BRP Gregorio del Pilar, first ex US cutter for Philippines Navy (photo : manilaboy45)
MANILA, Philippines - Acquisition of a third warship from the US has been put on hold to allow the government to equip two former US Coast Guard vessels now known as BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
The Gregorio del Pilar was acquired last year, and the Ramon Alcaraz is expected to arrive by February.
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR existing vessels must be equipped with the necessary weapon systems.
“The additional (cutter) was put on hold,” he said.
“We can use the money to enhance the capability of the two (warships). We would like to equip our ships.”
Manalo said the decision to hold the acquisition of a third warship is premised on the need to enhance the capabilities of the Del Pilar and the Alcaraz.
“With our limited budget, we are after the capability, we are after not only the presence but we must have deterrent capability,” he said.
The government remains open to acquiring warships from the US once financial resources are available, Manalo said.
Other countries are also offering defense equipment to the military.
Italy is ready to provide two missile-firing warships. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the two Italian Navy vessels cost about P11.7 billion.
The Maestrale-class ships were commissioned in 1982. They are more capable than any of the vessels in the Navy’s inventory. The two warships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, as well as missile systems and modern radars.
Earlier, security officials said the government is planning to acquire as many as three Hamilton-class ships to enhance the Navy’s maritime defense capabilities.
Sources previously claimed that the Philippines’ request for a third warship was discussed in a meeting between Filipino and American officials last April.
On Sunday, the Philippine embassy in Washington announced that the Pentagon had awarded a $1.8-million contract for the purchase of modern weapons systems for Ramon Alcaraz.