Thursday, December 30, 2021

South Korea decommissions 3 Pohang-class corvettes, 5 Chamsuri-class fast patrol boats


The three Pohang-class corvettes that were decommissioned by ROKN on 28 December 2021. Photo c/o ROKN.

The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) has decommissioned 3 Pohang-class corvettes and 5 Chamsuri-class fast patrol boats, all of which served in securing South Korean waters and interests for more than 30 years. 

The Pohang-class corvettes that were retired are the Flight IV corvettes ROKS Wonju (PCC-769), ROKS Seongnam (PCC-775) and ROKS Jecheon (PCC-776), which were commissioned with the ROKN between 1988 and 1989.

Also retired were the Chamsuri-class fast patrol boats with hull number 313, 315, 317, 318 and 319, which have been in service with the ROKN since the 1980s.

All 8 ships were decommissioned from service with the ROKN on 28 December 2021 at the Jinhae Naval Base in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam, with ROKN Naval Operations Commander Kang Dong-hoon presiding the ceremonies.

The decommissioned ships were involved in several homeland defense duties including participation in the 2nd Yeongpyeong Naval War and patrolling the Northern Limit Line in the maritime borders with North Korea.

No confirmation has been made on the fate of the decommissioned ships.

The ROKN has been modernizing its naval forces, retiring frontline combat ships from the 1980s including the Pohang-class corvettes, Ulsan-class frigates and Chamsuri-class fast patrol boats.

Over the years, these ships have been replaced with the Incheon and Daegu-class frigates, as well as the upcoming FFX-3 frigate, as well as the Yoon Youngha-class patrol vessels.|

Seveal of the Pohang-class corvettes have already been transferred to other countries including Colombia, Egypt, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

[1] Yonhap News Agency

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Philippines orders 2 new guided missile corvettes from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries


CGI of HDC-3100 corvette from HHI. Photo c/o HHI.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) has ordered 2 new guided missile corvettes for the Philippine Navy (PN) from South Korea naval shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The DND has been reported to have awarded a project to supply 2 new corvettes for the Philippine Navy on 15 December 2021.

It has also confirmed that it has signed the Contract for the corvettes with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) on 28 December 2021.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted by press report saying the decision to build the corvettes with HHI allows for the ease of maintenance and support of the new ships as well as the PN's existing Jose Rizal-class light frigates, which were also built by HHI.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, HHI has offered their HDC-3100 (also known as the HDF-3100) small warship design to meet the corvette requirements of the Philippine Navy.

The design is an improvement over the Jose Rizal-class which used the HHI's HDF-2600 design, and is around 114 meters long, 14.8 meters wide, and displaces at around 3,100 tons.

It also reported that the Corvette Acquisition Project of the PN is valued at around PHP28 billion (US$550 million), with the project divided into lots for the warship and weapon launchers, and the munitions.

The project is among those included in the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, and was approved in-principle by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2018.

There are no further confirmation on the timeline of the project, but it is expected that HHI would start building the ships by 3rd quarter of 2022, and complete the first ship of the class by 2nd quarter of 2024.

There are also no official information on the ship's subsystems, but it is believed that it would not deviate much from the subsystems already found on the Jose Rizal-class frigates, including the use of Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun, Aselsan SMASH 30mm secondary gun, LIG Nex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles, and LIG Nex1 K745 Blue Shark anti-submarine torpedoes.

It is expected that a gun-type close-in weapon system (CIWS) as well as a Vertical Launch System (VLS) would be installed.

[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] Philippine Defense Resource

Monday, December 27, 2021

Thailand's Type 071E landing platform dock launched by Chinese shipbuilder


The Type 071E LPD for the Royal Thai Navy after launching. Photo c/o Naval News.

The Type 071E landing platform dock (LPD) for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has been launched by its Chinese shipbuilder.

Chinese naval shipbuilder Hudong Zhonghua has launched the ship, which is expected to become the future HTMS Chang, on 23 December 2021.

It was based on the Type 071 landing platform dock designed and built for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with modifications to suit the requirements of the RTN.

The vessel was built as part of a contract signed between China and Thailand on September 2019 worth around THB6.1 billion (approx. US$200 million).

The amount does not include the weapon systems, which are to be acquired separately by the RTN. No specifics have been made yet on the final weapons fit out of the ship.

There are also reports that the RTN intends to use the LPD as a submarine tender ship to support the upcoming S26T submarines that are also being built by a Chinese shipbuilder.

The Type 071 is around 210 meters long, 28 meters wide, and has a full load displacement of around 25,000 tons. 

The ship is designed to carry a Marine battalion of around 800 marines, plus 20 amphibious vehicles and other equipment.

[1] Naval News
[2] Thai Armed Force

Myanmar commissions Type 035 submarine, second Inlay-class offshore patrol vessel


The Type 035 submarine UMS Minye Kyaw Htin (72). Photo c/oAAH_Th Thai Defense page.

The Myanmar Navy commissioned a Type 035 submarine to its fleet as part of the 74th founding anniversary of the service.  

The submarine was commissioned as the UMS Minye Kyaw Htin (72) during ceremonies held on 24 December 2021 at the Myanmar Naval Dockyard in Yangon, with Myanmar State Administration Council Chairman and Senior General Min Aung Hliang presided the event.

