palawan with its Mount Salakot Air Station. The latter currently has eyes in the airspace over the Philippine domains in the Kalayaan Island Group, along with areas occupied by countries like Vietnam and China that are within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

The radar coverage made by Mount Salakot Air Station may get augmented with the one planned to install in Pag-asa island, as having one in the Kalayaan Island Group itself gives further surveillance coverage on the airspace in the area, especially with the ones coming in and out of China's primary artificial islands they've built in the area that actually comes with long runways capable of landing and takeoff things ranging from its fighter jets to actual cargo and bomber aircraft.

The one in Mt. Liwliw, Antique, as depicted on the map, comes as a redundancy for the radar coverage in Visayas area. It comes as other radar air stations installed in areas of Mount Salakot, Elum Air Station, Gozar Air Station, Parañal Air Station, and the one planned in Guiuan Eastern Samar and Davao City already has individually covered portions of the airspace through these radars. 

The redundancy may provide a comprehensive radar detection for the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone as it goes deeper within Philippine territory. Another thing to point out with the proposed radar installation Mt. Liwliw in the province of Antique is may go as a backup radar installation in an event that other air surveillance radar suddenly comes under attack or went offline, as its operation still provides the air defense detection that the Philippine Air Force needs in an event of war.

In its entirety, the areas where the radars have installed from Horizons 1 to 3 achieve the 100% radar coverage that the Philippine Air Force attains as part of its primary aim of enforcing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone into full force, although there are still more things needed to achieve a full air defense system that comes with its implementation, such as the ongoing fast entry of updates surrounding the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition.

SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, Philippine Air Force, Multirole Fighter Jets, F-16 Viper,
SAAB’s JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D variant comes with a lot of attention lately after the Philippine and Swedish governments signed an MOU for defense materiel.
Image Source.

Another thing to point out and to get updates on in relation to the current improvements that take place in fully implementing the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ is the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, whereby it is still a close competition between SAAB and their JAS-39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Viper. There is some recent information that may give us an idea about the status of this project.

Just recently, both the Department of National Defense Officer-in-Charge Carlito Galvez Jr., and his counterpart in the Sweden Ministry of Defense Pål Jonson signed a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, enabling both the Philippines and Sweden push cooperation in areas from the current materialization of the Revised AFP Modernization Program to Sweden’s interest in the Philippines’ Self-Reliance Defense Posture initiatives by investing into the country’s defense industry.

This has widely interpreted as a move that enables SAAB’s JAS-39 Gripen Block C/D variant offered to the Philippine Air Force to market further and eventually for the leadership to take the fighter jets, as the offer made by the Swedes come cheaper than the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper jets, despite having an additional package for its spare parts (which itself is a big contributor to the increase of its unit price), and also the jets being more capable plus commonality to the potential Excess Defense Articles that the United States is offering to the Philippines.

One thing to point out is an alternative proposal pushed by the United States to provide Block 50 F-16s to the Philippine Air Force instead of the original brand new F-16 Block 70 variant. The said Block 50s may come with brand new avionics, making the jets technically ‘brand new’ after the airframes undertaking Service Life Extension Program or 'SLEP' procedures for any flight fatigue detected throughout its use with the first user. 

Given the recent developments, there may even be a likelihood that the Philippine Air Force may end up with both JAS-39 Gripen and F-16 Multirole Fighter Jets, with the former being the primary candidate of the Multirole Fighter Jet acquisition program as they offer the remaining brand new Block C/D jets they have from the production line.

While the current developments on this one essential component of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ recently unfolded across multiple media outlets, there will be interesting news that may come out eventually that comes related to the Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Project, as any information comes out at the time this article published may define for an ultimate capabilities improvement to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ air service branch. 

Wallace Air Station, J/FPS-3ME, Philippine Air Force, PADIZ
Wallace Air Station Antennas when it was still a US-based military installation.
Image Source.

The ongoing development on the improvement of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone or PADIZ provides an updated information regarding the current and future planning of installing more radar outposts across the country, assuring that there is a full radar coverage covering the country’s entire airspace, both at the current delimitations of the air defense identification zones and the planned 2028 version as seen on a map we presented.

Add to this some important developments on the longest-running Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Program, whereby both SAAB and Lockheed Martin are doing their very best to provide the juiciest offer for the Philippine Air Force to consider despite having a meager budget. It comes as securing this contract means getting a foothold for the market of Multirole Fighter Jets for the years to come, ranging from after-sales support of spare part components and any prospect plans for follow-up orders.

The additional radar stations slated under the Horizon 3 plans and programs for the development of the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone finally make the radar coverage phase of this implementation a reality, as the areas provided adds to the overall redundancy and increased coverage especially deep within the country’s territory and the airspace it corresponds, as this will provide more eyes to both the Ground Air Defense Batteries (SPYDER-MR GBADS) and fighter interceptor aircraft (FA-50PH and the future Multirole Fighters) to do its job.

This signifies the ongoing progress that is clearly seen on the projects that are slated for implementation in the next two years or more, with hopes for further implementation of the project and not just stop from getting these current plans done within their timeline. It means that the improvements and developments that ensure the security of the country’s airspace come constantly, as the technology advances and its military applications are constantly changing along with it.

In conclusion, the additional sites for the Horizon 3 air search radar installation as part of this entire process of improving the country’s primary detection phase of its air defense identification zone comes as a significant step, as having these air stations deployed across the country comes just as essential as both the Multirole Fighter Jets or the Ground-Based Air Defense Systems, as all the said elements intertwine with one another, ensuring that no adversary has an advantage in taking over the Philippine airspace.

Editorial note: We revised portions of the article referring to the zero-timing of airframes, as this term usually goes with replacement of components within the aircraft. Proper term for airframe rehabilitation is 'SLEP' or Service Life Extension Program, that fixes aircraft fatigue and prolongs aircraft life by ten thousand flight hours or more.

(c) 2023 PDA.





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