Philippines Awards Contract for Upgrade of Former WHECs

BRP Andrés Bonifacio (FF-17), the former USCGC Boutwell.

Updates added below

NavyRecognition is reporting that the Philippines has awarded a PHP1.5 billion ($28.6M) contract to a South Korean firm for upgrades to their Del Pilar Class Frigates. These are the former cutters Hamilton, Boutwell, and Dallas.

“The project has an approved budget of PHP1.5 billion which will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippine Modernization Trust Fund. The upgrade seeks to enhance the ships’ combat management systems, electronic support and sonar capability to make it capable of operating with incoming and more modern naval assets like the two Jose Rizal-class missile frigates being completed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.”

The AN/SPS-40 air search radar, SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System, 25 mm Mk38 guns, and the Phalanx CIWS were removed before the vessels were transferred to the Philippines.

Presumably in addition to sonar, this upgrade will include torpedo tubes and Korean manufactured torpedoes (Update: apparently not–not included in this contract). The EW system will likely also include countermeasures. An air search capable radar like the Hensoldt TRS-3D Baseline D multi-mode phased array C-band radar being installed on the Jose Rizal-class frigates, to replace the AN/SPS-40 will almost certainly be included (Update: Sea Giraffe multi-role radar had been purchased from the US for this purpose, this is the same radar being purchased for the OPCs). Provision for anti-ship cruise missiles is a possibility, but at this point the full extent of modernization is not clear. I would assume the former WHECs will share some systems with the new frigates. 

12 thoughts on “Philippines Awards Contract for Upgrade of Former WHECs

  1. Chuck,
    Also check this out and look at what the Philippines have done to our old 378 Hamilton class cutters.

    The Philippine Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16)

    • The only new system visible on this video is addition of the Mk38 Mod2 Remote Weapon Station (RWS). On this particular ship, they have two, located where the crew served Mk38s were before the ship was transferred. On at least one of the other Philippine 378s there is only one Mk38 RWS on the stern in place of the Phalanx and they have older crew served 20mm mounts in place of the Mk38s.

      • I think Chuck, the Philippines can Upgun them to an ASUW frigate. I wonder if the 378’s OTO Melara 76 mm has the capability for Naval Gunfire support for the Philippine Marines ashore.

      • The 76mm can be used for naval gunfire support, but it is not particularly effective. The rounds are relatively expensive but are about as effective as an 81mm mortar round.

      • Has it ever been done in the past where the OTO Melara 76 mm was used for Naval Gunfire support ashore. I know the OTO Melara 76 mm is capable of using the DART and VULCANO rounds for Naval Gunfire support ashore. Maybe the Philippines are looking at using DART and VULCANO rounds on top of HE.

      • Nicky, I think the Israelis have used the 76 mm against targets on shore. They have also used the 25 mm and small guided missiles.

        No indication the Philippines has gotten any of the exotic ammunition offered for the 76mm. Keep in mind that DART has no explosive charge at all and is designed as a high velocity counter to cruise missiles and the Volcano round, while it does offer longer range, it is at the expense of using a smaller sub-caliber round with an even smaller bursting charge.

  2. I am told the Philippine 378s are getting Seagiraffe air search radar via US Foreign Military Sales. This is the radar also planned for the OPC. It is a comparable multi-role radar.

    • I also understand that no weapons, eg torpedoes and torpedo tubes are included in this contract. Maybe they intend to get those from the US but that would mean two different suppliers. Apparently so little money is available, they are doing the improvements in phases.

  3. This website has a much more complete explanation of the contracting for the improvements. It does so chronologically, so it is a bit convoluted. https://maxdefense.blogspot.com/p/del-pilar-class-frigate-upgrade.html?fbclid=IwAR3D1lNIcOOIp_cM5Ab5AGM_y6kyr7AtUlZ2MaxOEhL8Bm9gxErYeNa1Eh0

    There does appear to be information about the hull mounted sonar selected. https://www.wartsila.com/docs/default-source/product-files/sonars/sonars/wartsila-elac-hunter-2018.pdf?utm_source=sonars&utm_medium=sonarsystems&utm_term=hunter&utm_content=brochure&utm_campaign=msleadscoring

    My initial impression was that it made no sense to add a sonar and not add as ASW weapons, but this is not really a conventional ASW sonar. Sounds like it is more like the sonar on the National Security Cutters.

    This sonar appears to be relatively high frequency (although it does not say so) with a capability to detect mines, torpedoes, autonomous underwater vehicles, and midgett subs. That implies short range.

    They will likely not have much of a true ASW capability until they get a more capable sonar such as the CAPTAS 2 towed active/passive variable depth sonar that is planned for their newly built frigates.

    • Chuck,
      What I suspect the Philippines wants to do to old 378’s is turn them into a ASUW frigate and try to optimise them for Anti surface warfare work.

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