Most recently at the end of December 2021, the Philippines signed a contract to buy two new frigates worth 28 billion pesos
The Philippines is building a dream fleet, obviously. With two Jose Rizal-class frigates was commissioned in 2020 and 2021, respectively, the Philippine Navy’s capacity has been significantly improved, in the context of China’s increased activities in the South China Sea.
Corvettes and frigates are small, fast warships mainly used to protect other vessels from attack. “This project will give the Philippine Navy two modern corvettes that are capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare missions,” Lorenzana said in a speech at the signing ceremony in Manila.
Manila has since acquired two former US Coast Guard cutters and three landing craft from Australia, as well as coast guard patrol vessels from Japan, in an effort to bolster its presence in the South China Sea, where it faces a dispute with Beijing. China claims almost all of the waterway, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
The year 2020 was a milestone year for the PN as it commissioned its first guided missile frigate, Jose Rizal, built by Korea Tacoma Shipyard. It was joined in 2021 by sister ship Antonio Luna. The armament of these 2,600-tonne warships includes South Korean C-Star anti-shipping cruise missiles, the Turkish Aselsan Smash remotely fired 30-millimetre cannon, and two triple launchers for South Koran Blue Shark anti-submarine torpedoes. Flight deck space is available for one AW159 Wildcat helicopter.
In 2019, the first of a planned two Republic of Korea Navy Pohang-class corvettes was transferred to the PN and renamed Conrado Yap. Its main armament is two 76-millimetre guns, backed up by a pair of 30-millimetre cannon. Missile armament was removed prior to transfer. Another Pohang-class corvette is due to be transferred by 2023.
The PN’s coastal forces now include 12 multi-purpose assault craft, some armed with Spike surface-to-surface missiles. These craft were jointly built by a Taiwanese company and Propmech of the Philippines. Further upgrading is imminent. Nine units of Shaldag Mk V were ordered in a contract signed on February 9, 2021 under the Navy’s Fast Attack Interdictor Craft-Missile Acquisition Project.
The PN’s amphibious warfare fleet, a major asset for maintaining security in the country’s remoter areas, has been boosted over the past decade by the commissioning of two Indonesian-built Tarlac-class landing platform docks, and five ex-Australian Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft.