South Korea’s Hanwha Systems to upgrade Philippine frigates

The Philippines defense department has contracted South Korean defense company Hanwha Systems for the upgrades of the Philippine Navy’s three Del Pilar-class frigates.

The three frigates are former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters donated to the Philippines between 2011 and 2016.

The upgrade project has a budget of PHP1.5 billion (US$ 28.6 million) and will upgrade the ship’s electronic systems and patrolling capabilities.

The defense department said the combat management systems upgrades and sonar capability enhancements are being undertaken to ensure the frigates’ operational capabilities are compatible with the new Jose Rizal-class frigates being built by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz are former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters, transferred to the Philippines in 2011 and 2013, respectively. A third Hamilton-class cutter, former USCGC Boutwell, was transferred to the Philippines in 2016 and was christened by the Philippine Navy as BRP Andres Bonifacio.

Since arriving to the Philippines, the ships have received Saab’s Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar system.

The ships displace 3,250 tons and measure 378 feet in length. They are armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25mm and 20mm light cannons and .50 caliber machineguns.

Photo: US Navy file photo of Philippine frigates BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15), left, and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) during CARAT Philippines 2014