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Frigate (Phase 1) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

 To build up its naval capabilities, replace ageing assets, and modernize its forces, the Philippine Navy embarked on the acquisition of new frigates under the Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP). This project is part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP) that was approved for implementation in 2012.

This specific resource entry discusses the post-bidding phase of the project, wherein South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was declared the lowest responsive bidder, offering a design based on their existing FFX-1 Incheon-class frigate used by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). This was later on confirmed to be HHI's HDF-2600 frigate design.

The frigate Jose Rizal during sea trials off the coast of South Korea. Photo taken from Hanwha Systems.

The future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during launching on 23 May 2019. Photo taken from MaxDefense source.

The first of the HDF-2600 frigate for the Philippine Navy, which will be named BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

Project Summary:

Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 1 - Frigate Platform with Launchers

Note: Edited as of 19 March 2021:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 2 units

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 1 phase Priority Projects of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php16,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: 2-Stage Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: TBA

* SARO Release: 
   - SARO-BMB-D-16-0022105 dated 08 April 2016 worth Php2,361,685,738.00 (initial deposit allowing opening of Letter of Credit)
   - SARO-BMB-D-18-0019753 dated 31 August 2018 and released 04 September 2018 worth Php732,695,085.00 (Foreign Exchange Differential)
   - SARO-BMB-D-19-0003657 dated 16 May 2019 and released 17 May 2019 worth Php2,834,022,885.10
   - SARO-BMB-D-20-0014402 dated 24 July 2020, released 14 August 2020 worth Php1,574,457,159.00 (MYCA 5/6)
* Winning Proponent: Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea

* Product for Delivery: 
HDF-2600 frigate (Jose Rizal-class)

* Contract Price: Php15,744,571,584.00

* Residual Amount: Php255,428,416.00

* Expected Delivery: PN expects first ship by May 2020, second by September/October 2020, moved to 1st quarter 2021 due to COVID-19.

* First post by MaxDefense: 02 May 2013

* Searching Hashtag: #PNFrigateAcquisition #PNFAP

* Status: First ship, future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) scheduled for delivery by 28 May 2020, with handover, Christening and commissioning on 10 July 2020.  Second ship, future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) completed Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) on December 2020, delivery by February 2021, commissioned to the Philippine Navy on 19 March 2021. PROJECT COMPLETED.

Project History:

The Philippine Navy was in the process of acquiring two (2) light guided-missile frigates as it tries to improve its overall capability. The project was included as part of the newly approved Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program approved also in 2013.

A decision was made to pursue the project with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php18 billion for 2 frigates and munitions. It was decided by the Department of National Defense (DND) to go with public bidding as the acquisition process for the project.

Seven (7) bidders showed their interest in the project:

1. Navantia of Spain, which offered an uparmed variant of their Avante 2200 multimission combatant;

Navantia's Avante 2200 combatant. Photo taken from Navania.

2. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea, offering an improved version of their DW-2500 frigate design

DSME's DW-2500 frigate design as offered to the Royal Malaysian Navy. Photo credits to original source.

3. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of South Korea, with a new model based on the FFX-I HDF-3000 frigate design in use with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) as the Incheon-class;

The FFX-I HDF-3000 frigate design from HHI, which became the basis for the ROKN's Incheon-class frigates. Photo credits to original source.

4. STX Offshore and Shipbuilding of South Korea, with an unknown offering

5. STX France, which is an independent shipyard from South Korea's STX, with the Next Generation Floreal-class frigate design, an improvement over the Floreal-class patrol frigate design used by the French Navy;

The Next Generation Floreal-class frigate design from STX France. Photo from Globasecurity.org.

6. Garden Reach Shipbuilding and Engineering (GRSE) from India, with a modified variant of the Kamorta-class large anti-submarine corvette of the Indian Navy,

The Kamorta-class large corvette design. Credits to original source of photo.

7. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany with a derivative of their MEKO-100 small surface combatant family.

The MEKO-100 based frigate design. Credits to original source of photo.

1st and 2nd Stage Public Biddings:

The 1st Stage Bidding for the project was held on 04 December 2013, with only four (4) companies deemed qualified to proceed with the project: Navantia, DSME, HHI and STX Offshore and Shipbuilding.

The other three (3) companies, STX France, GRSE, and TKMS were considered disqualified due to submission issues, although two of them would later appeal and have the verdicts overturned. These were STX France and GRSE.

Prior to proceed to the 2nd stage bidding, the remaining shipbuilders and the Philippine Navy agreed that the munitions side of the project should be separated from the frigate platform itself, as the shipbuilders would have difficulty purchasing munitions on behalf of the Philippine Navy. It was later decided to separate the project into the following:

Lot 1 - Frigate Platform and Launchers with an ABC of Php16 billion

Lot 2 - Frigate Munitions with an ABC of Php2 billion.

Lot 2 will be further sub-divided into the acquisition of  the different munitions to be used by the ships.

The 2nd Stage bidding was held on March 2016, with DSME, HHI, GRSE and Navantia. STX tried to submit a bid but was late and its submission rejected.

It was found that GRSE was the lowest bidder with a bid of Php15.047 billion, followed by HHI with a bid of Php15.744 billion.  But after Post Qualification Inspections (PQI) were conducted with GRSE on April 2016, it was found by the DND Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC) that GRSE did not meet the requirements set for the tender, which automatically gave HHI the chance to undergo a PQI.

The DND-BAC and Philippine Navy conducted the PQI with HHI on June 2016, and found HHI's requirements to be compliant. Due to the limited time left and the impending change of government administration, it was decided by the Aquino administration to allow the next administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to review the project and do the next steps including awarding the project.

From July to August 2016, the new DND team under the leadership of new Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana reviewed the deal, and found that everything was in order up until the project was handed over to them. A Notice of Award (NOA) was then released in favor of HHI on August 2016, and signed by Sec. Lorenzana.

A contract was signed between the DND and HHI on 24 October 2016.

The Offers:
Included in the submission made by GRSE and HHI to their 2nd stage bids were maker's lists showing what subsystems they were offering, as follows:

MaxDefense created a summary of the submitted Maker's Lists by both GRSE and HHI. 

Since HHI submitted two offers in their bid, HHI's representative was asked by the Bids and Awards Committee on what it would be officially offer of the two options. HHI responded that Option 1 will be used, although they submitted 2 options just in case the 1st option was unacceptable or non-compliant to the project requirements.

The Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group conducted Post Qualification Inspection related to the subsystems under Option 1 and 2, and accepted them.

Despite this, HHI pushed for the use of Option 2 for the project since HHI claims that the cost of the subsystems has risen and it would put them at loss. This was later on countered by Thales Group, which confirmed that they only increased by a small fraction of what HHI claims.

This issue became a controversy since the Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Adm. Ronald Mercado, raised the issue of non-compatibility with the US-NATO Tactical Data Link 16 (Link 16) of Hanwha's Naval Shield Intergrated Combat Management System, which HHI insists of using. Based on Hanwha's own admissions, the Naval Shield ICMS will only become compatible with TDL16 by 2019 as the US Department of Defense and its South Korean counterpart are still ironing out the issue to allow South Korean companies of greater participation in integration of Link 16 on its locally-made products.

In the end, the DND, under pressure from top political leaders, pushed for the approval to use HHI's Option 2 despite DND and PN officials agreeing that the products under Option 1 were far better than those offered under Option 2.


The first steel cutting ceremony for the first ship, internally called Hull P159, was held on 01 May 2018 at HHI's naval shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

Photo from HHI.

First keel laying was held on 16 October 2018, while launching and official naming of the ship was held on 23 May 2019, with the ship now named as Jose Rizal (FF-150).

Meanwhile, the second ship, internally known as Hull P160, held its first steel cutting ceremony on 17 September 2018.

Photo from PN.

First keel laying ceremony was held on February 2019, and the ship was launched and christened as Antonio Luna (FF-151) on 08 November 2019.

Photos from the launching of Antonio Luna (FF-151) on 08 November 2019. Photos credited to and taken from Frances Mangosing's Twitter page.

U P D A T E S:

16 October 2018:

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), together with officials from the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine Navy (PN) held the Keel Laying Ceremonies for Frigate 1 (internally known as P159) in HHI's yard in Ulsan, South Korea.

The Keel Laying Ceremonies marks the start of actual assembly of all the ship modules constructed outside the drydock.

Photos during the keel laying ceremony of Frigate 1 P159 in Ulsan, South Korea. Photos taken from the Philippine Navy's FB page.

Edit as of 22 May 2019:

Separately, MaxDefense sources provided us an exclusive photo of the ship during its keel laying.

This photo has been with MaxDefense since November 2018, but was requested to be kept confidential. With the ship now almost complete, MaxDefense believes this is good for public consumption.

Frigate 1 P159 as of October 2018, as the entire keel of the ship takes shape. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense. 


11 March 2019:

MaxDefense posted in its Facebook page that mainstream media has finally caught up with the announcement by PN FOIC Vice Adm. Empedrad that the first Jose Rizal-class frigate being built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is on its way to launching between 17 to 19 May 2019.

MaxDefense also noted that as per our last check, 8 module blocks are still for installation to complete the frigate's structure.

The article from Inquirer.net can be found HERE.


17 April 2019:

MaxDefense mentioned in its Facebook page that the frigate P159 future BRP Jose Rizal's mast module was already installed by HHI, as the construction of the ship continues.

The mast module was said to be the last module installed to complete the frigate's structural form.

The mast will be where the sensors antennas are installed, including the 3D Air/Surface Search radar and navigation/secondary radars, the fire control radar, the R-ESM, among others.

The P159's mast module installed as of April 2019. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by source.


14 May 2019:

MaxDefense released a blog entry, reiterating our previous post that the future BRP Jose Rizal will have a hull number of FF-150.

The blog can be found on the link below:

"FF-150 it is! Future BRP Jose Rizal shows its hull number...and TASS concerns" - first posted 14 May 2019

This time, we supported our previous information with evidence, taken from the constructed frigate's own hull.

First photo shows "150" painted on the hull of the ship, confirming our report last January 2019. Second photo shows stern with "Jose Rizal" painted. But there seems to be no indication of a stern opening for TASS despite being required in the contract. Photo shared to MaxDefense exclusively by sources.

We also showed what appears to be the lack of access or openings for a future Towed Array Sonar System (TASS), which is usually present when such system is in place, or planned to be placed in the future.

In the case of the Philippine Navy, it was indicated in the Technical Specifications used during the project's 2nd Bidding phase, that allocation for a future Towed Array Sonar System shall be provided. 

This is part of the contract between DND and HHI. So where is it now? Photo taken from FAP Bid Documents posted on DND website.

The Philippine Navy even provided dimensions on the projector towed body as 2.0m x 1.0m x 1.2m weighing 1,250 kilograms. This dimension of the project towed body is very much similar to the Thales CAPTAS 2 towed array sonar designed for ships less than 3,000 tonnage like the Jose Rizal-class.

Since there seems to be no opening on the stern, it was initially speculated that there is also no space provided for TASS to be sitting once installed.

Based on Thales CAPTAS 2's requirement, it requires a space of around 39 square meters, or if used as a palletized mission module, at least one 20-foot container + one pallet.

But based on ship layout drawings of the frigates, behind the stern is an occupied room for Steering Gear Emergency Steering Room, a room that is normally fully packed with equipment that its impossible for a TASS to be there too.

While blurry, its indicated that the space behind the stern is for "Steering Gear Emergency Steering Room" which is where override manual controls are in case the electro-mechanical steering system of the ship fails. Photo provided exclusively by MaxDefense source.

So where is the TASS space allocation required in the Tech Specs and Contract?

Even if there are changes made during the CDR meetings, and even if the DND and PN approve of changes, it becomes a violation since such changes cannot be made as it is unfair to all other bidders. Only improvements in ship design are allowed after review by the Project Management Team (PMT).

Obviously the removal of TASS space is not an improvement.

Example of a TASS opening as shown on this CGI for a future warship from a European country. Photo c/o Thales.


17 May 2019:

In anticipation of the scheduled launching of the first frigate, MaxDefense posts a photo said to be taken only lately of the ship in the drydock.

Based on the photos MaxDefense received, the exterior finishing of the hull and superstructure are almost done, although works still continue on the bridge area, the location where the future VLS will be located, the mast area, and near the hangar and helicopter deck.

The frigate P159 aka the future BRP Jose Rizal, as it is being prepared for launching soon. Photo shared to MaxDefense exclusively by our sources.

Based on info we received, interior works are also in full blast as HHI wanted as much accomplishment to be made before launching, despite works can be made even if the ship is already at dockside after launching.

The main gun and all other guns and missile/torpedo launchers, as well as major sensors are not yet installed. This would be HHI's responsibility though so the Philippine Navy team embedded to HHI will only need to monitor the ordering/delivery schedule and make sure it arrives on time.


19 May 2019:

The anticipated launching of the future BRP Jose Rizal did not push through on the dates mentioned by Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad during his interview with DWDD last March 2019.

In the interview, he mentioned that the launching could happen between 17 and 19 May 2019 in HHI's yard in Ulsan, South Korea, and that he and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana will be attending in.

Aside from the launching, the keel laying ceremonies for the 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate, the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) will also be held after the launching of the first frigate.

MaxDefense advises its readers to keep track of our FB page for any info on the launching date.


23 May 2019:

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has finally launched the first ship of the Jose Rizal-class frigates being built for the Philippine Navy, the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

Officials from the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Navy were present during the ceremonies.

Philippine media was also present, as they were able to cover the major milestone in the project.

Photos from the launching of the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150). Photos taken from different sources including Inquirer's Frances Mangosing, GMA News' Chino Gaston, South Korea Defense Times, and our sources from the Philippine Navy.

It was noted that the ship already has the following weapon and sensor subsystems installed during the launching:

▪︎ 1 x Oto Melara 76mm/62cal. Super Rapid main naval gun;
▪︎ 1 x Aselsan SMASH 30mm secondary naval gun system;
▪︎ 2 x SEA (J+S) TLS triple torpedo launching system;
▪︎ 2 x MBDA Simbad-RC twin VSHORAD launchers;
▪︎ Hensoldt TRS-3D Baseline D 3D air/surface surveillance radar system;
▪︎ Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye X&S-band navigation/surface search radar;
▪︎ Leonardo NA-25X fire control radar;
▪︎ Elisra NS9003A Aquamarine R-ESM system;
▪︎ 2 x Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs)

It was also confirmed separately to MaxDefense that the Hanwha Defense Systems Naval Shield Baseline 2 Combat Management System is already installed on the ship, but is still undergoing development works. The ship's Platform Management System from Servowatch is also said to be installed as well.

It was not confirmed by sources or through photos if the Safran PASEO NS electro-optical tracking system (EOTS) is already installed. The same is true for the Harris 997 hull-mounted sonar.

It was also noted that the tube missile launchers for the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles are not yet installed too, although the launching rack is already there. 

Infographics posted by HHI during the ship launching ceremony.

HHI also posted some infographics on the ship during the launching ceremonies.

It confirmed that provisions for an 8-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS), a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), and a Towed Array Sonar System (TASS) were provided, since these items are considered as Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW) items.

MaxDefense will discuss about the TASS in a separate post.


23 May 2019:

The Philippine Navy, Department of National Defense, and Hyundai Heavy Industries conducted the keel laying ceremonies for the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) in HHI's shipbuilding yard in Ulsan, South Korea.

The keel laying ceremony officially starts the assembly of the different modules of the ship that were built individually outside the drydock.

Keel laying ceremony of the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151). Photos taken from and credited to Inquirer.net's Frances Mangosing.

No deadline was provided on the ship's launching, but based on the timeline of the future BRP Jose Rizal's construction, it is possible that the launching of the 2nd frigate would be either December 2019 or January 2020.


27 May 2019:

MaxDefense finally got two reliable sources from the Philippine Navy and from an industry source to reaffirm the information we received about the issue on Towed Array Sonar System space and power allocations.

To answer our observations:

1. Stern has no opening for TASS - confirmed, the stern has no opening.

It was confirmed that HHI won't provide stern opening for the future TASS, and it would be provided later on by others once TASS installation starts. Photo taken from South Korea's Defense Times page.

2. Ship has no room specifically for TASS - confirmed, TASS has no specialised room of its own.

For the main issue: The Jose Rizal-class was confirmed to have space and power allocation for TASS. 

So if the ship doesn't have stern opening and a room specifically for TASS, how did it happen?

Based on the information provided by our source, which was reaffirmed by an industry source :

- the opening will only be made once the Philippine Navy acquires the TASS. It means the ship will be requiring stern alterations which would be done by others and not by HHI.

- the TASS space provision will be inside the Steering Gear Room, and will not have its own specialised room.

- the TASS that the PN should acquire will really needed to be a compact model, most likely Thales' CAPTAS-2 which was used by the PN as template for their TASS requirement.

Even publicly available sources on CAPTAS-2 TASS matches with the PN's requirements, this one taken from Deagel.

Instead of being mounted on the deck flooring or on a pedestal, the TASS would be on a frame that is ceiling-mounted, with HHI providing extra support on the stern and on the Steering Gear Room's ceiling to carry the TASS while also allowing for fixing it even when the ship rolls.

Also, power requirements of TASS was already considered in the power and electrical system design.

HHI is confident that this set-up will still be robust and tough despite not being deck mounted. 

Our sources confirmed that there will be space and power allocation for TASS, but the arrangement and layout will be extraordinary. It would be hanging from a reinforced deck frame. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by our PN sources

We thank our sources for providing these information and finally clarify the issue. This is exactly the reason why its best to raise questions and ask, because we can get answers and get clarifications.

In the end, the one who disproved me is still me. Just goes to show who is trying his best to search for the right answer more than anyone else.


01 June 2019:

MaxDefense was able to get feedback from some of our industry sources from companies who supply Towed  Array Sonar System (TASS). We discussed about HHI's design on the TASS handling system fixing, which is hanging from a reinforced frame mounted on the stern and upper deck.

According to at least 2 industry sources, they have serious doubts on the ruggedness, effectiveness, efficiency, and ability to withstand stress by hanging the TASS main handling system which weighs 15,000 kilograms (15 tons) as per spec, while also supporting the towed body and cable which  also weigh around 1.25 tons and 2.5 tons, respectively.

Re-posting the description of CAPTAS-2, as well as the reinforced mount design for the TASS taken from HHI's own drawing, for reference. Top photo taken from Deagel, bottom photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense.

When not deployed, that's a total of almost 19 tons - several tons heavier than the weight of an M113 armored personnel carrier.

Based on the specs provided by the Philippine Navy on TASS requirements, it was confirmed by a TWG member that they indeed used Thales Underwater Systems CAPTAS-2 as basis for the PN's requirement.

MaxDefense was able to contact Thales Australia's representative familiar with their sonar products and confirmed to me that they do not recommend installing any of their TASS products (including the CAPTAS-2) in the manner HHI proposed.

The photo above shows how the main handling system of the Thales CAPTAS-2, including its other family models look like. Continuous use including deploying the cable and towed body will produce resistance forces from the water that would create stress on the mounting. A ceiling-mounted handling system may not be as robust as a deck mounted one. Photo taken from Thales' website.

The weight of the system, plus the added stress during real-time sea and naval conditions will definitely affect the integrity of the installation. 

This set-up is also impossible for any containerized mission modules, so these type of TASS are definitely out of the picture.

Lets see if the PN and HHI will have something lighter, more compact TASS model as an alternative, which can perform at a similar capability as CAPTAS-2 while also being compatible and interoperable with the existing Harris 997 hull-mounted sonar, the Thales Compact FLASH dipping sonar aboard the complementing AW159 Wildcat ASW helicopter, and with the Hanwha Naval Shield Combat Management System of the frigates.


18 June 2019:

MaxDefense posted in its social media page that in yesterday's 121st founding anniversary celebrations of the Philippine Navy, its FOIC Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad announced that Hyundai Heavy Industries will deliver the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) by April and September 2020, respectively.

This is earlier than the announcement made during the BRP Jose Rizal's launching last month, wherein the former will be delivered by September 2020, and the latter by March 2021.

Article from PNA titled "Missile frigates to be delivered ahead of schedule: Empedrad" 
can be accessed HERE.

Screenshots from the PN's institutional video for 2019 showing the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during pre-launching construction phase.


05 November 2019:
The Philippine Navy confirmed that the launching of the 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate, the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) will be on 8 November 2019 in HHI's naval shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

First steel cutting to launching is almost exactly 1 year, which appears to be on track with the last schedule commitments HHI made to the DND and PN. Delivery still remains to be on track by September 2020.

The ship appears to be ready for launching in this photo taken a few weeks ago. Shared to MaxDefense by one of our source.


08 November 2019:

First photo from Korean media outlet of the Jose Rizal-class frigate, the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) for the Philippine Navy, which is scheduled for launching today.

The future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) after launching. Photo taken from and credited to News1 Korea.

As shared by Inquirer.net

Credits to Ms. Frances Mangosing for the photos above.


09 November 2019:

More photos on the launching of the Philippine Navy's future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), this set coming from the Philippine Navy's Public Information Office.

The ship is the 2nd Jose Rizal-class frigate built by Hyundai Heavy Industries. Launching it does not mean it is completed, although other works on the ship's inside can be done with the hull already in the water.

The ship is scheduled for delivery to the PN by 3rd or 4th quarter 2020.

All photos taken from the Philippine Navy's FB page.

With the launch already done, it would not take too long before the ship will be almost 100% complete especially on the inside, and it is highly possible that sea trials might be conducted as early as January-February 2020.

Meanwhile the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) still sits dockside in Ulsan, and the ship was spotted to leave the bay for sea trials in the past few weeks. It is possible that some rectification works might be made to address issues that may have arose during the sea trials.


19 February 2020: 

Sea trials of the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) has started in November 2019, with another sea trials conducted on December 2019 off the coast of eastern South Korea.

Two more sea trial periods were conducted within January 2020, and a fifth sea trial was conducted in early February 2020.

The test firing of the main gun of the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) was first conducted on 12 February 2020 off South Korean waters.

The test firing of the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun was one of the main highlights during fifth sea trials conducted by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) on the ship. Apparently 12 rounds of ammunition were fired to confirm the gun's condition as a weapon and as part of a combat system.

Photo of the future BRP Jose Rizal's 76mm Super Rapid naval gun being test fired. We can see at least six used cartridges around the gun. Photo taken from Philippine Navy through Philippine News Agency.

Also said to be scheduled for testing in the sixth sea trials starting 17 February 2020 will include testing the ship's combat systems including weapons and sensors, integrated platform management system, and an endurance test.

In addition, MaxDefense through Philippine Defense Resource posted new photos of the two Jose Rizal-class frigates berthed together in Ulsan, South Korea.

The photos below show the Philippine Navy's future frigates, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151)  docked together in Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

The future BRP Jose Rizal (foreground) and future BRP Antonio Luna (behind) as seen in Ulsan. 

It can be seen that the Jose Rizal has most of its weapons and sensor systems exposed  since the ship is now undergoing sea trials including test of its subsystems.

In comparison, the Antonio Luna has its subsystems still covered (seen in orange) as the ship is still in the final phase of dockside fit out and completion works.

Even the main gun of the Antonio Luna, the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun can also be seen covered.

MaxDefense Philippines thanks one of its community member who was in South Korea for providing these photos for posting in our extension, Philippine Defense Review.

All photos credited to him, who wish to remain anonymous.


17 May 2020:

The Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo confirmed a few days earlier that the frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) will be leaving South Korea on 18 May 2020, and will arrive in the Philippines by 23 May 2020. Technical and acceptance inspections will take place in the Philippines.

MaxDefense also released a blog entry explaining why we believe the Jose Rizal-class frigates would be accepted by the Philippine Navy, with or without the TDL-16 compatibility.

The blog can be accessed on the link provided below:

"Why the Philippine Navy may accept the Jose Rizal-class frigates, with or without TDLink 16 compatibility" - first posted on 17 May 2020.

To summarize, we believe that the following reasons are as follows:
1. The frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) will be joining RIMPAC 2020;
2. Pressure from greased public officials;

3. PN's desperation to have new hulls;
4. To get favor from the South Korean government;
5. HHI's avoidance of paying for Liquidated damages
6. Pressure from South Korea to enable them to protect HHI and South Korean defense industry's reputation and image.

At the same time, MaxDefense posted a photo of the ship, which was posted by Hyundai Heavy Industries in their website to identify their HDF-2500 frigate design.

The Jose Rizal during pre-delivery tests within South Korean waters in early 2020. Photo taken from HHI's website.


18-19 May 2020:

The frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) finally left Ulsan, South Korea and is now enroute to the Philippines.

The ship is expected to arrive at Subic Bay on 23 May 2020, wherein the crew of around 60 Philippine Navy personnel, and around 30 Koreans will undergo quarantine. The ship will undergo technical and acceptance inspections.

As the ship was leaving South Korean waters, it was escorted by the Pohang-class corvette ROKS Seongnam (PCC-775) of the Republic of Korea Navy.(ROKN).

The ROKS Seongnam (PCC-775) of the ROKN escorting the Jose Rizal (FF-150) as it leaves South Korean waters. Photo taken from and credited to M-Inside's Facebook page.

As part of the trip, the Jose Rizal is also carrying donated PPE and supplies from Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hanwha Systems in cooperation with the South Korean government. Among those included were 20,000 fact masks, 180 large containers of antiseptic disinfectants, 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, and 300 packs of disinfectant tissues.

Apparently this is part of the Korean government's program to provide assistance to countries that helped defend South Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s. The Philippines was among those countries that participated under the United Nations.

Photo from Philippine Navy.


22 May 2020:

More pre-delivery photos of the frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) were made available to the public. Special thanks to one of our contributors for the photos.

Top photo from Hanwha Systems. Middle and above photo from Hyundai Heavy Industries.

As per 5:00pm Manila Time, the frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) was already picked up to be off the coast of Zambales, just near the mouth of Subic Bay. It is expected that the ship will be anchoring inside the bay, and may have their welcome ceremony tomorrow 23 May 2020.


23 May 2020:

In its article dated 21 May 2020, Korea Herald 
confirmed that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Hanwha Systems was not able to get certification from US authorities to confirm Link 16 compatibility with the Jose Rizal-class frigates' combat system.

Instead, the South Korean Ministry of Defense (MOD) has stepped in to guarantee the resolution of the Link 16 compatibility issue, with a formal letter to the DND sent when the frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) was sent for delivery to the Philippines.

