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Submarine Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

The Philippine Navy has embarked on the acquisition of a small fleet of diesel-electric attack submarines, which would allow the service to increase its combat capability, and taking advantage of submarine's use of underwater cover for deterrence and surprise attack against larger, more capable countries.

The Submarine Acquisition Project, currently the most expensive and most complicated project of the Philippine Navy, will provide the Philippine Navy with assets that even a small fleet of frigates may not be able to provide in terms of overall naval combat capability.

This resource page is expected to be longer than usual due to the discussion on the history of the Philippines' desire to have submarines.

The Scorpene-class submarine, which is currently the leading model selected by the Philippine Navy. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

Project Summary:

Submarine Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 02 February 2024.

* End User: Philippine Navy (future Submarine Force)

Quantity: 2 units, plus Submarine Basing, Submarine Training facility, support equipment, training, logisitcs support, and others.

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 3 Phase of the RAFPMP, moved from the 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP as of 2023.

* Project ABC:
 Increased to Php97,000,000,000.00, originally from Php75,000,000,000.00

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government (G2G) Process with still unknown country.

* Source of Funding: Soft loan financing, to be paid via GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: TBA

Product for Delivery: TBA

* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNSubmarineAcquisition 

* Status: Philippine Navy shortlists Naval Group and DSME as of 2019, top selection with Naval Group with Scorpene-class CM-2000 diesel-electric submarine. Discussions and negotiations ongoing with Naval Group and French government, for final price, soft loan financing, and package inclusions. Discussions are also still ongoing with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and South Korean government with the Jangbogo-I DSME-1400PN, and ASFAT and the Turkish government with the Reis-class (Type 214) submarine. As of 2022, only Naval Group and DSME continue to be in talks with the Philippine Navy. In 2023, the project was not awarded and was moved to Horizon 3 phase with an increased budget of Php97,000,000,000.00, equivalent to US$1.7 billion. Naval Group confirmed that it has revised its offer with the Scorpene-class but similar to Brazil's Riachuelo-class which is longer to accommodate more batteries, while DSME was acquired and changed name to Hanwha Ocean and made an offer on September 2023 with the KSS-III Jangbogo-III PN which is a downsized variant of KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho-class without VLS and AIP (although AIP remains an option). Spain's Navantia also confirmed that it will be submitting an offer based on their S80 Plus Isaac Peral-class oceangoing submarine. Fincantieri was said to have offered the Type 212 Todaro-class.


The Philippine Navy has been aspiring to acquire submarines since the 1950s, but has been unsuccessful in many attempts. Either the Philippines was restricted by the American government in acquiring submarine technology, and when this was lifted, the Americans has not been able to transfer submarines for believing that the Philippine government cannot support such capability.

In the early 1950s, the Philippine Navy requested for 3 World War 2 era diesel submarines from the US government, together with PBY Catalina flying boats. In the end, only the flying boats arrived, which were assigned later on to the Philippine Air Force.

The Philippines requested for 2 Balao-class submarines from the US in the 1950s, but this was not provided. Credits to original source for photo.

In the 1970s, former Philippine Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos expressed his desire to acquire submarines from other countries, specifically diesel-electric models from friendly countries like US and Germany. 

For the past several decades, the US Navy has stopped operating diesel-electric submarines, and has converted to an all-nuclear submarine force. This has deprived the Philippines from getting surplus submarines from the US as nuclear submarines are a no-go for obvious reasons.

The last diesel-electric attack submarines of the US Navy, the Tang-class, were already almost 30 years in the late 1970s when the Philippine government requested for the transfer of at least 2 units as part of the 1977-1981 AFP Modernization Program. The request for them were rejected by the US government.

Tang-class diesel-electric submarine of the US Navy. The Philippines requested for transfer of 2 submarines, but was rejected in the late 1970s. Credits to original source of photo.

With the last diesel-electric submarines from the US already gone, this means the Philippines cannot expect the US to help in its submarine aspirations. 

There were queries made with the German government back then for the small Type 206 coastal submarine, and larger Type 209 submarine, although that is as far as the Philippines has gone back then.

And with the Philippine economy tanking out in the 1980s, further attempts stopped on such program.

The Type 206 submarine from Germany, which were being eyed for procurement in the late 1970s. Credits to original source of photo.

The submarine desire continued on until the 1980s up to the 1990s, when former Philippine Navy FOIC (now Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific President) Vice Adm. Eduardo Ma. Santos endorsed in 1998 the concept of the Philippine Navy having submarines under the AFP Modernization Program mandated by RA 7898 and approved in 1995, and opened up the possibility of acquiring midget submarines from Italy's Cosmo S.p.a. as a preliminary move, while moving on to conventional diesel-electric submarines in the near future. It also appears that the Philippine Navy sent officers to Pakistan to study their midget submarines built locally based on a design acquired from Italy.

The Cosmo MG120/ER midget submarine, which was considered by the Philippine Navy back then should they push to acquire midget submarines to train and familiarise the service in Submarine Warfare. Photo taken from Cosmo Spa through Maritime Review Philippines.

Aside from that, the Department of National Defense even sent a Philippine Navy officer to study submarine design and construction in preparation for any future requirement to acquire new submarines.

The AFP Modernization Program from 1995 to 2010 passed without the Philippine Navy acquiring submarines, or even a meaningful surface fleet that it can actually say as modern. And it was only natural that submarines will again be floated for acquisition when the Revised AFP Modernization Program mandated by RA 10349 was approved in 2013.

In the Revised Philippine Navy Modernization plan as shown on the "Desired Force Mix" released by the PN in 2014, the plan was to acquire at least 3 conventional diesel-electric submarines within the 2013-2028 timeframe. 

The Philippine Navy Desired Force Mix plan released in 2014, as a guideline of acquisitions for the Revised AFP Modernization Program between 2013 to 2028. Photo credits to the old Timawa.net forum.

In 2015, another info-graphic was released by the Philippine Navy, again with the conventional diesel-electric submarine still in the acquisition plan, but clearly defined to be part of the Horizon 3 phase from 2023 to 2028.

The Philippine Navy's infographic released in 2015 on expected acquisitions under the Revised AFP Modernization Program from 2013 to 2028. It shows that the Submarines are to be acquired in the Horizon 3 phase from 2023 to 2028. Photo taken from the Philippine Navy's website.

Finally, another info-graphic was published by the Philippine Navy in their April 2016 official publications, indicating that the Submarines are integral part of the Surface Action Force of the Philippine Fleet. In a departure from previous plans, it now indicates that the Philippine Navy will need to acquire 6 submarines instead of just 3 to provide a better deterrent capability.

This infographic was released by the Philippine Navy in April 2016, shows that the Philippine Navy will now require 6 conventional diesel-electric submarines for the Revised Navy acquisition plan from 2013 to 2028. Photo screenshots taken from the Philippine Navy's official publication.

This was later on supported by the submissions made by the Philippine Navy for their Capability Plan under the Horizon 1 to 3 phases, wherein they submitted in 2016 a plan to acquire 2 conventional diesel-electric submarines within the Horizon 2 phase, and 4 more similar submarines in the Horizon 3 phase.

This was taken from one of the submitted reports of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the Department of National Defense in 2016 which highlights the proposed acquisition program of the Philippine Navy from Horizon 1 (and remnants of the old RA7898 AFPMP), as well as the Horizon 2 and 3 phases of the Revised AFPMP. It clearly indicated the need for 6 submarines, in which 2 to be acquired in Horizon 2 phase. Photo taken from MaxDefense's sources from the Philippine Navy.

Between 2016 to 2017, further improvements were made by the Philippine Navy for their Horizon 2 and 3 phases proposal for submission to the Office of the President. With a new president at the helm of the country with promises to improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines into new heights, the Philippine Navy again tweaked their acquisition proposal under the Horizon 2 phase. Instead of just acquiring 2 conventional diesel-electric submarines, they now moved even more aggressively forward by instead requesting a fleet of 3 conventional diesel-electric submarines worth Php20 billion each, 7 Midget Submarines for Php5 billion each, and 6 two-man Swimmer Delivery Vehicles for Php35 million each. 

This is by far the most ambitious proposal made by the Philippine Navy, and was among those submitted to the Office of the President in Malacanang in early 2017 as part of the Php367.7 billion Horizon 2 program for the Philippine Navy alone.

Aside from that, the Philippine Navy has finally made a Submarine Group in its command under the Philippine Fleet, to allow the study of submarine and submarine warfare, as well as prepare the Philippine Navy in its acquisition of submarines. Officers and men assigned to this group were given the chance to study abroad on basics in submarine warfare as well as in submarine construction.

The last version of the proposals made for Horizon 2 phase included the acquisition of 3 conventional diesel-electric submarines, 7 midget submarines and 6 swimmer delivery vehicles, all for a total proposed budget of Php95.21 billion. This proposal was shot down by the government due to high costs. The resulting approved Horizon 2 acquisition did not include any submarines. Photo taken from MaxDefense sources from the DND.

Unfortunately, the aggressiveness might be too much, as the proposal was shut down by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and his economic team due to the high price of the proposal. The Philippine Navy was again requested to revise their program to under Php75 billion pesos only. The result of this became part of the recently approved Php300 billion Horizon 2 Priority Projects program, wherein the Philippine Navy is getting Php77.6 billion only.

In this approved acquisition program, none of the submarines proposed earlier were included. Not even the two-man Swimmer Delivery Vehicles was there. Instead, any submarine acquisition will be made in the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP, which is scheduled from 2023 to 2028, or on a proposed 2nd List of Horizon 2 which will depend on the capacity of the government to pay for it.

Nonetheless, the Submarine Group continued to exist and continue its mandated task of preparing the Philippine Navy for submarine operations.

Then the unexpected happened when in June 2018, DND's Public Affairs Dir. Arsenio Andolong announced that Pres. Duterte and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has agreed to the request made by then Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad to front-load the acquisition of at least 2 submarines into the Horizon 2 phase, using the 2nd List of Horizon 2 program.

No specific budget has been announced for the Submarine Project, but it is expected to be beyond Php40 billion for 2 submarines.

MaxDefense PH confirmed that it has documents showing that the Submarine Acquisition Project may go as high as Php75 billion due to the inclusion of construction of a new Submarine Base, a Submarine Training Facility, new support facilities for Submarine operations, and acquisition of equipment to support the submarine fleet.

Despite the high cost, MaxDefense PH was informed that Pres. Duterte intends to have the submarine acquisition his legacy project for the Philippine Navy, and will push for it to be made, considering offers were also submitted for the use of soft loans or financial assistance from the supplying country's government.

This means that any submarine acquisition would be done through Government-to-Government (G2G) deal.

Offers Made to the Philippine Navy:

As early as the Submarine Group's formation, the Philippine Navy has already released a Request for Information (RFI) addressed to several international submarine builders to provide information about their respective products. This is to allow the Philippine Navy to determine what can be acquired with the proposed budget.

According to MaxDefense's sources from the Philippine Navy, among those that replied and provided information are Saab Group - Kockums of Sweden, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany, Naval Group (formerly DCNS) of France, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea, and Rosoboronexport of Russia.

Based on information we gathered, the offers made by these shipbuilders were: a derivative of the A26 submarine design from Saab Kockums, the Type 209/1400, Type 210mod, and Type 212A from TKMS, a derivative of the Scorpene-class from the Naval Group, the KSS-I Chang Bogo-class (Improved Type 209/1400) from DSME, and the Project 636 Kilo-class from Rosoboronexport.

Aside from providing information on their submarine products, these shipbuilders already came forward with providing different offers to the Philippine Navy. It appears that numerous meetings have already been made between the Department of National Defense and/or the Philippine Navy, and these foreign shipbuilders or their counterpart defense ministries. 

TKMS, DSME, Saab Kockums and Naval Group executives were reported to have visited the Philippine Navy and the DND for meetings in the between 2017 and 2018, with the DND's team led by Defense Asec. Jesus Avilla even met with DSME executives in South Korea just last March 2018 as part of the PH-SK Joint Committee Meeting, including a visit to one of the Republic of Korea Navy's Chang Bogo-class submarine ROKS Park Wi, which is now in Hawaii participating in RIMPAC 2018.

TKMS was said to be offering the Type 210mod (top) and Type 209/1400, while DSME offered the Chang Bogo-class submarine (above) which is actually a Korean version of the Type 209/1400. Credits to sources of photos.

By 2019, based on the statements of the DND and Philippine Navy officials, the PN appears to have already shortlisted its plans between DSME's offer (supported by the South Korean government), and the Naval Group's offer (supported by the French government).

A decision has become apparent by 2020, with the MaxDefense PH reporting that the Philippine Navy has stronger preference on the Naval Group proposal with the Scorpene-class submarine. No Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system would be included, using the CM-2000 conventional design variant.

Scorpene-class submarine being moved from Naval Group's production line in France. Photo credits to original source.

Also said to be included are the French Navy and Naval Group's assistance in the formation of the PN's Submarine Force, the construction of a new Submarine Base, and new Submarine Training Facility, acquisition of support equipment, and several other inclusions.

A credit line was also proposed by the French government to allow the acquisition despite the lack of funding from the Philippine side. This would be paid in multiple years, and would be low interest and may even include a counter trade offer.

But as of early 2023, no award has been made to Naval Group, despite the company setting up a satellite office in Manila in 2020. A confirmation from the Philippine Government was made by early 2023 that the project has been moved to the Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covering years 2023-2027. While the project was moved back, the budget was increased to Php97 billion (approx. US$1.7 billion), for still the same requirements.

This has allowed Naval Group and DSME (now Hanwha Ocean after the company was acquired on December 2022) to improve their offers. 

As of June 2023, Naval Group has confirmed that its offer is still based on the Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarine but will have a 10,000 nautical miles maximum range, and an endurance of 80 days, which is similar or better than the Brazilian Riachuelo-class variant.

CGI of a Scorpene-class submarine. Photo credits to Naval Group.

Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has released information in August 2023 that they will be making a formal offer to the Philippine Navy based on their S80 Plus Isaac Peral-class oceangoing diesel-electric submarine, and will include the design and construction of submarine basing and training facility in Ormoc, Leyte province, assisting in formation of the Submarine Force, submarine training in Spain including training with the Spanish Navy, low-interest, long term financing and guarantee from the Spanish Government, and others.

Meanwhile. Hanwha Ocean has confirmed in September 2023 that they are upgrading their offer from the KSS-I Jangbogo-I (DSME-1400PN) to the KSS-III Jangbogo-III PN, which is a downsized variant of the KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho-class built for the Republic of Korea Navy.

CGI of Jangbogo-IIIPN submarine offered to PN. Photo credits to Hanwha Ocean.

Hanwha Ocean's package inclusion still includes those offered by DSME before including assisting in forming the Submarine Force, design and building a submarine base and training facility in Naval Operating Base Subic, training of Philippine Navy submarine crews in South Korea including training with ROKN Submarine Force, low interest long term financing and guarantee from South Korean Government, and others.

It also highlighted the use of modern Lithium-Ion batteries instead of lead-acid batteries found in its competitor's offers, allowing for longer endurance, longer lifespan, shorter and easier servicing, faster charging and slower discharging.

This time they were very specific on 
providing 4 different submarine training simulators (Submarine Tactical Trainer, Submarine Control Trainer, Basic Operations Trainer, and Virtual Reality Trainer), as well as providing Advanced Operation Training and Advanced Maintenance Training in the Philippines. They also touted the Total Operations & Maintenance Support System and Center including guarantee of spare parts availability through its planned formation of a "Global Janbogo Submarine Supply Chain" which will allow all South Korean-made submarine users to share spare parts and have annual meetings similar to how the US Navy have their own International Frigate Working Group for all navies using the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.

It is unconfirmed though if South Korea will still be offering to transfer one of its older KSS-I Chang Bogo-class submarine to the PN at a later date if it selects Hanwha Ocean's offer.

Photo credits to Hanwha Ocean.

U P  D A T E S:

25 August 2018:

He mentioned that they are still in the process of choosing between the offers made, and has not made a confirmation on Russia's offer. He placed more emphasis on the Russian offer, which MaxDefense believes is Pres. Duterte's choice, and the Korean offer which MaxDefense believes is Lorenzana's preference. 

He alao mentioned that affordability is also a big factor in deciding, which means both acquisition cost and annual sustainment costs. Lorenzana confirmed that the Russian submarine is more expensive but better, probably comparing it to the Korean offer considering both German and French offers are expected to be more expensive than the Russian offer.

The Russian Project 636.3 Improved Kilo class is expected to be more expensive to operate due to its larger size than the Korean Chang Bogo-class, which means it also consumes more fuel to propel. Russian hardware are also notorious globally as being more expensive to maintain due to their shorter Time Between Overhaul or Maintenance compared to other equivalent.

A Project 636 Kilo-class submarine, this example with the Indian Navy. Photo credits to original source.

This statement by the Defense Secretary may show some leaning on the Korean offer. And it is also close to Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad's recent statement that interoperability is a major factor in deciding what submarine to acquire. Compared to the Improved Kilo-class, the Chang Bogo-class is easier to specify to use data sharing and communication equipment that will be compatible and interoperable with the PN and AFP's current and future C4ISTAR system, and in effect, compatible and interoperable with allied and partner navies and militaries of the Philippines.


03 October 2018:

As part of their display during the recently concluded ADAS 2018 defense expo in Manila, Korean shipbuilder DSME focused on their offer for submarines for the Philippine Navy (PN) based on their DSME1400 design, which is said to be an improvement over the Chang Bogo-class made for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).

DSME's brochure on the DSME1400 also included what they call the "DSME Full Package Program" which will provide the totality of the requirements needed by the end user, in this case the Philippine Navy, should they pick their submarine solution.

Among those they are willing to provide are as follows:
1. Building of most reliable & cost effective submarine;
2. Training and Co-exercises;
3. Transfer of Technology & Local Support;
4. Transfer of Expertise & Experience;
5. Long Term Logistics Support;
6. Guarantee & Support of (South Korean) Government

All 7 features are actually what the Philippine Navy needs for them to achieve a successful submarine program. In short, DSME is willing to provide the end user with a submarine program from scratch, most definitely based on South Korea's own experience.

Last March 2018, the DND held talks with the ROKN's Submarine Command, wherein they made a commitment to help the PN build up its submarine force from scratch, and has actually offered DSME's submarine solutions, and are willing also to provide consultancy to the PN as approved by both the governments of the Philippines and South Korea. They also made a commitment to continue offering training programs to PN personnel of submarine warfare, especially if the PN choose a Korean solution which is actually the DSME offer.

As for financing, DSME included an option for Financial Support and Soft Loan for the acquisition of submarines, which means that Russia isn't the only one now offering this option, but also South Korea. MaxDefense will explain other offers on the PN's Submarine Acquisition tomorrow.

Photo credits to Benedict Exconde through MaxDefense PH.


29 July 2019:

Media reports confirm that the Philippines is considering the Scorpene-class submarine from France's Naval Group.

From Asia Pacific Defense Journal:

Philippines considers Scorpene-class diesel electric submarine for submarine program

Scorpene-class diesel electric attack submarine. Photo c/o Navy Recognition.

The Philippines Secretary of National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirmed in an interview with the local media that the Philippine Navy (PN) has included the Scorpene-class diesel electric submarine of French shipyard Naval Group as one of the platforms being considered for its Submarine acquisition program. 

A team from the Department of National Defense (DND) led by Sec. Lorenzana will be visiting 5 European countries including France, and is scheduled to visit the Naval Group’s facilities and look at their submarine production and technology.

The Scorpene-class is available in four standard variants: a standard conventional diesel-electric variant called the CM-2000, a variant with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system called the AM-2000, a downsized coastal patrol variant called the CA-2000, and an enlarged variant which is currently used by the Brazilian Navy called the S-BR variant.

The PN has been finding ways to secure funding for the acquisition of 2 or 3 new diesel-electric attack submarines, and is open to securing soft loans as part of a government-to-government negotiation with the submarine builder’s government of origin. 

Other countries that made their pitch to help fund and supply submarines were Russia, South Korea, and Germany.

It is believed that the PN is after the standard CM-2000 variant, which has a displacement of around 1,565 tons, a length of 61.7 meters, a beam of 6.2 meters, and a draft of 5.8 meters. The CM-2000 variant has a maximum speed of 20 knots while submerged, and 12 knots when surfaced. It has a maximum range of 6,500 nautical miles at 8 knots and surfaced, or 550 nautical miles at 5 knots when submerged.

The entire class has a standard fit of six 533mm torpedo tubes for a mix on heavyweight torpedoes, mines, and the MBDA SM39 Exocet anti-ship missile.

The Scorpene-class is currently in service with the Chilean Navy, Indian Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy, and is being built for the Brazilian Navy.


01 October 2019:

During the 2020 defense budget hearing for the DND, Sen. Tolentino asked about the Submarine Acquisition plans of the Philippine Navy.

No other than Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad confirmed that despite offers from South Korea and Russia, the offer from France is the best fit to their requirements, and that the French are the preferred supplier. Two submarines will be delivered by 2027 as per PN procurement plan.

France's Naval Group is the only French naval shipbuilder offering submarines, with their Scorpene-class submarine together with technical assistance on building up the PN's submarine capability and basing. The French government and French Navy will also provide assistance on financing, training, and logistics support.

In addition, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana also confirmed that there is no scheduled discussion on submarines between the Philippines and Russia as part of Pres. Duterte's visit to Moscow this week. 


04 December 2019:

With Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirming his visit to France last week, we could probably start filling out some details from the trip.

This visit was long overdue after Sec. Lorenzana failed to make his commitment to meet his French counterparts from the French Ministry of the Armies last September.

The focus of this visit by Sec. Lorenzana is on the Submarine Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy. Although there were several French offers to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, separate visits were made by AFP and DND officials for them.

According to MaxDefense PH's sources, Sec. Lorenzana met with officials of France's Naval Group, and was given a first-hand tour of their facilities in Cherbourg which is where NG builds submarines for the French Navy and export customers, including the Scorpene-class submarine.

Also discussed during the visit were on the French Ministry of the Armies regarding the planned Government-to-Government (G2G) deal between France and the Philippines should the DND proceed with the order for the Scorpene package (which MaxDefense might discuss in a blog entry next year).
Also discussed during the visit were the financing options which include soft loans, considering the package offered by the French government and Naval Group includes not just the submarines itself, but also the technical support, spares and logistics support, training and education including cross-trainings with the French Navy and continuing programs by Defense Conseil International (DCI), basing consultancy, design and construction, possible transfer of technology for maintenance and support, and many other considerations. This jacks up the price of the package beyond the unit cost of the submarines.

The visit of Sec. Lorenzana was also to check on the French government's commitment to proceed with such sale, despite the growing negative perception towards the Philippine government by European countries with regards to Human Rights, Extra Judicial Killings, and other liberal issues. 

The point that the French government is proceeding with its offer means that they are committed to not waste their and the Filipino's time and effort to make this happen, and are willing to go for the sale despite these lingering issues.

It is expected that the final decision will be made next year, since the government has not provided any funds yet for the initial payment requirements (deposits) for 2019. But this move was meant to make sure that the Philippine Navy and Department of National Defense can commit to their selection and decision while waiting for the money to be available for the project's implementation.

Naval Group's submarine production facility. Photo credits to original source.


20 October 2020:

French shipbuilder Naval Group confirmed at Euronaval 2020, that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they had intense discussions with the Philippines, although nothing has been set in stone yet.

It would be remembered that MaxDefense previously posted that the Philippine Navy's selected option was the offer from France's Naval Group, which offered the Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine, as well as assisting in building a submarine basing and training facility, and training Philippine Navy crew on submarine operations and maintenance.

Its closest competitor at the moment is an offer from South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering (DSME) with their Improved Chang Bogo-class. 

MaxDefense sources from the PN confirmed that the offer from South Korea was cheaper, but the PN's Technical Working Group and PN leadership have concerns due to news from Indonesia that there were problems with the Nagapasa-class (Indonesian version of Improved Chang Bogo-class) that are not related to its local construction by PT PAL, but stems out from design and manufacturing issues from DSME.

Meanwhile, Naval Group's offer was more expensive, but the submarines itself are far more modern than the South Korean offer which was based on the old German Type 209-1400 design. And the offer was more comprehensive, meaning it includes a lot more packaged items that covers  sustaining the submarines for the next few years, and building up the PN's capabilities in submarine warfare.


21 October 2020:

Philippine Defense Resource posted this video in our Youtube Channel, discussing the Scorpene-class' selection for the Philippine Navy's Submarine Acquisition Project.


01 December 2020:

Our parent page MaxDefense PH confirmed that a delegation from the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine Navy led by Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Resource Management USec. Raymundo Elefante and Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, made a trip to South Korea to visit the Republic of Korea Navy's Submarine Force Command and shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) on November 2020.

Discussions were made between the 2 parties with regards to the planned acquisition of submarines by the DND for the Philippine Navy, with the Korean government offering a solution based on the DSME-1400 submarine.

The DSME-1400 is based on the German Type 209/1400 design, and is called the Chang Bogo-class in the Republic of Korea Navy. The Indonesian Navy also operates an improved version of the type now known as the Nagapasa-class. 

South Korea remains one of the countries shortlisted to supply the submarines, the others being France and another European country.


23 December 2020:

Recently, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin posted in his Twitter account that the Philippines is getting French submarines.

While the Philippine Navy has been pushing for French Scorpene-class diesel attack submarines, it remains to be seen if the DND will support the PN's selection since they themselves are pushing the PN to consider the South Korean offer based on the DSME 1400 submarine.

It is good to know that Sec. Locsin is supportive of the French submarine offer, and there is a possibility that high-level decision making within the executive cabinets on the potential selection of the French offer are already happening. 

So far, we received confirmation that France and Naval Group's offer includes 2 submarines (can be increased depending on availability of more funds), training with French defense institutions and the French Navy, assisting in designing and construction of a new submarine base with training and support facilities, doctrine formulation on submarine warfare, and providing soft loans and French government support and guarantees.

South Korea's offer is similar but, according to PN sources, is less comparable to the French offer, and the submarines being offered as less capable than the French Scorpenes.

Unfortunately, the government has not allocated any funding for the Submarine Acquisition Project yet, even for the 2021 defense and modernization funding.

Taken from Sec. Locsin's Twitter account.


14 March 2021:

The Philippine Navy, led by its FOIC Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo, visited the French Navy and met with his French counterpart French Navy Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Pierre Vandier at Ecole'Militaire, Paris, France.

The PN was briefed on French Navy thrust and direction, and French submarine organization and capability.

Further, the Staff-to-Staff discussions on French submarine organization and capability concept has provided important inputs of utmost consideration in the establishment of Philippine Navy’s Submarine Force. Joining Vice Admiral Bacordo during the bilateral talks are Capt Edwin M Nera, Commander, Submarine Group and Capt Emerson C David, Director, PN Modernization Office.

Significantly, the Chief of the French Navy has expressed support in the efforts of the PN in capability development, wherein their Directorate for General Armaments (DGA) and Défense Conseil international (DCI) can assist for the aspects of acquisition and training, respectively.

Photos credits to Philippine Navy.


16 March 2021:

The Philippine Navy, led by its FOIC Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo, visited Naval Group's shipyard facility in Cherbourg, France, and also visited the French Navy's submarine facilities in Toulon.

This is part of the Philippine Navy's interest in Naval Group's offer for the Submarine Acquisition Project, with Naval Group said to be leading in the selection with its Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine.

Photo of PN delegation together with Naval Group officials in Cherbourg, France. Photo credits to Naval Group.


04 April 2021:

MaxDefense posted an article from the French government confirming that the French Treasury Ministry has been in talks with the Philippine government regarding the use of French financing for the acquisition of submarines and building a submarine force for the Philippine Navy.

The visit a few weeks ago by French Ambassador to the Philippines Michelle Boccoz to the Philippine Department of National Defense and meeting with Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana actually gave focus to this, considering the PN's visits to Naval Group and the French Navy.


29 April 2021:

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana is in Turkey to visit officials from the Turkish Ministry of Defense. Gen. Sobejana trip to Turkey also includes a visit to ASFAT's office and facilities in line with their offer to the Philippine Navy on shipbuilding programs, including the Submarine Acquisition Program.

CSAFP Gen. Sobejana in Turkey on 29 April 2021.

The visit follows an earlier trip by Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo's visit to ASFAT on 12 April 2021, which also discussed the submarine offer from the Turkish government, among other naval topics.

Vice Adm. Bacordo with ASFAT officials on 12 April 2021.

Based on information received by MaxDefense PH, ASFAT officials reiterated their offer to build and supply modified variant of the Reis-class submarine delivered to the Turkish Navy. The Reis-class is a Turkish variant of the German Type 214 diesel-electric submarine.

ASFAT is offering transfer of technology, training and technical know-how, logistics and maintenance support, and assisting in designing and constructing a submarine base and training facilities as part of a package.

The Turkish government is also offering a financing option to allow the DND and PN to proceed with the submarine procurement despite financial difficulties due to COVID-19 related expenses of the Philippine government.

Reis-class submarine, which is based on Type 214 design.


28 May 2021:

International defense media outlets have reported that Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary on Logistics and Acquisitions ASec. Jesus Rey Avila has visited the Republic of Korea Navy's Submarine Force Command, as well as Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).

He also had meetings with officials from the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and Korean Export-Import Bank (KEXIM).

Meetings with the ROKN Submarine Force Command included discussions on transfer of know-how on submarine operations to the Philippine Navy, resumption of International Submarine Education and Training Program (ISETP) that has been put on hold due to COVID-19, and regular Navy-to-Navy talks on submarines.

Meanwhile, ASec. Avila also visited DSME's facilities and discussed with officials regarding the Total Solution Package offer for the Philippine Navy's Submarine Acquisition Project. This package includes the DSME-1400PN (Improved Chang Bogo-class, with further improvements compared to the Nagapasa-class of the Indonesian Navy), financing and soft-loan, training, logistics support, and assistance in construction of submarine basing facilities.

Asec. Avila with ROKN and DSME officials. Photo credits to The Guru.

The meetings with DAPA and KEXIM officials were related to the soft-loan financing for the submarine package, and support from the South Korean government on the project.

This is actually a surprising move since the Philippine Navy, as well as Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has been very vocal in their previous statements that France's package offer with Naval Group's Scorpene-class submarine were the preferred choice by the Philippine Navy.

France's offer is quite similar to the South Korean offer, although MaxDefense PH sources from the Philippine Navy confirmed that the submarine itself is key to the decision, as the Scorpene-class is believed to be a better submarine in terms of capability compared to the older DSME-1400 design, which is actually an upgrade version of the German Type 209/1400.

MaxDefense PH also confirmed that if price would be a major factor, the South Korean offer is definitely cheaper than the French offer, to the point that the South Koreans may offer up to 3 submarines for a little over the French's offer for 2 submarines.

Only issue that PN officials are concerned is that the DSME-1400 appears to have problems with the Indonesian Navy, known as the Nagapasa-class. The decision of the Indonesian Ministry of Defence to cancel its deal to build another batch of 3 submarines, as well as problems being reported on the Nagapasa-class were taken into consideration by Philippine Navy leaders and technical team.

The KRI Nagapasa (403) of the Indonesian Navy, which is also a DSME-1400 variant. Photo credits to detik.com.


07 June 2021:

Several important points made by Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo in his interview with the press:

1. He is retiring tomorrow, 08 June 2021 as he reach the mandatory retirement age of 56. MaxDefense PH will try to announce who will be his replacement later.

2. The Php70 billion Submarine Acquisition Project was suppose to be signed by 2nd half of 2021 or 1st half of 2022, if not for the COVID 19 pandemic affecting the government's financial capabilities.

3. Aside from France and South Korea, other countries interested in supplying submarines to the Philippine Navy include India and Turkey.

4. Singapore has shown interest to sell their older submarines to the Philippines, although no official offer has been made except for intermediaries. But Pres. Duterte wanted new submarines for the PN.

MaxDefense Philippines believes that these are the Challenger-class (Improved Sjoormen-class) which are scheduled for retirement once the new Type 218 Invincible-class comes into service with the RSN in 2022.

One of the Challenger-class submarines of the Republic of Singapore Navy. Credits to RSN.


11 June 2021:

France's Naval Group, together with the French Government led by the French Ministry of Defence, has offered a total solution package for the Philippine Navy's Submarine Acquisition Project based on the Naval Group's proven Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine.

Below is a video from Naval Group, shared to MaxDefense Philippines and Philippine Defense Resource summarizing their offer to the Philippine Navy, credits to Naval Group.



25 October 2022:

France's Naval Group confirmed that a delegation from the Philippine Senate visited their submarine production facility.

Photos show that these include Senators Miguel Zubiri and JV Ejercito, who are known to support the AFP Modernization Program.

The visit coincides the Department of National Defense's recent denials on prioritizing the Submarine Acquisition Project, and a rumor of France offering to donate 2 new Scorpene-class submarines in return for allowing France to conduct exploration of our territorial and archipelagic waters.

Photo credits to Naval Group.


08 July 2023:

With the Philippine Navy already set with its requirements for the Submarine Acquisition Project including the submarine's specs and the package inclusions, a new player has started to push hard lately in a bid to win the Philippine Navy's selection.

Our sources have confirmed that Spanish naval shipbuilder Navantia has been aggressively pushing its offer to the Philippine Navy in the past few months as it plays catch-up to the offers made by France's Naval Group and South Korea's DSME/Hanwha Ocean which have been making their pitch for several years.

It would be remembered that Navantia publicly showed its intention to participate in the Submarine Acquisition Project last May 2023 during the Philippine Navy Fleet Defense Expo 2023.

As expected, Navantia is offering a derivative of the S-80+ / Isaac Peral-class diesel electric submarine, and is reportedly throwing in the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system in their package.

MaxDefense Philippines is still deternining the details of the package they are offering to the Philippines but it is expected that Navantia would try to match the packages offered by Naval Group and Hanwha Ocean which includes training 3 crew batches and cross training them with the country of origin's navy, designing and building a submarine base, training center and maintenance hub, building up requirements to form the PN's Submarine Force from scratch, and offering a Line of Credit for the financing of the submarine package acquisition.

The S-80+ submarine is a larger submarine than the Scorpene-class and DSME-1400PN submarines offered by Naval Group and Hanwha Ocean, respectively, and is equipped with an AIP and originally designed for power projection. The larger sub is also more expensive although Spain's higher purchase price is attributed to cost overruns from delays and design issues, although the "perfected" submarine can now be exported at a lower cost.

