NNS Thunder F90 sails into Nigerian waters from the USA, January 2012

NNS Thunder F90 sails into Nigerian waters from the USA, January 2012

Here is a template from what the navy of The Philippines have done with their own Hamilton-class ship by way of having her upgunned. These details have been provided by a Filipino Beegeagle’s Blogger, Max Montero.


(..)Initially the ex-Hamilton class ship BRF Gregorio del Pilar PF 15 was armed only with the 76mm gun but was later modified in The Philippines with the addition of the following weapon systems;

– a Mk.38 Mod 0 Bushmaster chain gun aft (previous position of the Phalanx which was deleted by the Americans prior to delivery)

– 2 x Mk.16 20mm cannons, and

– 6 x 12.7mm machine guns.


(..) Only yesterday, 9 September 2012, the Philippines Navy announced plans to install Harpoon missiles on both Hamilton class ships, while the US Department of Defense confirmed the sale of 2(nos) Mk.38 Mod. 2 Typhoon 25mm chain gun systems which would be installed on either Hamilton-class ship, although no word yet on how they intend to do it, either on the fantail where the Phalanx was previously installed (1 each ship) or both will be installed on the ex-USCGC Dallas which was handed over to the Philippines Navy last week and has now been renamed “BRP Ramon Alcaraz PF-16”


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies


  1. eyimola says:

    Yeah but the US will not sell harpoons to us, Personally I believe this WHECS are nothing more than glorified OPVS.

    • jimmy says:

      We don’t need to get the harpoon missiles from the US , depending on the configuration we can get likeminded missiles if the political will is there from other countires like ISRAEL or WE CAN SUB CONTRACT IT OUT

      • eyimola says:

        The only missile system that has ever been installed on the WHECS is the Harpoon (and only one of the ships of the class got that). I would be surprised if anything else can be jury rigged to fit the THUNDER.

      • Eyimola is, in this PRIVATE CITIZEN’s opinion, more right than wrong.

        The WHECs Primary Mission when designed was something called Ocean Stations – sail around in a box, in the North Atlantic or Pacific, for 45 days, make a port call, 45 more days of Smart Little Circles: home. They got Convoy Escort duties as a secondary mission, and could play ASW Defense, when first built, against noisy submarines, while escorting noisy merchant vessels. The NIXIE decoys, the hull mounted sonar, and the torpedoes are GONE. Fitting the ASW missiles was a naked pander for money from our legislature (“See, the USCG is a MILITARY Service, so send us some of that 600 ship Navy money”), and only one ship was ever fitted with them; they were rapidly removed. That installation relied on the AN/SPS-73 surface search radar (now removed) and the MK 92 fire control system (now removed) and the combat information system (now removed).

        Having said that, for patrolling the Gulf of Guinea on anti-piracy missions, a WHEC is a fine platform, and there is NO need for missiles in that mission. A “Fancy OPV” underway, at low cost both of acquisition and operation is Not Such A Bad Thing.

        There IS a need to build/enhance a native ship repair capacity. I would rather see THUNDER on the blocks in the graving dock in Lagos in the next 2 years than patrolling with missiles, and think this would represent a far more valuable contribution to the people of Nigeria than the capability to project power in the South Atlantic – particularly given the engineering limitations of NNS THUNDER.

        The THUNDER is also a great platform to start rebuilding the country’s Ship/Helo capability – landing a helicopter on a ship at sea, safely, with any sort of sea running, at night, in the rain, is NOT a trivial matter. Failure means death, loss of an airframe, and in the worst case, fire at sea, and the loss of the ship. If the THUNDER is used in this way, when the new platforms arrive from India, Korea, wherever, the aircrews and deck force will be ready to operate them to their fullest, AND train their own replacements/reinforcements.

      • jimmy says:

        Thank you very much for your input OGA RUFUS.
        We await the new OPV and we expexct them late 2013 /14 however the ARADU is still STRUCTURALLY SOUND, If you may recall the “last of the mohicans ” The USS MISSOURI was refitted and refubrished many times before it’s most recent retirement. I am at a loss to say the least as to why even with cost restraints put into the question as to why this should not be considered. ‘

    • Max Montero says:

      For piracy / EEZ patrol duties, missiles are not required. What is more important are sensors and communications. Eyes, Ears, Mouth. It would be more advisable if F90 will embark on upgrades to install longer-ranged radar, hoists and RHIB crafts, a decent ship-based patrol helicopter. Give enough support with an effective MPA. If worse comes to shove, then let the F90 report to your “fire brigade” which includes missile equipped ships and aircraft. I base this idea on some ideas raised since the PN has been in the same situation as the Nigerian Navy about how to use the Hamiltons.

  2. beegeagle says:

    We shall soon hear from our ‘US Admiral’ Rastus on that one.

    So what to do now, my commander? BTW, notice how much info is liberally dropped by the Filipino cybergeneral there – for the attention of our resident spy catcher.

    Anyway, a 25mm CIWS, two 20mm cannons and six .50 cal HMGs have been added. A Typhoon is coming and Harpoons too.

    What is stopping us mounting a similar panoply? Israel surely have a home-grown alternative to all of those and the USA would not have any qualms about Israelis upgunning the NNS Thunder?

    Chei, awoof dey purge belle sha..(laughing). Wahala dey o.

    • eyimola says:

      The Armed Forces have grown up people in charge nowadays. I understand that old habbits die hard, so there will be a tendency among some people to assume all talk regarding the military are off limits,

      You will get your missile armed ships, or at least shiips that are designed to fire missiles. I just wonder what the benefits of an anti ship missile would do for the Thunder. I keep looking at the Aradu and wonder why they have not sent her for a major overhaul.
      How many of this would the Thunder hold

      Aradus Complement

      8 x Otomat Mk 1 SSM, 24 x Aspide SAM in octuple launcher, 1 x 5 inch gun, 8 x Bofors 40 mm gun, 6 x torpedo tubes, 1 depth charge rack

      • beegeagle says:

        Dang..Aradu mehn! She is such a brute. Someone needs to fork out $25m for this ship to undergo a midlife upgrade.

        NNS Aradu F89

        NNS Aradu F89

      • The engineer in me respects the design of the ARADU. When she was built, she set the model for a modern “all around” frigate. But she is old, and all the German, Dutch, Italian and French mechanical and electrical system for everything from the fire pumps to the ammo elevators to the air conditioning are likely obsolete and un-supportable. Cosmetically, the pictures I can see look OK – has she been operated since the Naval Jubilee? If not, the Preventive Maintenance probably hasn’t been done.

        She could be refitted, and many navies do it. Australia FFGUP, American FRAM, SLEP, MMA, Canadian Halifax Class Refit. But look at the price tag for the last: 3.1 BILLION dollars for 12 ships (EXTENSIVE new weapons and combat system fit for this one). For 15-20 years more service.

        $25 Million for a refit of ARADU would be just scratching the surface, in my opinion from Far, Far Away.

      • eyimola says:

        Yep you are right. Aradu will probably cost up to $75-100 million for a complete refit. That in my opinion will still be worth it,

      • Max Montero says:

        From my observation, Aradu seems to really need updating and refurbishment….or better yet it needs something to complement it…a new frigate perhaps?

  3. makanaky says:

    I seriously believe NNS THUNDER was handed over to Nigeria by the US to combact piracy and nothing else so we should look elswhere and stop regarding NNS Thunder as a battleship.
    May be an MOU was signed precluding Nigerian from arming the ship from a rival nation but the NN needs to inform the public.
    As for her sister ship, its a different ball game the south China sea is the motivation for the ship to be armed.

  4. Donspony says:

    I was gonna mention this yesterday. Came across tis on a blog whilst searching for info on subs.

    Doubt the American would be that kind to us. The harpoon missile upgrade may not be unconnected with Philippines struggle with China over the South China sea.

  5. Henry says:

    The ships were giving to both nations with different reasons, while as other bloggers have said the nns thunder was given to nigeria to combat piracy in the gulf of guinea. While the other was given to the philliphines to help cushion the treat of china, and the growing influence of china in the region ( specifically the south china sea area). Even the indians had to hurriedly rent a russian nuclear submarine to counter the growing military influence of china in the region.
    Infact the chinese are the world’s top military spender, if you exclude the united states, with a defence budget of over 100 billion usd a year ( this dwarfs the british budget of 60 billion and also the french of just over 50 billion). So you’d understand if the filipinos are jittery, and arming the ship and the americans willing to sell harpons to them.

  6. doziex says:

    If the americans want to help the philipines counter the threat from china, they will give them Kidd class destroyers, like they gave to taiwan.

    They would give them at least 6 of the 24 Oliver perry-hazard guided missile frigates they are retiring, as we speak.

    2 Hamilton class cutters, ain’t gonna cut it for that purpose. So, the reason for gifting hamilton class ships to the navies of nigeria, and the philipines, is or should be identical; A gesture of help/ goodwill.

    Lets stop making the naval combat needs of the philipines more pressing than ours. As I said before, they have the spratleys islands, we have the gulf of guinea.
    Let’s stop being blind to the tug of war, just over the horizon that awaits us in the gulf of guinea, just because we are currently struggling with piracy in the same EEZ.

