Acquisition of PHL’s first submarines now being pushed in current AFP modernization phase

The acquisition of the country’s first diesel-electric submarines will be brought forward to Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andololong said Wednesday.

The procurement of the naval craft was earlier scheduled for Horizon Three, which is expected to run from 2023 to 2028, while Horizon Two is scheduled from 2018 to 2022. The budget for the program is roughly placed at PHP300 billion.

Horizon One lasted from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters, and two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.

“Hindi na (This is not included in Horizon Three anymore), pinush na dito sa (It was pushed to be included in Horizon Two), ngayon, how will this come to be, yan ang kailangan pag-aralan,” Andolong said.

He declined to give the exact number of diesel-electric submarines to be acquired but said it will be more than one.

“Oo, hindi lang isa kasi kung iisa lang balewala lang yun,” the DND spokesperson said.

Andolong said the diesel-electric submarines would be a great equalizer in the country’s naval arsenal once acquired.

He added that incumbent Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad can be credited for pushing the inclusion of diesel-electric submarines in Horizon Two.

Earlier, the PN chief said he fully supports all proposals that would allow the country to acquire its first diesel-electric submarines at the soonest possible time.

This, he said, is because undersea or submarine warfare is the trend in naval warfare as it is very difficult to fight an opponent that cannot be seen or detected due to its ability to go underwater.

In line with this program, Empedrad said the PN has already created a Submarine Group that is now sending Navy personnel for training on submarine operations in preparation for the country’s eventual acquisition of the naval craft.

He added that this is necessary as submarine acquisition, including building the vessel, training, and support facilities, often takes seven to 10 years.

Empedrad added that the decision to acquire submarines for the Philippine military is bolstered by a recent conference he attended in London, where more modern navies are shown building up their submarine fleet and anti-submarine capabilities. PNA