PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved the multibillion-peso Armed Forces modernization program to buy additional radars, fighter jets and possibly submarines to improve the country’s capability to deter threats from foreign aggressors.
Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro Jr. said the third phase of the 15-year AFP Modernization Program called ReHorizoned 3 would focus on “area denial”—a key defense strategy to limit foreign intrusion into the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Rise and the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
“We are embarking into what we call the ReHorizoned 3—capability enhancement and modernization program, which the President recently approved an array of capabilities which will range from our domain awareness, our connectivity, our [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance] or C4iSTAR, to our area denial and deterrence capabilities on both the maritime and the aerial domains,” Teodoro said during the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Defense Night.
Teodoro did not say how much President Marcos Jr. has approved from their proposed Rehorizoned 3 program, which will run from the years 2023 to 2027.
Earlier reports said the AFP projected ReHorizoned 3 budget to be $4 billion (P225 billion) to purchase multi-role aircraft, ships, unmanned vehicles, intelligence and surveillance systems, communications, personal protective equipment, and weapon systems.
With the acquisition of more defense materiel, Teodoro warned proponents against treating the DND and AFP as merely “vendee.”
“The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will not be a vendor’s paradise. We will not consider ourselves a vendee, but a client. We will demand performance from all our proponents. We will be intolerant of any delays. We will bring out our requirements and not shop for a product and let operators tailor their products to our requirements, which needs a long-term relationship with a proponent,” he said.
However, he lamented the AFP Modernization law is “flawed,” which requires “very tedious and cumbersome process” in acquiring modern weaponry.
“When the time comes that it [equipment] is funded, then the technology is more often than not obsolete,” Teodoro said.
But he said the DND has also asked Congress and the Department of Budget and Management for additional funding for “maintenance and operations” in order to use, to train, and to have greater exposure and mobility in the West Philippine Sea “where we cannot tolerate violations of our territorial integrity and sovereignty by anyone.”
ReHorizoned 3, he said, is anchored on the new mission that the DND has formulated called “Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept.”
“The Armed Forces will transition initially to enable itself to guarantee, as much as possible, Philippine nationals, Philippine corporations, and those authorized by the Philippine government, the unimpeded and peaceful exploration and exploitation of all natural resources within our exclusive economic zone and other areas where we have jurisdiction.
“So rather than an inward-looking defense concept, we are evolving into a defense concept which projects our power into our areas where we must, by constitutional fiat and duty, protect and preserve our resources,” Teodoro explained.
Image credits: Presidential Communications Office