The submarine, formerly with China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), is the first of its class in Myanmar Navy service, and its second ever submarine after commissioning a former Indian Navy Sindhughosh-class (Project 877EKM Kilo-class) submarine UMS Minye Theinkhathu (71) in 2020.

Despite arriving only recently, the submarine was immediately commissioned to coincide with the Myanmar Navy's anniversary, similar to commissioning exercises during previous anniversaries. 

It was first reported by submarine analyst H.I. Sutton that a Type 035 submarine flying a Chinese flag was seen entering the Malacca Strait on 20 December 2021 and was heading to Myanmar, and escorted by a Myanmar Navy 5-series fast attack craft.

The submarine is believed to be gifted or sold at a very low price by the Chinese Government to Myanmar, and could be a political move by China to counter India's efforts to sway Myanmar in its favor in terms of arms sales and influence.

In addition, the Myanmar Navy also commissioned its second Inlay-class offshore patrol vessel, two 18-meter riverine fast attack crafts, and four 20-meter riverine patrol boats as part of the ceremonies.

The Inlay-class OPV was commissioned as the UMS Inma (56), and was locally designed and constructed by the Myanmar Naval Dockyard in Yangon.

[1] AAH_Th Thai Defense Page
[2] Covert Shores

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Indonesia abandons plan to procure Su-35 from Russia in favor of American F-15EX, French Rafale


A CGI of the F-15EX fighter from Boeing. Photo c/o Boeing.

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) on 22 December 2021 confirmed that it has narrowed down its acquisition of new fighter aircraft to either or both the F-15EX and Rafale from the United States and France, respectively.

TNI-AU Chief of Staff Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo said that they have narrowed down the acquisition of new fighter aircraft to the two Western-made fighters, although he has not made indication if the purchase will be one of the two aircraft models, or a combination of both.

Marshal Prasetyo also confirmed that they are abandoning plans to purchase 11 new Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E from Russia worth US$1.14 billion, after prolonged delays on the procurement process, and disputes on counter-trade terms.

But there is also the heightened concerns on potential sanctions by the US Government as part of its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA) policy.

In 2018, the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MOD) signed an agreement to acquire 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters to replace its ageing fleet of American-made Northrop F-5E/F Tiger light fighters, which includes a counter-trade agreement worth US$570 million.

Budget has become a consideration in acquiring new fighter aircraft, as the TNI-AU plans to have up to 3 squadrons of new fighters that utilizes fighters with 30-40 years service life.

Indonesia previously announced plans to purchase 8 new F-15EX fighters from American aviation company Boeing, and 36 Rafale fighters from France's Dassault Aviation.

A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed on June 2021 between French and Indonesian defense officials to support the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters by the TNI-AU.

Marshal Prasetyo also mentioned that Boeing made a confirmation that they can receive the F-15EX to the TNI-AU by 2027 if an agreement is reached now. 

[1] Benar News
[2] Aviacionline
[3] Janes

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Malaysia announces plans to buy Kuwaiti F/A-18s, later denied by Kuwait


One of the F/A-18C Hornet fighter aircraft of the Kuwait Air Force. Photo c/o Flickr. 

The Malaysian Minstry of Defence (MOD) has expressed its desire to increase the Royal Malaysian Air Force's (RMAF) F/A-18 Hornet fleet by acquiring additional units from other countries.

The Malaysian Deputy Defence Minister Dato Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz has confirmed to the country's parliament that the MOD is planning to procure 33 F/A-18C/D Hornet fighter aircraft from Kuwait, as the Kuwait Air Force (KAF) plans to retire its entire fleet soon.

He also said that the Kuwaiti F/A-18s are in very good condition and had low operating hours, even compared to those operated by the RMAF, and adding them will increase the country's level of preparedness and improve the capabilities of the RMAF in safeguarding the country's airspace.

The RMAF currently has 8 F/A-18D Hornet, twin-seat variants acquired in 1997, and plans to continue operating the type until 2035.

Should the plan to procure the Kuwaiti F/A-18s are to proceed, it is expected that upgrades are needed to be undertaken to keep them effective to serve for its planned service duration.

The Deputy Defence Minister did mention that discussions between Malaysia and Kuwait regarding the interest on the fighter aircraft are yet to materialize.

US Government approval being the manufacturing country, is also needed by both the buyer and seller, which still needs to be requested.

Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense denied the reports on negotiations with Malaysia on its F/A-18C/D Hornet fighter fleet/

The Kuwait Army General Staff Headquarters issued a statement saying any negotiations to sell ordnance by the Ministry of Defense would be declared directly.

It also said that such deals are condcuted via the Assets Commissions affiliated to the ministry, as well as in coordination with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance after approval of the manufacturing country, and in line with standing procedures.

Malaysia has previously made statements on their interest on the Kuwaiti Hornets, although other countries like Tunisia has also expressed its interest in the fighters.

[1] The Star
[2] Defense News
[3] Kuwait News Agency

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Singapore unveils new H225M Caracal medium helicopter


One of the new H225M helicopters of the RSAF during demonstration to press on 15 December 2021. Photo c/o Channel News Asia.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has unveiled its new Airbus H225M Caracal medium helicopter.

Singapore press were able to get a closer look at the new helicopter, which was displayed by the RSAF on 15 December 2021 at the Sembawang Air Base.

