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New Navy chief eyes ‘desired force mix’ to defend territorial waters

President Benigno Aquino III faces the past and the present of the Navy leadership: incoming Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano, and the outgoing chief, Alexander Pama (R), who was at the Navy's helm in one of the most critical periods in the country's maritime history, especially with the Panatag Shoal standoff with China earlier this year. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-installed Navy flag officer in command Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano wants to retire the country's old and "antiquated" ships and replace them with new ones to better protect the country's territorial waters.

Alano, in his speech at the turnover ceremonies on Wednesday, said these old ships were deemed "excess baggage" for the country's naval force and he vowed to "rationalize current operational assets, review the modernization program, taking a deliberate look at the phase-in and phase-out scheme."

Alano replaced Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.

Alano, who once served as the head of the country's Navy Fleet, said he would recommend equipment that would make the Navy a "relevant" force in defending the country's territory, amid the ongoing dispute with China over islands in the West Philippine Sea.

"I come at an opportune time, when we are fleeting up with new capabilities like WHECs (weather high endurance cutters), frigates, naval helicopters, MPACs (multi-purpose attack crafts), AAVs (amphibious assault vehicles), as well as individual Marine and special warfare combat equipment," he said.

Alano also vowed to review the country's "active archipelagic defense" strategy with an eye at achieving the Fleet's "desired force mix."

According to an article published on Phil Fleet last April, the Fleet's "desired force mix" consists of six frigates for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare, 18 offshore patrol vessels, three submarines, three anti-mine vessels, four sealift vessels, 18 landing craft utility vessels, three logistics ships, 12 coastal interdiction patrol boats, 30 patrol gunboats and 42 multi-purpose assault crafts.

President Benigno Aquino III said the recent signing of the New AFP Modernization Act would give the military P75 million in the next five years to procure much-needed land, air and sea assets.

"Dapat lang na maghanda na ang ating Pambansang Tanggulan sa pagdagsa ng ating mga bagong truck, eroplano, mga dekalibreng armas, at iba pang modernong kagamitan para sa buong kasundaluhan (the Armed Forces should be prepared for the arrival of new trucks, airplanes, firearms, and other modern equipment for the entire military)," Aquino said in his speech.

Aquino also said that in just over a year, his administration was able to put in P28 billion for the AFP, allowing the military to procure two Hamilton class cutters (BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz) and the arrival of BRP Tagbanua, the first Filipino-made landing craft utility.