PH Navy eyes to acquire Israeli-made patrol boats

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 16, 2020, 3:52 pm

<p>PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad. <em>(PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)</em></p>

PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad. (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy (PN) eyes to acquire eight Israeli Shipyard Ltd Shaldag-class patrol boats to replace the "PKMs" it is using for maritime interdiction operations.

PKM is short for "patrol killer medium" a term used to describe medium-sized naval craft tasked for patrol missions.

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday night, PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said this procurement project, which is worth PHP10 billion, was already approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during a recent command conference.

"These eight 'Shaldags' will replace our PKMs (which were acquired from South Korea in 1995) which we are now starting to retire. The last PKM we retired was PKM 112 (BRP Bienvenido Salting)," Empedrad said.

He added that four of the "Shaldag" patrol boats will be built in Israel while the remaining four will be constructed in the PN Cavite Naval Yard in Sangley Point, Cavite City.

The PN chief said they are waiting for the Department of Budget and Management to release the so-called "Multi-Year Obligational Authority" so that they can sign the contract for the ships.

"(Once this is signed) immediately, we send our personnel to the shipyard to Israel," Empedrad added.

The "Shaldag" is under the PN's Fast Attack Interdictor Craft-Missile (FAIC-M) project.

Under this program, four of the ships will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers.

"With the FAIC-M, the PN shall have the capability to defend the key sea lines of communications, such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu and Basilan Straits against conventional threats. Operating in restricted waters, the FAIC-Ms can interdict surface threats and launch NLOS missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover," then PN spokesperson, Captain Jonathan Zata said of the project. (PNA)