The Singpore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) described the new H225M helicopters as an aircraft with  “high load capacity, easy cabin access, combined with fast cruise speed, long range and in-flight agility, providing the flexibility needed for the RSAF to be more effective and capable in meeting operational demands”.

Singapore announced its intentions to acquire the Airbus H225M on November 2016 to replace its ageing fleet of AS332M Super Puma helicopters, which have been in service with the RSAF for more than 30 years. 

The first H225M helicopter was received by the RSAF on March 2021, 

30 helicopters are believed to have been ordered by the Singapore MINDEF, which would be delivered in phases to the RSAF’s Participation Command, will be used for inserting troops and drop supplies in combat conditions, and provide support to ground and maritime units.

They are also expected to be used for non-combat roles including Search and Rescue (SAR), and support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.

The H225M Caracal was said to be a huge improvement over the older AS332M Super Puma, with the new helicopter having 20% more range and higher loading capacity. 

It is also equipped with a double hoist system, with longer cables and faster motor.

[1] Channel News Asia

[2] Singapore Ministry of Defence

[3] MINDEF - Pioneer Magazine

Australia launches first new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel


The NUSHIP Arufara during launching. Photo c/o Adelaide Now.

Australia’s first new-generation offshore patrol vessel, the first of class of the Arafura-class, has been launched by its shipbuilder.

The ship, named NUSHIP Arafura (203), is the first of 12 new OPVs being built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to replace its current fleet of Armidale and Cape-class patrol boats.

The launch was held on 16 December 2021 at the ASC Shipbuilding’s Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, with Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton MP saying that it was a step forward in protecting Australian borders and offshore interests, providing increased maritime patrol and response capability and interoperability with Australian vessels and regional partners.

The RAN’s SEA 1180 Phase 1 project was awarded to Luerssen Australia in 2018, with a contract to build 12 new OPVs based on their PV-80 design.

Construction of NUSHIP Arufara began in 2019, with ASC Shipbuilding contracted by Luerssen Australia to build the first and second ships. This was to allow the setting of a foundation for continuous shipbuilding before the RAN’s new Hunter-class frigates with construction.

Ships 3 to 12 will be built by Civmec Construction & Engineering at their shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.

The new Arufara-class OPVs have a primary role of undertaking constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties. It will be equipped with modern sensors and command and communications systems to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, and other Australian Defence Force units and other regional partners and allies.

They are 80 meters long, 13 meters wide, displaces at 1,640 tons, and has a crew of 40.

The ships are powered by two 4,250KW diesel engines which allows for a maximum speed of 20 knots and a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles at cruising speed.

It will be armed with a 40mm naval gun and two .50-caliber machine guns, and will be complemented with two 8.5-meter Boomeranger FRB 850 and one 10.5-meter Bommeranger C 1100 rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).

[1] Australian Department of Defence

[2] Royal Australian Navy

[3] Naval News

Monday, December 20, 2021

Malaysia receives 4th Keris-class littoral missions ship from Chinese shipbuilder

Handover and Naming Ceremony of KD Rencong (114) in Wuhan, China. Photo c/o Royal Malaysian Navy.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has received its fourth and final Keris-class Littoral Missions Ship from its Chinese shipbuilder.

The handover and naming ceremony was held on 18 December 2021 at Wuchang Shipbuilding Industrial Group’s shipyard in Wuhan, China, and was attended by Defence Advisor at the Malaysian Embassy in the People’s Republic of China First Admiral Zahid Abd Aziz as well as delegation from Malaysia and China.

The ship was named KD Rencong (114), which was named after a traditional Malay weapon like the rest of the ships of the class.

The Keris-class were ordered as part of deal signed on March 2017 between the Malaysian Ministry of Defence, and China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. Ltd.

Construction of KD Rencong started on September 2019, with the ship launched on December 2020. 

The new ship is expected to join the Royal Malaysian Navy’s 11th Littoral Mission Ship Squadron together with its sisterships, KD Keris (111), KD Sundang (112), and KD Badik (113).

The ships are capable of performing patrol missions, maritime surveillance and security operations, Search and Rescue (SAR), and other tasks.

[1] Naval News

[2] Malaysian Gazette

Australia decommissions fleet replenishment ship as replacements arrive


The HMAS Sirius (0266). Photo c/o Royal Australian Navy.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has decommissioned the fleet replenishment vessel HMAS Sirius (O266) after serving for 15 years.

The ship’s decommissioning was held under traditional ceremonies on 18 December 2021 at Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

HMAS Sirius was originally the commercial double-hulled tanker MV Delos built by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, and was purchased by the Australian Government in 2004, and underwent modifications for under-way replenishment and was commissioned with the Royal Australian Navy in 2006.

The ship has played a key role in defending Australia’s borders and providing support to Australian and allied naval forces, providing more than 770 replenishments at sea and sailing almost 900,000 kilometers.

HMAS Sirius also broke the previous Navy record for the biggest replenishment at sea in 2013, passing 10,000 cubic meters of fuel to US Navy replenishment ship USS Yukon (T-AO-202) in 2013.

It also conducted maritime border patrols and providing support during Operation Resolute in 2013 to 2014.

The ship will be replaced by the new Supply-class fleet replenishment vessels, with HMAS Supply (A195) commissioned in April 2021, and HMAS Stalwart (A304) commissioned on November 2021.

[1] Australia Department of Defence

[2] Royal Australian Navy

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Pakistan starts local construction of 5th Hangor-class diesel electric attack submarine


Pakistan Navy officials, and dignitaries from Pakistan and China during Steel Cutting Ceremony of 5th Hangor-class submarine on 09 December 2021. Photo c/o Naval Today.

The Pakistan Navy (PN) confirmed that the local shipbuilder Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW) has started the construction of the fifth Hangor-class diesel-electric submarine, as it conducted the first steel cutting ceremonies on 09 December 2021.

Dignitaries from Pakistan and China were present in the ceremonies, including the Pakistan Navy's Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi.

Admiral Niazi expressed gratitude to all involved in the construction activities, and highlighted the deepening of relations between China and Pakistan.

The submarine will be named PNS Tasnim once commissioned with the Pakistan Navy, and was named after retired Vice Admiral Ahmad Tasnim, who was then the commanding officer of the first PNS Hangor (S-131) that sunk the Indian Navy frigate INS Khukri during the India-Pakistan War in 1971.

The Hangor-class is based on the Chinese Type 039B diesel-electric submarine design, which is the export version of the Type 039A used by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and is also called the Song-class..

Pakistan ordering a total of 8 Type 039B submarines under a US$5 billion deal signed in 2015, with the first 4 submarines were built in China by Wuchang Shipbuilding in Wuhan.

The Type 039B Hangor-class submarine are said to have advanced features and can operate under a multi-threat environment, and is equipped with modern sensors and integrated with a Command & Control system which can simultaneously track and engage several targets at standoff ranges.

Pakistan is the first export customer of the Type 039 submarine, with Thailand also ordering a variant of the type in 2017 called the S26T.

[1] Naval News
[2] Shephard Media
[3] Navy Recognition 

India commissions 4th Kalvari-class (Scorpene) diesel electric attack submarine


The INS Vela (S24). Photo c/o Tribune India.

The Indian Navy commissioned its fourth Kalvari-class diesel-electric attack submarine on 25 November 2021.

The submarine was commissioned as the INS Vela (S24) , with Indian Navy Chief of Navy Staff Admiral Karambir Singh leading the ceremonies held at the Mumbai Naval Dockyard.

It is the second ship of the Indian Navy to be using the same name, with the first INS Vela (S40) being the lead ship of the Vela-class attack submarine based on the Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine, and was decommissioned in 2010.

The INS Vela is part of the 6-ship Kalvari-class, which is based on the French-designed Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine from Naval Group, and are considered as one of the most advanced conventional powered submarine in the world. 

The submarines are locally built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. under the Indian Navy's Project P-75 Program, and is among the centerpiece projects under the Indian government’s “Make in India” program.

They are armed with six torpedo tubes, which can fire up to 18 heavy torpedoes, SM-39 Exocet submarine-launched anti-ship missiles, and mines.

It is also equipped with a permanent magnetic synchronous motor, allowing for quiet operations. 

Two more ships of the class, the Vagir and Vagsheer, and in different stages of construction and sea trials, and are expected to be commissioned to the Indian Navy by 2022.

[1] Naval News
[2] The Hindu
[3] Hindustan Times

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Philippines preparing arrival of 1st batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey


A T129B ATAK attack helicopter in Philippine Air Force paint scheme and markings. Photo c/o Philippines DND.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has conducted the pre-delivery inspections on the first batch of two T129B ATAK attack helicopters, and has approved the delivery of both aircraft.

Both helicopters are expected to arrive in the Philippines within December 2021 and will be undergoing further inspections and tests in local conditions before being inducted with the Philippine Air Force.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the helicopters will be assigned with the PAF’s 18th Attack “Falcons” Squadron of the 15th Strike Wing together with a couple of existing Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters.

The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) ordered six T129B ATAK attack helicopters worth PHP13.78 billion (US$276 million) from Turkish Aerospace Industries after winning a selection process conducted by the Philippine Air Force.

The program was reportedly delayed by more than a year, said to be rooted to American export restrictions on defense materiel to Turkey stemming from its acquisition of Russian air defense systems and several other issues.

The T129B ATAK competed against the AH-64E Apache Guardian, Bell AH-1Z Viper, Mil Mi-28 Havoc, Sikorsky S-70i Armed Black Hawk, and others.

The T129B ATAK is a Turkish derivative of the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta, with high Turkish content on subsystems, plus other improvements on overall performance.

It is equipped with an M197 20mm 3-barrel rotary cannon, and can be armed with the unguided rockets, the Cirit 70mm laser-guided rockets, the UMTAS anti-tank missile, and Stinger air-to-air missiles.

Photos shared by the Philippine Air Force showed one of the T129B helicopter with the Cirit 4-round launchers, which could be a confirmation that the munitions and launchers are included in the deal.

Philippines Department of National Defense
[2] Philippine Defense Resource
[3] Philippine News Agency

Indonesia launches 5th indigenous KCR-60 Sampari-class 60-meter missile craft


Launching of Kapak (625). Photo c/o PT PAL Indonesia.

Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL Indonesia has launched the 5th Sampari-class (also known as KCR-60) fast attack missile craft for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).

