Inset photo shows President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., joined by Speaker Martin Romualdez (left) and Defense acting Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on board BRP Davao Del Sur to witness the naval exercises. Ver Noveno and Joey Razon
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., onboard the BRP Davao del Sur, witnessed a simulation exercise of the Philippine Navy that showcases tbe country’s latest warfare naval assets on Friday off the coast of San Antonio, Zambales.
A technical problem with a target drone, however, prompted the Naby to scrub the demonstration of the country’s first surface-to-air missile system.
“I am very happy to be able to join the brave men and women of our Philippine Navy on this important day as we conduct [a] test fire [of] our country’s first surface-to-air missile system, the Mistral 3, and the other weapon systems that we have seen demonstrated here this morning,” President Marcos said before the firing exercise was canceled.
“With the fluid security situation in our region, it is imperative that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of course the Navy is substantially equipped, trained, and always on alert to respond to any and all exigencies that may confront our nation. It is for this prime reason that we exert a continuous effort to strengthen the capacity of our Armed Forces,” he added.
Marcos said the administration will continue similar naval exercises while the government is completing and eventually commissioning the rest of the Navy projects in the pipeline.
WARFARE ASSETS. The guided missile frigate, BRP Antonio Luna, fires off its Bullfighter Chaff Decoy, a 130-millimeter super-rapid-booming offboard countermeasure designed to defeat radio frequency and infrared-guided missiles. Ver Noveno and Joey Razon
“We are now working on horizon three of the AFP modernization program. As we do so, let us likewise ensure parallel training and capacity building for our personnel, especially for those who would actually operate and maneuver these major naval assets and with the backing of their highly technical training,” the President said.
“I urge the entire rank of the Philippine Navy to keep up the good work, continually guided by the national interest and the democratic ideals of the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.
Also in attendance were House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Department of Defense officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.
For the firing exercise, the surface-to-air missiles were fitted in the guided missile frigate, BRP Antonio Luna. A problem with the target drone, however, caused the main demonstration to be called off.
An AW159 Anti-Submarine attack helicopter is showcased during Friday’s Philippine Navy Capability Demonstration off the waters of San Antonio, Zambales. Ver Noveno and Joey Razon
But the frigate fired off its Bullfighter Chaff Decoy, a 130-millimeter super-rapid-booming offboard countermeasure designed to defeat radio frequency and infrared-guided missiles.
The Philippine Navy also showcased the capabilities of the Agusta Westland AW159 anti-submarine warfare naval helicopter, which demonstrated the use of its compact-FLASH dipping sonar and the BlueShark torpedo to detect, locate, and neutralize submarines.
Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command, Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said that the event has shown the Navy’s increased capabilities, especially in air defense, electronic warfare, and vessel survivability.
“This modern acquisition not only signified our readiness to defend our maritime domain but also reflects the tremendous progress we have made in reinforcing our naval force,” Adaci said in his speech.
“I am proud to say that our Navy remains resilient, continuously transforming into a formidable force to better safeguard our maritime nation,” he added.
The weapons were acquired through the Philippine Navy’s Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 2B awarded to MBDA Missile System based in France, with a budget of around P670 million. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Romualdez reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in achieving the goals of its modernization program.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to support the continuing modernization program of the AFP, to ensure it has the resources and expertise it needs to protect our people and defend our nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Romualdez said.
“The House of Representatives will work closely with the administration of President Marcos to achieve the objectives of the AFP Modernization Program,” he added.
The first phase of the AFP modernization program or Horizon 1 was implemented from 2013 to 2017, Horizon 2 is from 2018 to 2022, while Horizon 3 is slated for implementation from 2023 to 2028.
Romualdez said ensuring the modernization of the Philippine Navy, in particular, is critical as it plays a vital part in our nation’s defense forces, responsible for protecting the country’s maritime borders and ensuring the security of its territorial waters.
Following the demonstration, Romualdez expressed confidence that with improved capabilities the Philippine Navy is now in a better position to meet the challenges and threats to our country.
Initially, the Navy was supposed to fire its Mistral 3 surface-to-air missile to show its capability to destroy hostile aerial targets, but the target drone contracted for the purpose failed to take off.
“We should have fired on missile at one target. We really prepared for it because we have to test also our system but it would be a waste of a very expensive system if we cannot test it to see if it is functioning,” Adaci told reporters shortly after the event.
Adaci said they would meet with the provider of the target drone to determine what went wrong.
The Mistral 3 SAM is the anti-air missile system on the BRP Antonio Luna and its sister ship, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).
It has 90mm explosive warheads with a range of more than 3 nautical miles and a speed of Mach 2.7.
The Mistral 3 SAMs were delivered to the Navy in October 2021 and subsequently fitted to the surface-to-air launchers of the BRP Jose Rizal and the BRP Antonio Luna.
Meanwhile, nine Chinese vessels were seen roaming near the shorelines of Pag-asa Island as Senator Jinggoy Estrada and AFP chief Gen. Andres Centino visited the isle Thursday.
Centino and Estrada, together with a handful of journalists, toured Pag-Asa Island with municipal officials of Kalayaan, Palawan, and the AFP, when the foreign ships were observed from a distance.
Lt. Erwen Ferbo, Head of Joint Task Unit Pag-Asa, said that the presence of the Chinese ships was a common occurrence in the area.
The AFP said it has adopted a stance to immediately challenge any presence inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Estrada, chairman of the Senate defense committee, pledged his support to the AFP and residents of the island.
“I’ve always been supportive of their [AFP] needs,” said Estrada.
“Whatever they need, I’ll try to talk with my fellow senators to increase the budget for the AFP,” he added.