October 21, 2015

Philippines naval challenges - submarines less useful

China's claimed territorial waters run close to Luzon and right up to southern Palawan. This makes Palawan of major importance for Philippine naval reconnaissance resources.
---


In Submarine Matter's article Philippines Increasingly Interested in Submarines of June 9, 2015, my  suggestion was an update of South Korea's Dolgorae class mini submarines (above). At 175 tons, with two torpedo tubes, crew of 14, Dolgoraes are affordable. Upfront purchase price, basing, maintenance and crewing all make sense given the Philippines budget. South Korea itself  produced its Dolgorae's in the 1980s-90s to accustom its Navy to submarine operations.

Recommendation of an update to the Dolgorae is also in the context of higher priotities for the Philippine Navy which mitigate against heavily investing in submarines. Such priorities for the Navy and Coastguard include:

-  handling natural disasters mainly in the form of regular typhoons (like Koppu right now) that cause destruction, starvation and disease. Naval resources are particularly necessary given the Philippines 7,000 isolated islands and many parts of the larger islands that have limited road access. Landing craft that can bring supplies to shattered coastal communities are in demand. The landing craft supplied to the Philippines include Australian Balikpapan class (up to 520 tons) and 2 US supplied Bacolod City class landing ships (4,265 tons maximum).

-  another major non-state challenge is secessionist Islamic and other movements on islands which may require the landing of infantry and equipment to counter these movements. Again landing craft/ships are useful. Also the two Makassar class landing platform docks with landing craft and helicopters can counter threats.



The Youtube features landing craft and especially landing platform docks. New corvettes and frigates may please some but are probably unaffordable given wider demands on limited budgets.

-  a third challenge is fishing and South China Sea islands disputes with China, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries. The landing ships and landing platform docks come in handy for projecting power, show the flag and resupply Philippine island garrisons. Coastguard cutters and similar size naval ships are also useful.

-  Philippine warships fighting against Chinese ships would be counter-productive. The Philippines supporting US and Japanese ships with information and port access might be more useful. 

-  Philippine Navy of Airforce aircraft flying within sight of "Chinese" Couth China Sea islands is one means of economically "showing the flag". S advised in Comments below on October 28, 2015 that according to Reuters Japanese Edition (06/Aug/2015), the Japanese Government is considering to offer the Philippines modified trainer aircraft TC-90 (Beechcraft King Air) instead of P-3C. This is because highly complex  operational needs including information analysis [and maintenance] is needed for P-3C [as well as very expensive maintenance]. In contrast the TC-90 is much easier and less expensive to operate. However, S advises that Japan's Public Finance Act, which prohibits gratuitously or cheaply transferring state owned property to foreign governments obstructs this deal. Therefore the Japanese Government is now considering various options including selling at a reasonable price or excluding this deal from Public Finance Act. The Japanese Government supports enhancement of friendlly countries’ maritime security in the South China Sea.

It is only to China's advantage that some Southeast Asian countries are involved in some island disputes among themselves in the South China Sea. Unity in the face of the common Chinese challenge would be better. Unity would also encourage US, Australian and Japanese solidarity against China.
---

Pete

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Plan A is to buy used PC-3s cheaply from Japan. As Japan maintains P3Cs adequately, P3Cs are in very good condition. President Obama will support this deal.

Regards

Anonymous said...

According to:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolgorae-class_submarine

The Dolgorae's have 2 × 406mm (15.98 inch) torpedo tubes.

What type of torpedoes do they use?

Anonymous said...

"Plan A is to buy used PC-3s cheaply from Japan."

Since South Korea is bringing back the S-3 Viking:

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/south-korea-moves-forward-with-plan-to-revive-the-s-3-v-1729544135

I wonder if a few could be offered to the Philippines as a sort of "Plan B"?

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymouses at Oct 21 9:14PM and Oct 22 1:45PM

P3s would have probably have a much longer time in flight - so could loiter over Chinese held islands, ships and look for subs.

S-3 Viking have smaller crew demands, are quicker so have some naval and land strike aircraft potential.

The US probably holds the technology transfer licences for both types (designed in US, parts or whole aircraft from there). The US might have to subsidize any S-3 donation to Philippines because S Korea may not be interested.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [Oct 22 1:42PM]

On "Dolgorae's 2 × 406mm (15.98 inch) torpedo tubes. What type of torpedoes do they use?"

