Defense of the Republic of the Philippines

General Discussion => AFP Modernization & Defense Acquisitions => Topic started by: adroth on December 15, 2016, 01:19:38 AM

Title: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on December 15, 2016, 01:19:38 AM
One way to put developments and reports in perspective is to think in terms of timelines. Timelines change . . . as do plans.

Where once there was the AFP Modernization Program, this turned into the Capability Upgrade Program, which yet again turned into the Revised AFP Modernization Program whose three phases (or horizons, depending on the writer) were laid out in the following July 2014 infographic.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/revised_mod_plan.jpg)

The PN, for its part, published this document in 2011 to flesh out its part of the plan.

Infographic c/o the Philippine Navy website

(http://adroth.ph/afpmodern/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pn_horizons.jpg)

Only time can tell how long this holds true. But . . . from the nature of the AFP's requests for proposals from various vendors around the world . . . it appears that the Duterte administration is not slowing the AFP modernization down.

=====

The following OBJUSCATED selection of agenda items from the PH-Israeli product meeting provides insights into the capabilities the AFP seeks to develop in Horizon / Phase 2.

Ground-based Air Defense capability and related infrastructure

Mobile missile-based artillery systems

Armored Fighting Vehicles

Marine Intelligence systems and patrol assets

Close Air Support Aircraft

Combat Utility Helicopters

Attack Helicopters

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

C4ISTAR

CCIE


Phil-Israel Joint Committee Meeting at the Israel Ministry of Defense presided by SIBAT on December 12, 2016.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2-2.jpg)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on April 02, 2017, 10:53:58 AM
DND looking for more platforms to boost external defense capabilities
By Priam F. Nepomuceno

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=&sid=&nid=&rid=976859

MANILA, April 2 (PNA) -- With the deliveries of the South Korean-made FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet fighters nearing completion and more modern equipment coming in line, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines is now looking for more platforms that will further boosts its external defense capabilities.

"As we are now in the Second Horizon of our Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, we are looking into the acquisition of more equipment for our external defense missions," he added.

While Lorenzana did not give specifics on what kind of equipment the DND is looking to acquire, he said it is possible that these include missile-armed frigates, anti-submarine helicopters, and multi-role fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, to name a few.

Last March 29, two more FA-50 jet fighters were delivered in Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga, increasing the number of Mach 1.5 jet aircraft in the Air Force inventory to eight.

Another four are expected to be delivered within the year, completing the country's 12-plane order from Korea Aerospace Industries worth PHP18.9 billion.

The AFP Modernization Program is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.

The Second Horizon calls for the acquisition of equipment more attuned to external defense missions and has a programmed funding of around PHP100 billion. (PNA)

Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on November 23, 2017, 05:54:29 PM
DND to acquire 24 attack helicopters
ByPTV NewsPosted on November 23, 2017

http://ptvnews.ph/dnd-acquire-24-attack-helicopters/

< Edited >

The RAFPMP is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.

The Second Horizon calls for the acquisition of equipment more attuned to external defense missions, including jet fighters and other air assets and missile systems.

Acquired during the First Horizon were the three Gregorio Del Pilar cutters, three combat utility helicopters for the Navy, two naval attack helicopters, six MPACs (multi-purpose assault craft), eight combat utility helicopters for the Air Force and refurbishment of two Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” cargo planes. (Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on January 04, 2018, 02:06:24 PM
From a 3rd Asian Defense, Security & Crisis Management Exhibition & Conference (ADAS 2018) brochure

https://www.adas.ph/

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/afpmp_h2_1.png)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/afpmp_h2_2.png)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on March 22, 2018, 07:26:17 AM
Duterte vows to sustain AFP’s modernization program
Updated March 21, 2018, 9:41 AM
By Genalyn Kabiling

https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/03/20/duterte-vows-to-sustain-afps-modernization-program/

President Duterte has vowed to sustain the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as he expressed gratitude for the service and sacrifice of the country’s troops.

At the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Army in Taguig City, the President said the government would do its “best” to provide better equipment and other benefits to the heroic and loyal soldiers.

< Edited >

With the approval of Joint Resolution (JR) No. 1 and the implementation of the Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization program, I can assure you that the government is doing its best to ensure that our men and women in uniform are provided with the benefits and armed with the equipment to perform their duties effectively,” he added.

< Edited >
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on April 21, 2018, 11:59:58 PM
A retraction that also includes a possible timeline for H2

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1642150435870797/?comment_id=1642512935834547&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/retractions.png)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on May 26, 2018, 03:14:25 PM
https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180522-Speech_of_President_Rodrigo_Roa_Duterte_during_the_120th_Philippine_Navy_Anniversary.pdf

"I am happy to say that the government is currently working on implementing the Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, which encompasses a number of projects for the Philippine [Navy] amounting to P77 billion."

- Duterte
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: LionFlyer on May 26, 2018, 03:22:05 PM
The breakdown to Max Montero appears to be:

Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: dr demented on June 20, 2018, 03:51:24 PM
http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1038850

Quote
Phase 2 of AFP Modernization Program gets PRRD nod

By Priam Nepomuceno June 20, 2018, 3:30 pm

MANILA -- Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) has already been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong confirmed Wednesday.

Horizon Two is expected to run from 2018 to 2022. Funding for this program is roughly PHP300 billion.

"The Department of National Defense and the Department of Budget Management will talk on how to fund (these projects)," Andolong said in Filipino.

Earlier reports claimed that Horizon Two was approved by the Commander-in-Chief last May.

Equipment slated for acquisition during this period are towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, five support vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment (light, medium, heavy), individual weapons, crew-served weapons, and night-fighting equipment for the Army; multi-role fighters, radar systems, light and medium lift aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters (attack and combat utility), special mission and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium lift helicopters and multi-role vessels for the Navy.

Also being eyed are combat engineer, force protection, explosive ordnance disposal, chemical biological radiological nuclear, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and medical equipment.

The RAFPMP is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.

Acquired during the First Horizon were the three Gregorio Del Pilar cutters, three combat utility helicopters for the Navy, two naval attack helicopters, six multi-purpose assault crafts, eight combat utility helicopters for the Air Force and refurbishment of two Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo planes, two strategic sealift vessels, 12 FA-50 fighter jets among others. (PNA)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: dr demented on June 22, 2018, 03:22:05 PM
http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1039125

Quote
DBM to evaluate acquisition of AFP modernization projects

By Priam Nepomuceno June 22, 2018, 3:03 pm

MANILA -- While stressing that the list of equipment it wants for Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program is final, it is still up to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to evaluate and decide which platform to acquire first, a defense department official said Thursday.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the list of equipment will still be evaluated by the DBM, which will then locate the possible source of funding and prioritize the acquisition of the platform.

The DND, if needed, can also reduce the number of equipment it has shortlisted for Horizon Two, to comply with the PHP300 billion stipulated for the procurement of military equipment scheduled for 2018 to 2022.

Horizon One was implemented from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters, two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few. Horizon Three is slated for 2023 up to 2028.

"In the case of (diesel-electric) submarines, we can get just one or two, if needed, and for the multi-role fighters, we don't need to get the whole squadron (12 aircraft). We can just get six, we can comply with the budget," Andolong said in Filipino.

Equipment slated for acquisition during Horizon Two are towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, five support vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment (light, medium, heavy), individual weapons, crew-served weapons, and night-fighting equipment for the Army; multi-role fighters, radar systems, and light and medium lift aircraft.

Also to be acquired are heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters (attack and combat utility), special mission and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium lift helicopters, and multi-role vessels for the Navy.

