Monday, October 24, 2016

Finally, the Contract Signing for 2 New Light Frigates between Philippine Navy and Hyundai Heavy Industries

Since MaxDefense announced the release of the Notice of Award for the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) last September 1, 2016 signifying the win as the chosen shipbuilder for the project, it has been a hanging question as to when the contract will be signed between the two parties. The project involves the acquisition of two brand-new light frigates, which is to become the most modern surface combatant of the Philippine Navy in the next few years.

It was originally thought that the contract will be signed before the end of the month, with no less than the Department of National Defense (DND) through its spokesman Arsenio Andolong mentioning about the target schedule. We all know this did not push through.

This photo was released by HHI as the perspective design of the PN's new frigate. As expected it will have design cues taken from the FFX-3 which was also designed by HHI.
Photo taken from HHI's website.

For the Big News of the Day:

According to MaxDefense sources, the Frigate Acquisition Project's contract signing ceremonies will be held today, October 24, 2016, at 2:00pm (Philippines time) at the Headquarters, Philippine Navy in Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The program will be attended by DND, AFP, and PN high command officials, HHI executives, and the South Korean ambassador to the Philippines.

It turns out that many even in the Philippine Navy itself is not aware of this event for reasons unknown to us.

The contract signing is an important part of the procurement process as it puts into paper whatever discussions were made in the past, and signifies the order of the Philippine Navy to have HHI build the frigates.

According to HHI, the ships will be based on the company's HDF-3000 frigate design, but with some changes as specified by the Philippine Navy. It won't necessarily be a twin of the Incheon-class frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).

Based on the schedules submitted by the Philippine Navy for compliance by the winning shipbuilder, the first ship will be delivered to the Philippine Navy by late 2019, and the second ship by late 2020.

HHI released a computer-generated design of the frigate, and as MaxDefense predicted in the past, it takes a strong cue from the ROKN's FFX-3 frigate which was also designed by HHI.

Weapons and Sensors:

Based on the Bill of Quantities submitted by HHI to the PN during the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) during the 2nd stage bidding stage several months ago, the ship will be armed with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun, two twin launchers for SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles, two twin Simbad-RC launchers for Mistral short range surface-to-air missiles, two triple trainable torpedo tubes firing Blue Shark lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes, a single MSI Defense Seahawk RCWS with a 30mm gun, at least 4 manually operated M2HB 50-caliber machine guns.

Further discussion about this can be found on our previous blog entry:

"The Philippine Navy's Future Frigate from Hyundai: Discussing the Ship's Design and Some of its Expected Subsystems" - dated September 3, 2016.

Twin Simbad-RC for Mistral missiles are included in the new frigates.
Photo taken from MBDA website.

Frigate's CMS and Sensors:

Based on the same BOQ from the SOBE as mentioned earlier, the Philippine Navy's frigate will be installed with a variety of sensors, described as the following:

(note: this applies if PN's Project Management Team did not do changes, or did not allow changes as requested by HHI)

Combat Management System (CMS) - will be TACTICOS Combat Management System from Thales. Among the most proven CMS in the market today, the PN will be benefiting from the TACTICOS' performance for the frigates, and is designed to be able to integrate the weapons systems mentioned above, as well as all the other sensors mentioned below.

A previous blog entry comparing it to the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield CMS can be accessed below:

"Naval Combat Management System - MaxDefense's Choice for the Philippines' New Frigate & Existing Warships" - dated September 27, 2016.

3D Surveillance Radar - the ship will be installed with the NS-100 series dual-axis multi-beam AESA radar also from Thales. The specific model will be the NS-106, which is a very new product considering Singapore was the launch customer for the Littoral Missions Vessel that are just launched lately. Far better than the 2D type which was indicated in the initial technical specifications during the frigate acquisition program's 1st stage.

The new frigates will be having the NS-106 AESA radars, a far improvement over the 2D system specified in the initial phases of the project.

Hull Mounted Sonar - Thales' Bluewatcher hull-mounted sonar will be used for the frigates. Although not the best in Thales' line-up, it would be a good start and is mostly used in small surface combatants. MaxDefense prefers the use of the more capable but more expensive and larger Thales KingKlip sonar. The Bluewatcher would be complemented by a towed-array sonar system in the future should the PN continue with its original plan.

Fire Control Radar (FCR) - the ships will have a Thales STIR 1.2 EO Mk. 2 fire control radar to guide the 76mm Oto Melara main gun. It has electronic counter counter measures (ECCM) capability and has a full EO suite with it.

The STIR 1.2 EO Mk.2 from Thales, the Fire Control Radar chosen for the frigates.
Photo taken from Thales' website.

Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) - the SAQ-540K from LIGNex1 will guide the Seahawk 30mm gun. This is so far the only Korean-made sensor system offered by HHI based on the BOQ.

Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) - so far this is the only softkill EW component on the ship, it will have the Vigile LW from Thales. A lightweight system, it is normally designed for small warships although frigates are also OK with it. But for better capability, MaxDefense believes that the PN should upgrade its ESM system to the Vigile 100 Mk.2 which is similar to those to be used in Malaysia's upcoming Gowind littoral combat ship/frigate.

Missile and Torpedo Decoy Launching and Countermeasures SystemWallop's Super Barricade countermeasures system will be installed on the ships. Two systems will be installed in each ship to defend from both port and starboard sides. The Super Barricade can launch decoys for incoming anti-ship missiles and anti-ship torpedoes.

The Super Barricade countermeasures system will be a part of the frigate's defensive suit.
Photo taken from Naval Technology website.

Tactical Data Link - Thales Link Y Mk.2 was chosen to be the ship's tactical data link, comparable to the NATO Link 11 but with enhanced features. The specs also mentioned that the ships should have space to allow a possible installation of air warfare data Link 16 and maritime data Link 22 in the future.

Design Concerns:

The computer generated image (CGI) provided by Hyundai clearly shows the stealthy features incorporated by HHI to the frigate design, with cues coming in from the FFX-3 frigate of the ROKN which HHI also designed. It looks far more modern than the original HDF-3000 design used on the ROKN's Incheon-class frigate, with cleaner superstructure and less clutter, and a reduced smokestack due to the absence of a gas turbine engine found on the Incheon-class.

Based on the dimensions provided by HHI, it appears that the ship will have a displacement of around 2,600 tons, length of 107 meters, and beam of 12 meters, and a top speed of 25 knots, with a range of 4,500 nautical miles @ 15 knots speed. As specified in the past, the ship will be powered in a CODAD configuration.

This appears to be within the specifications provided by the Philippine Navy in the past, but is very close to it and was not given significant improvements. MaxDefense's concern is the marginal room for improvement, including the lack of space for more anti-ship missiles or land-attack rockets, In comparison, the Incheon-class actually can accommodate a mix of up to 16 anti-ship and land-attack missiles using four quadruple missile launchers, while the PN design appears to have space for only up to two quadruple launchers.

Another design comment is the uncovered deck near the smokestack which exposes the missile launchers, RHIBs and torpedo launchers, and also reduces stealth characteristics on that portion of the ship. This could be added in the final design, while MaxDefense prefers the torpedo launcher to be placed at a lower deck level, hidden in an openable deck enclosure.

Majority of MaxDefense's comment on the design can be found at this portion of the ship. MaxDefense believes that more space should be provided here, while providing a deck enclosure to cover the launchers, RHIBs, and torpedo launchers. Also, the 30mm Seahawk secondary gun would be more suitably installed here than on top of the hangar.
Photo snapped from HHI's photo.

The photo also suggests that the Simbad to be used by the PN will be the Remote Controlled (RC) version. The missile launcher are found on the roof deck of the bridge, but MaxDefense's concerns is on the reloading of the missiles. While it is expected to be done manually, carrying it over to the roof through an access from the bridge is an awkward way of doing it. The photo also clearly shows the NS-100 series 3D surveillance radar.

The twin Simbad-RC launchers, the X and S-band navigation radar antennas, the STIR 1.2 EO Mk.2 fire control radar, and the NS-106 3D surveillance radar are clearly shown on this part of the ship.
Photo snapped from HHI's original CGI.

On the rear part of the ship, the single MSI Defense Seahawk 30mm secondary gun appears to be position too high, considering that its purpose is to defend the ship from incoming small surface targets like fast boats and minor targets. Its very high position may not allow its gun to hit targets closer to the ship, and that position is better suited for the future anti-ship missile CIWS like Phalanx, Goalkeeper, or RAM / SeaRAM.

MaxDefense believes that it would best for the ship to have two Seahawk 30mm guns, one each on port and starboard side, probably positioned lower at the midships, near the current position of the triple trainable torpedo tubes. But this requires the open midship section to be longer, affecting the ship's overall length.

The position of the secondary gun atop the hangar seems too high and too centered, that it may have difficulty hitting targets closer to the ship due to the guns limited negative elevation,
Photo snapped from HHI's original CGI.

And with HHI using the MSI Defense Seahawk gun mount, MaxDefense suggests to the Philippine Navy to consider arming the guns with the Thales LMM missile, which the Seahawk SIGMA has the ability to install on the gun mount itself. This increases the capability of the ship to defend from numerous "swarm" attack of small boats at longer distances with higher accuracy than the gun itself. Considering that Thales is already onboard with the sensors and CMS, acquiring the LMM might not be difficult to make.

The MSI Defense Seahawk SIGMA can mount LMM missile launchers on its side, which allows the gun to engage swarm attacks at longer distances than the gun itself. MaxDefense suggests the use of this system.
Photo taken from MSI Defense website.

While MaxDefense prefers a larger design, probably the same dimensions as the Incheon-class (114 meters length, 14 meters beam), this could take toll on the ship's performance, considering that the maximum speed is already at the low side except if they increase the power of the diesel engines which are also larger in dimensions and heavier in weight.

Design cues for the superstructure were obviously taken from the FFX-3 frigate (above) designed by Hyundai, although the FFX-3 is far larger, and has more accommodations for improvement in the future, which is MaxDefense's primary concern for the PN frigate.
Credits to the unknown owner of the photo.

While the CGI is probably closer to the final design, MaxDefense will be waiting for the final design to be completed, as it is expected that the PN would provide some more inputs, and probably improve on the design and features of the ship. Although this could translate to cost increases, that could be done as a variation order for the project. 

Also, remember that the PN still has a change of more than Php 200 million pesos, the difference between the ABC worth Php 16 billion, and HHI's offer worth Php 15.744 billion. MaxDefense expects the PN to use that amount to further improve the ship, like for example, adding a second secondary gun for both ships, or increasing the ship's size.

Positive Effects of Contract Signing:

Aside from confirming the order for the frigate, the contract signing is actually a bigger event that shows the seriousness of the Philippine Navy in its modernization drive.

The contract amount might be small compared to the frigate project of its peers in the region, but the point that finally the Philippines was able to push for a new build warship will definitely entice the global defense industry to look at the Philippines again. The frigates are just one of many expected new-build naval projects that the Philippine Navy will be undertaking in the years ahead.

Among those expected to take notice are European shipbuilders, who, except for Spain's Navantia and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany, are mostly absent during the Frigate acquisition project. This includes Damen of Netherlands, DCNS of France, Leonardo of Italy, and BAE Systems of the UK. According to MaxDefense sources, these shipbuilders skipped the frigate bidding due to their disbelief that the project will push through, and if it does, the profit will be too low.

Now that Pres. Duterte has announced his rejection to the tender system in acquiring defense materiel for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it won't be a fight of who's the cheapest anymore, but on who can provide a good balance of capability and pricing.

The Philippine Navy has several other naval projects coming up in the next few years, and the signing of the frigate contract shows to the world that the PN is ready to acquire modern new systems from the global market.
Photo taken from TKMS' website.

What's Next?

After the contract signing, we will be awaiting for the Opening of Letter of Credit, and the submission of the Notice to Proceed by the DND/PN to HHI. These are also important for HHI, as the Letter of Credit gives them assurance that funding will be provided upon meeting delivery or schedule conditions, while the Notice to Proceed is the document stating that HHI can formally proceed with the project, and will be the basis of the construction and delivery schedule.

These are expected to be provided within this year, at best. MaxDefense will definitely post updates regarding the availability of these two important documents that will push the project forward. Good luck to both the Philippine Navy and Hyundai Heavy Industries for this very important project for the Filipino people.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Philippine Army's Horizon 1 "Reprioritized List" Explained

With the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program nearing the end of its "Horizon 1" phase, which covers the years 2013-2017, there are still projects that are being pursued for implementation and awarding.

We focus now on the Philippine Army (PA), which still has 4 projects uncompleted based on the original Horizon 1 phase modernization list approved by Pres. Aquino in 2013. But one of the projects, the Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) with an Approved Budget of Contract (ABC) worth Php 6.5 billion, was replaced by former Commanding General of the Philippine Army, then Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, with a set of projects that were mostly front-loaded items from the Philippine Army's Horizon 2 Phase planned acquisition list. Meanwhile, the SBMS, which was among the projects discussed to Pres. Duterte by the Israeli delegation last August, will be acquired under a different program.

This "Iriberri projects" prevailed until now, and is called as the "Second List of Projects under Horizon 1", or simply "Horizon 1 Reproiritized List".

The Philippine Army has a strong display at the recently concluded ADAS 2016, including uniforms and gear used by its troops. The PA is expected to further enhance their infantry equipment as indicated in the Horizon 1 Phase Second List of Projects discussed in this blog entry.

The "Iriberri Projects":

MaxDefense previously discussed the content of the replacements made by the former CGPA, which can be found in the blog link below:

"SNAFU in the DND and the Philippine Army for Scrapping its Shore Based Missile System Project for Helmets and Vests" - dated July 9, 2015

The Shore Based Missile System supposed to be awarded to Israel Military Industries was the victim of the changes made by the former CGPA & CSAFP. Instead, focus on requirements for internal security was given priority.
Photo taken from IMI.

Compared to the list provided on the previous blog entry, there were some minor changes to the updated list especially on the quantity of force protection equipment and budget allocation. Here is the updated list approved in principle by Pres. Aquino which replaced the SBMS:

Individual Weapons:
  • 832 units of Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) budgeted at Php 254.819 million (up from Php 149.760 million);
  • 32 units Long Range Sniper Rifle budgeted at Php 17.280 million
Force Protection Equipment:
  • 37,744 units of Body Armor budgeted at Php 1.283 billion (down from 39,889 units @ Php 1.356 billion);
  • 79,307 units of Helmet budgeted at Php 1.189 billion (down from 81,449 units @ Php 1.221 billion);
Tactical Radios:
  • 150 units of 20W HF Manpack Radios budgeted at Php 223.536 million;
  • 3,185 units of 2-5W VHF Handheld Radios budgeted at Php 678.060 million;
Other Equipment:
  • 11,000 units of Night Fighting System budgeted at Php 2.750 billion; 
  • 2 Lots of Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment budgeted at Php 103.402 million;

All for a total allocated budget of Php 6.5 billion.

These projects were originally requested by the Philippine Army for acquisition as part of the AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase scheduled between 2018 to 2022. But the former CGPA chose to frontload these items as a replacement for the SBMS. But as of mid-2016, recent developments were considered by the Philippine Army to review the acquisition list and prioritise items that are more immediately needed.

Considerations were made on the changes in operational requirements. Among them are:
  • The thrust of the Duterte administration to focus on counter-terrorist capabilities and improve long range sniping capabilities which was mentioned several times by Pres. Duterte in his trips to Army bases;
  • The need for more 2 1/2 ton trucks, due to different reasons including wear & tear, losses from ambushes, and other unknown reasons, and increased requirements to rapidly move logistical supplies;
  • Need to replace outdated individual weapons, mostly still consisting of M1911 .45cal pistols provided by the US Army since before World War 2;
  • Need to upgrade several armoured vehicles to improve its combat capability in supporting and protecting troops in the field.
Also considered was the expected delivery of the Night Fighting System project, in which Aselsan A.S of Turkey will be delivering 4,464 + 2,808 units of their A100 night vision monocular system starting middle of 2017. The quantity increased due to the option made by the Philippine Army to use the balance between the ABC and Aselsan's tendered amount worth Php 404 million to purchase additional units, thus the increase to 7,272 units. A review of the Table of Equipment of the Night Fighting System allocated to combat units was also made, and it appears that the quantity is still not enough although the delivery of new sets by 2017 can improve the TOE, allowing the PA to allocate the funds to other needs.

US Counterterrorism Programs were also considered, as the US government has provided some funds for the Philippine Army, which will allow the PA to use it to acquire some of the items included in the original list that, as long as it is purely related to Counter-terrorism activities. 

As more night vision monocular night fighting systems were ordered by the Philippine Army than originally planned, they find that it would be sufficient enough for now, and there is no immediate need for more. But Horizon 2 phase still has a lot of NFS requirements so we will still be seeing more of these items in the coming years.
Photo from Aselsan's website.

The Recommendation:

With the above conditions, the Philippine Army planners recommended the suspension of further acquisition of additional Night Fighting Systems worth Php 2.750 billion and instead allocate the amount to acquire several items that are much more essential for the organization.

To replace the 11,000 units of Night Fighting System, the Philippine Army recommended the following items for acquisition instead:
  • Acquisition of additional Long Range Sniper Weapon Systems
  • Acquisition of Truck, 2 1/2 ton Troop Carriers and Wreckers
  • Acquisition of Forward Support Equipment
  • Acquisition of Pistols
  • Pursue the Firepower Upgrade for M113A2

Final Reprioritzed List:

After the recommendations, the Philippine Army will be requesting for the approval of a revised list for acquisition under the Horizon 1 Phase of the the Army's Capability Upgrade Program.

           Individual Weapons:
    • 832 units of 7.62mm Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) budgeted at Php 254.819 million;
    • 60 units Long Range Sniper Rifle budgeted at Php 32.822 million (adjusted upward from 32 units @ Php 17.280 million
    • 19,478 Pistols budgeted at Php 389.560 million;

    Force Protection Equipment:

    • 37,744 units of Body Armor budgeted at Php 1.283 billion 
    • 79,307 units of Helmet budgeted at Php 1.189 billion 

    Tactical Radios:

    • 150 units of 20W HF Manpack Radios budgeted at Php 223.536 million;
    • 3,185 units of 2-5W VHF Handheld Radios budgeted at Php 678.060 million;

    Mobility Equipment:
    • 190 units Truck, 2 1/2 ton Troop Carrier, and 10 units Truck, 2 1/2 ton Wrecker, all budgeted at Php 1.200 billion;
    • 2 lots Firepower Upgrade of M113A2 budgeted at Php 1.051 billion;

    Other Equipment:

    • 12 units Forward Support Equipment (Material Handling Equipment) budgeted at Php 93.248 million;
    • 2 Lots of Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment budgeted at Php 103.402 million;

MaxDefense's Opinion:

No doubt that the Philippine Army will award several of the projects to existing suppliers, whose footprint is already high that continued patronage will be more practical than going for another supplier.

Among those is US-based Harris Corporation which has an existing project to supply their Harris Falcon III series radios as part of the original Horizon 1 phase acquisition program. Additional handheld and manpack radios will definitely be awarded to them.

Harris Corporation is expected to be awarded with another contract to supply more than 3,000 hand-held and manpack combat net radios for the Philippine Army as part of the Horizon 1 Second List of Projects.
Photo taken from Shephard Media Group.

Another is KIA Motors of South Korea, which already supplied thousands of tactical trucks to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Being the foremost 2 1/2 ton truck of the AFP, additional orders of the the KM-250 is definitely a practical choice.

KIA Motors of South Korea is expected to be awarded with anther contract from the Philippine Army to supply 200 2 1/2-ton KM-250 trucks, in which 190 are troop carriers while 10 are wreckers.
Photo taken during ADAS 2016 by a MaxDefense community member who wishes to remain anonymous.

Aside from the expected awarding of projects to Harris Corporation and KIA Motors, there were previous indications that the other projects could have already been awarded recently. During Pres. Duterte's recent statements during his Army Camp trips these past few weeks.

During his visit of the Scout Rangers, he promised to provide 800+ units of 7.62mm rifles manufactured by Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (FN Herstal) which he identified as "FN FAL" although MaxDefense believes that the president just made a naming mistake. If it was indeed from FN Herstal, MaxDefense expects the rifle to be the 7.62mm x 51mm FN SCAR-H, which has been used by other countries as a platform for a Designated Marksman Rifle. The numbers mentioned of around 800+ is close to the numbers indicated in the Final Reprioritized List for 832 units of 7.62mm DMR. Is it for this requirement? MaxDefense is unsure but it is possible.

While Pres. Duterte mentioned FN FAL, MaxDefense believes that he was probably referring to the FN SCAR-H designated marksman rifles when he mentioned of incoming deliveries for the Philippine Army. 

Aside from the rifles, Pres. Duterte promised to provide all soldiers of the AFP a Glock 30 .45cal automatic pistol. While it also remains to be seen if the president means issuing each solider a Glock 30 pistol, or is it given for free as a gift from the government, this commitment could negate the need for 19,478 pistols as indicated on the Final Reprioritized List.

The Glock 30 as displayed during ADAS 2016.
Photo taken by Jessie, our official photographer during ADAS 2016.

The president was also very vocal on the acquisition of long range sniper rifles from Barrett Firearms. The model was not named though, although Barrett is known for such weapons, and some of them are already in use with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

It is also possible that the long range sniper rifle is a product of Remington. There was also one instance that Pres. Duterte mentioned handing over Remington sniper rifles to the Philippine Army in one of his camp visit. This statement from the president is also timely with the appearance of photos of Philippine Army personnel firing or testing a Remington XM2010 as shown below. Its highly possible that both Remington and Barrett are being considered for this requirement, although they are not of the same category.

Timely appearance of Remington XM2010 in the hands of Philippine Army troopers. It is possible that it is among those considered for the Long Range Sniper Rifle project.
Photos owned and from Philippine Armed Forces images and videos FB page.

For all the other items, there were already indications shown on the recently concluded ADAS 2016 exhibition on the possible contenders for projects.

For the Force Protection Equipment, it is expected that American company Revision Military, Source Vagabond from Israel, India's MKU, and South Korea's SanCheong may submit their proposals to the Philippine Army. All of these companies displayed their wares in ADAS 2016, although they have attained low-key attention during the show.

Revision Military and Source Vagabond combined their products as worn by this model from ADAS 2016. Revision is offering their Batlskin helmets, while Source offers what they call the P-Virtus system which is a Philippine-spec variant of the Virtus system used by the British Army.
Photo from Source Vagabond @ ADAS 2016.

Firepower upgrade for the M113A2 is another project that we cannot say yet who can get. It is highly possible that since Elbit Systems Land & C4I already did a similar project lately, they would probably submit an offer. Another ADAS 2016 participant, Turkey's FNSS, could possibly offer a proposal since they do such programs for the M113 series, including the delivery of 6 ACV-300 (now known as ACV-15) to the Philippine Army several years ago.

Elbit Systems Land & C4I has already been successful in delivering firepower upgrades for the M113A2 armoured personnel carriers of the Philippine Army. It is expected that they will provide a proposal to do the same for many more of the PA's M113A2 as part of the Second List of Projects under Horizon 1 Phase.
Photo taken by Jessie, our official photographer @ ADAS 2016.

