Tracking the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization program

24Dec/15Off

2015: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

Whereas 2014 was the year of the "Notice of Award", 2015 was the year of deliveries. No less than 18 projects -- for all three services -- saw their first or full deliveries this year, making it the most active project-conclusion period since the first acquisitions of the AFP Modernization Program in 2003.

Among the capabilities that the AFP acquired this year are:

  • Supersonic flight with a limited capability for conducting air interception missions
  • Close air support platforms that can engage ground targets at night
  • Significant increase in cargo transport capability, both by air and sea
  • Armored, night-fighting-capable, mobility for mechanized troops
12342662_789719857823897_8823577461804422775_n 921233_1255251084501797_5414908113821209557_o
Commissioning ceremony for various PAF assets. Photo c/o DND Armored recovery vehicles during the 80th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Photo c/o DND

To give a more complete view of the state of the modernization program, this year's article is divided into the following sections, presented here in reverse order:

  • Pending acquisitions - these are acquisitions that have been publicly announced, either in conventional media or on the DND Website, that are still in various stages of completion. Some are still awaiting results of bids or re-bids. Others have had Notices to Proceed (NTP) to issued. Notable examples of projects in this state are the Philippine Army Shore-based Missile System and the Philippine Navy Frigate projects. Both of which have experienced very public reversals over the past year.
  • Awaiting delivery - these are are projects for which the acquisitions are in the process of being built from scratch, or are currently undergoing mandatory refurbishment, and have yet to be formally turned over to the AFP for operational use. A notable examples of acquisitions in this state would be the Strategic Sealift Vessel which is currently underconstruction in Indonesia and the ex-ROKN Mulkae class LCU, which is already in the Philippines, but is still awaiting refurbishment before it can be commissioned into service.
  • Acquisition list - these are items that are officially in the possession of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In addition to the various official acquisitions, South Korea has committed to providing the Philippines with one surplus Pohang Class corvette (see here). To this date, details of this project have not been firmed up. It is unclear if this project will materialize.

Note: This article is also available on the Timawa.net forum on the long standing What's happening with the AFP modernization thread that's been documenting the progress of the up-arming effort since 2003.

The acquisition list

The following list focuses on actual deliveries of equipment that were made in 2015.

PAF_mod Surface Attack Aircraft / Lead-In Fighter Trainer touchdown After an arduous 5-year process -- from concept to signing -- the Philippine Air Force is finally slated to return to supersonic flight operations after almost a decade with the acquisition of twelve (12) Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH Fighting Eagle aircraft worth P18.9B. These will also be the first brand new supersonic aircraft that the PAF will acquire since the factory-fresh F-5A Freedom Fighters that were delivered in the 60s. Subsequent fighter acquisitions had focused on excess defense articles such as the F-8 Crusaders which were recovered from AMARC and 2nd-hand F-5As from South Korea. The first two aircraft were delivered to Clark Air Base on November 28, 2015 with the first aircraft touching down at 10:23AM GMT+8. Details here.

The screen capture on the right was taken from the official PAF video timeline of the event.

Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project ah3 The DND awarded the contract to supply eight Agustawestland AW109E helicopters in late 2013. Training of flight and maintenance crews commenced in Italy in 2014. The first two units were delivered in late December 2014 along with two Philippine Navy Multi-purpose AW109s. The remaining six were delivered this year and commissioned on the 5th of December.  Details here.
Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH)
bell-helicopter Not to be confused with the Arroyo-era CUH project that acquired the W-3 Sokol in 2009, this P4.8B project sought to acquire eight additional helicopters for combat and VIP duties. This project went to Bell Helicopter which will delivered Bell 412EP aircraft by 2015. Three of these helicopters will be delivered in VIP transport configuration. See here.
Refurbished UH-1 acquisition project
11700717_290856624418335_7202593519125218769_o  This P1.26B project sought to acquire 21 refurbished UH-1 Iroqouis helicopters. The helicopters eventually bought were ex-German "D" versions, built under license in Germany aircraft that were equivalent to the "H" versions that were already in service with the PAF. This effort was marred by scandal with allegations of extortion, resulting -- intially -- in the cancellation of the deal while deliveries were being made, and then made even more controversial by the DND's self-exoneration of all charges without the benefit of a third-party investigation. Details of this convoluted affair are available here.
Medium-Lift Aircraft acquisition project 11054305_10206004349448771_7413833246222450866_n Notice of award for this P5.3B acquisition was issued to Airbus for the delivery of three C-295 aircraft on February 2014. The first aircraft was delivered on March 30, 2015, while the second aircraft arrived on September 15, 2015, and the third arrived on December 11, 2015. Details here.
Rockwell OV-10 Bronco refurbishment 12308321_785915654870984_333680633146237671_n  OV-10 #636 returned to service in November 2015. This was part of a PhP16,490,363.56 effort to return two OV-10s to active duty. #402 is also slated for refurbishment See here.

