MANILA, Sept 6 (Mabuhay) — Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Adm. Adeluis Bordado on Tuesday said plans are afoot to acquire more anti-submarine helicopters to partner with their incoming major surface naval assets.

Bordado made this comment when asked by reporters if the Navy plans to acquire more anti-submarine helicopters for the two incoming corvettes from South Hyundai Heavy Industries.

MISSILE BOATS. The BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and the BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902) are docked at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila City on Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2022). The boats are the first two of the nine fast attack interdictor craft-missiles acquired by the country from Israel. (MNS photo)

“Yes there are plans actually, we have only two anti-submarine helicopters, so of course, the ideal is to have one on each ship, so apat na yan, so kailangan pa rin natin ng dalawa and of course in the near future, actually (our incoming ships) mas malaki ito sa (BRP Jose Rizal) FF-150 and (BRP Antonio Luna) FF-151 so there are plans to acquire more anti-submarine helicopters kasi ang ideal talaga is one ship, one helicopter,” he said on the sidelines of the christening rites for the Navy’s first two fast-attack interdiction craft-missiles (FAIC-Ms) — the BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902).

The steel-cutting for the two corvettes is expected to start in the last quarter of this year.

As of this time, the PN has two AgustaWestland “Wildcat” AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters which are assigned to BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna.

These helicopters arrived in May 2019 and were commissioned in June that year. The contract for the helicopters’ munition, mission essential equipment, and integrated logistic support is worth PHP5.4 billion.

The helicopters can be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges and fitted with modern sonar systems for tracking down submarines.

Meanwhile, Bordado said the two newly-acquired FAIC-Ms from Israel are designed to enhance the PN’s capability in addressing threats to the archipelago.

“As we are all aware, the Philippine geographic configuration is characterized by its proximity to regional major sea lanes and contested waters in its complex archipelagic and porous nature, this archipelagic nature of the country presents both opportunities and challenges to our maritime security,” he added.

Bordado said the two Israeli-made vessels are designed to protect Philippine maritime interests in a rapid and precise manner.

“In short, accurate, high performance and quick intercept capability against current and emerging maritime threats,” he added.

The PN’s first two FAIC-Ms were loaded aboard a cargo ship and departed Haifa, Israel in late August. These vessels were formally launched last June 26.

Three more vessels are scheduled to be delivered starting this year while the remaining four units will be constructed at the PN shipyard in Naval Station Pascual Ledesma in Cavite City.

These 32-meter high-speed vessels are equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable to deliver precision strikes against larger hostiles and high-value targets on land and sea.

Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers while the other four will be armed with machine guns and light automatic cannons.

Once deliveries of the FAIC-Ms are completed, these vessels can interdict surface threats and launch non-line-of-sight missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover. (MNS)