A sample of a fast-attack interdictor craft-missile boat.

MANILA – The Philippine Navy on Monday said its fast-attack interdictor craft-missile (FAIC-M) project, which seeks to acquire eight ships to replace its medium-sized patrol craft, or the force of patrol killer medium (PKM), will push through amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said the project was approved for inclusion in the Horizon 2 project list of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program and has a budget of PHP10 billion.

“FAIC-M is an acquisition project of the PN that was approved for inclusion in the Horizon 2 Projects List of Revised AFP Modernization Program with ABC (approved budget for contract) of PHP10 billion and for Multi-Year Contracting,” Roxas said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy with a range of 25 kilometers while the other four will be armed with machine guns and light automatic cannons.

“The MYOA (Multi-Year Obligational Authority) requested is for four years with payment spread by 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, and 40 percent each year starting 2020 and end(ing) 2023. Hence, the 10 percent (PHP1 billion) is already programmed by the DND (Department of National Defense) in the Financial Schedule for FY (Fiscal Year) 2020,” Roxas said.

She added that procurement activities will start immediately after the MYOA is approved by the Department of Budget and Management.

Earlier, PN flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo confirmed that the FAIC-M project is already included in the 2020 budget.

He added that the procurement process would have been on schedule without the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former Navy spokesperson, Capt. Jonathan Zata, said that with the FAIC-M, 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.

“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,” he added.

Earlier, former PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said the Navy is eyeing to acquire eight Israeli Shipyard Ltd “Shaldag”-class patrol boats to replace the PKMs it is using for maritime interdiction operations.

“These eight ‘Shaldags’ will replace our PKMs (acquired from South Korea in 1995) which we are now starting to retire. The last PKM we retired was PKM 112 (BRP Bienvenido Salting),” Empedrad said in Filipino.

He added that four of the “Shaldag” patrol boats will be built in Israel while the remaining four will be constructed in the PN Cavite Naval Yard in Sangley Point, Cavite City. (PNA)

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