Also being eyed are combat engineer, force protection, explosive ordnance disposal, chemical biological radiological nuclear, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and medical equipment. (PNA)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on June 23, 2018, 02:15:54 AM
Philippines moves ahead with ‘second horizon’ modernisation
Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
21 June 2018
 
http://www.janes.com/article/81234/philippines-moves-ahead-with-second-horizon-modernisation?utm_campaign=CL_%20Jane%27s%20360-June-22-2018_PC5308_e-production_E-11307_KP_0622_0715&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

< Edited >

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has given approval to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to progress plans to procure a wide range of defence equipment under its ‘second horizon’ modernisation programme, which runs 2018–2022.

The state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported on 20 June that the second horizon programme has been allocated “roughly PHP300 billion” (USD5.6 billion) and includes the procurement of a range of tactical military platforms including multirole combat aircraft and diesel–electric submarines.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Arsenio Andolong was quoted by the PNA as saying Duterte has approved the funding programme, which also encompasses an accelerated schedule for the submarine procurement. This was originally scheduled for the 2023–2027 third horizon but has now been moved forward, said Andolong. “This is not included in horizon three any more,” he said. “It has been pushed into horizon two [and the procurement] must be studied.”

< Edited >

PN officials have said the service requires at least two submarines and that the procurement was initiated in 2015 through the issue of a preliminary request for information (RFI). The PN has also established a submarine office that, as part of planning processes, is reviewing contemporary submarine designs and drawing up a concept of operations. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also confirmed in 2017 that the Russian-made Kilo-class submarine was one platform under consideration.
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: LionFlyer on June 23, 2018, 10:35:16 AM
Quote
"In the case of (diesel-electric) submarines, we can get just one or two, if needed, and for the multi-role fighters, we don't need to get the whole squadron (12 aircraft). We can just get six, we can comply with the budget," Andolong said in Filipino.

You could probably buy everything on the list... but you end up buying 1, 2 or 3 of each. Makes for good press (e.g "we fulfilled our roles") but it is just poor planning to shoehorn the projects based on budget without any operational considerations. For some of these projects, there is a minimum number for sustainment and operations reasons.
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: dr demented on June 24, 2018, 03:36:39 AM
http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1039229

Quote
Internal security ops slowing down AFP modernization

By Priam Nepomuceno June 23, 2018, 10:52 am

MANILA -- The government’s ongoing campaign against various threat groups are definitely slowing down efforts to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Saturday.

"Of course, because money that could have been used for modernizing our troops are used to fight terror. For instance, (in) the five-month Marawi siege, the AFP spent almost PHP4 billion (to fight and defeat the Maute Group terrorists), excluding the amount to care for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) by other agencies that ran into billions as well," Lorenzana said in response to queries on whether ongoing internal security operations have an effect on the AFP’s modernization.

Fighting in Marawi City began on May 23, 2017 when elements of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group attacked the city, triggering a battle that ended five months later in October when military units neutralized Abu Sayyaf leader and IS Southeast Asia “emir”, Isnilon Hapilon, along with 1,000 militants.

The same was said by defense department spokesperson Arsenio Andolong during an interview last Wednesday.

"Horizon Three (still) has to be studied and discussed kasi nagbago na 'yung mix natin (because we have a new mix). May movement na kasi (There has been movement), so that will allow us to now plan for what (equipment and platforms) we need,” Andolong said when asked what the public could expect for Horizon Three of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, which is expected to run from 2023 to 2028.

“(It) pre-supposes that we have already reached the level of credible defense posture, so we will now be concentrating on territorial defense already. But of course, we still have our internal security operations that are ongoing. Isa yan sa mga humahadlang sa ating (That is one of the hindrances to our) modernization because our attention is being divided," he said.

Horizon Two, which is slated for 2018 to 2022, is the AFP's transition period from internal security operations to territorial defense.

However, due to the conflicts, the progress of the AFP in this acquisition phase is "somewhere in between" as the defense department is acquiring equipment for internal and external defense usage, Andolong said.

