Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force - Detailing the Present and Future Fleet Power

The Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force comes as the forefront of the service branch's push for external defense, as this is the unit that manages the fleet's capital warships, which include the ones considered as the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art naval vessel that the country has presently, as a byproduct of the ongoing AFP Modernization Program.

In this article, we will delve in to the details of the Offshore Combat Force's fleet power, whereby the numbers and other relevant information about each vessel get discussed in further detail.

Philippine Navy, Offshore Combat Force, Jose Rizal-class Frigates, HDC-3100, Del Pilar-class OPV, Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels, BRP Conrado Yap
This sub-unit within the Philippine Navy manages the key and primary seafaring naval combatants, the most sophisticated ones in the Philippine Naval Fleet.
Image (c) Offshore Combat Force Facebook Page.

The entire Armed Forces of the Philippines, especially the Philippine Navy, embark on the ongoing modernization process under the Revised AFP Modernization Law, or the Republic Act 10349, whereby it became one of the primary beneficiary in receiving military hardware, as it received multiple warships at its helm, most of which find its way to the organization's Offshore Combat Force or OCF. That explains the number of ships depicted in an image above, including the number of badges associated per ship.

As described, the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force is a unit within the naval service branch of the Philippine Armed Forces primarily responsible for conducting missions relating to the country's territorial defense, something that is currently and fully in-line with the entire government's recent push in gearing the Armed Forces in territorial defense or external defense. Being in the forefront, the unit will probably receive more naval warship to expand its operations in the next five years or more.

The unit's expansion comes as the Philippine Navy's Sail Plan, being aligned with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program based on the aforementioned law, comes with its own lineup of acquisition projects that the Offshore Combat Force gets the significant gain of warships in its fleet lineup, although other units like the Littoral Combat Force also received a handful of vessels in its fleet like the Acero-class Fast Attack Interdiction Crafts-Missile (FAIC-M).

From history prior to the turn of the decade in the 2010s, the Offshore Combat Force primarily compose of the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels or Patrol Corvettes, whereby the Philippine Navy considered the vessels as the most sophisticated ones that the organization operated to-date as the Philippine fleet at the time usually comes with old Second World War-era vessels such as the old time warship BRP Rajah Humabon, decommissioned on 2018 and capsized in 2022.

Through time, the Offshore Combat Force improves its capability not only in terms with the number of ships that assigned to this unit but also the ever-increasing firepower and sophistication that the new entries come, whereby the first vessels since the Jacinto-class first came with the ex-United States Coast Guard cutters, and eventually the entry of a South Korean shipbuilding entity that has to provide the bulk of this Philippine Navy unit's fleet of ships.

To fully comprehend the scale of improvements and incorporated capabilities of the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force from the present (aka the time this article has published) to what will it be five years down the road in the year 2028, the following information in the succeeding paragraph provides a comprehensive order of battle or ORBAT, with different naval vessels of the fleet of the present and the future getting discussed one-by-one for the reference of this article.

Philippine Navy, Offshore Combat Force, ORBAT, Order of Battle, OCF, Del Pilar-class OPV, Jose Rizal-class Frigates, HDC-3100, HDP-2200+ OPV, Pohang-class, BRP Conrado Yap, Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels, Peacock-class Patrol Vessels, Hamilton-class Cutters
The Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force and its Fleet Composition.
(c) Zach (@ThrustWR), via Aaron-Matthew Lariosa, X (Formerly Twitter).

The Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force is the one responsible for conducting territorial defense missions, which is not surprising as to its naval vessel composition always comes with the very capable and highly sophisticated gray hulls of various types, sizes, classes, and roles intended on each unit. Each role ranges from multipurpose frigates capable of having anti-ship and air defense capabilities to corvettes focusing more on antisubmarine capabilities and offshore patrol vessels being light-armed ones.

In the graph provided above, the overall force composition of the Offshore Combat Force comes with at least nine (9) vessels), of which two (2) of these are Guided-Missile Frigates, one (1) unit being an antisubmarine-focused Corvette, and the remaining six (6) units being patrol vessels, with three formerly assigned as patrol frigates before getting re-designated as Offshore Patrol Vessels and the other three already being part of the Philippine Navy even before the Revised AFP Modernization Program took place.

