Navy eyes to build 50-ship force to catch up with neighbors

The Philippine Navy is eyeing to build a 50-ship maritime force to have a credible force and catch up with neighbors, reported May 25 citing a senior Philippine Navy official.

“These are modest upgrades to build a credible force to catch up with other neighbors in Southeast Asia,” the Philippine Navy officer said as quoted by “We are not competing with anyone. We are only trying to regain some respect from other countries in the region, show the flag and protect our own interests in the South China Sea.”

“We have started the process of procurement and have identified specific supplies under government-to-government deals, which are faster because we need to play catch-up with the rest. We belong to a few countries that do not have missile-capable ships as well as anti-submarine warfare, mine sweeping and anti-air capability,” the officer added.

Among the acquisition projects covered under the current horizon of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program are the corvette acquisition project (2 units) and offshore patrol vessel acquisition project (6 units).

The Navy is also poised to acquire 8 units fast attack interdiction craft.

Philippine Navy and national defense leaderships had been vocal about the above mentioned projects.

However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently said projects that do not have contracts yet might be postponed depending on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). But projects with contracts and funds that have been obligated will push through.

MaxDefense Philippines said “the Corvette, OPV and FAIC-M projects are next in line, but due to government’s recent instruction that all defense projects, even those with signed contracts and NTPs already released, as long as there is no Notice of Cash Allocations (NCA) released yet are to be suspended indefinitely unless prioritized, it remains to be seen if all 3 projects will be given exemptions.”