Author Topic: Operation Pinoy Pride  (Read 2214 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Operation Pinoy Pride
« on: March 16, 2021, 08:31:34 AM »
Operation 'Pinoy Pride' - "Storm's a-coming ..."

No-one in the Philippines eagerly anticipates typhoon-strength tropical storms. But, for the Philippine Navy, the approach of Typhoon Josie in July of 2022 did present opportunities. One opportunity was to complete the rough water segment of the Sea Acceptance Tests (SAT) for the newly re-delivered Jacinto class offshore patrol vessel. One of these 712-ton OPVs - the BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36) - had recently been fitted with a new aluminum superstructure cladding intended to reduce the ship's radar signature. For budgetary reasons, the 'semi-stealth' reworking of this demonstrator was far from complete. [1] However, the Philippine Navy wanted to take advantage of stormy conditions to test the seaworthiness of the revised hull and superstructure.

Austal Philippines engineers and workers had pressed hard to get the Jacinto recladding completed on time. The Philippine Navy timeline might have been slightly unrealistic but the re-delivery date had been met - in part, because the Navy was willing to forego a range equipment updates ... for now. [2] The Philippine Navy was, itself, coming under intense pressure from the Department of National Defense and even directly from the newly-appointed Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire Gazmin. [3] Outsiders - even Austal Philippines personnel - assumed that this pressure stemmed from concerns over the great age of many of the Philippine Navy's patrol craft. [4]

With all these hasty preparations, it came as a surprise for Austal employees aboard the BRP Apolinario Mabini to learn that they would be disembarking at Subic Bay. Their reclad OPV would undertake its rough water SATs with a purely military crew aboard. Austal's Marine Engineer, Francisco 'Kikô' Ramírez Jr, had already submitted the initial sea trial CAMPAR (Computer Aided Marine Performance Analysis Report) based on the ship's Cebu-to-Luzon cruise. [5] Outfitting design engineer Frank Deakin was more than happy to have a few days off - especially with 'Kikô' promising to show Austal co-workers around his hometown. Their shipboard boss, project Structural Lead Coordinator, Bruce Thwaites, was just as relieved not to be facing three days in a pitching 63-metre hull. But Thwaites was also puzzled.

The Philippine Navy had onboard access to qualified naval architects and marine engineers on loan from Austal Philippines. Why would the PN not make use of their skills during these Sea Acceptance Tests? Instead, the PN chose to send serving sailors out into rough waters to sea-test an unproven structural modification. Who made the decision to exclude skilled Austal Philippines personnel? And why wouldn't the acting captain of the BRP Apolinario Mabini listen to informed protests? It was all very puzzling.

Austal Philippines and the Development of the 'Semi-Stealth' Patrol Vessel

The 'Stealth Jacinto' concept had evolved in a roundabout way. The Australian shipbuilder Austal had been chosen to supply the Philippine Navy's next offshore patrol vessel - an 83-meter OPV with a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure. Construction would be undertaken at a new Austal Philippines yard at Subic Bay - assuming a successful joint US-Australian bid to take over the failed Subic Bay yard from the receivers of Hanjin Shipping. [6] However, this joint bid was endangered by then-President 'DiGong' Duterte's on-again/off-again support for a Subic Bay takeover by one of two Chinese firms. As an immediate back-up plan, OPV work would take place at the expanded Austal Philippines yard at Balamban on Cebu.

Funding for the six new Austal OPVs was to be provided by Canberra as a 'soft loan' - ie: part of on-going Australian government aid to the Philippines. [7] Surreally, this program was halted in September 2019 through an executive order from 'DiGong' Duterte. Under this order, the President blocked all formal dealings - including negotiating foreign loans - between the Philippines and any country which had backed a UN probe of Duterte's murderous anti-drug war. Australia had been one such nation. As a result, the Philippine Navy's rebuiding plans were in limbo. Worse, 30,000 skilled Filipino shipyard workers at Subic Bay would remain unemployed.

Former Secretary of National Defense, Delfin Lorenzana, had scrambled to convince Duterte to make an exception for the crucial Austal OPV program. Eventually, Duterte deigned to lift his ban ... but the damage had been done. Canberra had been offering a 'soft loan' of 30 billion Philippine Pesos (PHP) or about AUD 800,000 for the OPV project. However, while Duterte postured over perceived foreign slights against him, Australia had been through its 'black summer' of devastating bushfires followed by on-going Covid-19 lock-downs. Was Canberra still in the mood to subsidize the 'macho madman' in Manila?

SecDef Lorenzana faced another problem. Were Canberra to resume its 'soft loan' offer, a downpayment was still required. Sources differ on whether the Philippine government would be required to produce 10% or 15% of the total cost as its downpayment on the OPV project. But that translated into an initial payment by Manila of between 3 billion PHP (AUD 80,000) and 4.5 billion PHP (about AUD 120,000). Where was that money to come from? 'DiGong' Duterte showed no interest. And SecDef Lorenzana's defence budget was already spoken for.

SecDef Lorenzana could see a crisis looming. More was a stake here than a half dozen patrol vessels. Through its Technical Skills Development Program, Austal Philippines was offering underprivileged Filipinos a chance to develop shipbuilding skills. This too was largely funded by aid money provided by Canberra. Without a skilled workforce to man the Philippines' shipyards, the Philippine Navy would forever be reliant upon other nation's cast-offs or charity. That would be a disaster, especially with China threatening to gobble up all of Manila's possessions in the West Philippine Sea. Something had to be done.

In early 2020, Lorenzana had quietly contacted the outgoing Austal CEO, David Singleton. While waiting for a final decision on the new OPV project, would Austal Philippines be willing to display its 'mixed-metal' construction techniques - and enhance the skills of newly-trained Filipino workers - by performing additional upgrade work on the Philippine Navy's existing Jacinto class patrol vessels? What Lorenzana had envisioned was the construction of a 'semi-stealthy' superstructure onto the existing hulls (which the SecDef's naval advisors assured him was technically feasible). For such a scheme to work, Austal would need to organize its own financing arrangements for this project directly from Canberra. Singleton agreed to tackle this work as a one-off demonstrator hull. If deemed successful by the Philippine Navy's Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC), further funding would be found to complete the superstructure conversions for all three Jacinto class hulls.

"No one ever approaches perfection except by stealth ..."

In April 2020, planning and design work had begun on Jacinto class recladding in the midst of a global pandemic. Despite difficult lock-down logistics, work progressed quickly - the superstructure and upper hull cladding being relatively simple add-ons. Beyond reducing radar and infrared signature, an objective of the recladding was eliminating the Jacinto's notoriously low freeboard (at least on the hull sides amidships). With the 'tumblehome' shape of the new cladding, this was easily accomplished. A greater challenge came with the attempt to reduce topside weight - the class had a reputation for being top-heavy (a major problem if the desired integrated mast system was to be introduced).

Superstructure weight savings would be realized mainly by the wholesale removal of any and all superfluous steel components above the waterline. Non-structural elements would then be replaced by aluminum or composite parts. Design work was split between Austal as prime contractor and a seconded team from the naval architecture firm of LOMOcean Design, based in Auckland, New Zealand. The division of labour put Austal in charge of overall structural changes - including the design and application of a new lower superstructure cladding with sufficient strength to withstand wave slamming.

In consultation, primary and secondary contractors tackled design work on the revised superstructure shaping. Austal worked on the extended hull sides - from the former side gunwales to the height of the tops of the hydraulic hoists. This area was reclad with sloped aluminum plating supported by a fretwork of welded aluminum tubing (with FRP bushings separating the light alloy fittings from original steel structures). LOMOcean was responsible for sheathing that aluminum cladding with carbon-fibre, foam-sandwich panels which - along with that new tumblehome shaping - would serve to reduce the vessel's radar cross section (RCS).

LOMOcean was fully responsible for recladding the superstructure above Austal's new aluminum plating. In those locations, composite bracings were used to attach the flat carbon-fibre, foam-sandwich panels. This approach resulted in a revised upper works. The structural weight diminished as it rose higher: Austal's carbon-fibre sheathed aluminum plates was lighter than the steel below the gunwales, and LOMOcean's composite structures above were lighter than the Austal plating below. The results were new topsides for the Jacinto class with improved shaping - for deflecting/absorbing radar and surviving heavier seas - all without any substantial increase of weight. The overall desired weight loss was not achieved, but all parties involved agreed that the resulting 'Super Jacinto' rebuild was a success.

The 'Super Jacinto' rebuild took advantage of Austal Philippines' considerable local expertise with aluminum welding and fabrication - but newly developed for the naval realm rather than for civilian ferries. LOMOcean was also able to demonstrate its abilities in applying composite materials to patrol vessels - standing the Kiwi firm in good stead for pitching its 25-metre Stealth Patrol Craft design to the Philippine Navy. And, of course, the real purpose of all this work was the reduction of the Jacinto class' radar cross section. But, although the term was widely bandied about in the media, the reclad patrol vessels were in no sense truly 'stealth' ships. [8]

The recladding served two 'semi-stealth' functions. First was as a form of visual camouflage - unless silhoutted, the simplified shape (and less variegated patterns) of the revised superstructure would make the ship more difficult to recognize. Those cleaner lines and sloped panels also helped reduce RCS. Working with an existing hull and under-superstructure meant that no true 'Special Geometry of Shapes' could be applied. However, shaping alone provided a modicum of RCS reduction which was aided by the application of radar absorbing coatings. [9] For the initial mission envisioned by DefSec Lorenzana, 'semi-stealth' should be more than good enough for the 'Super Jacinto'.

(To be Continued ...)

[1] Priority was given to making the hull and superstructure seaworthy. Stealth trials could wait, the Summer 2022 trials were focused on handling and station-keeping abilities. The Harbour Acceptance Tests (HAT) had raised no major issues. Now the more daunting Sea Acceptance Tests must be faced.

[2] These updates included a new main gun shelter (which, for reasons of cost, would be of 'faceted' type rather than 'stealthy'); an integrated main mast system; a WR Davis eductor/diffuser IRSS (infrared signature suppression) duct for the funnel; and an experimental superstructure cooling system using seawater 'wash and misting' to further reduce IR signature (by limiting solar heat gain on the exterior cladding).

[3] Former Chief of the Army, LtGen Voltaire Gazmin had been tapped as DefSec for the incoming Robredo Cabinet in early May 2022.

[4] Many of these PN patrol boats are ex-US Navy vessels dating back to WW2 - although attrition through lack of spares and cannibalization is taking its toll on this aged fleet.

[5] Marine Technician Carlito 'Neneng' Baclig had noted the heightened ERAT (Engine Room Air Temperature) but that was a simple matter of installing greater-capacity ventilators. The  'blackout test' also raised concerns when the emergency DA (diesel alternator) took almost 60 seconds to come online. Both the higher ERAT and DA lag were flagged for attention ... but these minor glitches could wait until after the rough water tests.

[6] Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction had filed for bankruptcy in early 2019. However, its key assets - shipyards in Busan and Subic Bay - were not put on the block until September 2020. The successful bid came from Austal in a financial partnership with US-based Cerberus Capital Management. However, the transition was greatly slowed by the lingering effects of the corona virus, as well as the alienating impact of Duterte's vacillating pronouncements on foreign governments and their potential aid projects.

[7] Details of this 'soft loan' were not released but, generally, such soft financing implies little or no interest and extended grace periods for failures to repay. In other words, 'soft loans' represent a foreign policy tool rather than an actual banking arrangement.

[8] In naval use, 'stealth' technology implies a reduction in all 'observables': visual, radar, infrared, and acoustic. As a maximized design, the reclad Jacinto class would, at least partially, cover the first three 'observables' but potential noise reduction was not addressed in any way.

[9] For some hatches and uppermost superstructure claddings, a different approach was taken. Here, a framework was covered with radar-absorbing composite material panels. The latter consisted of a GRP sandwich sheeting between which is layered polymer substrates filled with metallic microfibres. The resulting panels deflect or absorb the electromagnetic waves from scanning radars.
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline Old Wombat

  • "We'll see when I've finished whether I'm showing off or simply embarrassing myself."
  • "Define 'interesting'?"
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2021, 09:39:03 AM »
Austal? ???

There are going to be tears! :icon_sueno:
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2021, 10:09:39 AM »
There are going to be tears! :icon_sueno:

 ;D  Quite possibly. But I'm hoping that this story won't be heading where you think it is  ;)
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2021, 12:43:31 PM »
I am going to have to recluse myself from this one, partially to prevent a tourettes type outburst, but also so as not in inadvertently provide too much real world information as to how totally incompetent Austal are.

