Just like the nuances of Federalism, most Filipinos do not understand the brouhahas brought by the multi-billion pesos’ Combat Management System (CMS) in the two P15.5 billion South Korean made Hyundai Heavy Industry (HHI) Frigates.
Before I defined what CMS, the heart of the battleship, I’ll give you its illustration:
In case war between Mainland China and allied countries like the Philippines, Japan, and the United States break out, the function of the Netherlands’ Thales-Tacticos CMS is to guide the SSM-700K Haeseong (Sea Star) long-range anti-ship missile fired from one of the frigates to an eluding Chinese warship 200 kilometers away from its location in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
In case the Frigate’s radar envelop could no longer detect the absconding enemy warship, does it mean the U.S $2,347,500.00 (Won 2, 500,000, 000.00 Wikipedia) each cruising missile, likened to U.S made Harpoon, would just plunge to the sea for nothing?
The answer is in the negative if there is, say, a Japanese F-35B, a stealth supersonic jump jet, based on the helicopter carrier 248 meters long Izumo flying somewhere in the area that will cue and guide, thanks to the CMS, the SSM-700K to destroy the Chinese warship.
Thanks too to both the frigate and the U.S made short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B’s Tactical Data Link (TDL) 16 that connects with each other. War in the West Philippines Sea, in case it happened, would not only gory but efficient as the expensive explosive unleashed by the ship could hit its enemy.
CMS and Tactical Data Link 16
Tacticos, as based on its website, said that it combines Combat Operations and Maritime Security Operations in one CMS. Open standards technology and a massive amount of subsystems interface implementations; make Tacticos the core of the mission solution. With its new looks and new features carefully designed for mission packages and are released according to the Tacticos road map. This year’s release enables customers to: – Set up networks in coalitions with secure internet access with ease; Quickly recognize traffic trends and anomalous behavior; Discover relations between contacts of interest emitting AIS and ADS-B; See compact and light-weight consoles fitting large and small naval vessels; Apply 3D net-centric training integrated in Tacticos.
TDL 16 on the other hand is indespensable as it connects all battle units including weapons by giving them a higher situational awareness and work seamlessly with other allies with their air, land, and sea assets.
Since the inception to purchase the two frigates, the Philippine Navy preferred Tactico’s CMS versus the South Korean made Hanwha Systems Naval Shield’s Combat Management System because of its compatibility with the Tactical Data Link (TDL) 16, a requirement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines C4ISTAR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance).
My resource guest Denmark Suede, a pilot based in Australia, told me recently in my radio program that the advantage of a ship having a CMS is it could fire simultaneously all its armaments to the enemies’ weaponry that appeared in the air, surface, ground, and underwater as seen on its radars.
In short, it deals with large numbers of fast-moving targets and increasingly compressed reaction times.
Each of the premium Thales-Tactico CMS can be compared to the U.S based Lockheed Martin $79.6 million (P4.1 billion) CMS that was integrated to the Component-Based Total-Ship System – 21st Century (COMBATSS-21) of the U.S Navy in 2016.
Thales-Tacticos is used by 23 countries and 173 warships in the world and known for its efficiency as based on the repeat order from some of these countries.
The South Korean Naval Shield Hanwha (formerly Hanwha – Thales before the consortium separated middle of 2016) is still unproven as its Tactical Data Link 16 will be tested on 2019 by the South Koreans.
Hanwha’s CMS is being used by the South Korean Navy and soon by the Royal Malaysian Navy.
“The Korean “Link 16” is unproven and could be vulnerable to Chinese electronic attack,” one of the Naval experts on an online defense forum opined.
The controversial 107 meters long diesel powered 25 knots’ Incheon-class frigate has the following armaments and sensors:
Eight Cell Vertical Launching System (FFBNWI), Triple Torpedo Tubes for K-745 Blue Shark Anti-Submarine torpedo, twin launchers for SSM-700K anti-ship missiles, SAQ-540K Electro-Optical Tracking System, Leonardo Agusta Westland 159 Wildcat Anti-submarine helicopter, 76 mm Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun, X-Band Navigational Radar, Twin Sinbad-RC Launchers for Mistral Missiles, Thales STIR EO Mk.2 FCR, S-Band Navigational Radio, Thales NS-106 AESA Radio, Wallop Super Barricade Countermeasure System, MSI Defense Seahawk 30mm RCWS (Secondary gun). Additional Information: CMS: Thales Tacticos Hull Mounted Sonar: Thales Bluewater, Closed-In Weapon System (FFBM), Electro Surveillance Measure, Thales Vigile LW, Tactical Data Link: Thales Link Y MK 2, space for Link 16 and Link 22 (FFBNW), and Towed Array Sonar (FFBNW).
Malacanang Palace and the Defense Department are accused to lobby for the cheaper Korean Hyanwha despite HHI promised to incorporate the Thales-Tacticos in 2016 to win the contract versus India’s Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) that submitted a full Thales Nederland combat management and sensor that included a more comprehensive CMS than what HHI offered.
Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte’s Man Friday, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, was accused to intervene in January 2017 on the new frigates by endorsing to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana a white paper that favored the South Korean made CMS.
Malacanang critic Congressman Gary Alejano claimed Go’s actions were prompted by an alleged visit of an official of South Korean CMS provider Hanwha. He said the supposed meeting with Go “possibly” took place between January 5 and 11, 2017.
Defense Secretary Lorenzana said as quoted by media reports: “But HHI would still choose Hanwha against the navy’s wishes.”The problem is, doon kasi sa contract, Hyundai ang may choice kung sino ang pipiliin. Pinili nila ang Hanwha. Wala na kami pakialam doon”.
During the Second Stage Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE) in December 2015, HHI pledged, as come-on, to use a Thales combat management and sensor that suite the Baseline Configuration List submitted by the FAP Technical Working Group (TWG) for the frigates.
Former Navy Flag Officer-In-Command (FOIC) Read Admiral Ronald Mercado, who was unceremoniously sacked by Lorenzana because of his insistence on Thales Tactico, said that the navy insisted that Hanwha did not comply with the technical requirements specified in the contract.
Future Criminal Liabilities
In case the government and the Hyundai Heavy Industry proceed for the ceremonial cutting of steel and construct the grossly disadvantageous to the government’s Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) project whose contract was signed by Lorenzana in October 2016 for the supposed delivery in 2020, the Koreans would be liable for breached of contract while those in the Philippine government will be violating the Revised Penal Code like Technical Malversation, Government Procurement Reform Act R.A 9184, and the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act (R.A 3019).
Although we could not compare how the fireworks and the antics brought by the recent Senate investigation on the hullabaloo at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the Senate will also be investigating the Frigates’ Fiasco on February this year.
Let’s brace, anyway, for that sleuthing!
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