Friday, March 23, 2012

Navy set to acquire multirole vessels, helicopters

TWO multirole vessels (MRVs) along with three new helicopters will be delivered to the Navy under the military’s ongoing modernization program.

The acquisition of the naval assets and choppers was disclosed on Thursday by Vice Adm. Alex Pama, Navy flag officer in command, during the celebration of the 115th foundation day of the Army in Fort Bonifacio, Makati City.

President Aquino did not attend the event and instead sent Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin as his representative.

Pama said defense and military authorities are expected to sign the contract for the delivery of the MRVs and the three helicopters, at least by July this year. However, he did not reveal the source or sources of the new assets.
Aside from the vessels and helicopters, the Navy is set to receive other major items under the Armed Forces modernization program.

A contract for the delivery of one MRV worth P5 billion from South Korea had been signed by the Arroyo administration. The amortization for the MRV amounting to P1 billion annually started last year.

Meanwhile, Gazmin said the military is expecting to have bigger exercises with the US with the planned increase of the visits of US troops and the presence of American forces in the country, although the number of such activities would have to be pared down eventually.

“We will be having bigger exercises with more participation of US forces and our forces as well, but these [exercises] will be lessened in order for us to focus on the high-value, high-impact exercises that will benefit us,” Gazmin said.

He said these exercises would be on the high seas and in the area of disaster response.
The defense chief was not definite on the number of participating soldiers from both sides, but said the number “could be bigger” than previous exercises.

The US has more than 600 troops currently stationed in Mindanao, under its Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, that is helping the military in counter-terrorism operations.

Gazmin said the exercises would be held under the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, and ruled out any permanent basing of US troops in the country.

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 Rene Acosta / Reporter| Business Mirror | March 22, 2012 | Article Link