Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the budget fallout caused by this, the Philippine Navy (PN) still wants to push through with its modernization program. The modernization projects including commissioning of fast-attack interdictor craft-missile (FAIC-M) boats to replace its fleet of medium-sized patrol craft or patrol killer medium (PKM) boats will be prioritized, while other projects under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program will be delayed include the procurement of two landing docks and six offshore patrol vessels.
Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy with a range of 25 kilometers while the other four will be armed with machine guns and light automatic cannons. Arlier it was reported that the Navy is considering acquiring eight Israeli Shipyard Ltd “Shaldag”-class patrol boats to replace the PKMs.
A budget of PHP 8 billion (USD 166.66 million) was initially allocated for the procurement of 8 FAIC-Ms. The purchase will be contracted through a multi-year obligational authority (MYOA), a payment scheme that will be spread by 10, 20, 30, and 40 % each year until 2023. 10% or PHP 1 billion (USD 20.33 million) was already included in the Department of National Defense (DND) fiscal year of 2020 and will be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for approval. However, the DND is among the agencies that suffered a budget cut, as funds are being diverted by the national government to COVID-19 response programs.
Since the procurement of FAIC-M boats is being delayed by more than a year from its original scheduled delivery of two new ships in the latter part of 2020, the planned phase out of PKM will also be pushed back accordingly.
The Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) enacted in 2012 lays out a 15 year modernization plan divided into three phases or horizons: the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022, and the third from 2023 to 2027. During Horizon 1, the Philippine Navy acquired 2 new Hamilton-class cutters and 6 multi-purpose assault crafts (MPAC). Horizon 3 which is scheduled to commence in 2023 to 2028 will involve the acquisition of 2 missile-armed corvettes and additional equipment and platforms.
(Sources: Inquirer; Philippine News Agency)