The indigenously-built fast attack missile craft, which would be named the KRI Kapak (625) once in service with the TNI-AL, was launched on 05 December 2021 at PT PAL’s facility in Surabaya.

The ceremony was attended by Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander General Andika Perkassa, TNI-AL Admiral Yudo Margono, and PT PAL Indonesia CEO Mr. Kaharuddin Djenod.

The launching date also coincides with the TNI-AL’s Fleet Day 2021.

Once commissioned, the ship is expected to join the TNI-AL’s III Fleet Command (KOARMADA-III) in charge of defending Indonesia’s eastern sea area.

The KCR-60 Sampari-class are 60 meters long, has a width of 8.10 meters, a height of 4.85 meters, and has a full load displacement of around 460 tons. 

It has a cruising speed of 20 knots, a maximum speed of 28 knots, and an endurance of 5 days.

Equipment and subsystem fit out varies on some of the ships of the class. The Kapak is expected to be armed with a 57mm Bofors Mk. 3 naval gun, MBDA MM40 Exocet Block 3 anti-ship missiles, and a 20mm gun.

It would also be equipped with the Terma Scanter 4603 radar, Terma C-Fire Electro-Optical Tracking System, Terma C-Flex Combat Management System, as well as a new Indonesian National Data Link which is still under development.

PT PAL Indonesia
[2] Kompas
[3] Naval News

Philippines commissions donated landing craft, retires 2 World War 2 patrol vessels


The BRP Miguel Malvar and BRP Magat Salamat during decommissioning on 10 December 2021. Photo c/o ABS-CBN News.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has commissioned a surplus landing craft utility (LCU) donated by the South Korean Government, after completing refurbishing works locally.

The LCU was commissioned as the BRP Mamanwa (LC-294) by the Philippine Navy on 06 December 2021 during simple ceremonies at Cavite Naval Base south of Manila.

It was named after the Mamanwa, an indigenous tribe in Mindanao island.

The ship, formerly the Mulgae-class LCU-78 of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), was committed for donation to the Philippines in 2014, and was reported to have arrived in 2015 together with 16 rubber boats and 200 computers donated by the South Korean Government to assist communities affected by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) in 2013.

The BRP Mamanwa was assigned with the Philippine Navy’s Sealift Amphibious Force, which handles all amphibious and logistics ships of the service.

In a separate event, the Philippine Navy retired its last two Malvar-class patrol vessels on 10 December 2021, after 44 years of service.

The ships, the BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19) and BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20), were former World War 2-era ships of the US Navy, which were passed on the Republic of Vietnam Navy (RVN) in the 1960s.

Both ships fled to the Philippines after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) in 1975, and were refurbished and transferred by the US Government to the Philippine Navy on February 1977.

The ships are the last remaining World War 2-era surface combatants of the Philippine Navy, known in the past for being equipped with some of the oldest fighting ships in the world. 

The retirement of the ships is used by the Philippine Navy to mark its shift to modern assets as it modernizes its fleet.

The ships’ decommissioning also comes after the Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado, confirmed that the funding to acquire 6 new Offshore Patrol Vessels and 2 new Corvettes are expected to be released soon, while a second Pohang-class corvette from South Korea is being finalized for transfer.

[2] MaxDefense Philippines
[3] ABS-CBN News

Friday, December 10, 2021

Australia to replace NH90 Taipan helicopters with new Black Hawks from US

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Photo c/o Lockheed Martin.

The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) is expected to announce on 10 December 2021 of plans by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to proceed with the early retirement of its fleet of NH Industries MRH90 Taipan medium helicopters.

The MRH90 Taipan are Australian variants of the NH90 medium helicopter made by NH Industries, which is a collaboration between European aircraft manufacturers Airbus, Leonardo, and Fokker.

The MRH90 were ordered by the Australian Government starting 2005, and operated since 2007. Majority of the helicopters were assembled locally by Australian Aerospace, a subsidiary of Airbus based in Brisbane, Queensland.

The helicopters are operated by both the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) under its 808 Squadron since 2013, and the Australian Army’s (AA) 6th Aviation Regiment since 2007, with both services using the helicopter for multiple roles including troop and cargo transport, as well as maritime operations.

The decision comes as the MRH90 Taipan continues to be plagued by fleet-wide groundings and poor availability, as well as design issues including a small side door opening to allow machine guns to be fired while troops are exiting the aircraft.

The ADF originally planned to operate its 47 units of MRH90 Taipan until 2037, which will now be cut short to around the late 2020s, or almost 10 years shorter than planned.

The DOD is expected to announce the acquisition of its replacement, the Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk helicopter, with the RAN already announcing previously of its intentions to acquire another 12 MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopters to replace the MRH90 Taipan in naval service.

It is expected that the Australian Army will acquire around 40 new, off-the-shelf UH-60 Black Hawk multi-role helicopters from American aviation company Sikorsky Helicopters.

Being off-the-shelf allows the Australian Army to receive the helicopters faster, with modifications according to Australian requirements potentially only implemented afterwards.

Ironically, the MRH90 Taipan were introduced to the Australian Army to replace its older variants of the S-70A Black Hawk which it has been operating since the 1980s, with the MRH90 expected to be significantly better and more capable than the older Black Hawk variant.

