By Francis Wakefield
Philippine Navy (PN) Chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad Sunday said upgrading the fleet’s Del Pilar Class Frigates, especially its weapons system and combat management system, will further boost their capability in securing Philippine waters.
Empedrad made the remark following the recent announcement by the Department of National Defense (DND) of the Del Pilar Class Frigate Upgrade Acquisition Project for the Philippine Navy.
Assistant Secretary Manuel Felino V. Ramos, chairperson of the DND Bids and Awards Committee 1, said the project has an approved budget for acquisition of P1.54 billion under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.
“Its very important kasi i-upgrade iyung capability niya [to upgrade its capability] Kasi iyung Del Pilar kasi kanyon lang iyan eh [Del Pilar only has cannons].If you put automated systems… so in the future kapag ilagay, maglagay ka ng [if you put] missile systems in the future ay meron nang mao-automate nito,” Empedrad said.
“So I think i-improve din ata iyung [it will also improve the sonar capability of the ship]. It means the capability to locate submarine but I will check, it has a lot.” he added.
Empedrad said as far as he knows, there was already a winning bidder that will upgrade its Del Pilar Class Frigates.
“Ah meron na atang nanalo, ang nanalo is isang contractor from United Kingdom [I think there is already a winner, the winner is a contractor from United Kingdom],” Empedrad said.
“Pero i-aano pa naman iyan eh ipo-post qualify pa naman iyan ng DND [The DND will still post qualify it]. So if they post qualify siila yung magpe-perform ng project nung upgrade nung Del Pilar [they will perform the project upgrade of Del Pilar],” he added.
“Ah hindi. Hindi nga siya lalagyan ng missile, hindi nga siya lalagyan ng torpedo. Siyempre iyung frigate na bago iyun ang pinaka-most complete package frigate ng navy. So ito wala nga ilalagay na missile diyan so its a small portion of the capability of the frigate [No, missiles and torpedoes will not be put there. Of course the brand new frigate that is the most complete package frigate of the navy. Missile will not be put there so its a small portion of the capability of the frigate],” Empedrad said.
“Kasi malaki ang kailangang pera to make it at par with the frigate kaya. Iyun din iyung future plan ng navy to upgrade this capability para maging frigate siya kasi yung capability ng frigate wala pa sa kanya eh [We need money to make it at par with the frigate. That’s the future plan of the navy to upgrade this capability to make it a frigate because the capability for it to become a frigate is not yet there],” he said.
Empedrad said the Del Pilar ships are actually not classified as frigates.
“We classify it as pure off shore patrol vessel because a frigate will be a frigate when they have its missile capabilies, torpedoes capabilities. but ito [but this] the capability of Del Pilar pilar is just off shore patrol vessel that’s why we don’t consider as a frigate,” he said.
MaxDefense Philippines earlier said the project involves: Supply and Installation of a new Combat Management System, Hull Mounted Sonar, and Radar Electonic Support Measures (proponent supplied equipment); and System Integration of the Proponent Supplied Equipment with the Government Supplied Equipment, which includes the Saab AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe AMB 3D radar, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), FLIR SeaFLIR 230 EO/IR camera, as well as with existing ship subsystems including navigation, situational awareness, AIS, and other systems.