Defense dep’t hopes to acquire more helicopters, drones, radar equipment
The defense department hopes to acquire more assets for the military’s modernization program to boost its military operations as it faces internal and external security threats.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a forum at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday that they were already finalizing their list of items for the next phase of the modernization program between 2018 and 2022.
“We are in the process of identifying what equipment we need….We are trying to study it further in the light of the guidance of the President that he wants night-capable helicopters, precision-guided missiles, drones, fastboats in the seas,” he said.
“We need more fastcraft to be deployed in the southern part of the Philippines and also in the southern part of Palawan, drones and more helicopters that could help our troops in the field,” he also said.
He also sees the need to improve the communications systems for better maritime awareness.
“Maybe we need to improve our communications, yung radars natin (our radars) so that we will be aware of our maritime domain in the South China Sea, Sulu and Celebes seas and also on the eastern side of the Philippines,” Lorenzana said.
In the same briefing, he mentioned Chinese ships patrolling Philippine claims in the South China Sea, as well as Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean, a territory declared by the United Nations as part of the Philippines. It is not a part of China’s nine-dash line claim. Piracy and kidnappings in the high seas are also security problem.
But he said the security concern that he loses sleep over is the Abu Sayyaf, which is currently holding 31 hostages and has beheaded three foreign hostages in less than a year—a source of embarrassment for the country.
The defense chief said they are hoping to get a budget of P100 billion for the second horizon of the AFP modernization program or almost the same amount they received from the first horizon (2013 to 2017).
“I wish that the Congress will give us the same amount as the first horizon. If we can get maybe a hundred million or more, just the same as what they gave in the first horizon over and above our yearly budget, we’ll be happy with that,” Lorenzana said. RAM/rga
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