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Navy says frigate delivery on track despite CMS snag.

The delivery of two frigates ordered by the Department of National Defense (DND) for the Navy will proceed as planned, despite a snag brought about by an issue involving the vessels' combat support systems (CMS).

Acting Navy chief Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad on Wednesday said the South Korean contractor Hyundai Heavy Industries would deliver the two brand-new frigates by the first quarter of 2020.

'[The frigates] should be delivered [in the] first quarter of 2020. It is within the timeline,' Empedrad said.

The acquisition and delivery of the frigates, with a total budget of P15.5 billion, are being made under the Armed Forces Modernization Program.

Empedrad was installed as acting Navy chief on Tuesday after Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana relieved former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado of his post reportedly due to insubordination.

Lorenzana said he had lost his trust and confidence on Mercado due to the latter's action relating to the acquisition of the frigates, whose contract the former Navy chief had reportedly even threatened to rescind.

Mercado had wanted the French defense contractor Thales to deliver the CMS for the two frigates, but Lorenzana said the contract spelled out that Hyundai, as the winning bidder, would be the one to identify the contractor for the CMS.

Mercado's insistence and preference for the French firm have already delayed the CMS project and affected the whole frigate acquisition program for four months, according to Lorenzana.

But Empedrad said the whole project is still within its designated period.

'The frigate [delivery has] not been delayed. It is ongoing and the delivery time is still the same, and we are going to process that,' he said.

'We will move on, whatever is the ongoing projects of the Navy, we will move on from here,' he added.

Empedrad said they are going to facilitate the things needed by the project and ensure that these would be delivered and used by the Navy by 2020.

'A frigate has a lot of problems. How to prepare the Philippine Navy for the frigate is the most important one, like, where are we going to dock the frigate and who will be the personnel that will man the frigate?' he said.

Empedrad added other problems also involve the sources of missiles and torpedoes.

'[That's] because [the frigates still]do not have missiles and torpedoes [which takes] two years to manufacture. So we have to process that so that [before] the frigate[s] arrive,' he said.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 21, 2017
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