Gov’t-to-gov’t mode best way to procure submarines for PHL: Navy chief

Government-to-government procurement is the best way to acquire complex defense equipment like submarines, Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said Wednesday.

“I think the best way (to acquire submarines) is to include G-to-G (Government-to-Government) para nawala yun complication ng procurement (so that there will be no complications of the procurement process) but it (still) depends on the President,” he said in an interview with reporters.

Empedrad also added that the “soft-loan” being proposed by the Russians for their Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines is very advantageous to the Philippines as no money is allocated yet for the submarine acquisition program.

“The Russians are offering us ‘soft loan’ (to finance the acquisition of their Kilo-class submarines) it’s very advantageous (for the submarine acquisition program),” he stressed.

Despite this offer, Empedrad said nothing is final yet.

Aside from Russia, Germany and South Korea has also expressed its interest to participate in the PN’s acquisition program, he added.

Earlier, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Russia is willing to provide advanced versions of its Kilo-class submarines to the Philippines through “soft loans” but clarified that the country is still looking for other sources.

Kilo-class submarines have a surface displacement of 2,350 tons, a length of 73.8 meters and capable of speeds up 17 to 20 knots and can be armed with a variety of torpedoes, missiles and naval mines.

It has a cruising range of around 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles. In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is known to operate six improved Kilo-class submarines in its fleet. Lorenzana earlier said that for an island nation like the Philippines, its defense can be considered incomplete without a fleet of submarines.

“For a nation with maritime territory specially island nation, its national defense is incomplete without (a) submarine,” he added.

Also, Lorenzana said that an effective active submarine force is a great deterrent for would be aggressors due to its capability to travel underwater unseen, giving it the element of surprise.

A submarine force is a great morale booster to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the DND chief added. PNA