From 2023 to five years later in 2028, the Philippine Navy's Offshore Patrol Force expects its fleet composition to increase to at least eighteen (18) vessels, of which the additional vessels include at least two (2) guided missile corvettes that may get re-designated as frigates at the discretion of the leadership, and at least six (6) offshore patrol vessels of a single class, of which it counts as the naval service branch's largest bulk order of a single class of vessels to-date.

This means that in 2023, there may go at least three vessels originated from the United States, as these were the ex-Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutters, the other three originated from United Kingdom when Hong Kong was still its overseas territory whereby these were the formerly Peacock-class patrol vessels which, like Hong Kong, has the vessels turned over to the Philippine Navy in 1997. The remaining vessels have originated in South Korea, with one served the ROKN, and the two being brand new naval assets bought by the Philippine Navy from a South Korean shipbuilding firm.

Five years later, in 2028, the fleet gets added with eight (8) more naval vessels for the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force, all of which have originated by South Korea as the Philippine Navy awarded both the Offshore Patrol Vessel and the Corvette Acquisition Projects to the South Korean shipbuilding firm HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, of which this firm also shown interest in investing into the country's shipbuilding facility within Subic Bay's Agila Shipyard.

As we have described, the overview of the Offshore Combat Force's fleet composition, the next part of this article may now involve discussing a brief detail regarding each class of naval vessels served under this service unit of the Philippine Navy, with most if not all the gray hulls presented have its own separate discussion that are available in this website. Links are available as each vessel gets discussed along the way.


Like any other units within the Philippine Navy, along with other organizational structure within the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines, the weapons composition, or fleet composition in this case, comes with details surrounding every vessel served within the Offshore Combat Force, along with some historical development into the formation of each classes of ships served and also the rationale that made each naval vessel exist today.

In this portion, each class of naval vessels that serve the Philippine Navy gets fully discussed from its inception up to its current operational events that the vessels take part as a form of its purpose within the fleet, while not going deeper into the detail as several details already comes available in separate articles we made, with the link posted in each corresponding classes of warships.

1. The Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels 
Philippine Navy, Del Pilar-class OPVs, BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), Offshore Combat Force, Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer, United States Navy
Two Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels of the Philippine Navy took part in a joint exercise with an Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer of the United States Navy.
Image Source.

Formerly designated as the Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels currently compose of three units, namely:

- BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), known as the former cutter USCGC Hamilton WHEC-715;
- BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), known as the former cutter USCGC Dallas WHEC-716, and
- BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), known as the former cutter USCGC Boutwell WHEC-719.

The first vessel, USCGC Hamilton WHEC-715, launched on December 18, 1965 by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then commissioned into active service within the United States Coast Guard on March 18, 1967. The ship served at least 44 years within the aforementioned agency until it got decommissioned on March 11, 2011, of which the vessel got sold to the Philippine Navy as the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15). Take note that this was prior to the reclassification of the three vessels into Offshore Patrol Vessels in 2019.

Being the lead ship of her class, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar formally commissioned into the Philippine Navy service on December 14, 2011, the first one for the fleet to receive a 115-meter long naval vessel that served as a stepping stone for getting the fleet with similarly sized and more capable naval assets as the 2013 Revised AFP Modernization Program rolls on. Throughout its active duty, its notable service gets exhibited in the 2012 Panatag Shoal standoff, the 2014 search and rescue operations on the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and a period it went out of service after getting aground in the West Philippine Sea. It took the Philippine Navy four (4) years before getting the ship back into service once again.

The second vessel, USCGC Dallas WHEC-716, launched on October 1, 1966, still by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then commissioned into active service within the United States Coast Guard on October 26, 1967. The ship served for at least 45 years until it got decommissioned on March 30, 2012, wherein it got sold to the Philippine Navy as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16). Within a year since the BRP Gregorio del Pilar entered active service in the Philippine fleet, the Offshore Combat Force gained two former Hamilton-class cutters into its pool of ever-growing fleet of ships.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) commissioned into active Philippine Navy service on November 22, 2013, more than a year since it got decommissioned from United States Coast Guard’s active service. The reasons for the delay points to the time required for the training needed for the navy personnel assigned on the ship. Right after it gets commissioned, the ship’s first duty is to serve as a vessel that delivers relief goods intended for the areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda, internationally recognized as the Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Finally, the third vessel of the class that entered the Philippine Navy fleet was the USCGC Boutwell WHEC-719, launched on June 17, 1967, where it entered active service on June 24, 1968 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It served the United States Coast Guard for 48 years until in 2016, when it turned over to the Philippine Navy as part of a foreign military sale, a commitment made by then-President of the United States Barack Obama when he visited the Philippines, together with the oceanographic research vessel M/V Melville, now BRP Gregorio Velasquez.

Now known as the BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), the Philippine Navy vessel took part in several international naval-related exhibitions and multilateral exercises, promoting and showcasing the ever-improving capability of this service branch of the Philippine military in sending its warships overseas for such events, a first since the fleet’s departure from operating World War 2-era vessels in littoral waters. One of those events is the 2017 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia, and the other is the 2018 Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC Exercise, together with BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602).

Overall, the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, once designated as ocean-going patrol Frigates, served a stepping stone for the Philippine Navy’s desire to modernize its fleet of aging vessels, now getting a fair share of fully modernized and brand new naval vessels. Speaking of modernized naval vessels, the next classes of warships discussed deals with the Philippine Navy’s most sophisticated ones to-date, of which these vessels may only get superseded in capabilities by an improved variant of this naval vessel.

See related article on Upgrading the Del Pilar-class Frigates in this link right here.

2. The Jose Rizal-class Frigates
BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), Jose Rizal-class Frigates, Philippine Navy
Two Jose Rizal-class Frigates moored alongside a Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessel.
Image Source.

Being the most sophisticated naval vessels of the Philippine Navy as of current date, the Jose Rizal-class Frigates compose of these following units:

- BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), of which it is the lead ship of its class, and
- BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151).

The first vessel is the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), of which it currently serves as the flagship of the Philippine Navy’s ever-increasing and more-capable naval fleet. Its designation as a flagship symbolizes the Philippine Navy’s ongoing modernization efforts within as part of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, as it is the first vessel that presents itself as the most capable and modern vessel to-date, paving the way to more capable ones like the HDC-3100 Corvettes.

On May 23, 2019, Hyundai Heavy Industries launched the Philippine Navy’s first ever guided missile warship ever built, a significant milestone for the naval service branch as this was the time the organization beefed up its anti-submarine, anti-air, and electronic warfare capabilities. This comes as the Philippine Navy sets to improve those capabilities further, as these concepts are relatively new to the organization and the entire Armed Forces are catching up to the weapons system-based concept of modern warfare.

The BRP Jose Rizal commissioned into active service on July 10, 2020, and since then serves actively in the Philippine Navy’s Offshore Combat Force as its primary navy flagship at the time this article gets published. Its first overseas sailing mission was with the multilateral navy exercise Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC 2020, of which it only conducted an at-sea phase of the event, given the prevalence of the pandemic during that period. The ship’s first refit took place in July 2023.

BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), a sister ship of BRP Jose Rizal, launched on November 8, 2019 in the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. As it goes with the both vessels, the second guided missile warship of the Philippine Navy undertook several sea trials and tests prior to delivery to the Philippines and eventually getting commissioned into active service on March 19, 2021. It took both the shipbuilder and the Philippine Navy a year and a half to take the ship into active service, as pandemic restrictions were in effect during that period.

During its span of service since getting commissioned up to the present day at the time this article gets published, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) took part in several multilateral exercises, especially with the 2022 Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercises as it bagged the third (3rd) place in the Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) Rodeo, despite being the vessel and its crew’s first time to take part in this activity and was only months since its entry to active service.

