(UPDATE) THE Philippines has deployed another warship to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to build up its presence in the volatile waters in the face of increasingly aggressive incursions by Chinese vessels.
The Davao del Sur, a Tarlac-class landing platform, will join the Antonio Luna, a guided missile frigate, in patrolling the waterway
The Western Command (Wescom) said three warships stationed in Palawan have orders to stop foreign ships from conducting illegal activities in the WPS such as collecting corals and other marine resources.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. underscored the need to project a strong naval presence in the WPS.
Brawner said there were no new Chinese reclamation activities in the area, but dozens of Chinese militia vessels have been lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
He said the sea patrols will be complemented by aerial reconnaissance flights.
Brawner also said the AFP plans to procure more naval ships, multi-role fighters, and drones “and more importantly develop the Philippine-occupied islands or features in our EEZ.”
The military plans to upgrade its installations on the islands of Pag-asa, Parola, Panata, Likas, Kota, Patag, Law, Ayungin Shoal and Rizal Reef by setting up digital networks and other communication systems.
The Philippine Army (PA) is planning to acquire the Indian-made BrahMos cruise missile system which it would use to defend the country’s coastlines together with the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).
“The Marines will be getting the first deliveries of the BrahMos, they will be getting three batteries,” Brawner said during a recent media interview.
While he did not specify the number of batteries the Army would be getting, Brawner said it would be higher than those that would be acquired by the PMC.
A missile battery typically consists of three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each, along with the tracking systems.
Once the PA’s acquisition proposal for the BrahMos cruise missile system is approved and funded, the AFP chief said this will be used for coastal defense missions.
Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. earlier said the delivery of these weapon platforms for the PMC will proceed at the end of this year.
The BrahMos cruise missile can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine or land, and has a top speed of around Mach 2.8 (around 3,400 km. per hour), and is capable of carrying warheads weighing 200 to 300 kilograms.
This weapon platform is expected to address the country’s military’s weaknesses and vulnerability in sea control, anti-access/area-denial, and coastal and island defense operations. WITH PNA