Thursday, June 21, 2012

PHL Navy takes steps toward national defense

The Philippine Navy is taking the necessary steps to achieve a minimum credible deterrence, a capability that would deter any possible threat to national security, a Navy official said Wednesday.

“The Capability Upgrade Program is long-over due. We need to meet our operational needs,” Navy spokesperson Col. Omar Tonsay told GMA News Online in a phone interview.

“There are existing maritime security issues we need to address. There are problems of smuggling, piracy, and human trafficking,” he added.

Capability upgrade

In the last two years, the Navy has received P6.6 billion–for its capability upgrade–from the Aquino administration, said Tonsay.

In 2011, the Navy acquired the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, BRP Tagbanua and PN Helicopter 422.

More recently, the service branch also received a multipurpose craft, and a refurbished chopper.

It also expects the delivery of five multipurpose naval helicopters, two multipurpose attack crafts, and a second frigate (BRP Ramon Alcaraz). The helicopters were priced at P2.15 billion.

Military attack not an option

When asked about the continuing standoff between China and the Philippines over Panatag Shoal, Tonsay said a military attack was not considered.

“The national central command has already identified three strategies in resolving the issue: legal, political and diplomatic,” he said. “Military is not one of our options,” he added.

China and the Philippines remains locked in a territorial dispute with China over Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, after Chinese government vessels blocked the arrest of Chinese fisherman believed to be plundering marine life from the disputed area.

China's Naval capabilities

In his March 23, 2012 report for the US congress, "China Naval Modernization: Implications for US Navy Capabilities– Background and Issues for Congress," naval affairs specialist Ronald O'Rourke noted the People's Liberation Army naval branch had 136 Navy ships and 179 aircraft as of 2009, including:
  • Three ballistic missile submarines
  • 59 attack submarines
  • 26 destroyers
  • 48 frigates
  • 80 plus missile-armed attack craft
  • 58 amphibious ships
  • 1 large ship
  • 57 smaller ships
  • 40 mine warfare ships
  • 50 major auxiliary ships
  • 250 plus minor auxiliary ships and support craft 
By 2015, O'Rourke predicted China would have 146 naval ships and 468 aircraft.

“… China will likely have an operational, domestically produced carrier sometime after after 2015” according to a footnote in the same report.

“Such a ship, plus the Varyag, would give China a force of two operation carriers sometime after 2015,” it added.

Varyag is an ex-Soviet Navy aircraft carrier constructed in the 1980s, according to

“The vessel construction stopped in 1992 after the break up of the Soviet Union. It remained in the Ukrainian shipyard unfinished until 1998 when a “Macau-based Chinese company bought it for $20 million,” sinodefence noted.

“System installation of the vessel finally began in 2010/2011, and the vessel is expected to enter service with the PLA Navy as a training carrier around 2012,”

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