PH Navy upgrades to improve 'green-water' capabilities

By Priam Nepomuceno

October 9, 2020, 2:16 pm

<p>Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo. (File photo)

MANILA – The improvements in the Philippine Navy (PN) aim to expand its capabilities so that it can operate well beyond the country's shores, its chief said on Friday.

PN chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo made this response when asked if the acquisition of the Jose Rizal-class multi-role frigates, the AgustaWestland AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters, and the Tarlac-class landing docks platforms are meant to increase the Navy's ability to operate at long range.

"What the PN is developing are capabilities to protect our maritime interests and sovereign rights up to the EEZ (exclusive economic zones). This is attuned to the defensive character of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as enshrined in the Constitution. In other words, our end in view is to develop an expanded green-water Navy capable of projecting power in our aspired operational area within our maritime zones," Bacordo said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

A green-water Navy is defined as a naval force capable of operating within its littoral zones and is capable of conducting operations in the open oceans of its surrounding regions.

"The acquisition of the JRCF (Jose Rizal-class frigates) TCLDs (Tarlac-class landing docks) and AW-159s are geared towards that direction," Bacordo added.

When asked what other acquisitions are aimed at further beefing up the PN's green-water capabilities, the PN chief said these include the fast-attack interdictor craft-missile (FAIC-Ms), offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), landing docks (LDs), corvettes, and various monitoring and area denial platforms.

"Regarding our upcoming acquisitions, on the horizon are the FAIC-Ms (fast interdiction craft missile), OPVs (offshore patrol vessel), LDs (landing docks), and corvettes. In the pipeline are capabilities for mine warfare, missile systems (shore & ship-based), upgraded ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and recon), unmanned aerial systems, underwater surveillance systems, submarines, AAVs (amphibious assault vehicles), amphibian aircraft, long-range helicopters, and maritime patrol aircraft," Bacordo said.

Earlier, the PN said that its FAIC-M project which seeks to acquire eight ships to replace its force of "PKMs" or medium-sized patrol craft, is still ongoing.

The project was approved for inclusion in the Horizon 2 project list of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program and has a budget of PHP10 billion.

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

With the FAIC-M, the PN shall have the capability to defend the key sea lines of communications (SLOCs), such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu and Basilan Straits against conventional threats.

Operating in restricted waters, the FAIC-Ms could interdict surface threats and launch NLOS missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover. (PNA)