Philippine Navy chief Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) is planning to acquire at least 15 more Israel-made Shaldag Mark V missile boats, which are the basis of its Acero-class patrol gunboats.

"We are planning to get 15 additional 'Acero'-class gunboats (to augment the) nine (now on the pipeline)," Navy chief Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of the commissioning and send-off ceremony for the fast attack interdiction craft missiles (FAIC-Ms) BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902) Monday.

Adaci said the additional "Acero"-class gunboats would help them to meet their requirements in "patrolling the seas of the country".

He also said the FAIC-Ms will be assigned to the Littoral Combat Force.

He said four more FAIC-Ms, the other name of the "Acero" class in the PN service, will be delivered sometime in 2023.

"I don't know the exact delivery dates next year but this shall be throughout (next year)," the PN chief added.

The last batch of three, which will be built at the PN shipyard in the Naval Station Pascual Ledesma in Cavite, is scheduled for 2024.

Adaci said Israel Shipyard Limited will help the PN rehabilitate the old shipyard and make it more modern and allow it to build these types of ships.

"In that way, our people can learn how to do it, maintain these ‘Acero’ class boats and that will be the start of the transfer of technology," he said.

These 32-meter high-speed vessels are equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable of delivering 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 five will be armed with Typhoon-mounted 30mm main cannons and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.

The acquisition of these FAIC-Ms is among the 2019 projects approved by former President Rodrigo Duterte under the Horizon 2 List of the AFP 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 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)