French maritime defence manufacturer Naval Group has integrated its Contralto/Canto anti-torpedo reaction module onboard two Philippine frigates, the BRP Jose Rival (FF 150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF 151).

The contractor installed the subsystem into the C-Guard decoy launching system of the two vessels at Subic Agila Bay in the Philippines on 31 August.

The setting to work and testing of Contralto took place in the presence of representatives from the Philippine Navy, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Ministry of National Defense and industrials responsible for anti-submarine warfare systems.

This milestone is part of a contract signed in December 2021 to provide an anti-torpedo defence system that was soon followed by a pre-delivery inspection in October last year.

Now fully integrated, the new system applies a unique concept to defend the frigate. It is based on the ‘dilution/confusion’ concept to defend mission essential units by generating a high-level acoustic signal over 360-degrees, covering the full frequency range of the attacking torpedo.

According to Naval Group, the Contralto computes the most appropriate evasive manoeuvre and deployment sequence once a threat is detected.

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The next contractual milestone is planned in 2024, with the delivery of Contralto anti-torpedo countermeasures and the training of the crews by Naval Group.

Responding to Chinese aggression

Leading intelligence consultancy GlobalData tells us that the torpedo segment is the second largest sector with a 13.5% share in the global underwater warfare systems market.

The company expects the market to be valued at $4.9bn in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.41% over the next decade. It is expected to reach $6.8bn by 2032 and cumulatively value $64.9bn over the forecast period.

GlobalData also notes that territorial claims in the South China Sea and the increasing strength and assertiveness of China’s armed forces have spurred the Philippine government to enhance its military capabilities.

Lately, the Philippine Coast Guard accused its Chinese counterpart of firing water cannon at its vessels and blocking them in the disputed territory on 5 August.

The incident prompted the US Department of State to assert that “the United States reaffirms an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces—including those of its Coast Guard in the South China Sea—would invoke US mutual defence commitments.”