With 2013 now coming to close, it is pleasing to report that significant progress have been made to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) greatly improving its capabilities to defend the nation against external and internal threats.
Aside from this, the military has been able to carry out its security, community development and disaster relief missions.
In the acquisition phase, the arrival of its Hamilton-class cutter, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and three of the five AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters, and signing and bidding of major ship contracts, the modernization of the Philippine Navy (PN) is now going on a good clip.
Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said that they are very excited with the way things are going for the PN which for decades has sadly lagged behind its other Southeast Asian counterparts.
But with the arrival of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz last Aug. 6, after a two-month voyage from the United States, and commissioning last Nov. 22 and delivery of the three AW-109s last Dec. 8, Fabic said that the maritime domain awareness capability of the PN was greatly boosted.
Aside from this, another good thing that happened for the Navy this 2013, was that the contract for the PN's P4-billion "strategic sealift vessel" (SSVs) was finally awarded to PT PAL
The latter company won after offering a bid price offer of P3,863,999,520.
The two-ship project is expected to be completed within two years.
"The SSV is an integral part of the PN's Service Force (logistic) and is needed to accomplish the Navy's missions in different areas," Fabic earlier said.
The ships are estimated to weigh around 7,300 gross register tons and capable of transporting at least a battalion of troops (500 men) and their equipment.
The SSVs will be also used to improve the PN's transport and lift capabilities.
The ships are capable of acting as mini-helicopter carriers as it is capable of carrying two helicopters at it flight deck and another at its enclosed hangar area.
Another welcome development for the Navy this year is the bidding for its two-brand new frigates has finally gotten of the ground.
First stage bidding was conducted last Oct. 25 and of this posting, around four firms have qualified for the program which is worth P18 billion.
Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures) of
The second stage of the bidding will involve the opening of financial proposals and technical documents. This phase will determine if the bidders’ offers are well within the approved budget of P18-billion and if their goods are in line with the specifications provided in the bid documents. The second phase of the bidding will be held this month.
The DND decided to conduct a two-stage competitive bidding due to the technical and detailed nature of the project.
The winning bidder is required to deliver the ships within four years from the opening of a letter of credit, a document that assures the supplier that the government will honor its financial obligations.
And should it come into fruitition, the two ships will be the most heavily armed vessels in PN service.
Aside from this, other items in the process of bidding for Navy include three more multi-purpose attack crafts of which six to nine are already in service and the so-called "Marines Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System Acquisition Project" (MITSS) for the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) which is worth P 684,230,000.
This aims to improve the surveillance, monitoring and targeting capability of three brigades that makes up the PMC.
Funds for the MITSS will be sourced through the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.
Interested bidders are required to supply one MITSS to each of the three brigade of the PMC.
Each MITSS consist of two small unmanned aerial vehicles, three target acquisition devices, and four kits of tactical sensor integration support system.
Aside from this, an integrated logistic support system and one training MITSS manual is needed.
Interested parties are required to complete a similar project within the last five years.
Pre-bid conference is scheduled on Dec. 16 at the DND bidding awards committee conference room, right wing, basement, DND building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
Bid opening is on Jan. 6, 2014. Bid documents can be acquired for P 75,000.
Aside from getting new equipment to boost up its capabilities, plans are also afoot to upgrade the existing ships of the fleet.
The DND announced that it is allocating P216 million to modernize the BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), one of the three Jacinto Class Patrol Vessels (JCPV), in its service.
The latter are the Peacock patrol ships acquired from the
The money will be used to update the marine engineering upgrade of the above-mentioned ship.
The latter refers to to the development, design, operation and maintenance of watercraft propulsion and on-board systems; e.g. power and propulsion plants, machinery, piping, automation and control systems for marine vehicles.
This is Phase of the JCPV upgrade with Phase 1 being the installation of the new Raytheon gyro compass, Sperry Marine Naval BridgeMaster E Series Surface Search Radar, GPS, anemometer, and EM logs.
These were integrated with the ship's existing systems. The Phase 1 upgrade was completed in 2005.
The DND said that interested parties must have completed a similar project within the last five years.
It added that winning bidders must be able to deliver the goods or required service within 180 calendar working days upon the opening of the letter of credit.
Winding down the acquisition is the announcement of DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that announced that the decision to acquire
He made this statement after noting that the DND has submitted its report to the Office of the President which recommended approval of the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) request that the Philippines pay 52 percent of the P18.9 billion price of the 12 F/A-50 aircraft which the country is planning to acquire as it interim fighter planes.
Gazmin also said that should the Office of the President go ahead with their recommendation, along with the so-called progress billing, the planes will be delivered by June 2015.
The DND chief added that both parties have reached a compromise on the delivery of spare parts to 60 days.
DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations and munitions Fernando Manalo earlier admitted that some major issues need resolving before the country can push through with its acquisition of the F/A-50 jet aircraft.
These include the turnaround time for spare parts which the Philippines wants 30 to 45 days but which the Korea Aerospace Industries is insisting on 180 days, issue on advance payment with the DND is insisting only on 15 percent but KAI wants 52 percent.
On the national security role, the AFP, especially the Philippine Army (PA), was able to demonstrate it capabilities to defend the country during the unprovoked Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attack on Zamboanga City last Sept. 9 to 21.
Fifteen Army soldiers, including three officers, died while defending and liberating
"Though the Armed Forces of the
Another in the disaster response effort for Supertyphoon "Yolanda" which battered a large part of Eastern Visayas, Tacloban City, included last Nov. 8.
Bacus said the PA deployed 155 military vehicles and 4,000 soldiers to help in the humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts in Tacloban and other typhoon-affected areas.
He added that major units coming from the 10th and 4th Infantry Divisions based in
Bacus added that water search and rescue (WASAR) – capable and collapsed structure search and rescue (CSSR) – capable teams from the 525th Engineering Battalion were also deployed to
Troopers from the 48th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division; 80th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Special Forces Battalion were also sent as augmentation forces.
The PA spokesperson stated that medical teams from the
Aside from this units, Philippine Army Relief Center was also established at the PA Wellness Center (Army Gym in
Besides the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, the PA also conducted "Operation Linis/Costal Clean Up" and tree planting activities which is conducted with full multi-sector participation.
Bacus also said that PA is prepared to deploy an "brigade size formations of engineers" to