Del Pilar-class to be beefed with more electronic equipment

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 24, 2019, 12:00 pm

MANILA -- The proposed upgrades planned for the Philippine Navy’s (PN) Del Pilar-class frigates will greatly boost the ships' electronic capabilities, making it more capable of patrolling and conducting inter-agency operations in the country's territorial waters.

"The 'Del Pilar Class Frigate Upgrade' will enhance the ships' management system, electronic support and sonar capability, ensuring top performance during maritime patrols, search-and-rescue, and other inter-agency operations in our territorial waters," Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend, when asked to comment on the more than PHP1.5-billion upgrade for these ships.

Earlier, the DND Bids and Awards Committee 1, in the defense department's website, announced that it is starting the procurement for the "Del Pilar Class Frigate Upgrade Acquisition Project" of the PN.

The fund for the program, which is placed at PHP1.54 million, will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Trust Fund.

The project will be undertaken through the Alternative Mode of Procurement, which is Limited Source Bidding.

When asked on whether the ships will be equipped with additional weapons systems, Andolong said it is very unlikely at the moment.

"It does not look like the Navy intends to install additional weapons systems on the Del Pilar Class ships because only their sensors are being upgraded. At the moment, the advanced weapons are only being considered for the brand-new platforms that we are acquiring," he said.

The Del Pilar-class ships are three former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that were converted into frigates.

The ships in the class are the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16), and the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

Each ship has a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

It has a cruising range of 14,000 miles, a sea and loiter time of 45 days, and is armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons and .50-caliber machine guns. (PNA)