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February 15, 2024

Philippines to purchase first-ever submarine

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submarine ph
February 15, 2024

On February 1, the Philippines Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Roy Trinidad, announced President Marcos's approval of the third and final phase of the military modernization plan. The third phase, named "Re-Horizon 3," is valued at 2 trillion pesos (approx. 35.62 billion USD) and spans until 2028. A notable proposal made under this phase is the procurement of Philippines’ first-ever submarines. Trinidad disclosed that the submarine procurement request was part of the wishlist for new assets under "Re-Horizon 3." However, specific details regarding approved items remain undisclosed. Last month, Defense Secretary, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., stated that the focus of Re-Horizon 3 is on enhancing military capabilities, particularly in maritime and aerial domains. The allocated budget for submarines is expected to be 70 billion peso (approx. 1.2 billion USD).
The spokesperson added that “two or three” submarines are needed and that the purchase is to have a navy that will “take care of [Philippines’s] territorial rights and sovereignty”. France, Italy, and South Korea have emerged as potential suppliers for the submarines. Marie FONTANEL, Ambassador of the French Republic to the Philippines, conveyed on January 24 to reporters that France is engaged in ongoing discussions regarding the sale of military equipment, including fighter jets and submarines. In June last year, France’s Navy Group offered the Philippines two Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarines (SSK), Scorpène-class submarines, previously supplied to the Royal Malaysian Navy.
In September of last year, South Korea's Hanwha Ocean, formerly known as Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd, a major supplier of vessels for the Philippines Navy, put forward a proposal for the JangBogo-III submarines, a variant of the KSS-III. These submarines boast a surface displacement of approximately 2,800 tonnes. While specific armaments details remain undisclosed, it's understood that this variant incorporates certain features of the KSS-III. Additionally, Spain's Navantia has offered a submarine support package totaling 1.7 billion USD. This comprehensive package includes two S80-class Isaac Peral submarines, along with provisions for training and maintenance. The S80 submarines are renowned for their substantial size, distinguishing them as one of the largest non-nuclear submarines in the world.
The Philippines' planned purchase of submarines coincides with the recent growing tension with China in the South China Sea, and will provide some extent of deterrence leverage to the Philippines Navy, which currently relies solely on surface-level vessels. The Philippines’s commitment to security in the South China Sea is also exemplified by the recent allocation of 10.47 billion pesos (approx. 187 million USD) to maritime defense. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how the Philippines would manage various challenges, particularly in meeting the sustainment costs and conducting operational training for Navy personnel within budget constraints.

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