By Francis Wakefield
The Flag-Officer-in-Command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy (PN) Thursday said that they will conduct next month the first test fire of its Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile.
Navy Chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad made the revelation during a radio interview over DWDD, the official radio station of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Empedrad said no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would like to see the testing of their very first missile acquired from Israel last April.
“This July we might be testing our very first missile aboard our small ships or Multipurpose Assault Craft (MPAC),” Empedrad said.
“The president would like to see that testing of our very first missile,” he added.
MPAC as recalled is a type of fast assault craft developed for the Philippine Navy. It is designed to transport troops at a high speed and then land them on the beach.
With the Philippine Navy (PN) acquiring new and more sophisticated assets including surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes, Empedrad said there is a need to establish protocols and technical working groups to ensure that PN officers and ratings are capable of operating such equipment worth millions of pesos.
“For the personnel in my command guidance ang sinabi ko is specialized tayo, technical ang kailangan. (I said we need to be specialized, we need those with technical knowledge),” Empedrad said.
“So we want engineers, we want computer experts, and we want people who can operate and maintain weapon system na first-time lang tayo magkakaroon (which we will have for the first time).”
“So hindi mo pwedeng basta-basta ilagay lang yung tao na walang alam diyan (We cannot put people who doesn’t have the technical knowhow. We have to secure (it). Hindi katulad noon, barko namin tatabi ka lang sa pier and hindi mo masyado sine-secure (unlike before, our ships were just left in the pier and not that totally secured),” he said.
Empedrad said they need to secure the military assets as this cost millions of pesos.
“Now we have to secure them because one missile costs P10 million and the torpedoes, the big surface-to-surface missile cost P100 million each. That’s why securing the big ticket equipment is also as important as acquiring them,” the Navy chief stressed.