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Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

To improve its ability to patrol the vast maritime domain of the Philippines, including its Exclusive Economic Zone, the Philippine Navy has embarked on the acquisition of a new batch of Offshore Patrol Vessels. 

These ships are visioned to be the Philippine Navy's primary asset in monitoring the country's maritime borders and interests, capable of sailing in open ocean and rough sea states, and staying long enough to show the flag, provide security to the country's interests and territory, and provide intelligence and surveillance information to the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as part of the Coast Watch Philippines and a component in the AFP's C4ISTAR System.

The project, now known as the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Acquisition Project, is a Horizon 2 Phase Priority Project under the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

It was a project that was endorsed for implementation in 2016 under the Horizon 2 phase originally as the Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel (MPPV), and was given approval to proceed in 2018.

One of the OPV designs offered is the Austal PN OPV. Photo screengrabbed from Austal s video.


As part of the AFP’s Modernization Program, the Philippine Navy’s released its so-called Desired Force Mix in 2012, which calls on the acquisition of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) to give the service ships that can be used as workhorses on peacetime roles (maritime patrol and surveillance, maritime law enforcement, intelligence gathering, seach and rescue, HADR missions), or on low intensity conflicts. This would also allow the service to replace its existing fleet of patrol vessels which are mostly from the World War II-era like the Malvar-class patrol craft escorts (PCE).

In this wish list, the plan is to have (including those ordered and on the way for delivery) up to 18 Offshore Patrol Vessels in the Philippine Navy’s inventory by the end of the Revised AFP Modernization Program in 2028. Not counting the World War II-era ships, the Philippine Navy has 6 offshore patrol vessels: 3 Del Pilar-class and 3 Jacinto-class. MaxDefense expects that both classes would still be in service by 2028, considering both have undergone upgrades in the systems.

This means the Philippine Navy would still need at least 12 additional OPVs, if we continue to base it on the 2012 Desired Force Mix.

The 2012 Desired Force Mix calls for 18 OPVs for the PN. Credits to original source of photo.

Succeeding documents and plans released by the AFP made changes on quantity and names but it still reflect on the OPVs. In October 2016, a memorandum from the AFP was released wherein they mentioned the intention to acquire between 6 to 9 Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessels (MPPVs) to replace World War II-era ships in a 1:1 basis.

Between 2016 and 2018, more changes were made on the plans, with the Finalized Horizon 2 Priority Projects List submission made by the Department of National Defense (DND) in late 2017 placed the quantity at six (6) Offshore Patrol Vessels with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) of Php30 billion, which was approved in-principle by Pres. Duterte in early June 2018.

On 07 May 2019 during the DND-AFP Command Conference with Pres. Duterte, the president gave the final greenlight to proceed with the acquisition of the Offshore Patrol Vessels, with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) given the signal to release funds for the project.

Project Summary:

Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 28 May 2020:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Offshore Combat Force)

* Quantity: 6 units

* Modernization Phase: Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC: Php30,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: TBA

* Source of Funding: To be paid for using Soft Loans from a friendly country, most likely Australia.

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: TBA
* Product for Delivery: 

    - 6 units Offshore Patrol Vessels
    - Integrated Logistics Support
* Contract Price: TBA

* First post by MaxDefense: 08 November 2016 (as MPPV)

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNOPVAcquisition, #PNMPPVAcquisition (before project renamed to OPV Acquisition)

* Status: Pre-procurement phase negotiations ongoing between DND and PN, and Australian Department of Defence and Austal. Currently delayed due to funds being diverted for COVID-19 related expenses by the government.

U P D A T E S:

08 November 2016:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing the Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel (MPPV) project of the Philippine Navy, which was
 recently endorsed for immediate implementation on the early part of the AFP Modernization Horizon 2 Phase. This project is still in its early conceptualization, and MaxDefense is lucky enough to get some of the details and draw up an idea of what we could possibly expect.

The blog entry can be accessed from the link below:

"The Multi-purpose Patrol Vessel, the Philippine Navy's Newest Horizon 2 Project" - first posted 08 November 2016.