PN_mod  BRP Ivatan (AT-298)
 11807421_10153158676842956_1690246829469356166_o On the 2nd of July 2015, Philippine Navy personnel arrived in Australia to take possession of two Balikpapan Class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH): HMAS Brunei and HMAS Tarakan. They were donated by the Australian government as part of an aid package promised in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. Both ships were commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1973 and were subject to navigational upgrades before being turned over to the Philippines.

The former HMAS Brunei entered service with the Philippine Navy as the BRP Ivatan on July the 23rd, 2015.  See Timawa discussion here.

BRP Batak (AT-299)
11794552_10153158676787956_6652083775256194849_o The former HMAS Tarakan entered service with the Philippine Navy as the BRP Ivatan on July the 23rd, 2015 and was donated by the Australian government along with the HMAS Brunei as described above. See Timawa discussion here.
BRP Lake Caliraya (AF-81) 11261072_974376752614795_17840048_n The first of three tankers that the Philippine Navy received from the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) was commissioned into service on the 23rd of May 2015 as the BRP Lake Caliraya . Timawa discussion here.
Agustawestland AW-109E gunships
 aw109e  Two armed AW-109E gunships were commissioned into Philippine Navy service on August 10, 2015. These joined the three AW-109s that were delivered in December 2014. These aircraft featured combination 0.50 cal gun and 2.75 inch rocket pods comparable to those carried by PAF AW-109s.

The photo on the left shows one of these gunships on a deck qualification landing on the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. Photo c/o of the Philippine Navy.

Britten Norman Islander refurbishment
 12063733_1030630973637808_5887084342542447356_n  The Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) delivered a refurbished Philippine Navy BN Islander (#PN320) on July 21, 2015 sporting a new grey color scheme. See Timawa discussion here.
PF-16 weapons upgrade f19fa51e220de68bc2d1b9159ef748fb_zps3ece26f4 The two Mk.38 25mm RCWS were initially slated for installation prior to the ship's departure from South Carolina but had been delayed. Timawa discussion here.
General Purpose Machine gun 7.62mm  Capture On January 4, 2015, the Philippine Marines received 220 units of US Ordnance M-60E6 General Purpose Machine Guns via FMS. See Timawa discussion here. Photo c/o Philippine Star.
71155_327179393712_8339928_n ex-Belgian Army M113 Armored Personnel Carriers with RCWS
 elbit2 The first six of 28 ex-Belgian Army M113s from Israel were delivered on July the 28th. These units were armed with Elbit Remote Control Weapon Systems (RCWS) which featured .50 cal machine guns in a gyro-stablized mounts. In an interview with the PNA, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato reported that fourteen of the remaining M-113s were configured as fire support vehicles, four as infantry fighting vehicles, and another four as armored recovery units. See Timawa discussion here.
ex-US Army M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers
acdo3_zps8f095354 The Philippine Army acquired 114 M113A2 armored vehicles, in various configurations, from the US as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) (Timawa discussion here). While the transfer of the vehicles were completed as early as January 2014, difficulties in arranging for transport delayed actual delivery, which eventually cost the GRP P67.5M. The first 77 units were delivered to Subic on December 9, 2015
High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle - Ambulance variant 901a0724  Thirty units of HMMWV ambulances with associated shelter and medical equipment acquired. Twenty-three were delivered on January 26, while the remainder arrived the following month. Total value for this acquisition was 229,944,149.10. Details here.
AFP_philippines_seal Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear protective and detection gear
 2 The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)  received $1 million worth of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protective gear and detection equipment from the United States intended for the Army Support Command on Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo. According to the US Embassy press release about the donation:

The Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets Kits and Outfits (DRSKO) is a portable collection of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protective gear and detection equipment used to support dismounted Reconnaissance, Surveillance and CBRN site assessment missions. This increases the AFP’s capabilities to conduct CBRN site assessments to mitigate risks and gather intelligence on Chemical Agents, Biological Agents or other potential chemical hazards. The DRSKO is designed to equip a team of 27 CBRN personnel.

The photo shown on the right was taken from the above-mentioned embassy press release. See Timawa discussion here.

ga GA Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) / Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) 10872891_714195705362405_2481804744076689959_o Government Arsenal produced 70 units of these SPR/DMR for the Philippine Marine Corps and Philippine Army. For the Marines, this involved upgrading existing Marine Scout Sniper Rifles (MSSR) from their Generation-3 configuration to this, which could be called "Gen 4". For the Philippine Army, particularly the Scout Ranger Regiment, the GA upgraded unused lower-rifle components for M-16A1s that were previously in LOGCOM storage. See Timawa discussion here.
GA 5.56 16 inch mid-length barrel
 12032201_758301020947817_4679245858536353050_n  The Government Arsenal undertook refurbishment of 400 existing M-16A1 rifles to their GA Carbine 16 inch mid-length standard. First units were issued to JSOG and NAVSOG. See Timawa discussion here.

In addition to acquisitions via bidding, South Korea has committed to providing the Philippines with one surplus Pohang Class corvette, a landing craft, and several rubber boats.  These and the aforementioned Korean acquisitions have yet to be delivered and have therefore been omitted from the list above.

Awaiting delivery

A significant number of high-profile projects remain pending, and have been omitted from the acquisition list. These are listed immediately below.

Service  Ongoing projects
 PAF_mod
C-130T acquisition - Two C-130T Hercules are being acquired from the United States as EDA and are due for delivery in 2016. The photograph on the right, c/o of the US embassy in the Philippines, shows PAF personnel inspecting one of the aircraft. See Timawa discussion here. C130a
Light-Lift Aircraft acquisition project - This is an P814M project to acquire two brand-new Light-Lift aircraft to supplement or replace the PAF's existing Nomad aircraft. This project went to PT Digantara of Indonesia which will be supplying two CN212 aircraft. See here. 12247043_215928185405782_8011054129263123361_n
 PN_mod
Strategic Support Vessel (SSV) - Construction for both SSVs are underway. Steel-cutting ceremony for the first SSV took place on January 22, 2015. Delivery of the first vessel is expected in March 2016, with the second vessel to be delivered in 2017. Details here. Photograph of fully assembled SSV-1 below c/o "Mr Kruk" of Kaskus Forum Indonesia. The steel cutting ceremony for the second SSV took place on June 5,2015. 11-27

ex-ROKN Mulkae class (LCU-78) - South Korea promised this EDA item in June 2014 and quietly delivered the boat in July 2015. As of writing the ship remain queued for a refit costing P27,138,295.51, and has not yet been commissioned into PN service. See Timawa discussion here.

LCH 3, 4, and 5 - efforts are underway to acquire three more Balikpapan class Landing Craft Heavies from Australia. Invitiations to bid have even been issued for equipment associated with these vessels. See here.

Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) - Samsung Techwin was declared the lowest single calculated bidder for the P2.5B AAV project. Details here.

 

 71155_327179393712_8339928_n
155mm Towed Howitzer project - the Philippine Star reported that Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense company, won the bid to supply 12 units of 155mm howitzers. A Notice of Award for this project was issued on June 17, 2015. Deliveries are expected in 2016. See here. 12295515_10154172773179123_8435373251160167289_n

5.56mm assault rifle acquisition - this project went to Remington to supply rifles to both the Philippine Army and Philippine Marines in 2013 with deliveries made in 2014. However, issues with rifle quality hounded the acquisition which in faced termination earlier this year. The AFP announced that by August, Remington had replaced all defective rear-sights and that they were satisfied with them. It was unclear whether or not other quality related issues (e.g., quality of hand guards, rumored Front Sight Block alignment issues, etc.) were also resolved. Another batch of rifles is due for delivery.

Rocket Launcher Light Acquisition Project - Airtronic USA, Inc. was selected to supply 400 US-made RPG7 rocket launchers, and associated 40mm rockets, as part of a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) deal. While components of this deal have reportedly been delivered, the remainder remain obscure. For that reason, this project remains listed as "awaiting arrival. See Timawa discussion here.

ga
Laser etching machine. The photo on the right shows GA staff inspecting With completion of a P35M acquisition of laser etching and packaging machines, the GA gained the ability to place serial numbers on EACH individual cartridge it produces and then package them in 30-round cartons which will then be bar coded. This acquisition was designed to facilitate accounting and traceability of ammunition. This was a good governance measure undertaken in light of past controversy over AFP ammunition being found in the hands of enemies of the state. See Timawa discussion on this acquisition here. 1

Pending acquisitions

A significant number of high-profile projects remain pending, and have been omitted from the acquisition list at the bottom of this article. These are listed immediately below.

Service Pending projects
 PAF_mod Long Range Patrol Aircraft acquisition project - the DND declared a bidding failure in August due to documentation deficiencies among bid participants. see here.

Close Air Support Aircraft acquisition project - the bid for this project failed for the second time in December 2015. Based on procurement rules, the DND is now authorized to pursue negotiated procurement. However, an announcement to that effect has yet to be issued. See here.

Air defense radar acquisition project - like the SAA/LIFT project, this P2.68B acquisition is part of the PAF's systems approach to reviving the country's ability to enforce the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ). This project has been the subject of much speculation, with very little official discussion. The TPS-77 and Elta ELM 2288 are touted as contenders for this project, however media reports have touted the Israeli contender as being favored. See details here.

SAA/LIFT munitions - the ordnance that SAA-LIFT aircraft will carry are being acquired via a separate acquisition project. These include Air-to-Air Missiles (312 Pieces), Air-to-Surface Missiles (125 Pieces), 20mm ammo (93,600 Pieces), and Chaffs/IR Flares. Details here. Upon arrival of the first two FA-50s, however, the PAF revealed that this project had fallen behind and would not yield results till three years.

 PN_mod Frigate Acquisition Program - this P18B project seeks to acquire two brand new multi-role frigates in a complicated two-stage bidding process. To date, the following shipbuilders have signified interest in the project: Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures), STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc., Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd of India, STX France SA. Details here.

Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition - as of writing, Agustawestland was the only company that qualified to take part in the bidding in November. Second-stage bidding set for December 22, 2015. See here.

USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719) - On November 17, 2015, the Office of the President of the United States issued a press statement that confirmed a planned transfer of the USCGC Boutwell to the Philippines as an Excess Defense Article item. This confirmed various US news reports circulating the month before of the impending transfer. Incidentally, the first crew of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, previously the USCGC Hamilton, served on board the Boutwell as part of their training for accepting the PN's first Hamilton class WHEC. See Timawa discussion here.

Jacinto Class Patrol Vessel Upgrade Phase 3 - this project sought to upgrade the weapons and electro-optical systems of all three ships of the class. See Timawa discussion here.

Jacinto Class Patrol Vessel Upgrade Phase 2 - this is a sought, among other things, to overhaul and improve the main propulsion system, electrical, and various auxiliary systems of BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37). Other members of the class had already been upgraded to this standard.  See Timawa discussion here.

Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support Systems (MITSS) - this P684.32M project sought to acquire 6 sets of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, 9 sets of Target Acquisition Devices, and 12 kits of Tactical Sensor Integration Subsystems. Details here.

