18 Maret 2016
Phillipine Navy’s “Desired Force Mix 2015"(image : PN)
The Philippine Navy published an updated version of their “Desired Force Mix” last December 2015 on an article in their official website, and it turned out to be quite interesting, although it was just a brief overview contained in one graphic. It lacked many important details like the exact timeline or the budget they needed to get all those equipment. But they did note down the exact quantities and the description of the equipment they want, as well as a general or approximate timeline of when they intend to get them.
As we can see, the procurement is divided into three different “Horizons” which was first mentioned by former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang in 2014. So far the AFP has not released to the public the SPECIFIC details of these Horizons, they just provide bits and pieces about it here and there in news reports every now and then. As far as I can tell, the Administration of Benigno Aquino Jr. covers the FIRST Horizon, and so I assume that the next two Administrations will be the second and third Horizons.
The Philippine Navy Desired Force Mix 2015 (PNDFM-2015) is quite ambitious, consisting of 25 different line items with a total of around 211 weapons and equipment. Assuming that all of the items in the First Horizon will be bought, then only around 9% of the total will be acquired under the PNoy Administration. The bulk of the purchases or around 65% are expected to be bought in the Second Horizon, and remaining balance of 26% in the Third Horizon. The next sections cover my general observations and opinions about the PNDFM-2015.
For the big vessels, the PNDFM-2015 requires three Patrol Frigates, and these are probably the Del Pilar-class Frigates that we already have. Next are seven Guided Missile Frigates, with three of them being bought in the first Horizon. This is a bit of a mystery since we know that we are only buying two new Frigates, so I am not sure where the other one will come from. Whatever it is, it will probably be revealed in time.
The Navy is also asking for eight Corvettes, I assume this is on top of the three Jacinto-class, two Rizal-class and five Malvar-class Corvettes it already has. I think that the World War Two-era Rizal and Malvar-class Corvettes will be retired once these new (or newer, if refurbished ships are bought) Corvettes enter service. The incoming PCC-759 Mokpo Pohang-class Corvette will probably fill the first of these eight Corvettes.
Last would be the requirement for three Diesel Electric Submarines, which would be an excellent start for our Navy. I have always felt that using Submarines is the best way to counter China, but the problem is their high acquisition and high maintenance cost. On top of that there is also a high technical requirement to run them effectively, meaning finding good, competent people with the right technical qualifications, and allowing for a couple of years of experience for them to use the Submarine well.
And now for everybody’s favorite, the ‘misels’. The Navy wants a total of 45 Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), and I am not sure what they are for. They could be distributed to the troops (specifically the Marines) just like the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) which has twelve QW-1 or QW-2 MANPADS per Battalion (thru one embedded Anti-Aircraft Platoon). These MANPADS will give our Marines some Air Defense capability, although I don’t think we will be able to match the kind of numbers the PLAN has. Our distribution will likely be less at around three to four per Battalion.
Or, these could be instead/also installed on the Del Pilar/Jacinto/Tarlac-class and other ships to give them better air defense capability. MANPADS may be rudimentary for use against AShMs, but I feel they are still better than using just the ship’s Naval Guns.
Next would be the requirement for three Medium Range AShMs which interestingly matches the three Del Pilar-class Frigates that we already have, so this could finally be the long-awaited plan to arm them with ‘misels’.
Another strong emphasis on the list is for Amphibious Operations capability. This capability is important if we want retake some our territory in the Spratly Islands if they are invaded, or if we want to invade ourselves some of the enemy territory in that area. This will also improve our ability to defend our mainland as it enables us to land a good amount of troops with good firepower support anywhere in the country.
The Navy wants two Landing Platform Docks (LPDs), which has already been bought as the Tarlac class of ships, and one Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) ship. LHAs are basically bigger versions of the LPDs, but optimized to carry more and heavier air assets. These three ships will carry between them the 33 Amphibious Assault Vessels (AAVs), three Landing Craft Cushions (LCCs) and Landing Craft Units (LCUs) that the Navy wants to use to land Marines on the beach.
The two LPDs will carry the four Close Air Support (CAS) Helicopters that will provide cover fire for the Marines if needed. Also six Land Attack Rocket System (LARS) were specified, these will likely be spread out among the LPDs and LHA to also provide fire cover support for the Marines. The six Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that the Navy is asking for could be used as Forward Observers (FO) to provide targeting information for the rockets and naval guns. The LHA will likely carry the three Heavy Lift Helicopters that will provide logistical support to our Marines once they have established a beach head.
The LCCs are a bit of a surprise because only the US and Japan operate them as of now, probably in part because of their high maintenance costs. These crafts after all use Gas Turbine Engines (GTEs) which give them high Power to Weight Ratios, but also at the same time high fuel consumption. But I can understand why the Navy wants them, they are fast and can travel not only on water but also on land. And because we work very closely with the US Marines, our own Marines in turn are now very familiar with its operation and advantages.
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