PHL acquiring missile-armed fast interdictor crafts for refleeting program

The decision to acquire eight fast-attack interdictor craft missile (FAICM) is intended to replace the aging naval vessels tasked for maritime interdiction operations.

Captain Jonathan Zata, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, made this comment when asked for the reason why the naval service is acquiring eight FAICM, with four of the ships armed with non-line of sight of missiles (NLOS), aside from the two more modern corvettes and three more Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile armed multi-purpose attack craft.

“The FAICM is intended for the refleeting program of our eight Patrol Killer Medium (PKM) and Fast Attack Craft Patrols, which are employed for maritime interdiction operations,” he added in a message to the Philippine News Agency Tuesday.

PKMs are medium-sized naval craft that functions are patrol boat and are generally armed with machine guns and cannons up to 25mm, 30mm and 40mm in caliber.

In the PN, these vessels are designated as the “Tomas Batilo”-class patrol boats, of which there are still four in active service out of the eight acquired from South Korea in 1995.

Formerly these PKMs were operated by the Republic of Korea Navy and later transferred to the PN.

These ships have a top speed of 33 knots and have a range of up to 600 nautical miles.

“With the FAICM, the PN shall have the capability to defend the key sea lines of communications (SLOCs), such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu and Basilan Straits against conventional threats. Operating in restricted waters, the FAICMs can interdict surface threats and launch NLOS missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover,” Zata added.

Earlier, PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light for the acquisition of eight FAICMs for PHP10 billion.

“Looking further ahead, our President recently approved the acquisition of eight fast-attack craft/interdiction craft missile with an approved budget for contract of PHP10 billion, four of these interdiction craft will be equipped with non-line-of-sight missiles that can hit targets 25 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy, (this) capability will easily destroy the enemy in a Marawi type war,” he added. PNA