At last, the Philippines will be getting real warships.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said the government was planning to buy next year its first two modern warships armed with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles and capable of hunting down submarines in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said this would be the first time that the Philippines would have warships with missiles and other modern armaments.
Gazmin said the Department of National Defense was looking to acquire the missile frigates from the Italian Navy. The two Maestrale-class frigates cost P11.7 billion.
“These are warships,” Gazmin said in a press conference. “They have antisubmarine capabilities and surface-to-air missiles. This is really for battle. We could get the frigates by November next year.”
He said the frigates would be “more lethal” than the Hamilton-class cutters the US Coast Guard was selling to the Philippines.
The Maestrale class of frigates was initially commissioned for the Italian Navy in 1982. They were primarily designed for antisubmarine warfare but are also capable of fighting on the surface and shooting down aircraft.
Equipped with several electronic warfare systems, these ships also have torpedoes, long-range guns and automatic weapons.
The Italian Navy will retire these frigates next January, Manalo said.