Several of the specifications given for the Jose Rizal-class Frigates include a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun, two pairs (2x2) canisters for the SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missile, a pair of torpedo tubes for the K745 Blue Shark Torpedoes, ASELSAN Smash 30mm secondary gun, and of course the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System that comes with minor issues especially with its compatibility with Link16 Tactical Data Link when the first Jose Rizal frigate launched.

Both of the vessels that form the Jose Rizal-class Frigates may have streamlined maintenance services later on, as Hyundai Heavy Industries sets to open its maintenance facility within Subic Bay’s Agila Shipyard. This means that this may no longer require the vessels to get sent into the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea for the required maintenance and retrofitting and instead having it done within the country, making it ready right away upon completion of its maintenance schedule.


3. The BRP Conrado Yap and the Pohang-class Corvettes
BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), ROKS Chungju (PCC-762), Philippine Navy, ROKN, Pohang-class Corvettes, Conrado Yap-class Corvettes
The BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39). 
Image Source.

The South Koreans didn’t stop from just providing brand new naval assets to the Philippine Navy, but also came to the point of providing the fleet with extra capabilities with gray-hulled ships that had once formed the bulk of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).

- The BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), and
- The future second Pohang-class known as ex-ROKS Andong, PCC-771.

The Pohang-class Corvettes were once the mainstay corvette fleet of the Republic of Korea Navy, whereby there are at least 24 warships built by various South Korean shipbuilding industries, spanning at least six (6) batches of the naval vessels with varying weapons load-out and capabilities, with most of these vessels have since exited active service and transferred to various navies, Philippines included.

Aside from the Philippine Navy, the other countries that are recipients of Pohang-class Corvettes coming from South Korea are the Colombian National Navy, Egyptian Navy, Peruvian Navy, and the Vietnam People’s Navy. Currently, Colombia received the ROKS Iksan (PCC-755) which is now the ARC Almirante Tono, Egyptian Navy with the ENS Shabab Misr or formerly ROKS Jinju (PCC-762) and the Peruvian Navy with both the BAP Ferré or formerly ROKS Gyeongju (PCC-758) and BAP Guise or formerly ROKS Suncheon (PCC-767). 

Also, Vietnam received two Pohang-class Corvettes, with both Ships 18 and 20, formerly ROKS Gimcheon (PCC-761) and ROKS Yeosu (PCC-765), respectively. Overall, there are currently at least seven Pohang-class corvettes currently operational among foreign navies including the Philippines, plus one corvette subject to transfer to the Philippine Navy, now bringing it up to at least eight (8) Pohang-class transferred by the South Korean government.

The BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) once served in the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) as the ROKS Chungju (PCC-762), whereby it belonged to the Batch III variant of the Pohang-class Corvettes that comes with better antisubmarine capabilities as compared to the previous batch of the class, such as the ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759) that the Philippine Navy once considered for this class of warship before ending up getting this vessel given that it is a younger hull and in better serviceable condition.

The other Pohang-class corvette that the Philippine Navy sets to receive is the former ROKS Andong (PCC-771), a Batch IV corvette that is comes younger and more sophisticated than what is now BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), as this batch comes with a better integrated system such as Hanwha Systems’ Naval Shield during its service with the South Korean Navy. 

From this point, these are the confirmations that the Philippine Navy may get at least two Pohang-class Corvettes from South Korea, although there are chances that the organization opts to get more of the remaining Pohang-class vessels still serving the Republic of Korea Navy. This comes as expectations are still high that bilateral relations between both countries further improve on the defense aspect, with the likelihood of shipbuilders like HD Hyundai Heavy Industries securing contracts in the future.

Hence, it will be an interesting prospect for the Philippines securing more Pohang-class Corvettes, although it already comes with a boost that the Navy now comes with at least two (2) of such vessels that the naval service branch calls as the Conrado Yap-class Corvettes. These vessels are helpful for the country’s resolve to improve the number of its ever-capable naval vessels, with other South Korean-made newer vessels getting discussed throughout this article.

Read more:

4. Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels
BRP Apolinario Mabini, Peacock-class, Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels, Royal Navy, Philippine Navy
The BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36) as it took part in a sailing activity during Exercise Balikatan 2010.
Image (c) Wikimedia Commons.

Next on the list are the vessels that were part of the British Royal Navy’s fleet of warships that served its overseas territories, especially with its former colony of Hong Kong, now special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China which is the same country that poses a threat in the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. This class of vessels comprises with the following ships, namely:

- BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), formerly known as the HMS Peacock (P239),
- BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), formerly known as the HMS Plover (P240), and
- BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), formerly known as the HMS Starling (P241).

The Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels help introduce the Philippine Navy into the systems-based utilization of its weapons systems, specifically the 76mm Oto Melara main gun found onboard the vessel. The fleet composition of the Philippine Navy at the time these ships got integrated primarily came with World War 2-era minesweepers and destroyer escorts, with these Peacock-class vessels turned over came as one of the most sophisticated that the naval service branch ever possessed.

All the ships mentioned under this class once served to the British Royal Navy’s Hong Kong Squadron, produced in 1981 by Hall Russell Shipbuilding Company in Aberdeen, Scotland. Originally, the Peacock-class comprised five vessels, namely the Peacock (lead ship of the class), Plover, Starling, Swallow, and Swift. The first three vessels mentioned immediately turned over to the Philippine Navy after the 1997 turn-over of Hong Kong back to China, while the latter two - Shallow and Swift, turned over to the Irish Navy in 1988.

The Irish Navy, now had HMS Shallow and HMS Swift as the LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla, operated gallantly within the country’s fleet until its decommissioning last July 2022, ending its 34 years of active service within the Irish fleet as part of its ongoing modernization efforts. There were ideas of just handing the ships over to the Philippine Navy, as this is the only other user of the Peacock-class Patrol Vessels, although this idea extinguished after the Irish decided to just scrap its said remaining vessels instead.

Throughout its serviceable life, all three Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels undertook several stages of upgrades and overhauls, enabling it to further expand its serviceable life even further even to the point of surpassing those of its sister ships belonging to the Irish Naval Forces. One of those things involves the repair and overhaul of its 76mm Oto Melara Main gun, and the other involves the installation of SAAB’s 9LV Combat Management System onboard the BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35).

There were also original upgrade plans involved with the Peacock-class, whereby short-ranged missiles reminiscent of the SPIKE-ER weaponry found onboard the MPAC Mk. 3s were in the eyesights of the British Royal Navy planners when they looked for an upgrade for the patrol vessels regarding its firepower. While in consideration, concerns involving the upgrade’s effect on performance, especially when considering the load as compared to the speed and the vessel’s propulsion system.

Speaking of the patrol vessel’s performance, it has a speed of 25 knots, powered by two (2) Crossley Pielstick Diesel Engines, with the capability of getting into the range of 2,500 nautical miles at the cruise speed of 17 knots. The Jacinto-class patrol vessel’s hull comes with a displacement of 652 tons, length of 62.2 meters, beam of 10 meters, and draught of 2.72 meters. This means that the vessel is capable of its own capabilities while being a small vessel compared to the larger peers like the ones aforementioned.

With the entry of newer vessels as we discuss here in the succeeding parts, it may only be a matter of time until the idea of having the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels decommissioned from active service just like the ones belonging to the Irish Navy. But with the current shortage of naval vessels, and the age of every vessel belonging to this class being younger than the youngest Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessel serving the fleet, it is reassuring that these warships still have more years actively serving the Philippine Navy with its crew.

Check an article relating to the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels in an article linked here.

Moving on, let us discuss the upcoming ships of the Philippine Navy, primarily coming from South Korea’s HD Hyundai Heavy Industries.

5. HDC-3100 Corvettes 
HDF-3100 Frigates, HDC-3100 Corvettes, Philippine Navy, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, HHI, Corvette Acquisition Project
This is how the future HDC-3100 Corvettes of the Philippine Navy look like.
(c) HD Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The following class of naval vessels on the list comes as an improvement over the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, itself being an HDF-2600 design. Like the frigates aforementioned, the Corvette Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy also comes with a pair of vessels belonging to this type.

- HDC-3100 (01), and
- HDC-3100 (02).

With complete subsystems onboard aside from the Towed Array Sonar or TASS, of which it may come separately (FFBNW), the HDC-3100 Corvettes comes as the most sophisticated naval vessel that the Philippine Navy will get once it entered active service, even surpassing the capabilities of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates that these improved variants derived from. This may also set a precedent for the Philippine Navy to secure equally capable or more capable naval vessels for its fleet under the Horizon 3 Phase 1 period.

Speaking of subsystems, the HDC-3100 Corvettes may have at least a 16-cell Vertical Launch System or VLS of whichever system installed onboard that defines its capability as either a Frigate or a Corvette, a 4x2 or eight (8) SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missile system on the naval vessel’s midsection, a dedicated CIWS or Close-in Weapons System that may likely be the ASELSAN Gokdeniz 35mm double-barreled CIWS gun (by Turkish company ASELSAN).

Another thing to point out is the stealthier design which is an improvement over the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, whereby it now comes with a design that covers the naval vessel’s midship portion, in the area where the anti-ship missiles, the rigid-hulled inflated boats (RHIBs), and torpedo launchers are situated. The design also increases the overall hull size of the naval vessels, making it at par to the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, which is at around 115 meters long.

As an improved variant of the HDF-2600 (Jose Rizal-class) Frigates, the HDC-3100 Corvettes come with a tonnage of at least 3,100 tons (as described with its project name’s numerical designation), of which the Department of National Defense provided an allotted budget for the contract amounting to Php 28,000,000,000.00 or at least Php 14,000,000,000.00 per vessel under this acquisition project. Also to take note is the fact that this design comes as an improvement over South Korea’s Incheon-class Frigates (HDF-3000), also with a hull length of around 114 meters.

Also to take note is the fact that this design comes as an improvement over South Korea’s Incheon-class Frigates (HDF-3000), also with a hull length of around 114 meters, as the HDC/HDF-3100 comes with a platform space intended for the Vertical Launching System or VLS installed onboard, a feature that is nonexistent to the former and rectified in the succeeding Frigate designs like the HDF-3500 (Daegu-class) Frigates

Speaking of the HDC-3100 Vertical Launching System, the space provided on the platform aside from the ones intended for the installed 16-cell system enables any future upgrade for the naval vessel’s capabilities that may render it as a AAW Frigate if given the proper VLS solution for the vessels such as the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, although this still depends on the Philippine Navy leadership’s discretion to pull such a move.

Upon the completion of the HDC-3100 delivery to the Philippine Navy, its entry will render it as the most capable surface naval vessels that the Offshore Combat Force possess upon the vessel’s entry to active service, surpassing the capability of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, although the latter can catch up once the subsystems that fitted for, but not with or FFBNW may get purchased separately and eventually finding its way to these naval vessels.

Read more:

6. HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels
HDP-2200+, Offshore Patrol Vessel, Philippine Navy, PN, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, HHI
This is how the future HDC-3100 Corvettes of the Philippine Navy look like.
(c) HD Hyundai Heavy Industries

Completing the list in this array of information is the HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels which, like the HDC-3100 Corvettes and the HDF-2600 (Jose Rizal-class) Frigates, have also produced by the South Korean shipbuilder HD Hyundai Heavy Industries. Also, this acquisition project comes with the largest number of vessels that the Philippine Navy purchased to-date, as it currently implements the Revised AFP Modernization Program or R.A. 10349. The vessels that comprise this acquisition project are the following naval assets listed below.

- HDP-2200+ (01);
- HDP-2200+ (02);
- HDP-2200+ (03);
- HDP-2200+ (04);
- HDP-2200+ (05), and
- HDP-2200+ (06).

The project of six naval vessels of the Philippine Navy comprises the Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project, whereby it aims to provide an improvement in the naval service branch’s capabilities regarding the numbers fielded for patrol operations, aside from getting counted as a replacement to the older Philippine Navy vessels, most of which being old World War 2-era ones, that are already decommissioned out of service without immediate replacement.

