MANILA -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday assured the public that the Combat Management System (CMS), being acquired for the two frigates contracted by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), is compliant to all the specifications set by the Navy.

"No, we are not settling for a less capable system, compliant system (Hanwha CMS), yan ang (that is the) term sa (in) procurement," Lorenzana noted.

Lorenzana made this statement shortly after Monday's Senate hearing where the Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) was tackled and the reasons why HHI opted to pick Hanwha over Thales Tacticos, the manufacturer preferred by former PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado.

While acknowledging that Thales Tacticos is a good CMS brand, the DND chief said the Hanwha CMS being selected to fit the Navy's first two missile-firing capable frigates is equally capable.

"We are not buying a lesser product. We are buying an equally capable product to be put into our ship(s)," he added.

Lorenzana emphasized that Mercado's relief last December was brought about by the latter's refusal to comply with two of his memorandums on the CMS and pronouncements that he will have the project cancelled if Thales Tacticos was not selected to supply the above-mentioned equipment.

"(The reason for his relief as FOIC was) dahil dalawang beses na memo ko hindi n’ya sinusunod tapos, sa mga conference niya (sinasabi) na pag hindi (na)tuloy ang (Thales) Tacticos, ika-cancel niya ang FAP (The reason for his relief as FOIC was he disobeyed my memos twice and he says in his conferences that he will have the FAP cancelled if Thales Tacticos will not be selected)," the DND chief pointed out.

Also, Lorenzana said that it was Mercado who had the specification "Tactical Data Link 16" or the ability to transmit and receive data from various platforms in a bid to justify the preference for the Thales Tacticos CMS.

"Hindi ko alam may motivation siningit nila nung tapos na technical specifications nung Link 16, baka (para) ma-disqualify ang Hanhwa (I didn't know there was this motivation that they have inserted when the technical specifications of Link 16 were done. Maybe, it's for Hanhwa's disqualification)," he added.

The DND chief added that this specification was not present in the original specifications. He said he has no objections to acquiring the Thales Tacticos CMS provided that adequate funds are allotted for it.

The FAP has a contract of PHP18 billion including the weapon systems and munitions. Earlier, the DND chief said that using the Thales Tacticos CMS will shoot the price of the frigates by USD7 million per ship or USD14 million for the two vessels. (PNA)