The Philippine Navy (PN) is eyes at least 15 more Israel-made Shaldag Mark V missile gunboats to boost its border security capability.
“We are planning to get 15 additional ‘Acero’-class gunboats (in addition to the nine presently on the pipeline), newly appointed PN chief Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. told reporters during the commissioning and send-off ceremony for the fast attack interdiction craft missiles (FAIC-Ms) BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902) on Monday.
Adaci said the additional “Acero”-class gunboats would help them to meet their requirements in patrolling Philippine waters.
He disclosed that the FAIC-Ms will be assigned to the Littoral Combat Force.
According to Adaci, four more FAIC-Ms, the other name of the “Acero” class in the PN service, will be delivered sometime next year.
“I don’t know the exact delivery dates, but this shall be throughout the year, he said.
The last batch of three, to be built at the PN shipyard in the Naval Station Pascual Ledesma in Cavite, is scheduled for 2024.
Adaci said Israel Shipyard Limited will help the PN rehabilitate and modernize the old shipyard to allow for the production of modern seacraft.
“In that way, our people can learn how to do it, maintain these ‘Acero’ class boats and that will be the start of the transfer of technology,” he said.
The 32-meter high-speed vessels are equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable of delivering precision strikes against larger hostiles and high-value targets on land and sea.
Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers while the other five will be armed with Typhoon-mounted 30mm main cannons and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.
The acquisition of these FAIC-Ms is among the 2019 projects approved by former President Rodrigo Duterte under the Horizon 2 List of the AFP Modernization Program.
The notice of award for the FAIC-M project, worth around PHP10 billion, was issued on January 5 last year. These are expected to replace the force of patrol killer medium or medium-sized patrol craft.
Once deliveries of the FAIC-Ms are completed, these vessels can interdict surface threats and launch non-line-of-sight missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover.