Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Italian warship's purchase of 'Maestrale Class' near of contract signing

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Maestrale Class Frigate
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday announced that the defense department’s plan to procure a warship from Italy is “nearing” contract signing.

The procurement aims to boost the country’s posturing in defending its territorial waters especially amid the conflict in the West Philippine Sea.

Speaking to the media after defending the Department of National Defense's P120.3-billion budget at the Senate, Gazmin said the procurement plan is “ongoing,” but admits that the lack of funds are hampering the speedy modernization of the country’s armed forces.

“It is in the stage of short of signing… We are looking at that very seriously. Of course, as stated earlier we have to consider the sources of funds,” Gazmin said.
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“Right now, as stated by the good senator, we just have to look for funds when we talk about the P75-billion budget for the first five years,” Gazmin added, referring to the P75-billion budget for the AFP modernization program for the next five years.

Gazmin added that the government has been sourcing funds from sources other than the General Appropriations Act. “We are in the course of planning all these things. We are just awaiting for the much needed funds,” the defense chief said.

Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon noted that the government can only fund about P5-billion out of the proposed yearly P15-billion allocation for the AFP Modernization Plan.

According to Drilon, the government is doing its best to provide the budget, including the possible sale of “excess” land in military camps and military-owned establishments.

Sources revealed that the Philippine Navy has placed in its procurement plan the purchase of at least two “Maestrale” class missile-firing frigates.

If the same warships were referred to under the AFP procurement plan, the "Maestrale class is composed of eight vessels, all of which were built by Fincantieri S.p. A, Riva Trigoso, except for Grecale, which was built by Fincantieri S.p.A. - Muggiano, La Spezia.

It is primarily designed for anti-submarine warfare, however the ships are highly flexible so they are also capable of anti-air and anti-surface operations. Ships of this class have been widely used in various international missions and during normal operations of the Italian Navy.

Source: Philstar
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