It is believed that the Australian DOD has already discussed the plan with France’s Airbus, just months after cancelling the A$90 billion acquisition of French-designed Shortfin Barracuda diesel-electric attack submarines that were suppose to be called the Attack-class submarine in Australian service.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Australia retires F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet fighters after 36 years of service


RAAF F/A-18A Hornet in commemorative paint scheme prior to the formal retirement of the type.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has formally retired its remaining fleet of Boeing F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet twin-engine fighter aircraft last 29 November 2021, after 36 years of service as Australia's main combat aircraft.

The ceremony to mark the farewell was held at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales, with the event attended by the Australian Minister of Defence Peter Dutton, the Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, and several various aviators and industry partners involved in the RAAF's F/A-18A/B fleet.

F/A-18A/B fighter aircraft from the No. 75 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory, were present and provided overhead flights.

The unit is the last Classic Hornet squadron to shift to the new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter starting in 2022.

Air Marshall Hupfeld, himself a former F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet pilot, stated that the Classic Hornet has reached almost a combined 408,000 total flying hours, and is time to be replaced with a more lethal and survivable fighter like the F-35A Lightning II.

The RAAF selected then McDonnel Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornet over the then General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon as a replacement for its ageing Mirage III fighter, making Australia one of the first export market for the Hornet.

57 single-seat F/A-18A and 18 two-seat F/A-18B aircraft were delivered to the RAAF under a US$2.788 billion contract, with the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) based in Avalon in Victoria assembling all but two aircraft.

The RAAF's No. 3, 75, and 77 Squadrons, as well as the No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) received the aircraft. Except for No.75 Squadron which is based at RAAF Base Tindal in Northern Territory, all others were based in RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

The RAAF also operate the newer and larger F/A-18F Super Hornet, which replaced the F-111 Aardvark, as well as the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare attack aircraft.

Both aircraft will be operated by the RAAF in the long term and will complement the F-35A Lightning II.

[1] Australian Aviation
[2] The Drive - The Warzone
[3] Air Force Technology

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Thailand receives final two Airbus H225M Caracal multi-mission helicopters

One of the new H225M Caracal multi-mission helicopters delivered on 24 November 2021. Photo c/o RTAF.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) received 2 more Airbus H225M Caracal multi-mission medium helicopters, previously known as the Airbus EC725. .

The helicopters with tail numbers 20309 and 20310 were welcomed on 24 November 2021 by the RTAF’s Aviation Division 2 commander Air Chief Marshall Chawapon Yimpong. The new helicopters  join other H225Ms assigned with Squadron 203.

The delivered helicopters are part of a four unit order signed on September 2018, with the first two units delivered at an earlier date.

This brings the total EC725 helicopters in the RTAF’s fleet to 12, with the first helicopters arriving in 2015.

The RTAF’s EC725s are specially equipped with emergency flotation gear, fast roping, cargo sling, search light and electro-optical systems (EOS) to perform combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, search and rescue (SAR) flights, troop transport operations and other tasks.

Airbus Helicopters’ EC725 is an 11-ton twin-engine multirole utility helicopter featuring high-performance navigation and mission systems, including a digital four-axis autopilot for high performance flight autonomy.

It is a member of the successful Super Puma / Cougar family of military helicopters, with more than 500 units delivered worldwide.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia also operate the EC725/H225M helicopters.

[1] Royal Thai Air Force
[2] Airbus Helicopters

Monday, November 29, 2021

Philippines looking at acquiring a second Pohang-class corvette from South Korea


The former ROKS Andong (PCC-771). Photo c/o ROKN.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has started the process of acquiring a second decommissioned Pohang-class corvette from South Korea.

The PN has made its intentions known more than a year ago of trying to acquire at least 2 more used Pohang-class corvettes to complement its existing surface ships, as it replaces its World War 2-era patrol vessels and expand its fleet.

A Joint Visual Inspection was conducted on the former Pohang-class Flight IV corvette ROKS Andong (PCC-771), which was previously in service with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) and was decommissioned on 31 December 2020.

According to the PN, the ship was found to be in good condition, although not much detail and timeline were provided on the transfer of the ship.

Should the transfer be successful, it would be the second Pohang-class corvette in the PN, after the former Flight III ship ROKS Chungju (PCC-762), now known as the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).

The Flight IV variant of the Pohang-class corvettes are armed with the Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles and MBDA Mistral very short range air defense system (VSHORAD), although the missiles may not be part of the transfer to the Philippine Navy.

The former ROKS Andong was built by Hanjin Heavy Industries and launched on 30 April 1987, and commissioned with the ROKN on 07 November 1988.

Naval News
[3] MaxDefense Philippines

Thursday, November 25, 2021

India commissions first new Project P15B Vishakhapatnam-class guided missile destroyer


The INS Vishakhapatnam (D66). Photo c/o Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy has commissioned its first Vishakhapatnam-class guided missile destroyer, considered to be the most advanced surface combatant of the country.

Commissioning ceremonies was held on 21 November 2021 at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, and was attended by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The ship, which was named INS Vishakhapatnam (D66), is the lead ship of the class with the same name, and was built under the Indian Navy's P15B destroyer program, which aims to deliver the latest generation of stealth guided missile destroyers to replace older models like the Rajput-class.

The ship was indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation Directorate of Naval Design, and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in the company's shipyard in Mumbai.

In his address, the Defence Minister said that the ship is a symbol of the growing maritime prowess of the country and a major milestone in achieving Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.

