Korean made submarine (photo : US Navy)
Philippines to buy submarines and advanced missile systems for the first time
Manila: For the first time, the Philippines will buy electric and diesel-run submarines, including advanced missile systems, as listed in its $22.11 billion (998 billion pesos or Dh83.166 billion) modernisation plan that was approved in July, to ensure its strength against China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia which have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, sources said.
“The Philippine Navy will buy several submarines and missile systems in the next five years from private manufacturing firms either from South Korea or Japan,” a military source who requested anonymity told Gulf News.
“The ambitious purchase was scheduled after the Philippine economy grew, received good ratings from rating agencies, and allowed borrowing for expensive war materials, but the Philippines could not yet match China’s 26 submarines,” said the same source.
In 2013, the Philippine Navy bought two 1.400 tonne Incheon-class frigates (also called Future Frigate experimental or FFX), manufactured by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and STX Offshore and Shipbuilding for $400 million (18 billion pesos or Dh1.5 billion); two strategic sealift vessels or floating command centres which can transport three helicopters per vessel, soldiers, and supplies at sea, from Indonesia’s PT PAL (Persero) for $85.7 million (3.86 billion pesos or Dh321.6 million). The new frigates and sealift vessels will arrive in the Philippines at the end of 2015 or early 2016, President Benigno Aquino announced recently.
It is widely reported that the Philippine Navy is manned by three US-made refurbished frigates: BRP Tagbanua; BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, but Japan’s defence ministry said the Philippine Navy has 80 warships; China, 892; Malaysia, 208; and Vietnam, 94.
The Philippine Coast Guard also bought 10 40-metre-long multi-purpose response vessels (MRRV) from Japan in late 2013 for $184 million (8.09 billion pesos or Dh674.6 million), in a loan forged with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2014. They will augment the Coast Guard’s 19 rescue vessels, when they arrive in the Philippines at the end of 2015, sources said.
The Coast Guard secured a $20 million (900 million pesos or Dh75 million) loan from the United States’ Defence Threat Reduction Agency (it has a maritime security project with the US’ Weapons for Mass Destruction Proliferation Prevention Programme) for three aerial surveillance radars, two surface sensors and three surveillance planes for the Philippine Coast Guard National Coast Watch Centre in northern Luzon and southwest Philippines.
Recently, the Philippine Air Force bought 12 new FA-50 fighter-trainers made by Korea Aerospace Industries. six Close Air Support Aircraft; seven of 13 AW-109 helicopters; and six of eight Bell-412 combat utility helicopters made by Korea Aerospace Industries. The two fighters will arrive in December 2015 or early 2016, and the rest in 2017.
Japan’s defence ministry said the Philippines has a total of 26 combat aircraft, compared with China’s 2,582 combat aircraft.
The Philippine government also allotted $22 million (1 billion pesos or Dh83.33 million) for the development of three new naval bases that will protect its 36,000 kilometre coastline facing the South China Sea.
In 1995, Congress approved an $8.08 billion (364 billion pesos or Dh30.3 billion) military modernisation plan for 15 years. But only 10 per cent of the approved budget was secured by a loan 15 years later, in 2010, the budget department said.
China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea and several parts of the oil-rich Spratly Archipelago. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim their respective exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea and parts of the Spratly Archipelago.