MANILA The Philippine Navy (PN)'s capabilities to protect the country's waters and land Marine troops were significantly boosted with the activation of four more amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) and three more multi-purpose attack craft (MPACs).
The activation ceremonies took place at the PN headquarters at Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila Monday afternoon.
Spearheading the event was Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said that activation of the assets are part of the government's efforts to ensure that the military will have adequate resources to carry out its mandate of protecting the country and its people.
"The presence of credible defense (is) not a means to war, but to achieve peace, security, and economic progress," he added.
Also, the government has been focusing on its national security agenda by beefing up the military's capabilities to allow it to respond to threats and defend the country's freedom, peace and security, the DND chief said.
He added that the AAVs and the MPACs are among the equipment needed to fulfill the PN's mandate.
The first four AAVs were commissioned last June 17 at the 121st PN founding anniversary during ceremonies at Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite.
The AAVs were manufactured by South Korean defense manufacturer Hanwha Techwin.
The second batch of four other AAVs arrived this August and had successfully undergone Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee on the same month. The AAV contract is worth PHP2.42 billion.
These vehicles are armed with .50 caliber machineguns, 40mm grenade launchers and smoke launchers and will be used for amphibious landing operations.
They will be based aboard the two strategic sealift vessels of PN, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602).
"The four AAVs form part of the recently activated Assault Amphibian Company under the Assault Armor Battalion of the Philippine Marine Corps. These amphibious landing vehicles allow our Marine operating forces to assault any shoreline from decks of Navy ships and provide them with armor protection, surface mobility for amphibious and mechanized operations, communications and projection of the 'anvil' force coastal defense," acting PN public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said.
In his speech during Monday's activation ceremony, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, PN flag-officer-in-command, said there are plans to acquire at least 16 more AAVs, which will be deployed in the two additional strategic sealift ships the Navy is planning to acquire.
Meanwhile, the three MPACs will be armed with Spike-ER surface-to-surface missiles, potentially boosting the number of missile-armed craft of the PN to six.
"These brand new MPACs are in addition to the three missile-fitted fast craft that historically ushered the PN into the missile age last year," Roxas added.
With the addition of three Mark III MPACs Monday, the number of such boats in the service of the PN is now placed at 12. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency