In early September the Philippines unveiled one of its most ambitious new naval projects with plans to acquire two new HDF-3000 frigates from Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea. Based on the 3,250-ton (full load) Incheon class, also known as the FFX program, the modified Philippine frigates could be smaller than the 374-foot Incheon (pictured here) and her sisters in service with South Korea but will be capable of carrying a full range or antiair, antiship, and antisubmarine weapons and equipment. The Philippine Navy does not currently possess any missile-carrying warships, however, so there is no guarantee the class will be fitted with such advanced weaponry, at least for the time being. If new missiles eventually are acquired, it would set an important precedent, but it also could create additional infrastructure and training challenges for the Philippine armed forces, which are struggling to cope with growing threats in the South China Sea.
By Eric Wertheim