MANILA, May 10, (AP): The Philippine navy will deploy its first-ever missile-firing assault vessels in about three months, likely for territorial defense, anti-insurgency strikes and deterrence, but it remains “centuries” behind the naval might of Asian countries such as China, the navy chief said Thursday.
Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a news conference that the navy also plans to acquire torpedoes, submarines and other major defense equipment under a modernization program to bolster the security of an archipelago with one of the world’s longest coastlines and to combat piracy and other cross-border crimes.
The Israeli-made missiles, which have a range of 8 kms (5 miles), are being installed in three multipurpose attack vessels which were acquired earlier and will be ready for deployment in two to three months, he said. He declined to say how many of the surfaceto- surface missiles, called Spike ER, the navy has acquired from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
“It’s a new capability of the navy and since this is our very first missile capability, we really have to study how to operate and where to deploy our ships,” Empedrad told reporters after a maritime security forum in Manila. “Naval warfare has become missile-based and we cannot afford to be left behind … we cannot afford to just use a capability installed in our old ships,” he said. “We have to grow as a navy.”