Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

Soldiers take part in a parade during the 79th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon city, Manila December 18, 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 22 June 2018

Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

  • Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters
  • The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved the second phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) with funding of about 300 billion pesos ($5.6 billion).
In an interview with Arab News, Defense Department (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said this will enable the government to get back on track establishing “a credible defense posture.”
Under horizon two of RAFPMP, which is expected to run from 2018 to 2022, new equipment will be acquired to modernize the country’s outdated military. This will include submarines, frigates, fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), howitzers, crew-served weapons and radar.
Some of the items, including the submarines, were originally slated for acquisition under horizon three of the RAFPMP set for 2023 to 2028. The Duterte administration, however, decided to bring the acquisition forward to the second horizon.
Andolong cited two reasons why the government has decided to track the military’s modernization. “One is our desire, and the president recognizes this, to bring our modernization back on track. And, two, is that the ever-evolving security situation calls for it already.” He also pointed out the geopolitical climate in the region, with rising tensions between the US and China, and other countries that have interest in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
“Unfortunately, we are in the middle of all of that. The government has realized that we cannot afford to just sit back and wait for these things (AFP modernization) to happen on their own. We really need to have political will,” Andolong said.
The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved.
Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters.
Equipment to be acquired for the air force includes multi-role fighters, radar systems, light utility and medium-lift aircraft, heavy-lift helicopters, UAVs, attack and combat utility helicopters, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft and trainer aircraft.
The navy will get frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium-lift helicopters and multi-role vessels. Purchases for the army will include towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple-launch rocket systems, light tanks, armored recovery vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment, individual weapons, crew-served weapons and night-fighting equipment.
Also on the shopping list are combat engineers, force protection, explosives ordnance disposal, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and medical equipment.
“If we do get all of this, it will enable to us to put us back on track our objective of attaining credible defense posture,” Andolong said.
“We are talking about our capability to fulfill our mandate to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is our capability to patrol our territory and repel any invaders.”
At present, the AFP lacks the capability to even verify reports such as missiles being positioned by another country in the Spratly Islands, or airborne intruders in Philippine airspace. “Information is provided to us by our allies and from the news,” Andolong said.
The Philippines’ plan is that by 2028 AFP should be a fully capable and modernized military.


Migrant surge overwhelms Greek islands

Updated 23 min 43 sec ago

Migrant surge overwhelms Greek islands

  • The number of people reaching Greeks islands in the eastern Aegean Sea is the highest since the EU reached a €6 billion agreement in 2016 to prevent migrants from leaving the coast of Turkey
  • The surge started before Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, but there are concerns that it could grow much bigger

SKALA, Greece: Greece’s eastern islands are struggling to cope with a surge in arrivals of migrants and asylum-seekers that has undermined efforts to ease severe overcrowding at refugee camps.
The number of people reaching Lesbos, Samos and other Greeks islands in the eastern Aegean Sea is the highest since the European Union reached a 6 billion-euro agreement in 2016 to prevent migrants from leaving the coast of Turkey and heading to the EU.
The surge started before Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, but there are concerns that it could grow much bigger. Since the offensive began last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to quell European criticism by warning that he could “open the gates” and send more than 3 million Syrian refugees to Europe.
Dinghies carrying migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are reaching the islands despite enhanced coast guard patrolling in recent weeks supported by the Greek military.
This is exacerbating problems at crowded refugee camps. A deadly fire at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos on Sept. 29 triggered riots at the site, which is at 400% capacity.
The Greek government promised to accelerate transfers to the mainland and expand the network of camps there. But those transfers have so far been outnumbered by new arrivals on the islands.
Human rights group Amnesty International has described Moria as “overcrowded and unsafe” and urged other European Union countries to help Greece settle asylum-seekers.
Authorities fear that if the arrival numbers remain high through October, a winter crisis will be difficult to avoid.
Greece’s new conservative government says it also plans to detain migrants without the right to request asylum and wants to resume deportations back to Turkey under terms detailed in the 2016 EU-Turkey deal.