MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Branwer Jr. said the acquisition of diesel-electric submarines would take place in the latter part of the military’s ongoing modernization program.
"The (Philippine) Navy has a long range of equipment requests on its wish list," Brawner said in a recent media interview, when asked if the acquisition of at least two submarines for the Philippine Navy is included in the new Horizon 3 of the AFP's modernization program.
The new Horizon 3 of the modernization program is still being finalized.
The budget for the proposed submarine acquisition program is placed between PHP80 billion and PHP110 billion and includes basing, maintenance and crew training.
Brawner said the PN’s need for more naval vessels would possibly be included in the new Horizon 3, which is initially scheduled from 2023 to 2028.
Meanwhile, the AFP modernization program’s Horizon 2 was originally set from 2018 to 2022 and Horizon 1 from 2013 to 2017.
Brawner said these proposed equipment to be acquired for the new Horizon 3 will be "more potent" and have "more numbers".
He said the AFP modernization program is being reconfigured or shifted to provide the military with the capabilities needed to protect the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or 200 nautical miles from its coast.
He added that this reconfiguration, while still defensive in nature, was recommended by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. shortly after his appointment last June, replacing then Defense Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. who was reappointed as Presidential Peace Adviser.
This means defensive efforts will now focus on defending the Philippines' EEZ and not only the country's baselines or coasts, he added.
Brawner said this refocus is similar to the United States' defense strategy of "forward defense" where threats are contained or repulsed as far away as possible.
In this shift, Brawner said the AFP is aiming to protect Philippine-held islands in the WPS which he identified as Pag-asa, Panata, Parola, Likas, Patag and Lawak.
Aside from these islands, the country is also occupying four other features in the WPS and these are Kota Island, Likas Island, Rizal Reef, and Ayungin Shoal.
To carry out this mission, Brawner said the AFP needs equipment capable of projecting defenses forward. (PNA)