September 8, 2023
MANILA – The country’s two Jose Rizal-class missile frigates have become more battle-ready after it was equipped with a French-made antitorpedo defense system.
In a statement, the French defense contractor Naval Group said it finished installing the Contralto antitorpedo reaction module on both the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) on Aug. 31.
The installation and testing of the Contralto systems were conducted at the Agila Subic facility in Subic Bay in the presence of the manufacturer and representatives from the Philippine Navy, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of National Defense
The antitorpedo system was installed after an upgrade of the two frigates’ Combat Management System supplied by Hanwha Systems of South Korea and of the C-Guard decoy launcher systems provided by Terma of Denmark.
The two Jose Rizal-class warships themselves were made by Hyundai Heavy Industries and modeled after South Korea’s Incheon-class frigates. The vessels were delivered in 2020 and 2021 and two more warships of the same class are also being planned.
After the system’s installation, the Jose Rizal sailed with the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Ralph Johnson, in a joint patrol of the West Philippine Sea off Palawan province on Sept. 4, just four days after the installation of the Contralto.
“The next contractual milestone is planned in 2024 with the delivery of Canto antitorpedo countermeasures and the training of the crews by Naval Group,” the French company said.
“This important milestone is part of the contract signed in December 2021 to provide an antitorpedo defense system based on Naval Group’s Canto/Contralto solutions,” it added.
According to Naval Group, the Canto and Contralto systems are being used in the French Navy—which oversees the second-largest maritime space of around 10.7 million square kilometers, next to the United States’—and 50 other foreign navies.
It said Canto is “based on the dilution/confusion concept to defend high-value and mission-essential units by generating a high-level acoustic signal over 360 degrees, covering the full frequency range of the attacking torpedo.”
Meanwhile, reaction module Contralto “computes the most appropriate evasive maneuver and deployment sequence once a threat is detected.”
Naval Group—which opened its local office in Makati City in July, and the leading contender for the Navy’s submarine acquisition plan—offered last year to supply two diesel-electric Scorpene-class submarines as part of a submarine force package as part of the military’s ongoing modernization program.
The deal will include technology transfer, training and a maintenance yard in Subic Bay, a base facing the West Philippine Sea where the Navy docks its biggest ships.
Aside from Naval Group, South Korea’s DSME and Spain’s Navantia also offered to build submarines for the Navy.