PH military shows off aircraft, vessels for anniversary celebration
MANILA, Philippines — A column of navy vessels, with aircraft hovering above, steamed past the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) off the coast of Morong, Bataan, on Wednesday to showcase a Philippine armed forces that is continuously building itself.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and senior military officers aboard the BRP Tarlac witnessed a rare parade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) new and old aircraft and naval vessels facing the West Philippine Sea.
A total of 63 major military assets were put on display, including its new acquisitions this year—the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), the Navy’s most potent warship to date, and the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) Super Tucano light attack aircraft and Black Hawk combat utility helicopters. The procurement for these newly-delivered assets was made in recent years and before the coronavirus pandemic.
ATM: BRP Jose Rizal, Davao Del Sur, and BRP Ang Pangulo together with other naval assets in Fleet Review as witnessed by…
The PAF’s FA-50 light fighter jets, Philippine Navy’s AgustaWestland 159 anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and AW109 helicopters also soared above the skies.
The Philippine Army’s Simba armored personnel carrier and Philippine Marine Corps’ V-150 light armored vehicle were also put on display onboard the landing craft BRP Batak.
This was the first time in recent memory that the Philippine military’s three branches of service were jointly conducting a fleet review and flyby. The parade at sea is part of the AFP’s celebration of its 85th anniversary.
But the event was not a show of force because the AFP was still nowhere near the capabilities of its regional neighbors, Lorenzana said.
“We want to show the Filipino people that the AFP is continuously upgrading, so they can see where their taxes go… It’s a modest demonstration of our capabilities but it’s a big leap from where we came from before,” he told reporters aboard BRP Tarlac.
The Philippines, an archipelago with one of the world’s longest coastlines, has one of the weakest armed forces in the region. The military continues to modernize itself in the face of several security concerns, like the West Philippine Sea dispute.
What the defense department wants, Lorenzana said at a Senate budget hearing last October, is an armed forces that is capable of a standoff with foreign intruders, “not to fight but to protect our interests.” “Not for them to just intrude and we won’t have anything to face them with,” he said.
The military’s upgrade program is currently on a stage called Horizon 2, which was to be in effect from 2018 to 2022, which coincides with the year President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office. Among materiel for acquisition in Horizon 2 are multi-role fighters, offshore patrol vessels, corvettes, light tanks, and land-based missile systems.
The military upgrade program, however, continued to be hounded by poor funding despite rosy promises of bigger allocations.
For 2021, the budget for the upgrade was set at P27 billion, according to Lorenzana. He said this would be spent on the contract obligations for frigates, combat engineering equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles, attack helicopters, C4ISTAR, radars, ground-based air defense, howitzers, light tanks and wheeled armored personnel carriers, medium-lift aircraft, fast attack interdiction craft with missiles, and heavy-lift helicopters.
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