DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has signed a P15.7-billion contract with a South Korean company for the acquisition of two brand-new frigates for the Philippine Navy.
Lorenzana and officials of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Korea led the ceremonial contract signing of the Frigate Acquisition Project that involves the construction and delivery of two frigates to the Philippine Navy.
A frigate is a naval escort vessel.
Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy spokesman, said the signing of the contract signals start of construction of the two vessels.
A Notice of Award for $336,912,000 or P15,744,571,584 was approved, issued and duly conformed with by HHI on September 13, 2016.
Lincuna said the deal is significant to the Department of National Defense (DND) and to the Philippine Navy, in particular, because it has been the single, most expensive project signed by the Duterte administration.
“The project is the biggest project yet for the Philippine Navy. Most important, this marks the entry of the Navy into its quest to be a strong and credible navy by year 2020,” he noted.
The Navy official said the acquisition of the two frigates serves as a “big step in realizing our dream of a world-class and well-quipped Philippine Navy, capable and credible in protecting its people and the sovereignty of the land and the interest of its national territory.”
Defense Undersecretary Raymundo Elefante also noted that it would be the first time for the Philippine Navy to acquire brand-new frigates.
The contract, Elefante said, does not include armaments for the vessels since these will be acquired through a separate project.
He is in Japan for the signing of the acquisition of five TC-90 aircraft, which he said are being given by Japan to the Philippines almost for free. Four of the aircraft were sold for $7,000 and payable when the Philippines wants to pay.
The fifth plane, which is older than the four, cost $2,000.
But a Defense official who requested anonymity said the deal was not actually an acquisition but a one-year lease for the five aircraft renewable every year.
Japan offered the lease to the Aquino administration shortly after the signing of an agreement on transfer of defense equipment and technology on February 29 this year.