For the Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear (CBRN) Equipment, current providers of such equipment to the AFP, like Avon Protection, and active participants in the AFP Modernization like Korea's SanCheong are expected to provide offers.

SanCheong displayed their products including CBRN equipment during ADAS 2016.
Photo from Jessie, our official photographer @ ADAS 2016.

Since these projects are already being processed as we speak, MaxDefense would rather just let this new plans proceed. MaxDefense expects the contracts for the Force Protection Equipments (helmets and body armour vests) to be awarded first and soon, and may not undergo public bidding anymore. With the troops still fighting in Sulu chasing the Abuy Sayyaf Group, this acquisition should be done urgently. 

Also, in another visit to an Army camp made by Pres. Duterte lately, he has already asked his aides if the helmets and vests are already processed or acquired, which shows that this are being pushed rapidly by no else than the commander in chief of the AFP.

How About the SBMS?

While SBMS is delayed, it is not yet out of the acquisition plans. As discussed previously in other MaxDefense blogs and Facebook page posts, the SBMS was among those approved in principle by Pres. Duterte, although it will be acquired using a separate funding. It won't be waiting until the implementation of Horizon 2 phase as mentioned in previous statements by military and defense officials during the final months of Pres. Aquino's term.

IMI would still be the prime contractor, supported by Israel's Ministry of Defense. More on this project will be discussed separately in other blogs and FB posts.

IMI's offer for SBMS will still push through but under a different budget. It will still be pushed under Horizon 1 Phase of the Philippine Army's modernization program.

MaxDefense will provide more updates in the update section of this blog entry later on as all these push through. It is expected that there will be headway for some of the projects as early as this year. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ADAS 2016: The ONLY Defence, Security And Disaster Management Exhibition In The Philippines OPENING ON 28 SEPTEMBER!

The ONLY Defence, Security And Disaster Management Exhibition In The Philippines

Manila, 25 September 2016 – The 2nd edition of ADAS, Defence, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition will take place from 28-30 September 2016 at the World Trade Centre, Metro Manila.  ADAS 2016 will be officially opened by The Honourable Delfin N Lorenzana, Secretary of the Department of National Defense on 28 September 2016.

ADAS 2016 is the ONLY Defence and Security Exhibition in the Philippines which is again fully endorsed and supported by the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), the Philippine Armed Forces (PAF) and other related Government Agencies.  The Philippine National Police (PNP) have for the first time, also added their support and endorsement to ADAS2016.

This year’s show has grown by over 40% as compared to 2014, and there will be over 140 exhibitors from 25 countries showcasing the latest cutting edge equipment and technologies.

Anchoring the international lineup are bellwether companies such as Airbus Defence and Space, ASELSAN, Bell Helicopter, Brahmos Aerospace, DuPont, ELBIT, Israel Aerospace Industry, Kia Motors, KAI, Leonardo, MBDA, MKU, RAFAEL, SAAB and HARRIS, to name but a few.  A major feature of the Show will be the 7 National and Group Country Pavilions from Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Philippines, Singapore and the USA, with the Israeli and Korean Pavilions requiring impressive exhibition areas for this year.

Given the extensive Global Industry participation, ADAS 2016 will again attract a large gathering of procurement specialists, system integrators, suppliers, and evaluators. It is anticipated this year’s show will attract 10,000 professional and trade visitors which will underscore the statement that ADAS 2016 will be the BIGGEST Defense, Security and Disaster Management Event in the Philippines.

FREE-To-Attend Technology Seminars is also a unique feature for Visitors to update themselves on the latest developments, products and systems that are currently available on the market.

Special invitations have been distributed to Defense Ministers and Chiefs of Defense Forces from all members of ASEAN and Korea.  Also in attendance will be Senior Personnel from the Philippine DND, the AFP and other supporting Agencies.

ADAS 2016 presents an invaluable opportunity for the Global Defence Industry to meet the VIP Delegations and high-level Senior Officers and Personnel from the Philippines to explore and discuss their country’s current and future defence requirements.

About ADAS 2016:

28 to 30 September 2016

World Trade Centre, Metro Manila, Philippines
Halls A, B, C, D, Outdoor Display Area

Opening Hours:
28 September, Wednesday     1030 hr – 1730 hr (Show opens after Opening Ceremony)
29 September, Thursday         0930 hr – 1730 hr
30 September, Friday              0930 hr – 1700 hr

ADAS 2016 is open to Trade and Professional Visitors only.

