BRP Benguet LST unloads a PA LAD Scorpion light tank in Mindanao. (photo : skyscrapercity)
MANILA, Philippines - The Navy plans to acquire seven vessels next year to improve its operations and upgrade its capabilities.
Navy spokesman Capt. Giovanni Bacordo told The STAR that they want to buy three offshore patrol vessels, three multipurpose attack craft and a landing craft utility in 2011.
“We seek to upgrade the capabilities of the Navy. The acquisition will help us perform our duties,” Bacordo said.
He said the attack craft, which will be used to insert troops during combat operations, would cost P89 million each.
On the other hand, the P178-million landing craft utility would be used to transport troops and logistics.
Bacordo said the patrol vessels would be used to conduct patrols at the Malampaya natural gas offshore facility in Palawan.
Information about the cost of the patrol vessels is not yet available.
Bacordo said the Navy has three multipurpose attack vessels in its inventory.
Two are deployed in Western Mindanao while another is stationed in Palawan.
He said they also have three landing craft utility but no offshore patrol vessels.
Bacordo said the purchase of a multi-role vessel is still in the pipeline but this would depend on the availability of funds.
He said they could not rely solely on the Navy’s annual budget for funds to cover the purchases since 70 percent of it goes to salaries while the rest is used to fund maintenance and operating expenses.
The purchase of the multi-role vessel, which costs about P5 billion, has been planned since 2007. Its acquisition, however, was stalled due to lack of financial resources.
A multi-role vessel is capable of delivering basic services to far-flung areas and can be used for disaster and humanitarian missions.
Earlier, the military announced plans to lease its properties to private firms to generate funds for its modernization program.
Officials said such a scheme would allow the military to procure equipment without bloating the deficit, which is expected to hit P325 billion this year.
Authorities are still determining how much would be generated from the project.
Last November, acting Navy chief Rear Adm. Danilo Cortez told The STAR that at least six firms have expressed interest in the project.
One of the six firms – Malaysian Resources Corp. Berhad – has submitted a proposal that would involve the lease of a 33-hectare Navy property in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.
The Armed Forces Modernization Act, which took effect on Feb. 23, 1995, has given the military the opportunity to modernize in 15 years with a total fund of P331 billion.
More than 15 years have passed since the law was enacted but there are views that the military is not even close to what may be called a modern battle force. The delay in the law’s implementation has been attributed to the lack of state resources.