Skip to content

The Philippine Navy Will Soon Receive Brand New Warships

November 13, 2019

Via DND.

Long burdened with obsolescent vessels and a lack of advanced weapons, the Philippine Navy (PN) is now on track for a historic revival. The second frigate from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was launched at its shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, on November 8. In attendance were the navy’s top brass and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who were guests of HHI’s executives also present at the ceremony. The launch was used to mark the completion of the frigate and it may take another year until it arrives in the Philippines and is formally commissioned as the BRP Anonio Luna after a celebrated military figure.

Together with its sibling the BRP Jose Rizal, named after the national hero, the two frigates are the most advanced surface combatants ever deployed by the PN.

The two frigates ordered by the PN from HHI are part of a broad modernization effort undertaken by the country’s armed forces. In 2012 the Aquino administration signed the AFP Modernization Act that set a timeline divided among three successive “Horizons” and entered a defense pact with Seoul the following year. The two South Korean frigates are under Horizon 2, whose timeline is from 2018 until 2022, and join a diverse catalog of military equipment supplied to the Philippines by Korean manufacturers. Each branch of the armed forces are now reliant on South Korean vehicles and weapons that are proving themselves in real combat. During the battle for Marawi in 2017 South Korean military products were indispensable to the fight. The Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) FA-50 lead-in fighter proved itself in a close air support role although the Philippine Army’s (PA) KM450 trucks were vulnerable to small arms fire.

The essential mission for the BRP Jose Rizal and Antonio Luna isn’t to reclaim the West Philippine Sea, however. The manufacturer HHI followed the PN’s requirements for a coastal patrol class of a larger displacement with real defensive weapons. These frigates are nowhere near comparable to the destroyers of the Japanese and South Korean navies. Once in service, the frigates are armed with a complete set of weapon systems that include:

  • A 76 mm gun on the bow
  • A small vertical launch system (VLS) for short to medium-range SAMs
  • Two torpedo launchers
  • Two stationary anti-ship missile launchers armed with two missiles each
  • A single remote controlled 30 mm anti-aircraft gun above the hangar
  • A single multirole light helicopter

Once the Rizal and Luna join the PN the branch can take comfort knowing at least half its inventory is brand new. From 2012 to the present the navy has adopted or is in the process of ordering two Landing Platform Docks or LPDs made in Indonesia; six offshore patrol vessels; at least eight fast attack craft armed with Israeli NLOS missiles; two AW159 anti-submarine warfare helicopters from Italy; an unspecified number of medium altitude drones; and eight AAV transports for the marines. Once Horizon 3 is underway from 2023 until 2028 the largest acquisition is for at least three diesel-electric submarines.

Since the Philippines is locked in a territorial dispute with China the current policy is to appease Beijing and foster economic cooperation. The goal is to lower the risk of war and create a mutually beneficial arrangement. Yet this has done little to win back huge swathes of the West Philippine Sea that’s now under de facto Chinese control. This is why the PN’s ongoing modernization is so vital. The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) single greatest mission is territorial defense and the time for rolling back Chinese encroachment on Philippine sovereignty must be prepared for.

Comments are closed.