40mm automatic grenade launcher - the DND issued a Notice To Proceed (NTP) in favor of Advanced Material Engineer / ST Kinetics, represented locally be Floro International Corp, to supply and deliver eight (8) units of 40mm automatic grenade launchers for the contract price of P19,750,672.00 on March 4, 2014. Details here.

 71155_327179393712_8339928_n Shore-Based Missile System - arguably, the AFP modernization controversy of the year was the deferral of the Philippine Army's Shore-Based Missile System (SBMS) to an as yet undisclosed "horizon" of the AFP Modernization Program. This was discussed on the Timawa forum on the following thread. Funds for the P6.5B project -- which originally became public in 2011 and discussed on the forum here -- were realigned to acquire force-protection equipment instead. It was a stunning reversal of a territorial defense initiative that drew boisterous condemnation on defense social media and earned the Chief of Staff AFP, General Hernando Iriberri, the monicker "General Helmet".

To date, it is not clear to which horizon the SBMS had been moved. A new FPE project has been initiated to replace an earlier acquisition that also ended in controversy.

60mm Mortar Acquisition project - 150 mortars are being acquired. Details here.

KM-450 1/4-ton truck acquisition - on October 19, 2015, the DND issued a Notice to Proceed to Kia motors for the supply of 717 trucks to the Philippine Army. See here.

KM-451 ambulance acquisition - on October 19, 2015, the DND issued a Notice to Proceed to Kia motors for the supply of 60 units of Field Ambulances to the Philippine Army. See here.

Related articles:

2014: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

2013: What’s happening with the AFP modernization program

2012: What’s happening in the AFP capability upgrade program

Flashback: AFP modernization – 2003 to 2006

Flashback: The AFP’s modernization plans in 1995

27Jul/13Off

GUNNEX for Oto Melara ships

The Philippine Navy scheduled two separate gunnery exercises (GUNNEX) for ships armed with Oto Melara 76mm guns. As per Notice to Mariners (NOTAM) 072-2013, BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) will conduct an exercise, explicitly for its main weapon, on 24 July 2013 off La Monja Island in Bataan. NOTAM 074-2013, on the other hand, announced a GUNNEX for BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) off the coast of Mariveles, Bataan on the same month.

These low-profile GUNNEXes demonstrate the progress the Philippine Navy has made thus far with this weapon system since its problematic introduction in 1997, with the acceptance of three ex-Royal Navy Peacock Class OPVs, later renamed the "Jacinto Class", into the Philippine Fleet. As related by a scathing paper written for the Joint Command & Staff College of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Navy reportedly struggled to keep the guns of the three Jacinto class ships operational. Because of inadequate preparation, the guns experienced de-rangement a year after entering service, and the navy found to its dismay that it had no personnel with the required expertise to restore the gun to operational status.

To remedy the situation, the service sought assistance from the Australian government which invited the Philippines to send personnel for training. Initially, the PN reportedly sent personnel with Gunner's mate ratings. These trainees, however, eventually found themselves out of their depth since their prior experience had been limited to World War II-era manual gun systems that lacked the sophisticated electronics of the thoroughly modern Oto Melara weapons. It wasn't until the following year, when the navy sent personnel with electronics technician ratings, that the Philippine Fleet began to build relevant maintenance experience. Given this history, the exercises listed above provide encouraging news about the Navy's efforts to improve its lot. The difficulties did not end there however, and the navy struggled with the gun type for years, during which time the OPVs were reportedly conducting patrols with their main armament in a questionable state.

That, however, was then. The GUNNEXes above show how things stand today.  The following video shows the PF-16 conducting gun trials off the coast of Florida during its transit to the Philippines.

The following ships in the Philippine Fleet are currently equipped with this weapon system:

  • BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35)
  • BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36)
  • BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37)
  • BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15)
  • BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16)
ncsc1   1016743_537910236256479_663810838_n
     
Jacinto Class (Philippine Navy photo)   WHEC (Philippine Navy photo)
1Jan/13Off

2012: What’s happening in the AFP capability upgrade program?

If 2011 was the modernization year of the Philippine Navy, the year 2012 was a more balanced period with significant acquisitions for all services. The following table shows some of the projects completed for each service. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all acquisitions that occurred in the past year, and omits projects for which details are still missing as of writing. It also does not include the significant number of modernization projects that are still in various stages of completion.

PAF_mod Combat Utility Helicopter Project w3b1 The first batch of three W-3 Sokol helicopters, out of a total of 8 aircraft, were delivered on March 9, 2012.Timawa discussion here
w3b2 The second batch of W-3 Sokols were delivered on November 28, 2012.Timawa.net discussion here
C-130 refurbishment program  4704 C-130H #4704 returned from a Programmed Depot Maintenance cycle in the United States on October 2012Timawa.net discussion here
3633 C-130B #3633 underwent its Programmed Depot Maintenance at the 410th Maintenance Wing in Clark AFB. It re-entered service on December 28, 2012.Timawa.net discussion here
PN_mod BRP Ramon A Alcaraz (PF-16)  pf16 The former WHEC-716, USCGC Dallas, was turned over to the Philippine Navy on May 22, 2012 and re-christened the BRP Ramon A Alcaraz (PF-16)Timawa.net discussion here
Multi-Purpose Assault Craft Mk.2  mpac2 The Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC) Mk.2, which were entirely manufactured in the Philippines, were commissioned in August 2012. Three units were accepted.Timawa.net discussion here
71155_327179393712_8339928_n KM-451 ambulances  km451 The latest variant of the Kia KM45x series of trucks were revealed to the public on AFP Day 2012. 60 units were acquired.Timawa.net discussion here
M-16A1 rehabilitation program  m16refurb The Government Arsenal's newly formed Small Arms Repair and Upgrade Division turned over the first 200 refurbished rifles to the AFP. Eventually 8,000 rifles will be repaired.Timawa.net discussion here

 

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28May/12Off

Developing an Underway Replenishment (UNREP) capability

The 15-year Philippine Navy development plan, published on several newspapers discussed on the Timawa.net forum here, is noteworthy in that it highlights the navy's recognition of the need for an Underway Replenishment (UNREP) capability. The list included a requirement for "three Logistics Support/Replenishment Ship (LSS)".

UNREP is a process by which ships take on food, fuel, and other stores, while they are at sea. This eliminates the need to return to port for re-supply thus allowing the vessels to stay on-station longer, and reducing the non-productive transit time to and from the desired area of operations. Given the relatively small size of the Philippine Fleet, this capability will allow the AFP to make the most of limited resources.

The following is a video of how the US Navy performs both UNREP and VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment involving helicopters).

Both the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, and the BRP Ramon A Alcaraz are UNREP capable. The photograph below clearly shows the UNREP receptacle on the former. Theoretically the PN's lone Cyclone class ship, the BRP Mariano Alvarez (PS-38), should have a similar capability since its sisterships in the USN are replenished while underway. The capability is there, so all that is required for in-house capability will be the supply ships. Before these arrive, the PN could, presumably, incorporate UNREP training in its exercises with its allies.

This topic is also discussed on Timawa.net here.

6May/12Off

BRP Ramon Alcaraz: The next WHEC

Interaksyon, the news portal of TV5, reports that when the USCGC Dallas will be turned over to the Philippine Navy, it will be renamed the BRP Ramon Alcaraz. The following is an excerpt of the relevant article.

Philippines' second warship to be named Ramon Alcaraz, World War II hero

06-May-12, 1:54 PM | Chichi Conde, InterAksyon.co

CORREGIDOR -- President Benigno Aquino III said the country's second warship will be named after World War II hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz.

During the 70th commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor on Sunday, Aquino said the best tribute that the country can offer to fallen heroes like Alcaraz is to build a nation capable of protecting itself.

The second Hamilton-class Cutter from the United States Coast Guard is scheduled to arrive in the country within the month.

Alcaraz, during World War II, commanded one of the country's three motor torpedo boats, known as Q-boats.

His Q-112 took down three of the nine Japanese "Zero" fighters before he was captured.