Horizon One lasted from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters, and two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.

The pieces of equipment slated for acquisition during Horizon Two are towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, five support vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment (light, medium, heavy), individual weapons, crew-served weapons, and night-fighting equipment for the Army; multi-role fighters, radar systems, light and medium lift aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, attack and combat utilityhelicopters, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack craft, medium lift helicopters, and multi-role vessels for the Navy.

Also being eyed are combat engineer, force protection, explosive ordnance disposal, as well as humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief and medical equipment. (PNA)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on June 24, 2018, 07:36:01 AM
Quote
"In the case of (diesel-electric) submarines, we can get just one or two, if needed, and for the multi-role fighters, we don't need to get the whole squadron (12 aircraft). We can just get six, we can comply with the budget," Andolong said in Filipino.

You could probably buy everything on the list... but you end up buying 1, 2 or 3 of each. Makes for good press (e.g "we fulfilled our roles") but it is just poor planning to shoehorn the projects based on budget without any operational considerations. For some of these projects, there is a minimum number for sustainment and operations reasons.

Funds for the AFP modernization program are drawn from the AFP Modernization Trust Fund (AFPMTF). The national budget is only one of the sources of the funds for the AFPMTF, and the President is actually empowered to source funds from other alternative sources. It'll be interesting to see how he swings this.
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: dr demented on July 03, 2018, 02:52:49 AM
https://thediplomat.com/2018/06/the-future-of-philippine-military-modernization-under-duterte-whats-on-the-second-horizon/

Quote
The Future of Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte: What’s on the Second Horizon?

A look at what lies ahead in the coming years on this front.

By Prashanth Parameswaran
June 29, 2018

This week, the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte moved toward allotting funding for the next phase of the country’s ongoing military modernization program. While plans have been long in the works and changes can continue to be expected along the way, the development nonetheless provides an opportunity to evaluate where Manila is with respect to key capabilities and where it might be headed over the next few years.

As I have noted before in these pages, Philippine defense modernization had been laid out in the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), divided into three phases or horizons: the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second lasting from 2018 to 2022, and the third from 2023 to 2027. As Duterte took office, observers were looking to see how his time in office would affect the longer-term trajectory of that modernization process not just in terms of the aggregate level of spending, but also what security challenges and equipment would be prioritized.

Last week, we saw another round of headlines surrounding the Second Horizon of Philippine military modernization. On June 20, reports surfaced following defense department spokesperson Arsenio Andolong’s comment that the Duterte government had allocated roughly 300 billion pesos ($5.6 billion) for this phase of military modernization as an initial amount pending budgetary review and negotiation.

The news itself is not surprising. Reports had emerged last year as well about the Duterte’s government’s plans for the Second Horizon, including potential changes that could be made in terms of prioritization of challenges and procurement of equipment. The confirmation of funding thus represents a continuation of an ongoing and expected process.

And despite the focus on the fact that this was a robust amount of funding, the reality is that any aggregate level of funding also leaves the real questions unanswered. One is what will actually be procured with that funding. As is typical with these phases, the crux of military modernization will come not with the funding levels approved, but how the AFP reconciles its ideal shopping list with the actual amount provided and how it then sequences and prioritizes acquisitions.

We already do have a sense of the key items originally on the wish list for military modernization, including multirole fighters, helicopters, and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, and submarines for the Navy; and multiple launch rocket systems, weaponry, and night-fighting equipment for the Army. But as we have seen in the past, this list has tended to be changed over time, whether that means reducing the number of certain equipment bought or postponing other acquisitions and even fast-tracking others. One example in this respect is submarines, an expensive item which was initially slated for the Third Horizon but could now be procured under the Second Horizon.

Another question is how what is actually being budgeted and procured actually affects the bigger picture of Philippine defense modernization more generally. While the process of military modernization was intended to ideally see Manila transition from internal security operations to territorial defense, that has been slowed somewhat by both the new administration’s own focus on internal priorities like counterinsurgency, alignment shifts in terms of defense partners, as well as periodic crises and structural challenges, most prominent of which was five-month siege of the southern city of Marawi by Islamic State-linked militants last May.

Though Philippine defense officials have at times been candid about the effects of these developments on the process of military modernization, the actual extent to which that is the case will become clear once we get more details in the coming months. While the headlines on Philippine military modernization may suggest it is a linear trajectory of improvement through a process neatly divided into phases, the reality has been far messier thus far and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: adroth on July 04, 2018, 12:03:15 PM
http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1040315

Quote
PAF chief lauds PRRD for modernization commitment

By Priam Nepomuceno July 4, 2018, 10:39 am

MANILA -- Philippine Air Force (PAF) head Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar expressed his appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for his commitment to modernize the military as proven by his signing of Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

The PAF chief made this statement during the Air Force's 71st founding anniversary rites on Tuesday where Duterte was guest-of-honor and speaker.

It was held at the PAF Multi-Purpose Gymnasium, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

This year's anniversary theme is "Blue Team @ Top Speed Integrating Efforts in Regaining Air Defense Capabilities for Peace and Resilient Development".

"We express our appreciation to our Commander-in-Chief for his ready commitment to support the Second Horizon of our Modernization, which includes the acquisition of multi-purpose rotary and fixed-wing assets as well as unmanned aerial and ground-based systems," Kintanar added.

Also, the PAF chief lauded the efforts of all their airmen and the rest of the nation for making the Air Force stronger and more capable.

"Thanks to all our airmen, the PAF has grown better, stronger and flown higher and thanks to our people, our leaders and public officials who have kept the faith in us at the wings of our nation. We have continuously evolved and developed our capabilities according to our own PAF Flight Plan, throughout it all and against all odds we have consistently delivered with positive impact in all mission areas," Kintanar stressed.

Horizon Two is expected to run from 2018 to 2022. Funding for this program is roughly PHP300 billion.

Equipment slated for acquisition during this period are towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, five support vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment (light, medium, heavy), individual weapons, crew-served weapons, and night-fighting equipment for the Army; multi-role fighters, radar systems, light and medium lift aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters (attack and combat utility), special mission and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium lift helicopters and multi-role vessels for the Navy. Also being eyed are combat engineer, force protection, explosive ordnance disposal, chemical biological radiological nuclear, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and medical equipment.

The RAFPMP is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.

Acquired during the First Horizon were the three Gregorio Del Pilar cutters, three combat utility helicopters for the Navy, two naval attack helicopters, six MPACs (multi-purpose assault craft), eight combat utility helicopters for the Air Force and refurbishment of two Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo planes, two strategic sealift vessels, 12 FA-50 fighter jets among others. (PNA)
Title: Re: Revised AFP Modernization Program
Post by: dr demented on July 12, 2018, 10:30:30 PM
https://amti.csis.org/the-next-phase-of-philippine-military-modernization-looking-to-external-defense/

Quote
The Next Phase of Philippine Military Modernization: Looking to External Defense

By Renato Cruz de Castro | July 12, 2018
AMTI Update

President Rodrigo Duterte recently decided to bankroll the second phase of the 15-year Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program. The plan for the program involves three five-year phases, or “horizons.” The first horizon, which began in 2013 and ended in 2017, involved purchases of military hardware mainly for internal security challenges, though it included some big-ticket air and naval acquisitions for external defense. The second horizon, which will be implemented from 2018 to 2022, entails an ambitious transition period wherein the AFP will shift its arms acquisitions away from internal security to territorial defense. This will require a huge allocation of 300 billion pesos (about $5.6 billion).

This substantial financial outlay will enable the Philippine Army to acquire towed and self- propelled howitzers, multiple rocket launch rocket systems, ground mobility vehicles, and even light tanks. The big-ticket items that the AFP will fund, however, will be for the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force. The navy will procure two more missile-capable frigates (two are currently being constructed by Hyundai Shipbuilding Corporation and will be delivered in 2020), amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, multi-role vessels, and submarines.

