BRP Gregorio del Pilar (photo : saver111)
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is planning to purchase a third warship and three naval helicopters to bolster its maritime defense capabilities in a region increasingly wary of China's looming presence.
The Philippines currently has one warship in its possession, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. Another warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is expected to arrive in the country later this year.
Apart from a third warship, the Philippine Navy said it was planning to purchase three "marinized" naval helicopters to complement its available warships.
No definite date has been set, but Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama told reporters Friday the plan is to buy these using funds generated from the Energy department's Malampaya project.
Pama, in an interview with reporters at the Air Power Symposium in Pasay City, said the three will eventually be attached to the Hamilton-class cutters purchased from the United States.
"Our budget is set for three [helicopters] since domain awareness calls for helicopters on board; that’s why in our program there are three helicopters [for] three Hamilton Class [ships]. One is to one," Pama explained.
At the moment, officials are busy preparing for the arrival of the second warship, BRP Alcaraz. A 90-man crew from the Navy has been in Charleston, South Carolina since April for training and repairing of the ship.