Israeli-made missile boats to help defend PH littoral zones

By Priam Nepomuceno

September 6, 2022, 10:30 am

<p><em>(PNA photo by Joey Razon)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The newly-acquired fast-attack interdiction craft-missiles (FAIC-Ms) will boost the Philippine Navy's (PN) capability to protect the country's littoral zones.

The littoral or nearshore is the part of a sea, lake, or river that is close to the shore.

"These ships could be deployed to patrol and protect our littorals from any possible threats," PN spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency Tuesday.

Other possible missions of these ships will be determined by the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), he added.

The BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902), which were formally christened in rites at the PN headquarters in Manila on Tuesday, are the first two out of the nine FAICS-Ms acquired by the Philippines from Israel Shipyards Limited for PHP10 billion.

These vessels are named after two Philippine Marine Corps heroes and Medal of Valor recipients -- the late Private First Class Nestor Acero and the late 1st Lt. Lolinato To-Ong.

"This acquisition aims to strengthen the country's naval capability in terms of enhancing littoral defense and maritime interdiction operations as it will complement the previously acquired 12 MPAC (multi-purpose attack craft) of the PN," Negranza said.

These two FAIC-Ms were sponsored by Soledad B. Bacarro, the wife of AFP chief-of-staff Lt.Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.

The two vessels were loaded aboard a cargo ship and departed Haifa, Israel in late August. These vessels were formally launched last June 26.

Three more vessels are scheduled to be delivered starting this year while the remaining four units will be constructed at the PN shipyard in Naval Station Pascual Ledesma in Cavite City.

These 32-meter high-speed vessels are equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable to deliver precision strikes against larger hostiles and high-value targets on land and sea.

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

The acquisition of eight FAIC-M units is among the 2019 projects approved by former President Rodrigo Duterte under the Horizon 2 List of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.

The notice of award for the FAIC-M project, worth around PHP10 billion, was issued on January 5 last year.

These are expected to replace the force of patrol killer medium (PKM) or medium-sized patrol craft.

Once deliveries of the FAIC-Ms are completed, these vessels can interdict surface threats and launch non-line-of-sight missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover. (PNA)