The report also confirmed the worry of the South Korean defense industry that the issue could cause controversy in the future, and that "international confidence in domestic (Korean) defense companies will decrease" if this issue is not resolved, an that "it needs attention".

With the South Korean MOD stepping in as a guarantor, it only means that the South Korean government will make sure that even if HHI and Hanwha Systems failed to have the frigate certified for compatibility with Link 16, it will make sure it will still happen in the future despite no deadline being provided.

It would be remembered the the South Korean MOD has been in negotiations with the US Department of Defense for increased participation of South Korean defense industries in Link 16 integration. This is the basis of HHI and Hanwha's commitment in 2016 to make sure the Naval Shield ICMS will be Link 16 compatible by 2019.

For those having difficulty accessing the original site from Korea Herald, MaxDefense was able to screengrab the report in English version. Photo taken from Korea Herald's website.

Also, the Philippine Navy posted photos of the arrival of frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150) in Subic Bay, accompanied by ships and aircraft of the Philippine Navy. 

Based on the photos, the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), and Multi-Purpose Attack Craft Mk.3 BA-488, as well as one one each of the Naval Air Wing's AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, AgustaWestland AW109E Power, and Beechcraft C-90 aircraft were present.

All photos taken from and credited to the Philippine Navy.


10 July 2020:

The Philippine Navy held the formal handover, Christening and commissioning the first Jose Rizal-class frigate, the now BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during ceremonies held in Subic Bay Freeport earlier today.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held with restricted access to only select officials, media crew, and invited guests.

Photo credits to Frances Mangosing / Inquirer.net.

The event is a milestone for the Philippine Navy, which finally had its first brand new modern surface combatant since its founding. 


27 August 2020:

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a new SARO worth Php1,574,457,159.00 for payment to Hyundai Heavy Industries to cover for progress claims for the construction of the new frigates.

This would be the 5th of 6 Multi-Year Contractual Authority (MYCA) which is similar to an instalment payment based on progress of the project, and is taken from the AFP Modernization Trust Fund allocated under Fiscal Year 2020.

Next year will be the last MYCA payment for the frigate, which is included in the Php33 billion proposed AFP Modernization Program funding for fiscal year 2021, which coincides with completion of the 1 year warranty period of BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).


28 December 2020:

The Philippine Navy confirmed that the second frigate, Antonio Luna (FF-151) has completed the Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) from 14 to 18 December 2020 in South Korea, and was accepted by the Philippine Navy's Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC). 

This means the ship will now undergo completion of installation and testing of all other minor equipment and subsystems, and will be prepared for final pre-delivery inspection by early 2021.

Delivery of the ship was pushed back to 1st quarter of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the delivery, integration, and other processes in the ship's fitout.

Photos above credited to the Philippine Navy.


19 March 2021:

The Philippine Navy has finally commissioned the second Jose Rizal-class frigate, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) during ceremonies held on 19 March 2021 at Manila South Harbor.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana led the ceremonies and was attended by South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Il-Chul, and Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo.

The new frigate will join its sistership BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), and was assigned with the Offshore Combat Force, Philippine Fleet. The frigate will immediately start conducting training and patrol missions, although it is expected that the crew will use the time to familiarize itself with the ship.

So far, the issue of Combat Management System compatibility with Data Link 16 remains, although it was guaranteed by the South Korean Ministry of Defense, that they will make sure the CMS will be upgraded later on, without extra charges to the Philippine Navy, once the technology is made available to them.

It is expected that the frigates do not have the Link 16 system yet due to the lack of compatibility. 

Photos from the commissioning ceremony can be seen below, all photos credited to the Philippine Navy.

Photos above all credited to the Philippine Navy.


With both Jose Rizal-class frigates already delivered and commissioned to the Philippine Navy, MaxDefense and Philippine Defense Resource officially consider the Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 1 - Frigate Platform Project of the Philippine Navyy as COMPLETED.

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First edit and release: 21 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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