Russia, S. Korea among top candidates for PHL submarine project

Russia and South Korea are among the top candidates to supply diesel-electric submarines to the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said late Wednesday.

Lorenzana said he met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu last August 21 at the Army Forum and Exhibition.

The following day, Lorenzana also met with Deputy Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin at the Ministry of Defense building and talked for 20 minutes.

He left for Moscow last Aug. 16 and will return to the country on Friday (August 24).

“Napag-usapan namin ang (We spoke about) military-to-military relations, palitan ng mga sundalo sa (exchange of soldiers for) military training, port visits of (Philippine) Navy ships to Vladivostok, participation in military exercises,” he said in a text message to reporters.

And while discussions took place, the Russian defense officials are aware that the Philippines is still looking for submarines suppliers.

“There are discussions. But they know that we are shopping and has yet to decide where to buy,” Lorenzana added. On this matter, Russia and South Korea remains among the top candidates.

“(South) Korea is a candidate too. But the Russian-made (Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine) is better and more expensive,” the defense chief said.

South Korea is offering Chan Bogo class diesel-electric submarine, a variant of the German type 209 submersible craft, which has a displacement of 1,200 to 1,400 gross tons, length of 56 to 61 meters, and range of 11,000 nautical miles. It can be armed with a variety of torpedoes.

When asked which of the two is the more preferred supplier, Lorenzana said the country is still looking for a more affordable platform.

Earlier, he 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, and a length of 73.8 meters, and is 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 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles. PNA