By Priam Nepomuceno

ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE. The missile-armed BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) and AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopter in waters off Palawan province in this undated photo. PN spokesperson Commander John Percie Alcos said Friday (June 21, 2024) that the service is bent on operationalizing its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities this year. (File photo courtesy of the courtesy of AFP Western Command)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) is bent on operationalizing its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as it is now integrating its most modern naval and air assets to ensure development by this year.

“The focus of the commander, Philippine Fleet (Rear Admiral Renato David) this year, is to fully develop the Navy’s ASW capabilities, so specifically on the integration of the JRCFs (Jose Rizal Class Frigates) and the AW-159s (Wildcat ASW helicopters),” PN spokesperson Commander John Percie Alcos said in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday.

Without divulging operational details, Alcos said they are now holding ASW exercises between these assets.

“Now it’s well underway, but like any warfighting capability it takes a lot of time before we fully develop these capabilities, what is important is, the interoperability between the newly-acquired platforms is well underway and proceeding as scheduled,” he added.

These frigates and helicopters are the PN’s first platforms to have a dedicated ASW capability.

Currently, the PN has two JRCFs — the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), which were both delivered and commissioned in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

It also has two AW-159s in service and these aircraft were acquired in 2019 to beef up the submarine detection and neutralization capabilities of the JRCFs.

While the JRCFs and AW-159s are capable of doing ASW missions autonomously, Alcos said ensuring that these platforms are able to operate with each other will further enhance their capabilities aside from increasing their range. (PNA)