Philippine Navy logo. (File photo)

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy (PN)'s offshore patrol vessel (OPV) project will be acquired via the so-called government-to-government procurement approach.

"Yes, because we are availing of Australian government financing (for the project)," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend.

Government-to-government is an advantage as it does not require a large capital outlay and has sovereign guarantee aside from the equipment being acquired much easier and faster.

The OPV project aims to acquire six brand-new ships for PHP30 billion, a project that Australia-based global shipbuilder and defense contractor Austal has expressed interest to participate in.

OPVs are large classes of patrol vessels capable of long-distance patrolling.

Austal is offering a larger version of its 80-meter Cape-class patrol vessels being used by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force. Earlier, Lorenzana said the PN is preferring a government-to-government approach in acquiring the vessels.

"Government-to-government is (the procurement process being favored) by the PN," the DND chief said.

The OPVs are part of Horizon Two of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program and expected to replace the World War II corvettes and minesweepers still in PN service as of this time.

On Friday, Lorenzana said the South Korean government expressed interest to fund the PN's corvette acquisition project, which aims to acquire two anti-submarine ships to boost up the PN fleet. He said a government-to-government approach would be an advantage for the Philippines.

The budget for the CAP, he said, is placed between PHP28 to PHP30 billion.

Lorenzana said while the country is yet to sign a contract with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the two corvettes, the PN is recommending the company construct these ships for commonality and interoperability.

The two Jose Rizal-missile frigates, which is also being constructed by HHI for PHP18 billion, including its weapon systems and munition, is expected to be delivered by next year, with the lead ship, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), expected by April 2020 and the second ship, BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), by September of the same year.

Asked on how the process will take, Lorenzana said he expects it to be done as soon as possible, adding that the concerned parties are now doing the paperwork. (PNA)