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2021, 05:23:13 AM »
Remain calm!  ;D

No need to recuse ... Austal is only a bit player in a much larger story about the near-future of the Philippines   ;)

Austal was tapped for its fictional role solely because that company is 'on the ground' in the Philippines. That gave me two genuine locations to play with as well as an actual encounter between RW personalities. (I could have just made up people and corporate entities. Maybe I should have?)

WARNING: Austal does make another, brief appearance at the beginning of Part 2. You may want to arrow down the page  :smiley:
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 07:52:57 AM by apophenia »
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2021, 08:01:24 AM »
Operation 'Pinoy Pride' - Pan Pan, Panic Panic

Pan Pan, Pan Pan, Pan Pan
All stations, all stations, all stations
This is BRP Apolinario Mabini, BRP Apolinario Mabini, BRP Apolinario Mabini
Call sign: Delta Uniform Papa Zulu
MMSI number: 8 1 1 9 3 0 2
Position: 1 5 degrees 2 6 minutes North, 1 1 8 degrees 3 3 minutes East
We are listing in heavy seas and shipping water. We may require tug assistance

To the Austal Subic Bay radio centre monitoring for BRP Apolinario Mabini's uncoded transmissions, the message was chillingly clear. The captain of the BRP Apolinario Mabini had not issued a full Mayday 'distress alert' call, but obviously the 'semi-stealth' ship was in serious trouble. There had been surprisingly little radio traffic - coded or otherwise - between the 63-metre experimental vessel and the Philippine Navy's NAVFORNOL (Naval Forces Northern Luzon). Now this! And the captain's 'urgency alert' call made apparent that the reclad patrol vessel was taking on water.

Personnel from the BRP Apolinario Mabini's initial sea trials were called back to the yard. First to arrive was Bruce Thwaites, Austal's Structural Lead Coordinator for the 'semi-stealth' project. Yet again, Thwaites was puzzled. No immediate assistance was requested which suggested that the ship had full power and, presumably, the bilge pumps were functioning. But the 'urgency alert' call gave the ship's location as 15°26'N 118°33'E in the West Philippine Sea. What on earth was the Apolinario Mabini doing some 50 km due east of Scarborough Shoal? That was awfully close to the track of Tropical Storm Josie - she may no longer have typhoon status but Josie still packed a hell of a punch. The captain of the BRP Apolinario Mabini could easily have steered northward and continued his tests. With winds still gusting up to 100 km/h, there would have been little chance of running out of rough sea conditions!

Would the 'semi-stealth' BRP Apolinario Mabini be lost on its first open water sea trials? And in the current sea state, who might be available to respond to the captain's 'urgency alert' call? The first response came from another Philippine Navy ship - DUPF - out of Dagupan in the Lingayen Gulf. The BRP Datu Marikudo was over 75 km ENE away from BRP Apolinario Mabini's reported position. According to the radio centre's battered reference guide, this Malvar class corvette was capable of 16 knots (30 km/h). At full speed, it would take DUPF at least two and half hours to reach the listing BRP Apolinario Mabini.

"These ghost ships aren't home to phantom sailors."

Oddly, an online check suggested that the BRP Datu Marikudo had been decommissioned at the end of 2010.  [1] But there was no time to ponder all the oddities of this situation - no time to 'vet' offers of  assistance. Earlier, an outbound Philippine Navy Beechcraft TC-90 patrol aircraft had reported "no joy" in its initial search for the stricken 'semi-stealth' ship. Now, that same PN surveillance aircraft had broken radio silence again, in its ongoing attempt to establish the current position of the BRP Apolinario Mabini. [2]

Pan Pan
Delta Uniform Papa Zulu
This is Philippine Navy Tango Charlie 9 0
Say again your position
Standing by

But the BRP Apolinario Mabini made no response. Moments later, the Beechcraft followed up with another call:

Pan Pan
Delta Uniform Papa Zulu
This is Philippine Navy Tango Charlie 9 0
How do you read?

