The Philippine Navy Has Commissioned Its First Two Missile-Capable Gunboats

IMAGE PHILIPPINE NAVY

After months of testing for seaworthiness, two missile-capable gunboats built by Israel Shipyards are now officially commissioned by the Philippine Navy. The two new missile boats have been transferred to the Philippine Navy by Israel Shipyards back in September 2022. The fast-attack interdiction craft-missiles (FAIC-Ms) aim to bolster the Philippines’ capabilities in securing its littoral waters. 

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin led the commissioning rites of the BRP Nestor Acero and BRP Lolinato To-ong at the Naval Station Jose Andrada in Manila. The vessels were named in honor of two Armed Forces of the Philippines Medal of Valor awardees Nestor Acero and Lolinato To-ong. 

Nestor F. Acero was an enlisted Marine of the Philippine Marine Corps. Acero was assigned as a rifleman in the 7th Marine Company in Jolo, Sulu when his company assaulted a hill defended by approximately 500 Moro rebels on November 26 and 27, 1972. During the intense battle, an order to retreat was given to Acero’s company. Wounded, Acero refused run but covered his company’s retreat. He was killed while protecting his comrades. 

Lolinato G. To-ong was a Philippine Marine Corps officer who served with the 52nd Marine Company of the Force Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2000 Philippine campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. During a military operation in Matanog, Maguindanao, To-ong and enlisted Marine Domingo Deluana were wounded while providing suppressive fire to cover the medical evacuation of wounded Marines. Despite their wounds, they continued maneuvering and providing cover fire until they were killed by an RPG blast.

Where the Missile Gunboats Will Be Deployed

“Most likely, (they will be deployed in) priority areas, of course, in the West Philippine Sea and the Southern Philippines, but we have no final decision yet as to the exact place of deployment,” Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr told PhilStar

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The fast crafts are designed for security tasks involving high intercept speeds. It has a solid reputation in seakeeping and maneuverability in all sea states. It performs well in rough seas and difficult weather. The Shaldag class craft was originally intended for protecting against and neutralizing terrorist threats.

These 32-meter high-speed vessels are equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable to deliver precision strikes against larger hostiles and high-value targets on land and sea.

According to Janes, a global open-source site for defense intelligence, the Philippine Navy chose Israel Shipyards to provide missile-capable fast attack interdiction craft to expand its littoral combat force—hinting the attack boats will be used in the West Philippine Sea, a major flashpoint in the Asia Pacific region.

Back in February 2021, the Philippine Department of National Defense revealed it was eyeing the purchase of four Shaldag Mark V, but Israel Shipyards offered an additional one unit for free.

The Philippine and Israeli governments negotiated a deal that is worth P6.2 billion, which is a relatively affordable price for such brand-new equipment. 

Four of the vessels will be made at the Cavite shipyard using Israel’s technology. They will be ready for commissioning in 2022, and will replace the navy's aging fleet of Tomas Batillo-class patrol ships. 

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