In captivity, Alcaraz headed the prisoner of war camp in Malolos to take care of his fellow POWs.

< Edited >

The following is an excerpt of President Aquino's speech, where he announced the name of the incoming WHEC:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/department-of-national-defense-philippines/pres-benigno-s-aquino-iiis-speech-during-the-commemoration-of-the-70th-year-sinc/382275861811487

< Edited >

As I was reviewing the names of our naval heroes, looking for a proper name for our second Hamilton Class Cutter, I read of a man named Ramon Alcaraz, who was commanding one of our three motor torpedo boats, known as Q-boats. Q-112 Abra, manned by Alcaraz and his crew, took down three of the nine Japanese “Zero” fighters attacking his boat, before being captured. In captivity, Alcaraz became head of the Prisoner of War camp in Malolos, making sure that his fellow POWs were kept hopeful and alive.

Commodore Alcaraz was only one among many skilled men in uniform who have served our country. Many continue to follow in his footsteps; and we are determined to reward their patriotism with equal dedication. For certain, many more Commodore Alcarazes will rise from the ranks of our military. We consider it our duty to ensure that their strength of spirit will be matched by boats, by weapons, and by sufficient training. This is the truest tribute we can offer to those who have laid down their lives: a nation capable of protecting itself; a nation that can say no sacrifice will be wasted.

< Edited >

See the following Timawa.net thread for a discussion about the passing of Admiral Alcaraz: Commanding Officer of Q-112 Abra passes on

Details about the Mosquito Fleet Q-boats can be found on the following Timawa.net discussion: Q-boat reference materials project

29Jan/12Off

Dallas transfer to PH under congressional review

The United States Department of State issued a press release about the recently concluded US-PH Strategic Dialogue that included the following notation about the transfer of the USCGC Dallas to the Philippines:

Toward a Deeper Alliance: United States-Philippines Bilateral Cooperation

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 27, 2012

< Edited >

Defense and Security Cooperation

< Edited >

The United States transferred the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hamilton, now the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, to the Philippine Navy, supporting Philippine maritime domain awareness. The transfer of a second cutter is pending U.S. Congressional review;

< Edited >

All transfers of defense technology, or any other export of items with military uses, are subject to congressional oversight. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) documentation describes this control as follows:

All sales of defense articles and services are subject to similar technology release approvals, end-use monitoring and retransfer agreements, and congressional review and approval.

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29Jan/12Off

Open house for PF-15

The Philippine Information Agency announced (see here) that the Philippine Navy will conduct an open house for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) on February 5, 2012 the Puerto Princessa Anchorage Area. The PF-15 arrived in Palawan on the 25th of December, 2011 and has since been patrolling the waters around the KIG.

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22Jan/12Off

PF-15 to perform naval gunfire test

BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), the Philippine Navy flagship, will perform a naval gunfire test on the 24th and 25th of January, west of Tubbataha Reef, Palawan. Details are available on the following Notice to Mariners (NOTAM):

Notice To Mariners No. 009-2012
Notice is hereby given to all mariners and other parties concerned that:

1.Reference: Philippine Navy Radio Message Cite NOCB-0112-075

2.The Philippine Navy Vessel PF15 will conduct Naval Gun Test Firing on 24-25
January, 2012 from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at vicinity 35 Nautical Miles West of
Tubbataha Reef, Palawan

< Edited >

3.In this connection, all ships/watercrafts transiting the vicinity of the
abovementioned areas are advised to take necessary precautionary measures.

4.The cooperation of all concerned in effecting widest dissemination of this
information is requested.

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7Jan/12Off

Shipspotting: USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716)

Coast Guard Island's proximity to a public marina made shipspotting efforts for the USCGC Hamilton relatively easy. Unless the transfer of the USCGC Dallas takes place at the same venue, observation of the transfer at WHEC-176's current home port will present challenges for PN modernization watchers.

