The Philippines and Sweden have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) allowing both countries to advance its defense cooperation particularly in the procurement of military equipment and materials, the Department of National Defense (DND) said.
(L-R) Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson and Department of National Defense OIC Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Concerning Cooperation in the Acquisition of Defense Materiel at the sidelines of the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2023. The MOU allows the Philippines and Sweden to advance its defense cooperation particularly in the procurement of military equipment and materials. (Photo by DND)
The MOU Concerning Cooperation in the Acquisition of Defense Materiel was signed by DND OIC Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson at the sidelines of the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, June 3.
DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong explained that the MOU “opens up opportunities” for the Swedish defense industries “to participate in the modernization program” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“The signed agreement paves the way for advancing cooperation in the areas of logistics, defense industry development, and exchange of related information between the two countries,” Anolong said.
The AFP is now on the third “horizon” of its revised modernization program which will run from 2023 to 2028. From 2013 to 2022, the AFP has procured frigates, fighter jets, and sealift vessels among others as part of the first two horizons of the modernization program.
At this phase, the military is expected to procure assets and equipment that will boost its external defense operations or its ability to defend the country from external threats. Among those eyed for procurement are missile systems, multi-role fighter aircraft, and others.
Relatedly, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is pushing for its Multirole Fighter (MRF) Acquisition Program which is originally part of the second horizon.
Under the PAF’s MRF Acquisition Program, the AFP is considering to buy JAS-39 “Gripen” fighter aircraft from Swedish manufacturer Saab AB or the F-16V "Viper" fighter jet from American aerospace company Lockheed Martin.
The AFP has yet to choose its supplier of multi-role fighter aircraft for the PAF.
Self-reliant defense posture
Furthermore, Andolong also said that the MOU on defense materiel cooperation enables possible joint initiatives between the two countries to help the Philippines achieve a self-reliant defense posture.
The AFP is aiming to revive the Self Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Program which was initiated in the 1970s to allow the military to construct its own weapons, land assets, aircraft, and navy vessels instead of buying them from other countries.
The bilateral meeting between Galvez and Jonson concluded as they “exchanged views on the current security issues” in the Pacific region and Europe, and “discussed ways ahead for cooperation towards a more secure environment.”
The two officials also welcomed the “positive progress” of the Philippines – Sweden bilateral defense relations which, Andolong said, was demonstrated by the exchange of visits to Manila and Stockholm by defense, military, and foreign affairs delegations in recent months.
The latest of such visits was when Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell paid a courtesy call at the DND Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last March 19.
Forssell had highlighted Sweden's intent to further develop bilateral defense relations with the Philippines through the signing of the MOU Concerning Cooperation in the Acquisition of Defense Materiel.