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PH to buy 2 navy corvettes from South Korea, may receive 2 more

JC Gotinga
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says the South Korean government plans to donate two of its navy’s old corvettes as the Philippines buys two brand new ones from Hyundai Heavy Industries

NAVY CORVETTE. The BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea, is welcomed in Manila on August 20, 2019. Photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will order two brand new corvette warships from South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), while the South Korean government plans to donate two of its navy’s existing ones, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Welcoming the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap donated by South Korea in a ceremony at the Manila South Harbor on Tuesday, August 20, Lorenzana said “the South Korean government is thinking of donating two more of these Pohang-class [corvettes].”

“We are again ordering two corvettes, also to be made by Hyundai,” the defense chief added.

A corvette is the smallest class of warships, and although the BRP Conrado Yap is currently the most powerful of the Philippine Navy’s vessels, it will be used as a training platform ahead of the arrival of two brand new frigates, also from HHI, in 2020 and 2021.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Navy’s Corvette Acquisition Program in May.

On Friday, August 23, Lorenzana told reporters that the Navy preferred to get the two new corvettes, together worth P30 billion, from HHI, too.

Hindi pa naman napirmahan sa Hyundai pero ‘yun ang gusto ng Navy dahil para isa lang ang gagawa ng ating frigate at saka ‘yung corvettes, para ‘yung sistema nila is pare-pareho, ‘yung parts,”  said Lorenzana, emphasizing the importance of the vessels’ interoperability.

(We haven’t signed anything with Hyundai but that’s what the Navy wants so that our frigates and corvettes will come from the same manufacturer, so that their systems and parts will be the same.)

The acquisition of the brand new corvettes will be through a government-to-government financing agreement, in which the Philippines could pay South Korea over a period of 5 to 10 years, Lorenzana added.

HHI is expected to deliver the Navy’s missile-capable Rizal-class frigates in the next two years: the BRP Jose Rizal in 2020, and the BRP Antonio Luna in 2021.

The new corvettes will be even more powerful than the frigates, and together, the new vessels will step up the Navy’s capabilities as the Philippines faces a persistent security challenge from China in the West Philippine Sea and beyond.

“I would like it to be done as soon as possible,” Lorenzana said. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.