The HDP-2200+ design is an improvement of the similarly developed HDP-1500 Offshore Patrol Vessel design of the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, whereby its stretched hull and space provides any allowable upgrades onboard the vessels upon the discretion of the Philippine Navy, aside from the subsystems already installed onboard such as 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun, secondary guns, and Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats or RHIBs for detailed functions that are in-line with the purpose of these vessels.

Initially named as HDP-2400 before the finalization, the HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels of the Philippine Navy comes with the tonnage of at least 2,200 tons and with the dimensions of 94.4 meters long and 14.3 meters beam. The propulsion of these naval vessels comes with a Combined Diesel and Diesel combination that provides a top speed of 22 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots, enabling it to travel at the maximum range of 5,500 nautical miles and has an endurance of 28 days at sea without refueling.

The size of the HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels being a larger variant than the HDP-1500 design that HD Hyundai Heavy Industries presented for the Philippine Navy’s OPV Acquisition Project actually provides a space for any future upgrades that the end-user desires to use for the upgrade of its firepower capabilities. This means that the vessels still have a bit of an opportunity to be a far more potent vessel that also comes with the number of vessels that the naval service branch bought from the South Korean shipbuilder.

Aside from the 76mm Oto Melara main gun that has mentioned above, the secondary guns that may come with the Offshore Patrol Vessels may come with the ASELSAN SMASH 30mm Secondary Gun System from Turkey’s ASELSAN, the same entity that may also provide the Philippine Navy with its GOKDENIZ 35mm Close-In Weapons System or CIWS onboard the HDC-3100 Corvettes as competition to Navantia’s Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium 35mm Close-In Weapons System offer.

Like the other newer vessels of the Philippine Navy, the HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels also came with a helicopter deck that accommodates any of the helicopters that the Philippine Navy have through the Naval Air Wing (NAW) such as the AW-109E Power helicopters and even the AW-159 Anti-Submarine Helicopters that the leadership has plans to get more later on to pair with future combat naval assets. Unlike the Frigates and Corvettes that the Philippine Navy gets, the HDP-2200+ OPVs do not have a hangar.

Overall, the acquisition of the HDP-2200+ Offshore Patrol Vessels by the Philippine Navy count as an overall capability improvement regarding the number of naval vessels ordered, as this further enhancing presence of the country’s key maritime assets in asserting the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, while jointly improving the country’s maritime domain awareness with the counterparts within the Philippine Coast Guard in expanded maritime patrol operations within the country’s waters.

HDF-3800 Frigate, Philippine Navy, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, Horizon 3, AFP Modernization Program
HDF-3800 Frigates of Hyundai Heavy Industries.
From HD Hyundai Heavy Industries brochure.

While the confirmed naval vessels for the Philippine Navy’s Offshore Combat Force under the Revised AFP Modernization Program or R.A. 10349 have presented in a list provided above, this does not mean that any future naval acquisition project may happen, as the Horizon 3 phase of this program presents more plans and offers that the Navy leadership is aiming on. This comes as the government is gearing itself up to prepare the naval service branch for a new doctrine that specializes in external defense posture.

First in note is the future acquisition of combat naval vessels like the Corvettes and Frigates. In the Philippine Navy’s measurement of parameters that sets the definition of a corvette and a frigate, the former comes primarily as an anti-submarine warfare platform, whereas the latter comes as an anti-air warfare platform. This means that there is a likelihood that the Jose Rizal-class Frigates may get re-categorized as Corvettes alongside HDC-3100 vessels later on, allowing the Philippine Navy to get larger vessels.

This means that, while these options are not final, the Philippine Navy seeks to have the likes of HD Hyundai Heavy Industries’ HDF-3800 Frigates or Damen’s SIGMA 12516 Frigates as its parameters in seeking an anti-air frigate, although the parameters and discretions may change depending on factors that play on the decision-making such as the budgetary requirements and technical-based ones. Add to that the Department of National Defense’ desire to get the vessels produced in the country under SRDP.

Another thing to point out is the number of naval vessels that the Philippine Navy aims in acquiring for under the Horizon 3 phase of the AFP Modernization Program, whereby the final number of vessels still count as liquid given the shift to external defense as the Defense Department now sets to review the acquisition projects under the Revised AFP Modernization Program. Let us take note that a significant portion of acquisition projects under Horizon 2 are still yet in the process of implementation at the time this article gets published.

