‘Nothing final’ on submarines, says DND

Running on diesel A Kilo-class Russian submarine said to be in the wish list of the Philippine Navy. FILE PHOTO

The Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday issued a statement that the acquisition of submarines by the Philippine Navy, possibly from Russia, is still under study.

“Nothing is final at this point. We emphasize that the DND will procure equipment that are most advantageous to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through our AFP Modernization Program,” the DND said.

The department’s statement came in the wake of reports that the Philippines is leaning towards Kilo-class submarines, especially since the Russian government is offering “soft loans” for the purchase of two such vessels.

“We will acquire equipment from any country as long as the procurement follows the proper process as provided for under Philippine laws and the equipment meet the requirements of their end users,” the DND statement read.

Earlier, US Assistant Secretary of Defense in Asia and the Pacific Randall Schriver had warned the Philippines against sourcing the subs from Russia, saying it will not be helpful to the alliance between the Philippines and the US.

“I think we can be a better partner than the Russians can be to the Philippine people,” Schriver said.

DND confirmed last month they were planning the possible procurement of submarines through the AFP Modernization Program, particularly the Horizon Two phase from 2018 to 2022.

Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad pushed to include the purchase of diesel-electric submarines under Horizon Two. The acquisition of submarines was originally scheduled under Horizon Three, from 2023 to 2028.

“The Navy is now studying the doctrines and planning their procurement. This has never been done before and I think that is significant,” DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said last month.

Empedrad said the Navy has already created a Submarine Group which is now sending personnel abroad for the study and proper training on submarine operations. This will span seven to 10 years.

Horizon One, which covered 2013 to 2017, resulted in the purchase of three Del Pilar class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters and two strategic sealifts.

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