Philippine Navy frigates receive air defence missiles

BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) frigate
BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) Frigate.

The Philippine Navy has received an undisclosed number of MBDA Mistral 3 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to arm its two new 2,600 tonne Jose Rizal-class guided-missile frigates, BRP José Rizal (FF 150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF 151), state media reported on 11 October.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala told government outlet Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the new missiles, which are acquired under the AFP’s Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 2B effort, “will give the Philippine Navy a much-needed defensive capability against hostile air targets”.

“[The Mistral 3] is a cost-effective and a reliable addition to a layered defence system”, Colonel Zagala noted.

The Mistral 3 is an infrared-homing system with a range of at least 7 km, with the manufacturer claiming a 97% proven success rate and higher reliability than comparable low-level air defence missiles.

Each frigate is equipped with two SIMBAD-RC SAM launcher turrets, with one each located on the port and starboard sides. These turrets are interfaced to the vessel’s combat system and can be operated with a single dedicated terminal.

Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea, the 107 m-long frigates are based on the company’s HDF-3000 platform design, which in itself is a smaller version of the Incheon (FFX-I)-class frigate in service with the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN). Both vessels were ordered by Manila under a US315 million contract in 2016, with an additional US$39 million earmarked for weapon systems and munitions.

Both vessels will be armed with LIG Nex1’s SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missiles with delivery in March 2022.

The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) announced on 10 August that it had also selected LIG Nex1 to supply an undisclosed number of torpedoes worth around US$15 million. These will be used to arm the vessels’ two triple 324 mm torpedo launchers and complement the embarked anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-optimised Leonardo AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopters. Both ship- and helicopter-launched torpedoes will reportedly be the company’s K745 Blue Shark lightweight torpedoes.

The navy commissioned lead frigate, José Rizal, in July 2020, while the second, Antonio Luna, entered service in March 2021.

by Jr Ng