The Philippine Navy (PN) on Monday said the delivery of the first of the eight units of fast-attack interdictor craft-missile (FAIC-M) set for December was delayed to early 2022 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“It (Covid-19) has delayed some of the delivery of our platforms. I could give you an example, the first of our FAIC-M, if not for the Covid-19, should have been delivered this December. But because of this Covid-19, the first of the eight platforms is expected to be delivered already by the first quarter of 2022,” said Navy chief, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, in a virtual presser when asked on how the pandemic has affected the PN’s modernization.
The PN’s FAIC-M project is expected to replace the force of patrol killer medium (PKM) or medium-sized patrol craft.
The project, approved for inclusion in the Horizon 2 project list of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, has a budget of PHP10 billion and is for Multi-Year Contracting.
Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers while the other four will be armed with machine guns and light automatic cannons.
With the FAIC-Ms, the PN shall have the capability to defend the key sea lines of communications (SLOCs), such as Mindoro, Balabac, Sibutu, and Basilan Straits against conventional threats.
While operating in restricted waters, the FAIC-Ms can interdict surface threats and launch NLOS missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover.
Meanwhile, PN Offshore Combat Force chief Commodore Karl Decapia confirmed that the prospective BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) is expected to be delivered to the Philippines in late January or early February 2021.
In the same briefing, he said the ship technically contains the same features that the BRP Jose Rizal has.
“It’s exactly the same, all sensors, communications, the technical capability of (FF)150 and (FF)151 is exactly the same. in fact, they are twin sisters,” he added.
BRP Antonio Luna was launched on November 8, 2019 at the Ulsan facility of South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. Its keel-laying on May 23, 2019, coincided with the launch of BRP Jose Rizal.
The contract for the BRP Jose Rizal and the BRP Antonio Luna was placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.
The BRP Antonio Luna had its first sea acceptance trials last September 24 to 29 which yielded “satisfactory” results, the PN earlier said. (PNA)