The Philippines (Finally) Has Surface-to-Air Missiles
The Philippines can now truly create deterrence in the West Philippine Sea. For the first time in history, the country has acquired Mistral Mk 3 (M3) surface-to-air missiles (SAM), which will be mounted on the navy’s flagship warships: The BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151). Mistral 3 or M3 is the latest variant of the missile, released in 2019. The Philippines is one of the few countries to acquire it.
The missile acquisition is part of the Frigate Acquisition Project awarded to MBDA Missile Systems, a European arms manufacturing company. Mistral is one of its seven types of SAMs.
The acquisition reportedly cost the Philippines P600 million, according to a Rappler report.
What is the Mistral?
The Mistral is an infrared-homing air defense missile that can be mounted on warships and aircraft such as fighter jets and helicopters. It is a short-range missile with an effective firing range of up to six kilometers.
But according to the missile’s manufacturer, the Mistral 3 is a more advanced variant.
“The Mistral 3 missile, currently in service with the French forces, is an air defense missile equipped with an infrared imaging seeker and advanced image processing capabilities. This allows it to engage low thermal signature targets such as UAVs, turbojet-powered missiles, and fast craft at long range while offering excellent resistance to countermeasures.”
In November 2020, MBDA demonstrated the increased capabilities of the Mistral 3 missile by successfully intercepting a moving target at a range of over seven kilometers.
The missile is 1.86 meters in length and can be made man-portable, which means it can be carried by soldiers. It is a threat to low-flying aircraft that pose threats to surface-based positions.
Missiles will improve the Navy’s capabilities
According to the chief of the Naval Public Affairs Office Cmdr. Benjo Negranza, the Mistral SAMs are part of the Frigate Acquisition Project awarded to MBDA.
“Surface-to-air missiles are among the primary weapons of FF150 and FF151 that bolsters the Philippine Navy's anti-air warfare capability,” Negranza said in a statement.
“The arrival of these missiles will greatly capacitate our [Jose Rizal-class] frigates in the conduct of their maritime operations,” he added.
The Mistral entered production in 1989 and is now deployed in various forms by 37 armed forces of 25 countries including Singapore, South Korea, Spain, New Zealand, Finland, France, Hungary, Norway, Venezuela, Indonesia, and Brazil.