We previously wrote about how the our defense modernization has been making slow but steady strides. Those were pretty impressive updates. Now in 2022, during the final year of the AFP Modernization’s Horizon 2, are there any notable projects worth paying attention to?
The good news is that despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, our armed forces are continuously gaining more and more strength.
Here’s a quick look at how our Air Force, Navy, and Army are slowly being modernized. We are getting closer to being able to address various threats we might face in this day and age!
More Black Hawk Helicopters to Bolster our Air Force
One of the latest big-ticket purchases related to our defense modernization is the formalization of the purchase of more Black Hawk Utility Helicopters.
The Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) initial order of S-70i “Black Hawk” helicopters arrived last year. These were an integral part of their contribution to the fight against COVID-19, as they were used to deliver vaccines and other supplies to different parts of the country.
Upon the instruction of President Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that they are procuring an additional 32 brand new units of the Black Hawk Utility Helicopters. The Notice of Award, amounting to ₱32 billion, was given to PZL Mielec of Poland. They are the same supplier of our initial orders. The first batch of these new orders will be delivered in 2023.
These greatly strengthen the PAF’s capabilities not just for defense, but for the emergency transport of goods and other supplies. This makes them even more valuable in disaster relief and nation-building.
Advanced Missile System for our Navy
On the area of maritime defense, the Philippine Navy (PN) recently finalized the Notice of Award for the acquisition of BrahMos missiles. These Indian-made, medium-range supersonic cruise missiles will greatly bolster the strength of our navy to protect our maritime borders.
Defense Secretary Lorenzana signed the Notice of Award last December 31, which is a government-to-government deal signed with India. Part of the ₱19 billion deal includes the delivery of three batteries, as well as training for operators and maintainers.
These can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine, or on land. It has a top speed of around Mach 2.8 (3,400 km per hour), and is capable of carrying warheads weighing 200-300 kg.
These are expected to come next year, as part of the our defense modernization’s 3rd horizon, slated for 2023 – 2027.
Tanks and Armored Carriers for our Army
For the Philippine Army (PA), they recently acquired 15 M125A2 Armored Mortar Carriers (AMCs) equipped with 120mm Mounted Mortar Systems from Israeli company Elbit Systems.
According to Armor Division Commander Maj. Gen. Efren Baluyot, these would “provide close and immediate indirect fire support” for our army.
In addition to these AMCs, the PA also announced that they will be receiving Sabrah Ascod Light Tanks and Pandur II armored personnel carriers also from Elbit Systems. These 20 Israeli vehicles include 105mm guns, 105 cannons, and automated 120mm carrier mortars. These are a huge deal for our Armored Division. They are quite the upgrade from our existing armored vehicles which are only equipped with low-caliber firearms.
Greater Defense for our National Sovereignty
Pandemic notwithstanding, our defense modernization continues to build momentum. These are just a few of the things lined up for our Armed Forces. We may be far from being a military superpower in the region, but these are welcome developments.
A strong and advanced military means that we will be able to protect and secure our borders and our sovereignty from both internal and external threats. Hopefully, the next administration continues the good work that President Duterte and his administration has done. The push for the much-needed modernization of our troops needs to be maintained!