The acquisition of submarines was originally planned for the third horizon (2023-2028). But the current navy chief, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, lobbied for the immediate inclusion of diesel-electric submarines in horizon two. He argued that undersea operations are a trend in naval warfare and its lack of submarines would disadvantage the AFP in any future conflict. The Department of Defense (DND) supported Empedrad, saying that diesel-electric submarines would be a great equalizer in the country’s naval arsenal. The DND declined to provide an exact number of submarines that the navy will buy, but said that it will be more than one. To show it is serious about the project, the navy has formed a Submarine Group that is now sending personnel abroad for training in undersea operations. The navy estimates that its acquisition of submarines, including building the vessels, training officers and crews, and the provision of support facilities will take 7 to 10 years.

The air force’s big-ticket item will be two squadrons of multi-role fighters. Air force planners have yet to detail the exact number of fighters or a specific budget for the acquisition, but the air force is reportedly inclined to buy European-made fighters, possibly the Gripen from Sweden’s Saab. President Duterte also recently approved the acquisition of an additional 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter planes from South Korea to complement the 12 already purchased during the first horizon of the AFP modernization program.

A Build-Up Despite Rapprochement with China

Former President Benigno Aquino originally launched the AFP modernization program as part of an effort to challenge China’s expansion in the South China Sea. But after Duterte’s election in 2016, the new president suggested he would pursue a policy of gravitating closer to China while ignoring territorial defense and focusing again on internal security.

Since late 2016, Duterte has pursued a policy of appeasement toward China by downplaying the disputes in the South China Sea in return for promised Chinese investment in the Philippines. He quickly set aside the July 2016 ruling from a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration which found in favor of Manila and against many of Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. Duterte then went to Beijing in October 2016 where he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that his term would be “the springtime of Philippine-China relations” and returned home with $15 billion in investment pledges (which remain largely unrealized).

But despite the rapprochement in Philippines-China relations, Duterte’s decision to finance the second horizon of the AFP modernization program suggests that he will continue the Philippine military’s shift from internal to territorial defense. There seem to be two major reasons for this decision. First, Duterte needs to maintain support from the military, especially as he seeks to shift the country away from its historical reliance on the United States and toward a closer relationship with China driven by economic concessions. He also needs to shore up military support in light of the resilience of domestic security challenges, as shown by the five-month siege of Marawi City by Islamic militants in 2017.

Second, Philippine public opinion remains highly suspicious of Chinese actions in the South China Sea and is critical of the administration’s efforts to improve relations with Beijing. The opposition party and several civil society organizations have castigated the Duterte government for not pushing Beijing to comply with the 2016 arbitral award and failing to denounce recent Chinese escalations in the South China Sea, including the landing of bombers in the Paracel Islands, installation of missile and jamming systems in the Spratlys, and harassment of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal.

Pressured by public opinion, the Department of Foreign Affairs recently notified China of actions that Manila would consider unacceptable in the South China Sea. These “red lines” include: Chinese construction of a permanent facility at Scarborough Shoal; any attempt to remove the derelict BRP Sierra Madre from Second Thomas Shoal or prevent resupply of the Filipino marines stationed aboard it; and unilateral extraction of oil and gas from the Philippines’ continental shelf. The decision to finance the second horizon is aimed at assuring the Filipino public that the government is developing a credible defense capability that will enable the AFP to respond in case China crosses those red lines.

Renato Cruz De Castro is a full professor in the International Studies Department, De La Salle University, Manila, and holds the Charles Lui Chi Keung Professorial Chair in China Studies. He is currently the National Institute of Defense Studies (NIDS) of Japan Visiting Fellow for 2018. His research interests include Philippine-U.S. security relations and Philippine defense and foreign policy.