Maritime nation’s defense incomplete without submarine: DND chief

Submarines are a must for the defense capability of an archipelagic state like the Philippines. This was stressed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana when asked Tuesday on the importance of the Philippine Navy’s acquisition of submarines.

“For a nation with maritime territory especially, [islands], its national defense is incomplete without submarine,” he added.

Lorenzana also said 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 surface.

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

Earlier, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said acquisition of the country’s first submarines will be brought forward to Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

Procurement of the above-mentioned 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.

Budget for the program is roughly placed at PHP300 billion.

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

The DND spokesperson said submarines are 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 submarines in Horizon Two.

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

This is because undersea or submarine warfare has become a trend in naval warfare as it is very difficult to fight an unseen opponent due to its ability to go underwater.

In line with this project, Empedrad said the PN has already created a Submarine Group which is now sending Navy personnel for study and training on submarine operations in preparation for the country’s eventual acquisition of the above-mentioned naval craft. He added that this is necessary as submarine acquisition, including training, support facilities, and the vessel, often takes seven to 10 years.

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