    What is it ? We can’t walk and chew gum at the same time ?

    The nigerian navy should look to arm the Thunder with antiship and anti air missiles. If we can’t get harpoons from the US, or gabriels from the isrealis, we should follow the iranian example and equip the ship with the chinese C-802 or the C-702 the iranian built version.

    The iranians have not only refurbished their vosper corvettes and Combattante FAC(missile), they have reverse engineered them, and equipped them with chinese navtronics, and missile systems.

    • eyimola says:

      The US support for the Phillipines is symbolic. Arming the Ship with harpoons is just an extension of that. Everybody knows that 2 WHECS cannot really do anything to tip the balance of power in the Spratleys dispute. However by sending thise Ships the US is sending a message to China that says ‘ cool it, or we will give them real support.

      The comparism with Iran is just wrong. Under FMS we will not be allowed to stick Chinese or Russian gear in this ship. End of story.

      If we decide to break that agreement (like Iran did with its F-14s) then we can say goodby to further participation in this programme.

      • doziex says:

        Oya, make dem waka with dem FMS program. I would call their bluff and arm the ships anyway.

        After all, our new ships will be coming from india and china. Too much iyanga with this western countries.

      • eyimola says:

        I have been consistent in my desire for Nigeria to not purchase Western Arms. History should have showm us that we cannot rely on them. to not cut off the flow during conflict But I will not advocate breaking of existing comitments.We should probably not participate in FMS anyway. We do not have the same Geoplitical interests as the US.

      • eyimola says:

        Not too keep going on about this, but the US really does not like none approved kit being installed on weapons purchased from them.

        Oman probably it was no big deal instaling Isreali Kit on the F-16s. this link says otherwise http://www.israeldefense.com/?CategoryID=483&ArticleID=1633

    • Max Montero says:

      I’m a Filipino so I’ll take a stab on this issue from our point of view.

      1. The Hamilton class ships were chosen by the PH because of many things. Our largest modern warship before the Hamilton are 3 ex-RN Peacock class OPVs (locally named Emilio Jacinto class). There are diesel powered, low range, mid sea-state capable, gun armed ships. The Philippine Navy does not have the experience to operate bigger, more capable ships and this is where the Hamilton comes into play. This is the first PN ships with gas turbines in CODOG configuration, first with a helicopter capability with hangar, capable of handling the highest sea states of the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, and can be armed with up to date radar, missiles, anti-submarine systems. In summary, the Hamilton is a training ship, with dual purpose as a long range/long deployment radar station and flag bearer.

      2. The US offered the OHP class for a very long time now, even earlier than the Poles, Bahrainis and Egyptians. But at first, the PH rejected because of lack of funds. The US offered the OHP class again recently, but the PH rejected them again. Why? Because of the all-LM2500 powerplant in COGAG (which the PN find too costly to operate for a low-level oil producing country) and the near-retirement of the Mk.13 single-arm missile launcher and SM-1 missiles. You would be surprised that the latest offer the PN rejected are the Santa Maria class frigates of the Spanish Armada (which are actually Spanish OHP class ships).

      3. So what are the alternatives?
      First is the uparming of the 2 Hamilton class ships. So far the PH navy and government announced the plans to install new radar systems, torpedo defense systems, a new ship-based helicopter and Harpoon missiles, Recently the US DoD also announced the purchase of at least 2 Mk.38 Mod.2 (Typhoon) 25mm stabilized remote-controlled capable chain guns but we are still mum on how and which position of the ship will the PN install them. Wild guess is either 1 each at the fantail where the Phalanx use to sit, or 2 systems in each ship installed at the previous position where the Mk.38 Mod.0 chain gun used to be.

      Second, purchase of more ships. The most possible purchase will be coming in the form of 2 Marina Militare (Italian Navy) Maestrale class, namely the ITS Maestrale and ITS Grecale (or ITS Scirocco depending on the source), with an option for a further 2 more units. Both ships, prior to delivery expected by November 2013, will undergo hull, structure, mechanical and electrical restoration and upgrades, will include all radar and missile systems (with a possibility to replace the older CMS, radars and also possibly replace the Aspide/Albatross system with a more capable one), additional ammunition, training, and possibly the inclusion of the AB-212 ASW helos. It is also “rumored” (for the lack of several sources except a Jane’s article) that the PH is also trying to get either at least 2 Artigliere class frigates or 2 Minerva class corvettes, or even both classes, and also the 2 San Giorgio class LPDs (which the Italians will retire starting around 2014).

      There are also plans to purchase new anti-submarine corvettes possibly from Italy (based on the Abu Dhabi class) and OPVs (which the US, France, Italy and South Korean models are being offered). A 3rd Hamilton class ship is also expected to be clinched by next year. The PN is also looking at replacing the 76mm Compact gun on the Hamiltons and Peacock classes and replace them with Strales system, and also considering arming some of its current assets with SSM and MANPADS.

      I hope this helps.


      PS: I hope Nigeria doesn’t trust China too much. They are more rude and pain in the ass than the Americans. I am part-Chinese but I can’t help it.

      • Max Montero says:

        Oops I forgot, just last night news came out that the Senate and Congress already agreed on funding AT LEAST $2B in 5 years to purchase military equipment for the AFP. The bills from both houses were integrated and the new bill is expected to be signed by early next week. If this happens, then the Harpoons and radars for PF-15 and PF-16 might be given go-signal, as well as go-signal for the 2 Maestrale class frigates. Reportedly the 2 Maestrales will be purchased for $120M each including refurbishment and upgrades and training. As for the OTO Melara Strales for PF-15, PF-16, PS-35, PS-36 & PS-37, it’s still to be confirmed.


  7. jimmy says:

    @oga Eyimola welcome to the field of CYBER GENERALS
    I most respectfully diagree completley with your points being raised let us start withthe last point being “we do not have the same Geo political interests as the US”. >70 % of all world trade is done by sea the GULF of GUINEA is of strategic interests to the US , NIGERIA, GUINEA, S/TOME CAMEROON and a hosts of other nations GRUDGINGLY America has also come to the realization that it is not in her own strategic interests for Nigeria to be weak militarily hence the massive investments we are seeing from her. THE SPRATLY islands is not something AMERICA really wants to get into AND SENDING 2,3,4 SHIPS that has been defanged will not cause china to even turn over in its sleep LET ALONE GET OUT OF BED. The concern is JAPAN who are being unusually aggresive in this case by sendind a destroyer, and if my guess is correct offering to buy them?

    • Max Montero says:

      Japan does not have a claim in the Spratys. But they do have several spats with China, Taiwan, South Korea and Russia with other islands and overlapping EEZ. But they do have interests in the Spratlys and South China Sea because this is where most of their oil and power needs pass, the area is close to their territory, and a conflict in SCS would surely involve Japanese interests. The islands reportedly bought by Japan (Senkaku/Diaoyu islands) are actually under the effective jurisdiction of Japan since 1895 but are owned by private Japanese citizens. The “purchase” just made the islands a government property to nationalize them and strengthen their claims.

  8. jimmy says:

    part2 (sorry computer was acting up)
    I also disagree with you about whatever agreement Nigeria signed with the US . Once the ship sailed into Nigeria waters the U.S. knew eithier implicitly or explicitly that the ship would change in the next coming years moreover most of this technology is neither that classified or high tech that a couple of highlt educated NIGERIA electrical engineers could not figure out the sonar technology is readily available onthe internet, missiles can be launched even with or without housing i.e on the ship’s deck with caution of cause better the housing , the Fire suppression MECHANISIM CAN BE INSTALLED WITHIN DAYS eithier by the dutch, germans or israelis,
    Please let us not sell NIGERIANS short we have three Satellites orbiting the earth even as we speak we can and are very capable if the will power is their of rearming a ship with missiles.
    The needs of the philipines are also very different from the needs of NIGERIA THAT IS BEING TASKED TO PATROL THE EQUIVALENT COASTLINE OF 15+ COUNTIRES.

  9. jimmy says:

    I meant countries

  10. beegeagle says:

    @Oga Jimmy. WELCOME? Eyimola has always been here – as long have been around. You better believe it.

    @ Eyimola. You see now, my Commander? A foundation member being mistaken for a JJC. No more AWOL, Oga. We need to be reading your precis on a continuing basis.

  11. jimmy says:

    Lastly the idea whether we should not buy western arms is not practical
    What should we do with our c-130s? our alpha jets, our G222, OUR SHALDAGS, our vickers, our Amxs, OUR SUPER PUMAS, what about our highly succesful radar systems We should throw them away what happens when we have a disagreement with RUSSIA OR CHINA and We will being that we as Nigerians are very prickly. Let us be pragmatic , please.

    • eyimola says:

      Agreed. The purchases should be spread across multiple suppliers. Aplogies if I gave the impression I wanted NO Western weapons. IK just dont want our next purchase to rot on some European or North american Dockyard (like our exocets) due to changes in the political wind.

      • Rufus Rastus says:

        I found it amusing that CANADA consciously chose to avoid US suplliers in their frigate refit, due to ITAR (International Trade in ARms – I think) issues. They have Swedish and French radars, bits from Germany, basically anywhere but there closest neighbor. The US can be an unreliable ally at times.

      • eyimola says:

        Exactly. Considering a Warship is built to last 50-75 years, its a long time to be held at ransome for.

      • beegeagle says:

        Absolutely SPOT ON. That is the heart of the matter. Activists have their hands on the jugular of their governments in the West. In China, Russia and Israel, the reverse is the case.

        We cannot buy and weep later on account of known vagaries which are bound to come to the fore at any time. Better to be safe than sorry, gentlemen.

  12. jimmy says:

    They have also reached and now acting on the ” JIMMY DOCTRINE OF PRAGMATISIM” LOL

  13. beegeagle says:

    Multi-pronged sourcing of hardware is the CORE plank of Nigeria’s procurement policy. So at no time are we going to close out acquisitions from one orbit.

    It is just the case that the orbit whose systems hitherto dominated the CORE of our combative essence, cannot be allowed to continue to enjoy that edge. Acquisitions are too enmeshed in politics for the outcome to be militarily palatable. It is not helped by clauses written into contracts which amount to post-procurment puppeteering, bare bones packages and the overbearing influence of activists on the arms trade in those parts. We do not need all that heavy wind.

    We have already learned about the atrocious contract which yielded the Jaguar jets (which eventually succumbed to a regime of sanctions anyway). Compare that to the sale of F7 AirGuard jets or Mi-35P attack helicopters which were simply transactional – we got full standard options. What we did not get is what we were unwilling to pay for. That is the difference and we deserve no less.

    Moving on, what we are saying is that our cutting edge can no longer be laid open to unrelated shenanigans. So Pipavav stealth light frigates(derived from the Russian Tigr design) and Chinese stealth OPVs, all of which I insist should be armed with a light footprint of SAMs, SSMs and torpedoes with the Thai Navy’s Pattani-class OPVs and China’s Type 056 corvettes as excellent templates. We also prescribed the acquisition of two Makassar-class LPDs from Daewoo(Korea).

    When we have that core beyond the reach of activists and politicking, we can sustain our naval power unhindered by contrived encumberances.

    That does not preclude the fact that we have a Mk.9 corvette and P2000 CPCs from Vosper Thornycroft and Brooke Marine 35m CPCs from Britain; 31m Abeking and Rasmussen CPCs and Lurssen 58m missile craft from Germany; OCEA 24m and 32m CPCs and Combattante III missile craft from France; Intermarine Mine Countermeasure Vessels and Oto-Melara naval guns from Italy; Cat-class logistics ships and NNS Thunder from the USA.

    That is good enough, representation which would not obliterate our naval core as was the case with our Blohm and Voss MEKO 360 frigate, Vosper Mk.3 and Mk.9 corvettes, Lurssen missile craft and Combattante III missile craft such as happened during the regime of sanctions. The same paradigms remain operable today and have even deepened, so we cannot repeat the same mistake.

    By the same token, our STRIDENT call for the FG to make a $200 million acquisition of surplus fifteen Su-27 jets in 2012 and to acquire four units of Su-30MK2 in each of 2013 and 2014 AND the clamour for the continued acquisition of Mi-17/24V/35P/Mi-171Sh Terminator transport, attack and assault helicopters is predicated on much the same paradigms as hold true with the Navy.

    That is without prejudice to our continued ownership of Agusta A109e/A109LUH/AW 139 helicopters, Eurocopter SA 330/AS 332 Puma/Super Puma, ALPHA Jet, Aermacchi M8 339, Alenia G222, Dornier Do-128/228, Alenia ATR 42-500 MPA Surveyor radar planes, Diamond DA 42MPP surveillance turboprops, Cessna CJ4 Citation, Beechcraft Super King and LOCKHEED HERCULES planes.

    You will agree with me that the imperative of keeping the less easily affordable/replaceable OPVs/light frigate/LPDs relative to 20m-58m patrol ships cannot be overstated. In like manner, it is more important to we retain our strike assets(air superiority/FGA jets/attack and assault helicopters) over and above utility and transport airframes. If we cannot have G222s and Dorniers, we can buy CN235 and Y12 planes. If not Alpha Jets and Aermacchi MB 339s, we can have sterner Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack and L15 Falcon supersonic trainer jets. Not so easy to replace jets and attack helis, so better we do not leave ourselves open to incapacitation.

    This gentlemen is the core of my argument. Everyone is carried along as is and that is sure to continue but we cannot leave our core essence open to unfavourable maneouvring. This is without prejudice or favour towards one side or the other.