A chill went through the personnel listening in the Subic Bay radio centre. The BRP Apolinario Mabini had made no calls on Channel 16 since the captain issued his 'urgency alert'. Now there was no response to two 'urgency alert' replies from a patrol aircraft overhead. Had the vessel's list worsened and the BRP Apolinario Mabini foundered? If so, that must have occurred so quickly that there was no time to broadcast a 'distress alert' from the stricken ship. In the radio centre, all thoughts turned to worst case scenarios with growing concern over the fate of the crew.

Pan Pan
All stations, all stations, all stations
This is Philippine Navy Tango Charlie 9 0
Delta Uniform Papa Zulu has been positioned at
95 kilometres due east of Panatag Shoal
Tango Charlie 9 0
'Seelonce Feenee' [3]

A cheer went up at Subic Bay and Bruce Thwaites could finally draw a cautious breath. The BRP Apolinario Mabini had been located - the PN aircraft had given the Filipino name for Scarborough Schoal - and the ship was apparently out of danger. As project lead, Thwaites desperately wanted details. What had been the problem? How had the ship been righted and the ingress of seawater staunched? So many questions. But questions could wait. The crew was out of danger and the ship steaming back towards port at a decent clip. That in itself was a tremendous relief.

"She's Cactus" ... One Question Off the List

MRSC Manila, MRSC Manila
This is Philippine Navy Tango Charlie 9 0
Be advised
Delta Uniform Papa Zulu urgency alert feenee
Vessel underway 95 Kilo Mike east of Panatag Shoal
Ship's radio is Uniform Sierra, swells are lower
Tango Charlie 9 0

Well, that call to the District 1 Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre answered one of Bruce Thwaites' questions -  the Apolinario Mabini's nearly-new transmitter had carked it. In all likelihood, the PN crew had been trying to communicate their situation but that bloody radio was on the blink. So, the Austal crowd at the Subic Bay radio centre would have another few nervous hours waiting for the BRP Apolinario Mabini to reach port. But, at least those lower swell heights suggested that Tropical Storm 'Josie' had done her worst. The sea state was returning to normal - winds dropping (with gusts less than 70 km/h) and more moderate swells. Conditions were looking good for the BRP Apolinario Mabini's return trip.

Grey on Grey Trending Towards Black ...

Image Unmarked Beechcraft TC-90 King Air of the Philippine Navy. Although unidentified, this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was operated alongside the standard PN TC-90s of Naval Aviation Squadron MF-30 (out of Danilo Atienza Air Base at Sangley Point). [4]

The grey aircraft's ungainly ISR kit consists of a belly-mounted 'Airborne Technologies Self-Contained Aerial Reconnaissance' pod. This carbon-fibre SCAR Pod houses its own Airborne LINX mission system as well as a large L3 Wescam MX-15HD electro-optical payload. This EO turret is identical to that fitted to the Philippine Air Force's C-130T Hercules. But that larger ISR aircraft employs two semi-retractable Airdyne SABIR pylons to carry its sensor payloads. [5] By contrast, the smaller recce TC-90 had its sensor pod rigidly attached to a jury-rigged fretwork of steel-tubing bolted to its fuselage. [6]

Modificiation work was performed by Hawker Pacific Asia Pte Ltd (Philippine Branch) in Manila. PN TC-90s were familiar sights at the HPAPL Hangar but this recce aircraft was a one-off. This aircraft was intended to act as a systems trainer prior to the delivery of the PN's new Viking Guardian 400 search-and-rescue aircraft. [7] As such, its cabin interior had been largely gutted to make space for a sensor-operator's work console (to starboard) and a rearward-facing observer's seat (to port). To save weight, a crew of only three was carried - the observer doubling as co-pilot on take-off and landing. [8]

Even without its out-sized belly pod, the unmarked Beechcraft could be readily distinguished from its TC-90 hangar mates. One recognition feature was the distinct propeller set-up. While the TC-90s delivered from Japan had standard 3-bladed props, the grey recce aircraft featured swept-back Raisbeck/Hartzell
4-bladed propellers. [9]

(To be Continued ...)


[1] The BRP Datu Marikudo (PS-23) was the former USS Amherst, a patrol craft commissioned as PCE(R)-853 late in WW2. The Philippine Navy had inherited the ship from the Republic of Vietnam Navy back in 1975. And this 'ancient mariner' had indeed been decommissioned by the PN in early December 2010.

[2] Once an 'urgency alert' has been issued, SOP is for all stations within hearing to continue listening on the frequency used but to cease transmissions which might interfer with distress traffic.

[3] By tradition, the French silence fini is pronounced phonetically to terminate an 'urgency alert'.

[4] There was speculation that the 'anonymous' Beechcraft actually belonged to NATS-50 - the Naval Air School Centre which was also based at Sangley Point. Most likely, the aircraft was one of the second tranche of ex-JMSDF TC-90s delivered to the PN. Perhaps the airframe had been repainted but markings had yet to be applied. Alternatively, the SCAR Pod modifications were always intended to be temporary. The addition of markings may have been postponed until after the pod had been removed.

[5] The PAF's C-130T ISR conversion carries the MX-15 to starboard and a search radar antenna on the port side. The SABIR arms are mounted into the C-130's rear doorways (with bulged observation windows above).

[6] The SCAR Pod was designed to be hung from standard NATO weapon pylons which are not available on the PN's TC-90s. The SCAR Pod itself was bought as a lead up to the Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft (MPAA) acquisition project (see below).

[7] The first plan was to mount the SCAR Pod on a pylon beneath the port wing of one of the Philippine Navy's GAF N22SL Nomad transports. However, the aging Nomads were being held in reserve as backups for the Britten-Norman BN-2A-21 Islander. The latter were performing essential supply drops to the PN Marines aboard the BRP Sierra Madre grounded to assert Philippines sovereignty on Second Thomas Shoal/Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

The SCAR Pods were destined for the new Guardian 400 floatplanes selected under the PN's Multi-Purpose Amphibian Aircraft acquisition project. The Navy's MPAA project was itself a replacement program for the Philippine Air Force's failed SAR Seaplane requirement of 2014.

[8] Both take-offs and landings required a flat attitude if the SCAR Pod payload was to avoid the tarmac. Landing approach speeds were kept close to 90 knots (165 km/h) - well above stalling speed - and neither propeller reverse thrust nor excess braking was employed (to avoid over-compressing undercarriage oleo struts).

[9] More ambitious initial plans had included a switch to more fuel-efficient PT6A-135A engines as well as the installation of Raisbeck 'Dual Aft-Body Strakes'. Both of these suggested modifications were ultimately eliminated from the project on cost grounds.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 08:09:43 AM by apophenia »
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Operation Pinoy Pride
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2021, 02:26:55 AM »
This story has been left hanging for too long and some housekeeping is required ...

My story had began with a relatively minor player - Austal Philippines - and its part in converting an aged patrol vessel into a one-off 'semi-stealth' ship. Involving Austal was obvious a judgement error on my part. The Australian firm became a distraction from the actual story and, ultimately, took the steam out of it for me.

I had intended to resume this 'Operation Pinoy Pride' story ... having already written a great deal more and prepared illustrations of key equipment. However, as a near-future AltHist, there was always a risk of being overtaken by RW events.

Part of my scenario involved a political shake-up in the 2022 Philippines federal elections. Current President, 'DiGong' Duterte, failed in his bid to change the Philippine constitution and, therefore, cannot run for President a third time. However, all signs now suggest that 'DiGong' will go for VP as running mate to his daughter Sara's as-yet-unannounced Presidential candidacy.

In my scenario, that whif 2022 shake-up was backlash for an economic downturn largely attributed to RW 'DiGong' Duterte's muddled responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Duterte's pandering to Beijing despite PRC actions in the South China Sea were also highly unpopular. And yet, current polling now gives daughter Sara Duterte overwhelming popularity amongst Filipinos - ranked at 26% support (her closest rivals are tied at only 14% support). That says Duterte's RW successor will very likely be another Duterte.

That probable electoral outcome makes my original storyline non-viable. No bold actions in the 'West Philippines Sea' are plausible with 'DiGong' still in play. So, I will belatedly pull the plug on 'Operation Pinoy Pride'.

If there is any interest in the technology involved in the culmination of this story, I will mount the concepts behind it in the Ideas & Inspiration[/i] Scenarios section.
"The trouble ... is that I am really doing it completely backward. Investigation is the only agenda I have. If people are asking for clarification, they will be out of luck." - William Gibson