He added that the ship is a reminder of ancient and medieval India’s maritime power, shipbuilding skills and glorious history, and defined that the ship is one of the most technologically advanced guided missile destroyers in the world which will cater to the present & future requirements of the Indian Armed Forces and India as a whole.

The ship was designed and built with a high level of indigenisation, with major indigenous systems including its Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Torpedo Tube Launcher, Integrated Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Close-in Weapon System and the Bow mounted SONAR.

The INS Visakhapatnam is 163 meters long, 17 meters in breadth, has a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India.

The ship is propelled by four gas turbines in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, and is  capable of reaching speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The ship features an enhanced stealth design resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS),  achieved through efficient shaping of hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar transparent materials on exposed decks.

[1] Naval News
[2] India Today
[3] Hindustan Times

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Pakistan commissions its first Type 054A/P Tughril-class guided missile frigate


The PNS Tughril as seen in Shanghai before commissioning. Photo c/o Times of India.

The Pakistan Navy (PN) has commissioned its first Tughril-class Type 054A/P guided missile frigate, as confirmed by an official statement.

The ship, named the PNS Tughril (F261), was commissioned during ceremonies held on 08 November 2021 in Shanghai, China, and attended by Pakistan's Ambassador to China Moin ul-Haque.

The ship, which was named after Tugrul I which is one of the founders of the Seljuk Empire,  is the first of four ships ordered by the Pakistan Government in 2017 and 2018, and was built by Chinese shipbuilder China Shipbuilding Trading Company's Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.

The ship is also the third Pakistan Navy warship to hold the same name after an O-class destroyer commissioned in 1951, and a Gearing-class destroyer commissioned in 1980.

Ambassador ul-Haque said that the new frigate would strengthen efforts for peace and stability in the South Asian region, and is a tantamount to a new chapter of long-standing relations between Pakistan and China.

The ship's design was based on the Type 054A frigate built for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with some modifications to suit the requirements of the Pakistan Navy.

It is currently the most advanced surface combatant in the Pakistan Navy, and also the largest and most advanced warship made by China for export to another country.

The Type 054A/P Tughril-cass displaces at over 4,000 tonnes, is 135 meters long, and are are armed with a 32-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS), equipped with the HHQ-16 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and the Yu-8 anti-submarine rockets (ASROC), 2 quadruple CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile launchers, a PJ-26 76 mm main naval gun, 2 triple Anti-Submarine Torpedo launchers, 2 Type 87 Anti-Submarine rocket launchers, two Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers and two Type 1130 close-in weapon systems (CIWS).

Three more ships are in different phases of construction, and are expected to be completely delivered to the Pakistan Navy by 2023. The second ship of the class was launched on January 2021, a;so at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.

[1] Jane's
[2] Daily Pakistan
[3] Anadolu Agency

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Bhutan receives 15 First Win armored vehicles procured from Thailand


Some of the First Win armored vehicles handed over to Bhutan. Photo c/o Bangkok Post.

The Government of Bhutan has received 15 new First Win 4x4 armored vehicles it procured from Thailand, which would be used for United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

The vehicles were made by Thai company Chaiseri Defence, and were handed over by Thai Deputy Defence Minister General Chaichan Changmongkol to Bhutan's Ambassador to Thailand Kinzang Dorji on 19 November 2021 at the Office of the Permanent Defence Secretary in Nonthaburi.

The vehicles are to be used the Royal Bhutan Army's UN peacekeeping contingent in Central African Republic starting next month.

Thai Permanent Secretary of Defence General Worakiat Rattananont said that Bhutan selected the First Win armored vehicle due to Chaiseri's capabilities, and the quality of the vehicles considering the affordable price tag.

The vehicles were said to be worth a total of THB225 million (US$6.8 million), or around THB15 million each.

Bhutan becomes the 4th country to use the Chaiseri First Win 4x4 armored vehicles, after Thailand, Malaysia (as the AV4 Lipanbara), and Indonesia.

The Chaiseri First Win is considered as a Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle, designed with a V-shape hull with protection up to STANAG 4569 Level 3B to better protect the vehicle's passengers from mines and improvised explosive device (IED), and has a  STANAG 4569 Level 2 ballistic protection against small arms fire.

It can be equipped with a manually or remote-operated turret with machine guns or automatic grenade launchers, and has firing ports to allow passengers to use small arms from inside the vehicle.

[1] Bangkok Post
[2] Pattaya Mail
[3] AAG_Th Thai Defence page

Monday, November 22, 2021

Taiwan reaches keel laying milestone for first indigenous attack submarine program


A scale model of the Indigenous Defense Submarine for the Republic of China Navy. Photo c/o CNA News.

The construction of Taiwan's first indigenously-built diesel-electric attack submarine has reached a milestone as the keel has been laid recently.

The submarine is being constructed under Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) programme, which aims to build a new fleet of eight diesel-electric attack submarines with technical assistance from friendly countries.

Taiwan International Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) is building the submarines in their yard in Kaohsiung, with reports saying the ship has been given a factory number "1168", although no pictures are available due to secrecy by the Taiwanese Government.

Naval News reported that the new submarines will be armed with the Mark 48 Mod 6 Advanced Technology heavyweight torpedoes and UGM-84L Harpoon Block II submarine-launched anti-ship missile from the US.

The submarines will also be equipped with high efficiency batteries developed locally, instead of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP system.

The Taiwanese Government has allocated a total budget of NT$49.36 billion (US$1.78 billion) from 2019 to 2025 to fund the design and construction of these new submarines, as it aims to modernize its ageing underwater fleet.

Currently the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) operates two Chien Lung-class submarines built in the 1980s by the Netherlands, and two World War 2-era Hai Shih-class submarines, which are former US Navy Tench-class submarines transferred to Taiwan in 1973.

This pales in comparison to regional submarine forces, especially those from China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with China considered as Taiwan's biggest security threat.

[1] Taiwan News
[2] Naval News

Friday, November 19, 2021

Indonesia orders 2 Airbus A400M in Multirole Tanker Transport configuration, with options for 4 more


A CGI of what an A400M in TNI-AU colors and markings will look like. Photo c/o Airbus.

European aircraft giant Airbus Defence and Space has announced that Indonesia has placed an order for two new A400M heavy transport aircraft, with an option for four more units.

This was announced by the company at the International Defence Exhibition & Conference  2021 (IDEX 2021) defense exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The contract is scheduled to take effectivity starting 2022, and will include a complete maintenance and training support package.

Aside from the order for two aircraft, a Letter of Intern was also signed indicating a possible follow-on order for four more aircraft.

The A400Ms for the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) will be configured for Multi-Role Tanker Transport roles, which will replace the force's ageing fleet of KC-130B Hercules.

According to Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, the A400M will greatly increase the TNI-AU's tactical air-to-air capabilities, and response to any crisis, citing the A400M's role in providing relief and supplies after a tsunami struck Palu in Central Sulawesi, despite the short and damaged runway.

The aircraft will also be used to carry large and heavy loads at tactical and strategic distances, while also used for aerial refuelling capabilities. It can also be used for dropping paratroopers and other missions.

The A400M can carry two underwing refuelling pods using probe-and-drogue method, and can be rapidly configured from an aerial tanker to a transport aircraft, and vice versa.

Indonesia will become the 10th user of the A400M aircraft, and the second in Southeast Asia after the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

The TNI-AU currently has the Lockheed Martin C-130 legacy Hercules as its biggest air transport asset.

[1] Airbus

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Vietnam receives first batch of 6 Yak-130 armed jet trainers from Russia


One of the newly-delivered Yak-130 aircraft for the Vietnam People's Air Force. Photo c/o LQM thorough VietDefense.

The Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) has received the first batch of Yakolev Yak-130 armed jet trainers from Russia.

Six aircraft were delivered to the VPAF's Phu Cat Air Base in Binh Dinh province, with six more aircraft expected to arrive several months later.

Vietnam ordered a total of 12 aircraft under a deal signed with the Russian Government worth around US$350 million in 2019. 

The Yak-130 will be replacing the VPAF's ageing fleet of Czech-built Aero L-39 Albatross advanced jet trainers, and will be training VPAF pilots for combat and fast jet training.

The aircraft are expected to serve the VPAF's 940th Aviation Training Regiment.

The Yak-130 is a subsonic, 2-seat advanced jet trainers being marketed by Russia to prepare pilots for transition to larger fighters.

It is also capable of being used as light combat aircraft, as it was designed with 9 hard-points to allow the use of armaments including short range air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground munitions and even electronic pods.

Vietnam becomes the 3rd country in Southeast Asia to operate the Yak-130, after Myanmar and Laos.

[1] VietDefense
[2] Military Leak
[3] AIN Online

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Philippines gets last batch of 5 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters from Poland


One of the five new S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters delivered to the Philippines on 08 November 2021. Photo c/o MaxDefense Philippines.

Lockheed Martin's Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec has delivered the last batch of five Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters to the Philippines on 08 November 2021.

The helicopters, bound for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), arrived at Clark Air Base north of Manila aboard a commercial Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy transport aircraft flying from Poland through the United Arab Emirates.

The five helicopters form the last batch of deliveries by PZL Mielec as part of a US$241.4 million contract for 16 new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the PAF signed in 2019.

The S-70i Black Hawk was selected after it competed with other international offerings including the Bell 412EPI, the KAI KUH-1 Surion from South Korea, Leonardo AW-139M, and Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther.

According to Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the helicopters were received by the PAF and will be undergoing localized inspections and testing prior to induction with the air service.

It is expected that these would take several weeks, and the helicopters might be ready for formal acceptance and induction with the PAF before yearend at the earliest.

The PAF's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, based in Benito Ebuen Airbase in Mactan, Cebu province, is the unit overseeing the operations of the Black Hawk combat utility helicopters and other similar helicopters in the PAF.

The S-70i Black Hawk is the export version of the venerable UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter primarily used by the US military and its other key allies and partners. In the PAF, it replaces the ageing Bell UH-1D/H Huey helicopters which have been operated by the PAF since 1968.

The Black Hawk helicopters are far larger than the ones they are replacing, with more internal space, heavier lifting capacity, longer range and better endurance.

The PAF is said to be interested in acquiring more S-70i Black Hawk helicopters as it retired its fleet of UH-1D/H Hueys earlier this year after being involved in a series of fatal accidents.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Polish Embassy in the Philippines
[3] Philippine Defense Resource