    The PRIMARY motivation for my views are our antecedents and the need to protect our national interest. That is all that there is to it.

  14. Max Montero says:

    I didn’t notice the title calls my attention hahaha!!!

    Anyway, this is what happened to the ex-USCGC Hamilton from hand-over until now:
    1. The US removed the AN/SPS-73 and AN/SPS-40 radar systems, most data link, satnav & other electronic systems, the Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS, the 2 Mk.38 Mod.0 25mm chain guns, and some ancillary items. Same for F90.
    2. The PH replaced the AN/SPS-73 with a still unknown system (most believe that it is a new AN/SPS-73 system with a secondary Furuno system, although this is unconfirmed yet. FYI the PH operates AN/SPS-64, Sperry Marine Bridgemaster and Koden MCS 1500 Series navigation/SR search radars). But there was no replacement for the AN/SPS-40 air seach radar yet. It would be also safe to say that the navigation/surface search radar installed in PF-15 and F90 are the same.
    3. Painting job and other refurbishing works were done in the PH prior to commissioning. This includes the installation of 2 x Mk.16 20mm guns, 6 x M2 12.7mm MG, and a Mk.38 Mod.0 chain gun in the previous position of the Mk.15 Phalanx.
    4. Reportedly the PH offered to buy the ship/s “as-is” but the US rejected the request. I believe the F90 also had the same issues. It was a very big impact that made PH planners to think of not exclusively getting US arms.
    5. The reasoning within the PH navy says that since the Hamilton are US ships, it would be wise to install Harpoon missiles rather than another type since the ship is already wired to accommodate the Harpoon, and were even armed with them before. As for the radar, no news yet on what model is being looked at, but with the impending “Italian job”, we are expecting that Selex might be offering their wares as well. The Mk.38 Mod.2 was a widely anticipated move since originally the PN wanted to install this on 22 Jose Andrada class patrol boats (which are currently armed with Mk.38 Mod.0 as main guns) since the Mod.2 are stabilized. Surprisingly, the PN operates the Mod.2-similar MSI Defense Seahawk mounts on the Emilio Jacinto class corvettes (why the PN not opt for more of these? I don’t know either).
    6. The PN is also having difficulty on the ship-based helicopter model as well. Since the US previously operated AW-109s on them, it is also anticipated that the PH will choose this as well (due to size considerations. The Eurocopter Panther, with its nose radar reportedly wouldn’t fit in the telescopic hangar, same for the S-70B Seahawk and the newer MH-60. So far the PN operates BO-105s but not permanently due to the helo’s non-foldable issues. No info yet if ex-MMI AB-212 ASW helicopters can fit the telescopic hangar as well.
    7. Torpedoes and sonar is also being considered. It appears that new models of towed-array sonar are being considered, with the newer models smaller than those older models installed on current US navy ships. A hull-mounted sonar is also being considered, as well as re–installing triple lightweight torpedo tubes ala FRAM (mounted on the positons Mk.38 Mod.0 in USCGC Hamiltons).
    8. Another issue that might be coming in the future is the inter-operability of sensors and systems with incoming European ships. Commonality will be an issue as well.

    Hope this helps.


    • jimmy says:

      you have been a great help it appears that regardless of what was taken from the hamilton class ship that were acquired from the US by the PN,THE PN is already adapting to reality and long term the message is STRIP THE ship OR WHATEVER once it sails into Philipinian (Sp) waters all bets are off . I am hoping the Nigerian Navy is taking notes and understanding what the PN is doing especially in terms of the reinstallation of the SONAR and possible reinstallation of of the LIGHT WEIGHT torpedoes.
      Lastly at least one thing the NN got right is the helios the augusta 109 variants have been placed on order and some have already been observed landing on the the F90.
      About the spratly ISLANDS last news we heard today was CHINA was sending two warships so it appears the proverbial who will blink first is coming to bear.

      • Max Montero says:

        Actually the issue where China sent its ships (actually not warships but MSA – Maritime Surveillance Agency same like Coast Guard) to a disputed island group with Japan. The Japanese call them Senkaku, the Chinese the Diaoyu. The islands are currently controlled by the Japanese since 1895. Now the Chinese ships are 6 as per latest news, and Japan already warned them not to continue further. China is really getting nasty, wants to have their way with their neighbors. So far Vietnam, Philippines, and Japan have been the most vocal ones, although others like Russia, South Korea, Malaysia, Brunei and India still have many border and EEZ issues with China.

        As for the Hamiltons, it’s still a long way to go considering that the PN is already on the verge of getting newer and more capable ships, so the option to upgrade them is still in the works. We still don’t know until which level will the PN upgrade them after the Harpoon, radars, torpedo decoys and Mk.38 guns. Anyway, I’ll update here….


    • beegeagle says:

      This more than helps, Max. Tis is a precision strike. Well done, buddy.

  15. Max Montero says:

    Before I continue further, can anyone share the current status of NNS Thunder (weapons and uparming programs, sensors, modifications, helicopter, missions, exercises, etc). This is for me to atnleast make an assessment and better comparison with the PN’s BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).

    The accident involving F90 made some Filipinos in the defense-related community jump and ask what happened there and who’s at fault, since that time F90 is still quite new in the hands of NN.

    Thanks in advance my friends!

  16. beegeagle says:

    Max, tell us about the decommissioned frigates which the PN are swooping on in Italy – the Maestrale, you called them? Details on length and tonnage, panoply of armaments and COST in dollar terms would do nicely. Are they already decommissioned or is it a fast-tracked process?

    • Max Montero says:

      The Maestrale class are Italian Navy anti-submarine frigates, 8 units are currently operating. They are dimensionaly smaller than Hamilton class but 7m longer. Tonnage at around 3200tons full load. 1st unit ITS Maestrale was commissioned in 1982(?) with the rest following until 1985. CODOG with max speed of 33 knots. With fixed hangar for 2 helicopters.

      Current armaments are:
      1 x Otobreda 127mm/54 Compact
      2 x twin Oto Melara 40mm (double as CIWS with Dardo system)
      2 x Oerlikon 20mm guns
      4 x Otomat Teseo Mk2 SSM
      1 x Albatross 8-cell launcher with Aspide/Aspide 2000 SAM
      2 x triple ILAS 3 324mm torpedo tubes
      2 x 533mm heavyweight torpedo tubes
      2 x AB-212 ASW Helicopters
      2 x Breda SCLAR 20-tube decoy launcher

      This may change if transferred to the Philippines due to the reported refurbishing and upgrade included in the contract. “Possible” emphasis of upgrade are on the FCS, use of 3D phased array radar, and the replacement of Albatross/Aspide system with possibly VLS type.

      Officially 2 units are being pushed for purchase, but it was unofficially stated that 4 units are target for acquisition. The 1st unit, ITS Maestrale is originally scheduled for decommissioning by December 2013 but was fast tracked to December 2012 to accomodate the purchase. 2nd unit is still unclear but there are conflicting reportsnof either the ITS Grecale or ITS Scirocco. Decommissioning will also be fast tracked, and reportedly their replacements in the Italian Navy is already underway (FREMM / Carlo Bergamini class).

      Official reports indicate the contract price of around $120M+ each ship including all refurbishing, upgrades, training, ammo, spare parts and maintenance support and other anciliaries. There are also reports that the PH, beside 2 more units, are also discussing the possible purchase of at least 2 Artigliere class (Lupo) frigates and 2 Minerva class corvettes, and the Italians are offering the 2 San Giorgio class LPD which the Italians plan to replace with bigger ships by 2014. Last news is that ITS Maestrale joined a mulitinational exercises in the Mediteranean with other European navies just recently (September 2012).

      • Max Montero says:

        For more info on the ship class, you can check out this site:

        (just turn on the english translation option, the website’s in Italian)

      • doziex says:

        @Max Montero, thanks for the detailed info on the filipino navy.

        Is the filipino navy in line to get any of the 23 retiring south korean Pohang class corvettes ?

        Is anyone in the philipines, now ready to admit that it was a big mistake, to kick the US navy out of the subic bay in the 80’s ?

      • Max Montero says:


        No word yet on the Pohangs but last year a news came out saying that the PH is slated to get the 3rd ship of the class, bbut it appears to be a hoax or an wrongly estimated assessment. The Pohangs are good platforms but lack a good air defense system. They’re not really ment to be used on open seas like in PH borders with China, Taiwan and Vietnam, but could be ok with the southern corridor borders with Malaysia and Indonesia. We were hoping to get these ships to bundle with the impending purchase of KAI TA-50 and FA-50 but it appears the SoKors are offering other items instead.


      • Max Montero says:

        IMO the removal of US forces is not a mistake. The real mistake is the PH government’s lack of willingness to modernize and arm the PH armed forces. Instead of making it stronger to counter the balance of US’ absence, the government let it go weak and rotten, very far from what it was in the 50’s to 70’s when even China dont dare enter PH territory.