400mm torpedos have been particularly used by submarine countries in the Baltic Sea - usually smaller targets so smaller warheads adequate torpedos and shorter ranges adequate.

Certainly Sweden and Russia 9probably supplying to Yugoslavia) have made or used 400mm torpedos. My bet is MGT-1 from USSR supplied to Yugoslavia (which made mini-subs) after 1961 then some passed on to South Korea see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_torpedoes_by_name

Another theory is any of the US 324mm lightweight torpedos fired for security in a capsule. Having a 406mm tube itself provides room for laying a mine or two using the tube.

Also maybe Germany providing 400mm torpedos along with submarine designs to South Korea.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

The Pinoys should follow Vietnam's lead.

The Vietnamese were trained on Foxtrot & Tango subs by the Soviet Fleet in preparation for a planned transfer in early 90s.

With the collapse of the SU those plans fell through and VN acquired several midget subs from N-Korea to preserve the skills & knowledge and use them for SpecOps in the SCS.

With a sufficient cash-flow by VN-MoD's Viettel & Petrolimex and a change in China's stance, VN opted to use Admiralty Shipyard's large capacity (4 SSK U/C at the same time)and ordered 6 Kilos in 2009. In less than 5 years the Viets have setup a complete training-centre, maintaince-depot & trained enough crewmen for their subs.

Plus now the rumors on Viet forums is that the VN-MoD has placed an order for 4 Hyundai HDS-400A. The first is under construction in S-Korea and there might be ToT involved for the remaining units. The N-Korean midget-subs are nearing their service-life later this decade.

This is an excellent opportunity for PHL to piggypack and place an order. VN can benefit from lower unit-prices. Those subs cannot win a war, but could very useful for recon, sabotage etc. Just like VN in 1990s they could be foundation a fleet of larger SSK later.

Overall VN's challenges are quite similar to PHl's - with exception of domestic extremists.

But it is just pathetic that a single VPN FAC or a VPAF strike package could sink the whole PHL Navy.

In the civilian LEO-sphere the Vietnamese Coast Guard gets not only 2nd hand ships like the PHL, but also has received several 2500ton OPVs and dozens smaller patrol-crafts from domestic shipyards with Dutch assistance.

Let's not speak of the VPAF (~ 60 upgraded Gen3 & ~ 40 Gen4 combat-jets) vs Phillipine Air Force (ZERO Gen3 or Gen4 fighters).

The AFP & PCG are suffering from !!! lack of political will !!! The resulting weakness is just inviting Chinese adventurism and might force America's Naval Hand with the consequences for the global economy and the neighbours.

We need to keep in mind that the PHL has got a larger economy than VN. The budgets are similar.

Regards

from Europe

Anonymous said...

Nicky said

Hi Pete

That's why for the Philippines, I think Submarines are way off the mark for them. They need to focus on building a reliable surface Navy first.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

For some reason your comment didn't come through as normal - so I posted it.

Yes I agree that submarines should be a low priority in the Philippine Navy. Perhaps 3 Dolgoraes are adequate to slowly evolve a submarine capability.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

If the Dolgoraes are too old, there's also a newer mini-sub being built by
Hyundai for an undisclosed foreign customer:

http://www.janes.com/article/54825/hyundai-begins-construction-of-mini-submarine-for-undisclosed-customer

I wonder who the foreign customer is?

Of course, if they can't afford subs, the Philippines could always do what the UAE
is allegedly doing, and buy a few "innocuous-looking" surface vessels equipped for
covert long-range torpedo attacks:

http://www.janes.com/article/55164/analysis-uae-may-have-acquired-long-range-mod4-er-torpedo-vessels

With a drone, Maritime Patrol Aircraft or other external source providing targeting
data, and with proper use of waypoint guidance, the targeted vessels would have a
hard time determining where those incoming torpedoes were coming from.

Note that the Soviets have also put torpedo tubes on "civilian" vessels:

http://defensetech.org/2012/03/09/cold-war-tech-soviet-torpedo-trawlers/

Nicky said...