Based on the following references, WHEC-716 is based at the Charleston Marine Support Facility.

http://www.d7publicaffairs.com/external/content/document/586/164869/1/NESU.pdf

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Pier Papa at the Coast Guard Vessel Support Facility Charleston with Coast Guard Cutters Dallas, Gallatin, and Oak, and NOAA ships Ron Brown and Nancy Foster

http://www.moc.noaa.gov/port.htm

The Charleston Marine Support Facility is located on the former Charleston Naval Base and is located with the USCG Naval Engineering Support Unit Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. The facility is the home port of the NOAA Ships Ronald H. Brown and Nancy Foster.

The Charleston Marine Facility consists of an 800 square ft. warehouse, a 650 ft. Pier and associated parking. The former naval facilities are of good quality and room exists for an increased NOAA presence in Charleston. The Charleston Marine Support Facility is managed by the Marine Operations Center - Atlantic.

The Charleston Marine Support Facility address is:

Charleston Marine Support Facility
1050 Register Street
Charleston, SC 29405-2421

There is no way to know if the ship below is either the USCGC Dallas or the USCGC Gallatin, which are both stationed in South Carolina. However the Google Earth images below, dated 1989, at least identify the anchorage described above.

 
9Nov/11Off

PN confirms Dallas as next WHEC

 

The Philippine Navy officially acknowledged on its Website that it had sent a Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) team to the US, from October 31 to November 5, to inspect the USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) in Charleston, North Carolina. This confirms the PN press release shared on the Timawa.net forum on November 7, 2011 at 10:53 PM (US-Pacific time), and subsequently picked up by the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star.

The Dallas is a Hamilton class, 378-foot, High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) in service with the US Coast Guard. It was commissioned in 1967, and underwent an extensive Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) conversion in 1994 that gave the ship its current weapon and sensor suite.

Most of the ship's missions have taken place close to the Continental US, performing traditional coast guard duties: search and rescue, anti-narcotics operations, and monitoring of illegal immigrant traffic by sea (e.g., Cuba, Haiti, etc.). However this cutter has also been deployed overseas in support of USN operations. Early in its life, it deployed to Vietnam along with several of her sister ships, to perform sea control functions as well as to provide naval gunfire support off the coast of then-South Vietnam. It has been deployed to the Black Sea on a number of occasions, the first being in 1995 when it became the first USCG cutter to deploy with the US 6th Fleet. In 2008, the Dallas returned to the Black Sea as part of a NATO flotilla that sent to transport humanitarian aid to Georgian port of Batumi at the height of tensions between Russia and the former Soviet republic.

In 2009, the Dallas underwent an 18-month drydock period at Deytens Shipyard in North Carolina where it underwent an extensive refitt (details from the FBO scope of work here). It spent time at the yard along with the USCGC Gallatin. Both ships were reportedly slated to be the first of the Hamilton class ships to be retired, however the expense incurred in aforementioned refit reportedly altered this plan.

The relatively early release of information about the Dallas acquisition is in stark contrast to the PF-15 acquisition, whose existence had been unannounced for more than half of the project's life. Based on early Timawa-community reports, plans to obtain the USCGC Hamilton -- which became the PF-15 -- were reportedly hatched in the closing months of the Arroyo administration. The PF-15's own JVI team reportedly completed it's inspection in November 2010, roughly the same time of year as the Dallas. But the first acknowledgement of the incoming Hamilton did not come till January, and its identity wasn't known till March. In the case of the Dallas, the intent to acquire additional Hamilton class WHECs had been made public in August of this year, and the selected ship identified four months later.

As per the PN press release, the USCGC Dallas will be transferred to the Philippines via a "hot transfer", meaning the ship will be simultaneously decommissioned from the US Coast Guard and accepted by the Philippine Navy without going through a storage process. The transfer is expected in either the first or second quarter of 2012 -- similar to the timeline for the PF-15.

For additional information about PF-15, see here: http://www.timawa.net/forum/index.php?topic=28851.0

For Timawa.net/forum discussions about the still un-renamed USCGC Dallas, see here:  http://www.timawa.net/forum/index.php?topic=28980.0

Photo below taken from USCGC Dallas ship page: http://www.uscg.mil/lantarea/cgcDallas/history.asp

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