The Philippine News Agency reported that the Philippines would have signed the contract for the acquisition of its first-ever diesel-electric submarines if not for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, according to outgoing Philippine Navy (PN) chief, Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, on Monday. The budget for the Philippines Navy’s submarine acquisition program is placed at PHP70 billion. To be acquired are two submarines along with its integrated logistics support package (ILS).
The acquisition of the submarines will greatly boost the Philippine Navy’s credible deterrence capability. Countries interested in bidding in the PN’s submarine acquisition program include France, South Korea, India, and Turkey. Also, Singapore is interested to “download” some of its older submarines to the Philippine Navy but there is no formal offer yet. However, President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the PN want to acquire new submarines for its fleet.
Having diesel-electric submarines in its inventory will allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to achieve a credible defense posture aside from enhancing the PN’s maritime defense capabilities. This is embodied in Naval Operating Concept submitted to HHQ (higher headquarters) in 2020. Under this plan, the PN is planning to acquire six anti-air frigates, 12 anti-submarine corvettes, and three submarines along with other naval assets.
Philippines Navy have desired force mix of submarines, frigates, corvettes, offshore patrol , landing docks, fast attack interdiction craft-missiles, multi-purpose attack craf, amphibious assault vehicles etc. This is the force-mix that will enable the AFP to achieve a credible defense. the acquisition and development of submarine warfare capability will better equip the Navy to fulfill its primary mandate on territorial defense, security, and stability.
Submarines will enhance maritime defense capability and can effectively carry out anti-access/area denial, maritime surveillance, maritime interdiction, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The submarine is the most effective ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) platform and the best killing machine in the Navy inventory. The submarine capability will provide deterrence against aggressors, credibility to the Philippines Navy.
Submarines are undetectable and could be anywhere patrolling around the WPS (West Philippine Sea) to act firmly if necessary. Having an operational submarine at-sea will be a game-changer for the PN. Contenders will have to take into consideration the probability of facing a submarine at anytime, anywhere, without any warning, hence will affect their entire assessment of the tactical situation and their behavior.