MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the part of China, triggering cross-border problems between the Asian superpower and the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Russia across the East and South China Seas. Against this backdrop, the Philippine Navy has been exposed to be glaringly ill-equipped to patrol and protect its own shores.
Earlier, DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the military wants to acquire additional naval craft from Italy.
"We are not relying totally on the United States (for) our equipment acquisitions. We are also looking at the possibility of getting some of our equipment from Europe, specifically from Italy, depending on our budget," he added.
Possible naval craft to be acquired from Italy by the Philippines are the "Maestrale" and "Soldati" classes.
The "Maestrale" class, operated by the Italian Navy, is primarily designed for anti-submarine warfare.
However the vessels are highly flexible so they are also capable of anti-air and anti-surface operations.
It has a displacement of 3,300 gross register tons and a speed of 33 knots.
The ship is armed with anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, long range guns and automatic weapons, making it ideal to protect the country's maritime borders against poachers, pirates and foreign aggressors.
The "Soldati" class, on the other hand, is a multi-purpose warship designed for anti-surface warfare.
It has a displacement of 2,500 gross register tons and has a top speed of 35 knots.
The ship has missile, torpedo and gun armament and is capable of carrying an anti-submarine helicopter.Asian Defence News