For more information, please visit or contact:
Michelle Leong
Project/Marketing Manager
Tel: +65 6291 4128

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Naval Combat Management System - MaxDefense's Choice for the Philippines' New Frigate & Existing Warships

With the Philippine Navy recently awarding the bidding to construct two new light general purpose frigates, MaxDefense has decided to discuss an important feature of the ship: its Combat Management System (CMS).

What is a CMS?

In simple terms, the Naval Combat Management System is the what most call “the heart of naval combat vessel”,  a computer and software system package that integrates all the sensors and weapons systems of the ship into a single system, and managing of command and weapon control functions. This allows the ship’s crew to do their job faster and more efficiently especially during combat or security operations. 

Being such, this could be considered as among the most important features of a naval warship, and should not be compromised.

A typical architecture of Thales TACTICOS is a large frigate-destroyer type warhsip.
Photo taken from Thales' presentations.

Combat Management System in the Philippine Navy

Currently, the Philippine Navy does not operate a combat management system in any of its ships. Even its newest asset, the Tarlac-class landing platform dock, is not yet installed with a CMS although it appears to be designed to have such system installed in the future should the PN decide to.

In the Philippine Navy frigate’s setting, MaxDefense believes that there could probably be only two competing entities for the supply of Naval Combat Management System. These are the French company Thales Group, and Hanwha (formerly Hanwha Thales, and prior to Hanwha’s acquisition of Samsung's Techwin division, was also known before as Samsung Thales) of South Korea.

With the frigate to be built by South Koreans, it is expected that Hanwha will be among the choices that will be offered by Hyundai for use on the frigates. This is due to cost, local avaiability and easy acquisition, and possibly Korean government pressure to use local products to gain foothold and improve its portfolio in the export market. Hanwha's partnership with Thales was reportedly dissolved lately, although their website still uses the name Hanwha Thales as of this writing. Hanwha currently offers their FFX Naval Shield Combat Management System, a version specifically made for their new frigates including the Republic of Korea Navy's Incheon-class frigate which was based on Hyundai’s HDF-3000 frigate design. Apparently HHI’s frigate design for the PN is based on the same model.

Meanwhile, MaxDefense also expects that, since Thales being among the largest supplier of naval sensors and combat management systems in the world, and their previous ties to Hanwha, it is expected that Thales will be another competitor for the CMS of the PN's new frigate. Thales has been actively offering their systems to the PN for the past few years, so it is not a surprise if this is the case. Thales is expected to offer their successful TACTICOS line of CMS.

The recent news of a team from the DND and PN going to France last May gave a clue on French companies being included in the frigate project, and since our previous blog entry showed that only the MBDA Mistral in Simbad launcher are the only French weapon submitted by Hyundai Heavy Industries, there's only Thales as the suspected entity that did the Post Qualification phase inspection

Other offers are not expected aside from these 2 competitors, 

The FFX Naval Shield' can accommodate sensors and weapons system, mostly those currently being used by the Republic of Korea Navy.
Photo taken from Hanwha Thales' website.

Other Possible CMS Users in the Philippine Fleet:

Aside from the new frigates, other existing Philippine Navy assets are planned to be installed with a Combat Management System. These includes the Del Pilar-class frigates and Tarlac-class landing platform docks. 

It was already mentioned before in previous interviews with Philippine Navy officials, that the upgrades for the Del Pilar-class frigates will be patterned after the new frigates, which means that the PN is just waiting for the confirmation of the subsystems to be installed on the new frigates. 

The Tarlac-class LPD, doubling as command and control assets, are also confirmed by MaxDefense sources from the PN, will also need a CMS considering that it will also be armed with defensive systems.

Other incoming new assets are also expected to be equipped with a CMS, incluidng plans to acquire fast attack crafts, anti-submarine corvettes, additional amphibious assault ships and frigates which are all scheduled for procurement under the Philippine Navy Capability Upgrade Program "Horizon 2" Phase. 

 Thales Nederland TACTICOS:

TACTICOS is currently the most widely used Naval Combat Management System in the world, is used for combat and maritime security operations, and has been a proven product since the first version’s introduction in 1993. It is in use with many navies, including the United States, Japan, Australia, and even the PN frigate's shipbuilder home country in South Korea.

TACTICOS has evolved several times through the years, improving as technology level increases, with more features introduced into the system as mission requirements evolve, and as new subsystems are introduced in the global market.

One of the advantages of TACTICOS is its open architecture that allows third party applications and to speed up the adaptation of new or modified functions.

It is also modular and scalable, which could be made available for less complex or smaller naval surface assets like patrol boats, which are also becoming more technologically advanced and increased use of electronics despite their simplicity.

Some of the ships using Thales' TACTICOS CMS, which has around 22 countries using it since 1993.
Photo from Thales' presentation as of 2016.

Hanwha FFX Naval Shield

Being a product of Samsung Thales, it is good to note that Naval Shield was actually based on the initial version of Thales TACTICOS (which some groups call Baseline 0 model), part of a technology transfer agreement when the Republic of Korea Navy decided to choose Thales products like TACTICOS and Goalkeeper CIWS for its KDX indiginous destroyer program.

This system was first used in Republic of Korea Navy's FFX frigate program (thus the name), starting with the Incheon-class (FFX-1) frigates, and continuing to the Daegu-class (FFX-2) frigates. Both frigate classes are quite new, meaning that the Naval Shield has only been in service for less than 5 years.

There's not much available information on Naval Shield, but several sources including Hanwha Techwin's own website indicated that the FFX Naval Shield was derived from the PKX CMS. PKX (Patrol Killer Experimental) is South Korea's replacement for the Chamsuri-class PKM (known in the Philippine Navy as the Tomas Batilo-class) and is a large patrol boat that probably allowed then Samsung Thales to test its new product due to its size. The PKX CMS was then expanded to accommodate an expanded number of sensors and weapons systems found on frigates, thus the development of FFX Naval Shield.

Currently the FFX Naval Shield is configured to accommodate sensor and weapon systems used by the ROKN, although it is being updated to be able to accommodate other foreign-made subsystems for possible export of the Naval Shield to other countries like the Philippines.

FFX Naval Shield is one of the variants of Hanwha's Combat Management System offering, specifically for ships of frigate size.
Photo taken from Hanwha Thales' website.

So What Is MaxDefense's Choice?

This could be MaxDefense's first blog specifically discussing its product choice over another product, although this is not the first time MaxDefense wrote something that prefers a certain product.

In this regard, MaxDefense chooses the use of Thales Tacticos Naval Combat Management System over Hanwha's FFX Naval Shield.

Here are MaxDefense's reasons:

1. TACTICOS is a more advanced CMS product, as compared to  FFX Naval Shield. It has been in constant development since its introduction in 1993, amd with more years of development in its belt, MaxDefense believes it has gone farther than Hanwha Thales did with the Naval Shield.

2. TACTICOS is in service with more ships of different types and sizes than FFX Naval Shield, even if you include the PKX version of the CMS. There are 23 countries using TACTICOS, while only Korea uses Naval Shield. 

3. Since it has more ships and country users, MaxDefense expects the TACTICOS to be a more proven product than Naval Shield. With some countries doing repeat orders and the number of users swelling in the past few years, it shows that TACTICOS has been able to show that it performed well with its current customer base, and other navies have noticed it too and trusted Thales for the product.

4. TACTICOS is designed to allow easier integration to more weapons and sensors available in the international market, which includes European, American, and NATO-standard weapons systems. Compared to Naval Shield which is currently only designed to accommodate weapons and sensors system in use with the Republic of Korea Navy. TACTICOS' open architecture also allows easy adjustments on the system to allow the integration of new weapons systems, as demonstrated by the Koreans themselves when they integrated the locally-made LIGNex1 C-Star missiles to the TACTICOS-equipped ships of the KDX series.

And last but not the least;

5. Thales is expected to supply the sensors for the Philippine Navy's new frigate if Thales is chosen as the CMS provider. It makes perfect sense to choose Thales products if Thales provides the CMS considering that it would be easier to integrate compared to getting another CMS model like FFX Naval Shield. Thales is the best integrator for Thales products, and could guarantee their work without the need to point to any other company. 

It is riskier to mix and match different brands for the subsystems as this would complicate integration and increasing the risk of failures. Being the first Philippine Navy ship equipped with modern electronic and computer systems, failure is not an option.

The PN is also expected to choose Thales-made sensors for the new frigate. If this happens, it is logical that Thales be selected to supply the CMS that will integrate these sensors together in a single manageable system.
Photo taken from PDFF forum c/o Raider1011.

Price-wise, MaxDefense expects Thales to command a more premium price, considering French defense wares historically are expensive even compared to other western products (think of Rafale as a perfect example). This is where Hanwha could undertake Thales. But being the most important part of the ship's combat system, MaxDefense believes that Thales has a valid reason to get more premium considering all the reasons mentioned above.

There could be several other valid reasons of MaxDefense's choice, but the ones we provided above would be enough to validate our reason.

What About the Frigate Contract?

MaxDefense sources from DND, PN, and other entities confirmed that the contract will be signed very soon between HHI and PN. The ironing out of kinks is almost done as we speak, and the next phase will be the contract drafting, confirmation, and formal signing itself. While it could be too positive to say that it will happen this month, it could possibly happen on early October 2016.

MaxDefense is hopeful that the Philippine Navy will make the best choice for its new frigates, even with such a limited budget.

The Philippine Navy is expected to sign a contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries very soon, after kinks are ironed out.