Philippines to start the upgrade of 3 Del Pilar-class frigates within 2021


Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana with Hanwha Systems CEO Jang Sik Won during signing of contract for Del Pilar-class upgrade project in 2019. Photo c/o

The Philippine Navy (PN) is expected to proceed with the upgrade works of its three (3) Del Pilar-class frigates within the year, with South Korean defense contractor Hanwha Systems spearheading the work.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, all 3 frigates have its 3-dimensional mapping completed, and are scheduled to undergo final inspections by Hanwha Systems by February 2021.

Hanwha Systems and the Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) signed the Del Pilar-class Frigate Upgrade Project's contract on 30 August 2019. This was after winning a tender for the project after lowest bidder Ultra Electronics failed to meet certain tender requirements.

Among those expected to be installed are the Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management Systems (CMS) from Hanwha Systems, and a new hull-mounted sonar and Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system.

MaxDefense Philippines believe the new sonar will come from Wartsila ELAC Nautik, although this could possibly change due to Wartsila’s divestment in ELAC Nautik, and the division’s change of ownership in 2020. It is also believed that the ESM would be supplied by Israel’s Elbit Systems.

In addition, the US Navy Naval Sea Systems Command and the US Coast Guard will be installing new air and surface search radar systems from Saab, and electro-optical tracking systems from FLIR Systems. Hanwha Systems will integrate both system to their new CMS, together with all other existing subsystems.

The upgrade works will be done one at a time, to allow at least 1 ship to be fully operational. Replying to our query, MaxDefense Philippines believes that the first ship of the class, BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) may undergo the upgrade works first since it is currently non-operational as it waits for new parts for its damaged propeller shaft that are also scheduled for delivery within 2021.

The Del Pilar-class frigates were previously Hamilton-class high endurance cutters of the US Coast Guard, which were transferred to the Philippines between 2011 and 2016. 

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Philippine Defense Resource
[3] Naval News

Philippines to start the upgrade of 3 Del Pilar-class frigates within 2021 Philippines to start the upgrade of 3 Del Pilar-class frigates within 2021 Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 22, 2021 Rating: 5

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