HI Pete,
That's why for the Philippines, Submarines are a long way off for them. They need to build a reliable surface Navy that is similar to what Peru and Chile have. As of right now they have a Gunboat Navy and not a reliable Navy.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous from Europe and Anonymous

Thanks for the informations, link and questions on the HDS-400 mini-small submarine that Hyundai Heavy Industries is building. The HDS-400 is the subject of my next Submarine Matters article.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous from Europe [Oct 22 at 11:44PM]

Vietnam's longs wars [1940-75] against foreign invaders has certainly made the Vietnamese military, including its Navy, efficient and self-sufficient. No other military in Southeast Asia (other than Singapore) can claim such efficiency and value for money in purchases.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at Oct 23, 3:21AM]

The use of innocuous vessels (bordering on fiendish http://defensetech.org/2012/03/09/cold-war-tech-soviet-torpedo-trawlers/ ) certainly has a place in medium-high intensity war.

Luckily most war or confrontations (as in the South China Sea) these days is low intensity. Thus coastguard cutters with light armament can "show the flag" in trouble spots. Being seen rather than disguised sends a political message.

Also maritime militia (being used by China and others) in fishing boats can use partial disguise to watch what opponents are doing, stake a claim on islands and fishing grounds and sometimes hassle opponents when necessary.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

The Philippine Navy's limited budget may make it a good candidate to buy HDS-400 small subs. See http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/south-korean-hhis-hds-400-small.html

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

HI Pete,
With the Philippines Extremely limited Budget, I don't know if they can afford any kind of Submarines. I am thinking they should start on building a reliable Surface Navy First before going into Submarines. They don't even have Missiles or Torpedoes in their inventory.

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

AP and The Diplomat suggested that Japan might sell P-3C to Philippines [1, 2] in early Jun. But, NSC (National Security Council) for export approval [3] is yet held and the related news are not reported. We cannot jump to the conclusion of P-3C export.

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3110534/Japan-discuss-military-exports-Philippines.html,
“Japan to discuss military exports to the Philippines” by AP(4 June 2015)
“Japanese media reports say that P-3C anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology are possible sale items.”

[2]http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/japan-philippines-declare-strengthened-strategic-partnership/“Japan, Philippines Strengthen Strategic Partnership” by The Diplomat (June 05, 2015)
“The agreement on defense equipment is particularly notable since sources have suggested that P-3C patrol aircraft and other radar-related equipment could feature among potential export items in the future.”

[3] Japan cannot export weapon without approval from NSC. NSC consists of four key Ministers (Prime Minister as Chairman , Chief Cabinet Secretary, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister) and other Ministers.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S on P-3Cs [Oct 24, 9:19PM]

Thanks for the info. If or when the NSC authorises sale to the Philippines there might also need to be 2 or more years training of Filipino crews (in Japan and Philippines) how to use the P-3Cs.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

According Reuter Japanese Edition (06/Aug/2015), Japanese government is considering to offer modified trainer aircraft TC-90 (Beechcraft King Air) instead of P-3C, because highly operational capability including information analysis is needed for P-3C and TC-90 is easy to operate. But, Public Finance Act which prohibits from transferring gratuitously or cheaply state owned property to foreign government obstructs this deal. Japanese government is now considering various options including selling at reasonable price or excluding this deal from Public Finance Act. Japanese government is going to support enhancement of related countries’ maritime security of the South China Sea

I think that direct phone of President Aquino to Prime Minister Abe is most effective way.

Regards
S



Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at October 28, 2015 at 1:50 AM]

I have added your comment to the text.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I introduce recent information of Japan-Philippine weapon transfer.

Japan and Philippine agreed the framework for used Japanese weapon transfer [1]. Japan that are considering a specific donation, aircraft "TC-90" the Maritime Self-Defense Force will use in flight training and anti-submarine patrol aircraft "P-3C". It is expected to lead to the strengthening of maritime surveillance capability in the Philippines compete for China and territorial rights in the South China Sea. Japan in the future, promote a framework making that allows donating used equipment of state-owned property for free and low-cost in the country[2].

My comment
“Promte a framework” means revision of Public Finance Act which prohibits from transferring gratuitously or cheaply state owned property to foreign government. After revision of the Act, National Security Council (NSC) will approve the weapon transfer. As these processes include preparation of revision, explanation to domestic politician, advice by US, approval of the Act by the Diet and so on, NSC approval will be more than 6 months-1year later, I think. Also technical issues such as training of operators and maintenance/modification of equipment should be solved.

