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FF-150 BRP Jose Rizal - Frigate Acquisition Project

BRP armed frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) was the first combat ship designed and deliberately acquired for the Philippine Navy (PN), whose fleet consists mainly of used vessels obtained from allies. The Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernization program, as it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats. BRP Jose Rizal along with his brother-ship, BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) are armed with various sensors and weapons capable of detecting and neutralizing surface, subsurface and air threats. The Philippines and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) signed a PHP16 billion contract for two missile armed frigates, with another PHP2 billion set aside for weapons and ammunition systems. The two ships would be more capable after two AgustaWestland AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters were integrated into the operation.

The two-brand new frigates which the Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring for P18 billion are definitely more superior and heavily armed that the two Hamilton-class cutters in Philippine Navy (PN) service. In an interview with PTV-4's "Good Morning Boss" program, Commodore Jose Renan C. Suarez, the PN's Patrol Force commander, said these ships are equipped with radar, sonar, and electronic warfare systems and can engage airborne, surface and underwater threats simultaneously. The frigates will be equipped with anti-ship and anti-air missiles and a main gun capable of firing 120 rounds per minute aside from a torpedo system. At present, the Hamilton-class cutters in service are only armed with a 76-mm main gun which can fire 60 to 80 rounds per minute. Suarez said the new ships are part of the PN's "Navy Frigate Program" from 2013 to 2017. He added the frigates are designed with numerous upgrades cycle to ensure that they will remain relevant and competitive against new vessels coming in line.

The option to acquire brand new frigates for the Navy came in the wake of the decision to forego the acquisition of Italy's Maestrale-class frigates due to evaluation studies that found out that operating these vessels will be more costly in the long run. "We found out that it will be more expensive to maintain second hand vessel(s) than buying a new one," the DND earlier said. The Maestrale was earlier touted by the DND as the next ships to be acquired for the Philippine Navy due to its credible missile and anti-submarine capabilities.

The two Jose Rizal class ships are based on a design built by the South Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). These frigates are built based on the Daegu/Incheon/ FFX-I/ HDF-2600/HDF-3000-type multi-purpose frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), which offers increased operational performance and enhanced survivability. The ships measure 351 feet long and 46 feet wide and have a maximum speed of 25 knots and can travel up to 4,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots and can sustain operational presence for 30 days. It is also capable to withstand rough sea conditions up to Sea State 7 or waves of six to nine meters high. Each frigate has a complement of more than 100 officers and crew. It has a flight deck located at the stern with the ability to handle one maritime helicopter weighing up to 12 tons. Two rigid-hulled inflatable boats will be carried to conduct military and emergency operations at sea.

These ships are capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Electronic Warfare (EW) Operations and it is fully equipped with Surface-to-Air and Surface- to-Surface Missiles, torpedoes, launchers, and weapon systems. The 107.5-meter long frigates provides leverage for the Navy’s bid of becoming a stronger and more credible force. The ships are armed with one 76 mm Super Rapid (SR) main gun, one SMASH 30 mm secondary gun, four SSM-700K C-Star Anti-Ship Missiles (AShM) and four Mistral short ranged Surface to Air Missiles (SAM). Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW) for possible future installation are a CIWS and an 8-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS). Behind the hull is a flight deck and hangar that can accommodate a Leonardo AW-159 Wildcat marine helicopter.

Having a high rate of fire and the ability to shoot down air targets like missiles makes the Oto Melara 76mm Rapid Gun an ideal weapon for the newly-launched BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), the country's first ever missile-armed frigate. The gun) is capable of intercepting air targets to include missiles using special munitions. Also, the Super Rapid Gun has a faster rate of fire, around 120 rounds per minute, compared to the current 76mm guns in the PN inventory which is only 80 rounds per minute. These slower-firing 76mm guns are fitting for the three Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels and three Jacinto-class patrol vessels. Having the Super Rapid Gun fitted to BRP Jose Rizal and the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) -- currently being built -- is ideal as PN personnel are already trained in the maintenance of 76mm guns and compatible with the current munition inventory.

The ship's SPS-550K E / F radar installed by South Korea's LIG Nex1 company has S and X bands, as well as monitoring and targeting capabilities, capable of a variety of tasks, including air defense operations (AAW), surface combat (ASUW), and antisubmarine operations ( (ASW) and electronic warfare (EW) operations, so the weaponry is quite diverse, The BRP Jose Rizal is also fitted with a Hanwha Systems' Naval Shield combat management system (CMS) which integrates all shipboard sensors and weapons and decides on which is ideal to deal with any incoming threats. This system can also detect and track around 4,000 targets and is used in various configurations by the Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy, and the Indonesian Navy.

The arrival of the prospective BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) 23May 2020, the Philippine Navy's (PN) first missile-capable frigate, signalled the start of the PN's modernization. PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said "This is the start of more modern platforms, weapons, and systems for the PN. The PN can now better perform its mandate of protecting our seas and our territory," he said. On July 7, 2020 the Philippine Navy (PN) announced that President Duterte would lead the much-awaited commissioning of BRP Jose Rizal, its first ever and brand new missile-capable frigate, on July 10, at Alava Wharf, Subic Bay.

The frigate was originally scheduled for commissioning on June 19, coinciding with the birth date of the national hero and the ship’s namesake, Dr. Jose Rizal. However, it was postponed by the Navy due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The BRP Jose Rizal, and its sister ship BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) which is slated for delivery late this year, is capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations. All of the weapons systems of the ship, including the missiles and torpedo launchers, were already installed aboard. The PN was waiting for the delivery of these munitions which is scheduled sometime in 2021.

BRP Jose Rizal was launched at the HHI shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on May 23, 2019 while its sister-ship BRP Antonio Luna, was launched on November 8 of the same year. The contract for the two ships is placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions. A simple arrival and commissioning ceremony was poised to be conducted on June 19 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, the ship’s namesake. It was supposed to be delivered in the last week of April but was delayed due to travel restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

After both ships were assigned to PN services in 2020 and 2021, this would help secure the sea chokepoint or the country's main sea route used for trade, logistics and naval operations. “The activity signifies that the PN is inching closer to its dream of acquiring highly capable warships,” the Navy said. “The warship is a big-ticket acquisition of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that is poised to be the benchmark of the Navy’s transformation journey,” the Navy said.

Four more frigates will be acquired until 2028 under the Navy’s force-mix plan. The frigates will be armed with anti-air missiles and will be primarily an anti-air platform, but they also have ship-to-ship missiles.

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Page last modified: 28-12-2021 19:22:09 ZULU