The River-class Batch 2 OPV was among those whose design was looked into by the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (TWG) as they formulate the specs for their MPPV. 

18 December 2016:

Israel Shipyards appears to be leading the pact of possible suppliers for the Philippine Navy's Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel project, with a proposal submitted as early as August 2016. It involves an offer based on their Sa'ar S-72 corvette design, although simplified to meet basic PN requirements and to reduce costs and meet with the PN's projected Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC).

Based on the formal offer made by Israel Shipyards to the DND and Pres. Duterte himself, the following are the basic information of the ship:

* Overall Length: 71.9 meters
* Beam: 10.25 meters
* Draught: 2.9 meters
* Displacement: roughly 800 tons
* Speed: above 28 knots maximum, 12-18 knots cruising
* Range: 5,300 nautical miles @ 12 knots
* Endurance: 21 days
* Crew: 45 
* Engine: 2 x diesel engines, with option to fit slow-speed electric drive for fue savings
* RHIB: 2 to 4 units lowered by davit cranes

Weapons and sensors will be dependent on Philippine Navy's specifications, once finalized, although the ship can fit most common systems available in the market. Israel Ministry of Defense-SIBAT prefers the use Israel-made systems, probably from Rafael, IAI-Elta, and Elbit-Elisra.

A CGI of the Sa'ar 72 offshore patrol vessel offering from Israel Shipyards.
Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense by sources.

It also appears that other potential shipbuilder competitors of Israel Shipyards like Damen (Netherlands), BAE Systems Maritime (UK), Fassmer (Germany), Tenix Defence (Australia), and others, have not yet submitted a formal offer aside from standard information provided to the PN. Add to that the low unit price, high interest to cooperate with Israel on defense matters by Pres. Duterte, plus a long term payment scheme for the ships, means that this offer is hard to beat at the moment.  

More information will be provided as the project progresses.


14 July 2017:

MaxDefense is happy to report that the organizers of Asian Defense, Security, and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conferencr (ADAS ) has released their show primer for the 3rd such event scheduled on September 26 to 28, 2018. 

Among those published is a list of possible acquisitions under Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covering the years 2018 to 2022, including Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

We thank APAC EXPO Pte Ltd (Singapore) for their trust in MaxDefense, which provided them the details on the expected projections based on our information base. Here is a screen-grab of the said primer for everyone's information.

If we're lucky or still operating by next year, MaxDefense hopes to be reconsidered again as a media partner of ADAS 2018. For more info on ADAS 2018, you may visit their website at www.adas.ph.

Based on the list above (which was willingly provided by MaxDefense to ADAS organizer APAC Expo), the Philippine Navy is expected to acquire Offshore Patrol Vessels. Photo taken from ADAS website.

23 January 2018:

Pres. Duterte met with executives of Israel Shipyards Ltd., who are lobbying to consider their products for different government projects.

Lobbying directly to the president has been a normal process that also happened during previous administrations. There is nothing wrong with this for as long as the company follows the procurement rules and processes, and meets the technical specifications of the project. This did not happen in the Frigate Acquisition Project, thats why the issue spiralled into a big mess.

This isn't the first time Israel Shipyards met Pres. Duterte. The first one was on August 2016 in Davao, which MaxDefense covered. During that time, Israel Shipyards were offering the Saar 72 for the Philippine Navy's Fast Attack Craft (FAC) requirement, and the Saar 72 OPV for the Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel (MPPV) requirement.

The presence of Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade could also mean that they are also after certain ship and boat projects for the Philippine Coast Guard.

The latest Horizon 2 proposal includes the acquisition of 8 MPPVs to do a 1:1 replacement of World War 2-era patrol craft escorts and corvettes.

Photo of meeting from Presidential Communications Office.

Israel Shipyard executive showing the product offerings of the shipyard.

02 April 2018:

MaxDefense posted on its social media page that German naval shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems continue to show its interest in the AFP Modernization Program. Despite its loss in the race for the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Program, TKMS has shown interest in other Naval projects including the Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel / Offshore Patrol Vessel, the Future Corvette, and the Future Diesel-Electric Submarine proposed projects.

MaxDefense received confirmation as early as last year that TKMS did submit their proposals for the 3 projects using the MEKO series of surface ships, and 2 submarine designs depending on PN's budget and requirement.

The report from Manila Bulletin can be accessed HERE.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) can potentially offer the MEKO 80 OPV variant of their successful MEKO series of surface vessels. Photo taken from TKMS' website.

18 October 2018:

Unknown to many, the recently concluded ADAS 2018 defense exhibition actually gave us a sneak peek on the technical requirements of the Philippine Navy's planned acquisition of at least 6 units Offshore Patrol Vessels as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP. The analysis of what could the PN be looking for was done without relying on the actual Technical Specifications of the project, which is still not finalized as of this writing. Instead the answers were probably right in front of us.

The blog entry below is also an update of an earlier blog first posted on November 2016 wherein we made an analysis of the then-called Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel (MPPV), as the information there can now be considered obsolete as the PN refined its requirements and increased the budget in the past 2 years.

"More Details on the Philippine Navy's Horizon 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel Project After ADAS 2018" - first posted 17 October 17 2018

Two of the potential leading competitors for the PN's OPV Acquisition Project: the Austal PN OPV (top) and the Propmech-Damen OPV 1400 (above).

18 June 2019:

Coinciding with the Philippine Navy's 121st founding anniversary, Australian shipbuilder Austal releases a new promotion video of their Offshore Patrol Vessel, which is offered for the OPV Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 phase Priority Projects.

It shows some of the ship's features, including:

* (Use of) Proven weapons and sensors with growth potential;
* Minimized Radar Cross Section (RCS) characteristics;

* Austal's Motion Control System (AMCS);
* Stern launch and recovery system based on proven Austal designs;
* Aviation capabilities based on proven Austal designs;

* Major equipment and weapon system satisfy the Republic Act 9184;
* Large Combat Information Centre (CIC) supports console growth and future missile system;
* Austal Intergrated Platform Monitoring and and Control System technology "MARINELINK"

It would be best noted that Austal designed and built the US Navy's Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), and the Royal Australian Navy's Armidale-class patrol boats, among others, and the company has experience in designing naval warship features including flight/aviation facilities and stern RHIB launching systems.

The emphasis on stating their intention to use "Proven weapons and sensors with growth potential" shows that they are careful to make sure that backlashes like what happened to the Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) wherein the PN was forced to use products that are not their preference and are less proven that those they selected.

This was further supported by another statement of having "Major equipment and weapon system satisfy the Republic Act 9184" which is the Revised Government Procurement Act of the Philippines. This RA mentions that the acquisitions should be of proven design and proven capabilities.


19 June 2019:

After just posting a new promotional video yesterday, Australian shipbuilder Austal is really pushing upping the ante by 
releasing another new promotional video just now of their offering for the Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.

This time their video shows a demonstration of how its features can be used in an actual maritime patrol situation, in this case, identifying an unknown vessel in an archipelagic or littoral environment.

Emphasis was made on the ship's bridge and Combat Information Centre (CIC) using modern sensors with large consoles and screens for easier viewing of the situation, the capabilities of the ship's aviation facilities including the ability to use multirotor UAVs as alternative to helicopters, demonstrate its stern launching and recovery system, and its use of remote-controlled gun systems.


20 June 2019:

Further strengthening their push, Austal again made its presence known at the PHILMARINE 2019 exhibition, displaying again a scale model of their PN OPV.

The Austal PN OPV scale model at PHILMARINE 2019. Thanks to a community member who wish to remain anonymous for sharing the photo to us.

03 August 2019:

As posted in our community social media page:

While we have already discussed the Philippine Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project and Austal's OPV design and offer to the PN, it is surprising that changes were made recently on this project.

Last October 2018, the DND released an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) wherein the mode of procurement was through Limited Source Bidding, or bidding by invitation only.

But recent announcements by Sec. Lorenzana mentioned that the project is now a Government to Government (G2G) deal with Australia, which means previous potential bidders from other countries are off the list, except for Australian shipbuilders like Austal.