[1]http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/16/us-japan-philippines-military-idUSKCN0T508W20151116#U8vrzoT32Ytd6uRj.99 “Tokyo, Manila to agree framework for Japanese military aid”, Reuters US edition (Nov 15, 2015 11:01pm EST)
[2]http://jp.reuters.com/article/2015/11/16/japan-philippine-idJPKCN0T509220151116,Reuters JPN edition(Nov 16,2015 13:05 JST)

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japan supports maintenance of maritime security of Philippine not only by used airplane offer of Ministry of Defense, but also by new patrol boats building through the ODA Project [1]. The ODA Project needs not approval by National Security Council. Japan is going to offer new patrol boats to Philippine. Although these boats are smaller than Armidale-class, but they will show good performances [2].

Japan Coast Guard (JCC) plays critical role in ensuring maritime security and safety. Patrol vessels and boats of JCC are armed and very powerful. While JMDSF does not have an experience of battle, JCC sometimes sunk North Korea’s armed spy boats. JCC was involved from Philippine Coast Guard founding.

[1] “Philippine Coast Guard Maritime Security Enhancement Project”
(1)Signatory date: Dec/14/2013
(2)Acceptance loan: 18,732 million yen
(3)Outline of the Project
Ship building: 10 multipurpose ships (40m class),
Period: 2013 Dec-2018 Feb,
Total cost 22, 036 million yen (yen loan 18,732 million yen

[2] Specification
Length: 44.00m
Beam: 7.50m
Depth: 4.00m
Engine: MTU 12V4000M93L x 2 (2580kW x 2)
Officer and crew: 5 and 20 (total 25)
Voyage speed: 15 knot/h
Ship builder: Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU). JMU is one of the biggest war shipbuilders in Japan, who built helicopter carrier “Hyuga”

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at November 27, 2015 at 10:52 PM]

Thanks for those details.

I'll put those details and other info you have provided in an article tomorrow.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

According to South Korean media [1], S Korea starts delivering of attack aircraft FA-50PH [2,3] to Philippine.

Comment:
As the weapon export, it is a successful deal, but, as the country strategy, it is a risky deal. If Philippine uses FA-50PH against Chinese ship, S Korea may face fury of China.

[1] http://japanese.yonhapnews.co.kr/headline/2015/11/27/0200000000AJP20151127001000882.HTML (Japanese edition), “Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) on the 27th, began the delivery to Korean-made light attack aircraft FA50PH of the Philippines for export. The same day for the first time delivered is of the two aircraft of the 12 aircraft contracted in March last year in the Philippines Ministry of Defense and the 400 million $ 20 million (about 51.5 billion yen).---“

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAI_T-50_Golden_Eagle
FA-50PH is version of FA-50 for Philippine Air Force. FA-50 is multirole fighter all-weather version of KAI T-50 Golden Eagle.

[3] https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-50_(%E8%88%AA%E7%A9%BA%E6%A9%9F)
S Korea manufactures T-50 Golden Eagle with the technical assistance from Lockheed Martin. As T-50 uses a high power engine of F/A-18 to realize supersonic flight, it is expensive (ca. 3.7 billion yen) and is needed US approval in export.

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Two FA-50s reached Philippine [1,2], bringing new tension by deploying the South China Sea[3]. Expert pointed out a possible eventual war in the South China Sea, viz.[4]:
Deputy dean of global studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Professor Joseph Siracussa, previously told news.com.au China was “spoiling for a fight” and an eventual war in the region was inevitable. “Once you militarise a problem, you don’t get a diplomatic solution,” he said.”The trigger is there, it’s just waiting to happen. This will happen. This is about power. The South China Sea has become a flashpoint for war.”


[1] http://www.voanews.com/content/philippines-new-jets-south-china-sea/3078530.html (Voice of America)“Philippines Gets 2 New Fighter Jets Amid S. China Sea Tensions”
[2] http://slide.mil.news.sina.com.cn/k/slide_8_27471_39274.html#p=1(Chinese, 新浪网)” South Korea began deliveries to the Philippines two FA-50 fighter”
[3] http://world.huanqiu.com/exclusive/2015-11/8065258.html
(Chinese环球网)”Philippine President agreed that "under the original capital" to buy weapons desire to strengthen the South China Sea military”
[4] http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/plans-unveiled-for-hyperloop-a-highspeed-train-that-will-transport-passengers-between-madrid-and-barcelona-in-30-minutes/news-story/c231dd3040ccf043ad792a8650e46bad (news.com.au) ”Philippines fighter jets to move into South China Sea”

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

I have reposted your Nov 30 2015 comments to the Nov 29 2015 Philippines post.

Regards

Pete