Naval Combat Management System - MaxDefense's Choice for the Philippines' New Frigate & Existing Warships
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.
|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:
|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.
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.|
May 11, 2017:
Just to clarify and update what I already posted on the blog entry.
As of October 2016 (1 month after this blog entry was published), Thales Group divested from Hanwha Thales and sold its shares to Hanwha, with the new managemeny renaming the company Hanwha Systems. As early as July 2016, Thales already indicated their plan to move away from their venture in South Korea.
So officially, there's no more Hanwha Thales, and if Hanwha continues to use the name, that is considered misleading and definitely illegal.