This also means that the Department of National Defense under the current leadership of Sec. Gilberto Teodoro is determined to get the best offers out of different shipbuilders who aspire to take part in the Horizon 3 naval vessel acquisition projects, as there is the likelihood of higher budget allotments, bulk orders, and most likely provisions for tech transfers and local shipbuilder partnerships taking place under the Self-Reliant Defense Posture or SRDP.

Just to take note, shipbuilders like South Korea’s HD Hyundai Heavy Industries has the plans in setting up shop within the confines of the Agila Shipyard in Subic, whereby they may likely use the shipbuilding facilities that their compatriots in Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) once used before its bankruptcy in 2019. The move paves a way for any potential in-house naval shipbuilding for the Philippine Navy requirements, aside from catering the repair and maintenance of both existing and upcoming naval vessels they produce.

Overall, the Offshore Combat Force’s naval composition isn’t final as the graph provided did not include any plans and programs that the Philippine Navy plans to get in the Horizon 3 phases, as this part of the Revised AFP Modernization Program presents itself with potentially larger budgetary requirements, bulk orders of naval vessels, and eventually getting warships that are far more capable than what the Philippine Navy sets to receive in the graph provided.

Philippine Navy, Fleet Review, BRP Jose Rizal, Jose Rizal-class Frigates, BRP Tarlac, Tarlac-class LPDs, Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels, Del Pilar-class OPVs
A future Philippine Navy fleet now sets into motion.
(c) Reddit, r/MilitaryPorn subreddit.

The Philippine Navy’s Offshore Combat Force currently possesses the most expensive and complex military hardware system across the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines as naval vessels came with integrated subcomponents designed to deter threats from naval vessels of potential adversaries, air threats, and underwater threats posed by submarines. And things will get added later on with the current work-in-progress acquisition projects and future Horizon 3 plans and programs.

From the provided graph, the Offshore Combat Force’s current composition comes with at least nine (9) naval vessels at the time this article has published, with at least nine (9) more upcoming naval vessels joining the fleet, spanning at least three projects, two of which referring the brand-new builds of HD Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea, with one being a grant from the South Korean government that serves as an additional vessel over the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).

Currently, the most capable vessels that the Philippine Navy possesses to-date is the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, whereby this pair of naval assets are an HDF-2600 design produced by HD Hyundai Heavy Industries. In the upcoming years within the timelines presented in the graph provided, this may get surpassed by the capabilities of the HDC-3100 Corvettes, which itself counts as an improved flight of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates and may enable the leadership to re-categorize naval vessel designations at their discretion.

The significant numerical gain that the Philippine Navy have for its fleet composition within the Offshore Combat Force unit is coming with the Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project, as the purchase of six (6) naval assets help improve the numbers needed by the naval service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, especially with the recent decommissioning of older vessels (most of which are World War 2-era warships) from the fleet without the immediate replacement in place. 

However, the modernization efforts pushed by the Philippine Navy and the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines does not stop here, as the graph provided is incomplete and does not take into consideration the potential acquisition projects that may take place under all the phases provided under the Horizon 3 of the AFP Modernization Program. This is important, especially now that the current leadership within the Philippine government puts investments into the country’s external defense posture as a primary priority.

With the Horizon 3 plans and programs for the Philippine Navy and other branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines now sets into motion, there is a likelihood that there will be more naval assets getting added into the list that the Offshore Combat Force and other units within the naval service branch in the upcoming years, as the current administration is hell-bent on achieving the objectives set in hand for the external defense posture as pushed as of current date.

Overall, the future is coming at a brighter pace for the Philippine Navy and the Offshore Combat Force in the succeeding years, as long as the current leadership within the national government and the Philippine Armed Forces keeps the momentum and constant support needed to achieve this ultimate purpose in terms of financial and material matters. All of which aims to get the country the best defense assets it deserves to get in the light of an ever-growing tension in the region and the current state of the world.

(c) 2023 PDA.

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