So for those who are hoping for a specific design other than the Austal PN OPV, chances are you're pick won't have a chance anymore.

MaxDefense just hopes that the Austal OPV design be improved further by allowing space and power for at least two quadruple or twin over yhe horizon anti-ship missile launchers, Simbad-RC launchers, and a more powerful sensor suite like ECM and a 3D radar.

Austal hopes to win the contract for 6 OPVs for the PN. Photo taken from Austal's website.

10 February 2020:
Thailand's military-owned shipyard Bangkok Dock has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Thai Ministry of Defence to look on possibilities of meeting requirements of the Philippine Navy for its Offshore Patrol Vessel requirements., as reported by British defense media outlet IHS Jane's.

MaxDefense previously reported in our blog last October 2018 that Bangkok Dock has shown interest in the project, and could be offering a model based on the Krabi-class OPV that it sold to the Royal Thai Navy.

The Krabi-class is itself based on the River-class OPV of BAE Systems, and used by the British Royal Navy (RN).

It remains to be seen though if Bangkok Dock could find a local partner, since one of the requirements made for the PN's OPV acquisition is for the ships to be built locally, using local workforce, and with Transfer of Technology included.

Out of the contenders for the OPV project, only Austal and Propmech has shown capacity to build the ships locally, with Austal having a shipyard in Balamban, Cebu, while Propmech is said to be have a shipyard partner that would allow them to build OPVs based on Dutch shipbuilder Damen's OPV-1400 design.

The RTN's Krabi-class OPVs, which are around 90 meters long, and has space to accommodate anti-ship missiles and torpedo launchers. Photo taken from IHS Jane's.

07 March 2020:
The decision of the Duterte administration to lift its self-imposed ban to receive or negotiate for grants or loans from countries that criticized the administration's EJK issues has actually backfired against the Philippines.

One of the collateral damage was the ongoing negotiations between the DND and the Australian government for the later to provide official development loans to allow for the acquisition of 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels fron Austal.

Now that the ban is lifted, the DND can now return to the negotiating table, considering the OPV Acquisition Project has been delayed already because the Philippine government shot itself in the foot.

Late last year, MaxDefense mentioned that the closing of a deal between DND and Austal was "imminent", but suddently this came to a halt because of the government's own doing. The project should have been confirmed to Austal as early as December 2019 if not for that nonsense decision from the government to impose a useless ban against 18 countries.

It remains to be seen though if the Philippine government has already found a way to fund the 15% initial deposit for the project, which costs around Php4.5 billion. 

The Philippine Navy 83-meter OPV design from Austal as displayed during the Pacific 2019 naval defense expo in Sydney, Australia. Photo taken from and credited to Naval News.


28 May 2020:
The Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo confirmed in an interview with CNN Philippines that the Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project is among those that will experience delays due to diversion of funds to the COVID-19 initiatives of the government.

According to Vice Adm. Bacordo, the delay could be within 6 to 12 months, although he is confident that the project would still be implemented.

Below is the video from CNN Philippines' report on the issue.

It would be remembered that the OPV Acquisition Project was already in the process of being implemented but was affected by the Pres. Duterte's decision to stop talks regarding loans and grants from countries that were vocal on Human Rights violations during his term. Australia was among those countries, which was the one also to provide the loans for the OPV Acquisition Project.


02 February 2021:

The Australian Ambassador to the Philippines confirmed in an interview with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) that its government will be signing an agreement with the Philippines Department of National Defense, which will be the framework for the construction of offshore patrol vessels by Austal Philippines on behalf of the Australia government.

This framework is required since the acquisition of OPVs for the Philippine Navy will be through G2G process, but will be sourced ans built in the Philippines which is something new for G2G projects.

This gives Australia's bid for the OPV Acquisition Project a boost, considering it is still competing against offers from South Korea, Thailand, and other countries like Turkey and other European countries.

Austal has offered a new 80-meter design based on an enlarged Cape-class patrol vessel,

Austal's offer for the PN OPV project. Photo taken from Austal.

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

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