It remains to be seen though if their overall offer is better than that of Naval Group and Hanwha Ocean.

More updates on the Submarine Acquisition Program would be touched-on by MaxDefense PH in the next few days.


28 August 2023:

Navantia held a press briefing in Spain where it confirmed that it is indeed submitting an offer to the Philippine Navy to meet its requirement for 2 submarines, submarine basing and the formation of a Submarine Force.

Their offer is based on the S80 Isaac Peral-class diesel-electric submarine, with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) System that allows the submarine to stay underwater for as long as 3 weeks.

The Spanish Navy's S80+ Isaac Peral-class submarine. Photo credits to H.I. Sutton and Foro Naval.

Navantia also proposed to build a new submarine base in Ormoc, Leyte, which is a different location compared to within Naval Operating Base Subic as submitted by France's Naval Group and South Korea's Hanwha Ocean (DSME).

The selection of Ormoc was based on its location with better protection against extreme weather, low seismic risk, and logistics being near a city.

The base will have a state-of-the-art training site which includes simulators that is similar to Navantia's own training site in Cadiz in Spain.

Like the offers of Naval Group and Hanwha Ocean, Navantia's offer is backed by a sovereign guarantee and loan for 100% of the amount by the Spanish Government, which will only start payment once the submarines are delivered.

So far, this offer of S80 Isaac Peral-class submarines is the largest and most advanced submarine compared to the Scorpene-class and the DSME 1400PN.  The only issue with Isaac Peral-class is the number of users, with only the Spanish Navy ordering 4 and still under construction so its not a proven design. 

In comparison, the Scorpene-class is not in use by the French Navy but is in use by Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia with a total of 14 units, and Indonesia is probably another future user with 2 units. Meanwhile the DSME 1400PN is based on the DSME 1400 design used by the Republic of Korea Navy and Indonesian Navy with a total of 12 units, but is based on the Type 209-1400 submarine design from the 1980s.


20 September 2023:

Hanwha Ocean has finally confirmed that they are upgrading their offer for the Philippine Navy's Submarine Acquisition Project, now offering the KSS-III which they call Jangbogo-IIIPN.

The Jangbogo-IIIPN is 77m long and displaces at 2,800 tons, making it slightly smaller than the KSS-III Dosan Ahn Changho-class of the Republic of Korea Navy.

CGI of the KSS-III Jangbogo-IIIPN submarine offered to the Philippine Navy. Photo credits to Hanwha Ocean.

This is probably due to the deletion of the Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which our source with Hanwha Ocean told us last time as not requested by the Philippine Navy to reduce complication on absorption of technology and knowledge for a first-time submarine user.

This was also confirmed to us by Navantia which will be deleting the AIP system from their S80 Isaac Peral-class offer to the Philippines. So far, Naval Group's Scorpene-class was offered to the Philippine Navy without AIP as well.

The Philippine Navy is now the 4th country to be offered the KSS-III design by Hanwha Ocean, after it offered the submarine design in competitions in Canada, India, and Poland.

Hanwha Ocean executives were in Manila and met with top officials of the Philippine Navy on Monday, regarding their revised offer with the Jangbogo-IIIPN.


20 September 2023:

French Ambassador to the Philippines Marie Fontanel-Lassalle made a courtesy call to the Department of National Defense and met Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

Amb. Fontanel-Lassalle said France is committed to assist the Philippine Navy to build up its Submarine capabilities and its maritime capabilities in general.

The discussions also included the joint patrols between the Philippines and US, and raising the possibility of France joining such patrols, and upholding freedom of navigation and addressing maritime challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

France's Naval Group is one of the shipbuilders offering a solution for the Submarine Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy centered on their Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine.

Top photo credits to DND, bottom photo credits to Naval Group.


02 February 2024:

The Philippine Navy's spokesman confirmed that the Submarine Acquisition Project is indeed included in the Re-Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Although he did not confirm how many submarines are included, he mentioned that the Philippine Navy should have between 2 to 3 submarines.

He also mentioned that offers were made from France, South Korea, Spain and Italy, without being specific on the submarine models and shipbuilders involved.

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines checked with sources and received confirmation that Italy's Fincantieri was the Italian proponent, offering a variant of the Type 212 Todaro-class diesel-electric attack submarine.

The Type 212A Todaro-class submarine ITS Romeo Romei. Photo credists to Seaforces Online.

Compared to the offers from France, South Korea and Spain, the Type 212 Todaro-class is the smallest in terms of physical dimension, with a length of around 56 meters and displacing at 1,525 tons surfaced. In comparison, the standard Scorpene-class is 62 meters long and displacing at 1,570 tons surfaced, and the one offered to the Philippine Navy is even larger than that.

The Type 212 is a German design and it also remains to be seen if Germany has no objections for Italy to market a derivative of their design.

No further details were provided as to what is the extent of Italy's offer nor any updates on the offer from other shipbuilders. As of late 2023, it was confirmed by naval sources to MaxDefense Philippines that only Naval Group submitted the most comprehensive offer.

First edit and release: 04 April 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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