MANILA -- The Philippine Navy (PN) is now conducting market research and doctrine studies on how to fully utilize the submarines it is planning to acquire as part of the efforts to modernize its fleet.
The former refers to costing of an affordable submersible vessel while the latter refers to specific mission use of the submarine in Philippine naval service.
"Now the Navy (is) studying doctrines (on submarine usage and deployment) and planning its procurement. This has never been done before and I think that is significant (as it provides a direction for the PN's future acquisition)," Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in an interview with reporters Monday.
Earlier, the DND spokesperson said the acquisition of the country's first submarines will be brought forward to Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last May.
The procurement of the above-mentioned naval craft was earlier scheduled for Horizon Three, which is expected to run from 2023 to 2028, while Horizon Two is scheduled from 2018 to 2022.
The budget for the program is roughly placed at PHP300 billion. Horizon One lasted from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim jet fighters, two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.
"Hindi na (when asked on whether submarines will be acquire on Horizon Three), pinush na dito (Horizon Two), ngayon (now), how will this come to be, yan ang kailangan pag-aralan (that is what needs to be studied)," Andolong said.
The DND spokesperson said submarines are a great equalizer for the country's naval arsenal once acquired.
He added that incumbent Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad can be credited for pushing the inclusion of diesel-electric submarines in Horizon Two.
Earlier, the PN chief said that he fully supports all proposals that would allow the country to acquire its first diesel-electric submarines at the soonest possible time. This is because undersea or submarine warfare is now the trend in naval warfare as it is very difficult to fight an opponent you cannot see or detect due to its ability to go underwater.
In line with this project, Empedrad said the PN has already created a Submarine Group, which is now sending Navy personnel for study and training on submarine operations in preparation for the country's eventual acquisition of submarines.
He added that this is necessary as the submarine acquisition, including training, support facilities, and the vessel, often takes seven to 10 years.
The PN chief added that the decision to acquire submarines for the Philippine military was further bolstered by a recent conference he attended in London, United Kingdom, where more and more modern navies are shown building up their submarine fleet and anti-submarine capabilities. (PNA)