With ongoing threats in the country’s maritime borders, the Philippines is now moving to the acquisition of new military vessels – hopes of addressing the issues of Chinese vessels crisscrossing the territorial waters and economic zone of the West Philippine Sea and foreign terrorists keeping entry in Sulu Sea.
As of this year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is now on “Horizon Two” of the AFP Modernization Program which was formerly approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. This phase particularly aims to replace some of the country’s old and obsolete equipment – the oldest of which still dates back to WWII. Horizon 2 will covers years 2018 to 2022 with a total budget of P125billion.
Warships and Vessels Acquired by the Philippines
Under Horizon 2, the list of equipment that the Philippines will acquire include multirole fighters, airlifters, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy lift helicopters for the Air Force. As of this year, the country was able to obtain the following major war vessels:
• BRP Jose Rizal Class Frigate
Frigates are medium-sized warships that are mainly designed for a particular combat role. Two frigates were ordered by the Philippines for the Navy – BRP Jose Rizal (FF-15) which was scheduled to arrive last April and BRP Antonio Luna in September this year. These were built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea. Once commissioned, these frigates will become the Philippine’s most powerful missile-capable warships.
• BRP Conrado Class Vessel
Another acquisition is the BRP Conrado Class Vessel (PS-39). It is a corvette – the smallest type of warship that ranks next to frigates. The country received this from South Korea which was served the republic for nearly three decades. It was refurbished and has become the Philippine’s most powerful warship with an anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
• Tarlac Class Strategic Vessel
Tarlac Class Strategic Vessel is the Philippine Navy’s first strategic sealift vessel which was launched by the Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder, PT PAL in their Surabaya shipyard. It is the first of the two Landing Platform Docks that was commissioned by the country in 2014. This has the ability to respond to traditional and non-traditional threats, as well as enhance the country’s capability of delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
• Gregorio del Pilar Class Vessels
The Gregorio del Pilar-class multi-role frigate were intended to improve the maritime security of the Philippines in Spartly’s Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. These vessels were formerly operated by the American Coast Guards under Hamilton-class all-weather, high-endurance cutter class before they were modernized to perform the aforementioned mission in the Philippine territorial waters.
• AgustaWestland (AW 159) Wildcat
The Agusta Westland Wildcat helicopters were assigned to the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz to serve in battlefield utility, search and rescue, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare roles. These were the same helicopters that were in used by the UK Army Air Cops and Royal Navy. Together with the Philippines, the Republic of Korea Navy has also ordered Wildcat helicopters from AgustaWestland.