  17. Max Montero says:

    Actually the best model of uparming the Hamilton class is followingnthe post FRAM model. The Americans uparmed some of the ships with a 2 x 4-shot Harpoon SSM launchers, 2 x triple 324mm torpedo tubes, and the Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS. The ship also has the SPS-40 air search radar and a hull mounted sonar. After the USCG reassessment of their responsibilities they took out the Harpoons, torpedoes and sonar and added a Mk.38 Mod.0 gun systems mounted where the torpedoes once where.

    A former USCG poster in a PH defense forum confirmed that the ships are wired to still fire the Harpoons and will just need a few tweaks with the FCS plus a need for a long range radar. The Phalanx can be replaced by the RAM or SeaRAM (which is reportedly being looked into by the PN) to fulfill both anti-SSM and anti-aircraft defense. This will give the ship a balanced weapons suite. This doesnt have deck penetration issues and the mountings are reportedly same as that of the Phalanx so no need for costly modification works.

    Another is the replacement of the 76mm Compact gun with the 76mm Super Rapid with Strales guided ammo system.


  18. beegeagle says:

    What options are the PN looking at for shipborne naval helicopters for these major platforms?

    Looking at the Type 056 corvette, it appears as if the NN would have to look for some helic which is smaller than an Agusta – possibly the twin-engined AS 555 Fennec helics for the incoming Chinese corvettes.

    • Max Montero says:

      Hi my friend, actually the PN has still not announced what helicopter will they use on the incoming Italian ships. There are still speculation that the deal will include the AB-212 currently assigned with the ships. It appears the favorite is the Eurocopter Panther.

      The priority for purchase now are helicopters for the 2 Hamilton class ships. So far there are speculations that it would either be the naval twin engine Fennec or a naval AW109. But both platforms lack the power, range and space to carry sufficient ASW equipment so it would appear that the Hamiltons will not be able/limited ability to do ASW missions with the helicopter choices.

      Currently the PN operates BO-105C’s and a single Robinson R-22 training helicopter.


      • Rufus Rastus says:

        Just as well the helos for the Hamilton class ships can’t accomodate ASW – the class is NOISY, and all the ASW stuff is long gone – well before transfer, the sonar, torps, and NIXIE winch had been removed.

  19. beegeagle says:

    Maestrale class FRIGATE

    Lupo class FRIGATE

    Minerva class CORVETTE

    • Max Montero says:

      USCGC Jarvis is scheduled to be decommissioned soon. Are there any news if NN is still interested? It appears the PN havent sent an inspection team to the US for it as well. Last year news that Bangladesh was interested in the Hamilton class was out, even speculating that Dallas will be sold to them rather than the PH. We all know what happened next.

      Still waiting for news on the Italian ships, last news that came out was contract signing is very soon, just waiting for bill to finance all the defense projects to be signed within this month.


  20. gbash10 says:

    I think if the FG should request for the transfer of at least 4 units of the Italian Navy Maestrale Frigates to the NN that could go a long way to bust NN operational capabilities in the Gulf of Guinea.The boat seems to be good.

    • Max Montero says:

      As I indicated earlier, the Philippine Navy has already negotiated the transfer, refurbishment and upgrading of the first 2 units, expected to all be completed by November 2013.

  21. beegeagle says:

    Yeah Max, we already made a full story of that one – USCGC JARVIS. Thanks to strategically positioned Beegeagle’s Bloggers…such as yourself 🙂

    Read this, buddy


  22. Max Montero says:

    Guys, a news report came out indicating that the Philippine Navy have put on-hold the purchase of a 3rd Hamilton-class ship from the USCG, the only available unit for disposal is the USCGC Rush. The official reason is that the budget will instead be used to up-arm the 2 Hamiltons in Philippine Navy service, the ex WHEC-715 & WHEC-716. But it appears that there is another reason: the PN inspection team might have rejected the Rush, and will have to wait for a few more months before another Hamilton class ship is decommissioned. In the meantime, the budget allocated for the 3rd ship will instead be used to purchase better radar, missiles and other upgrades for both ships. So I dunno if Nigeria’s inspection team will evaluate the Rush in the same way, or if Bangladesh is still interested in getting the ship.


  23. Max Montero says:

    The Philippine Defense Department announced that the Philippine Navy will no longer buy used warships, instead will pursue an all new ship fleet from then on. If this comes to fruition, then the option for a third Hamilton class is not expected anymore, and all the plans for ex-Italian or European navy warship for purchase is also not going to happen. So goodbye 3rd Hamilton, goodbye Maestrale class frigates for the PN.

    Anyway, Bangladesh was strongly reported in the US as the next recepient of a Hamilton class ship within this year 2013. Let’s see what they do as it is expected that they will modify the ship to carry Chinese-made weapons and sensors system.

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