THE PHILIPPINE Navy will showcase on Friday its capability to deter potential maritime or aircraft attacks, testing a surface-to-air missile and antisubmarine helicopter near the South China Sea.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. would witness the live-fire demonstration, which will take place off the coast of San Antonio, Zambales, according to a Navy press release.
The Navy’s Mistral 3 surface-to-air missile is set to hit and destroy a drone serving as a mock target. A Bullfighter chaff decoy, which could protect naval vessels up to the size of frigates against anti-ship missiles, would also be deployed during the sequence.
The Navy will also showcase the capabilities of the AW159 anti-submarine warfare naval helicopter, which will utilize its compact-FLASH (folding light acoustic system for a helicopter) dipping sonar and BlueShark torpedo “to detect, locate, and neutralize stealthy submarine.”
Compact-FLASH dipping sonar has an effective detection range of up to 1,000 meters and a maximum operating depth of 300 meters.
Mistral 3 surface-to-air missiles, which are equipped with 90-millimeter high-explosive warheads, have a range of more than three nautical miles and speed of 2.7 Mach.
The weapons that will be used during Friday’s event “were acquired through the Navy’s Frigate Acquisition Project Lot 2B, with a budget of around P670 million,” the Navy said.
San Antonio, Zambales is about 140 miles from Scarborough Shoal, which China claims. In 2016, an international court ruled both Chinese and Filipino fishermen have the right to engage in traditional fishing there. China has ignored the ruling.
The highlight of this year’s Balikatan (shoulder–to-shoulder) exercises between the Philippines and United States armed forces conducted last month involved the sinking of a World War II-era Philippine Navy ship 12 nautical miles off the coastal waters of San Antonio.
The exercise featured US and Philippine weapon systems including the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Avenger air defense systems, which delivered coordinated fires on the target ship.
The exercises alarmed China, saying the US-Philippine defense ties should never interfere in South China Sea disputes. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza