Philippines edges closer to Australian landing craft procurement

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BLACKEAGLE

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Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
29 July 2015


HMAS Balikpapan during a beach landing in the Comoro district of Timor-Leste while in service with the RAN. The vessel is likely to be procured by the Philippines. Source: Commonwealth of Australia

Key Points
  • President Benigno Aquino has signalled the Philippines' intention to acquire three former Australian LCHs
  • The procurement will bolster the Philippine Navy's sealift and disaster relief capabilities
The Philippine government has begun preparations to acquire three more decommissioned Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft (LCH) vessels.

In his annual state of the nation address delivered on 27 July in Quezon City, President Benigno Aquino reiterated his administration's intention to acquire the 45 m vessels and said that necessary paperwork for the procurement processes is moving ahead.

A Philippine Department of Defence (DND) official told IHS Jane's on 28 July that the department is aware of the procurement efforts but was not able to give a concrete timeline on the acquisition.

The LCHs, formerly known as HMAS Wewak (L 130), HMAS Balikpapan (L 126) and HMAS Betano (L 133), were retired by Australia in December 2012. The vessels were inducted into RAN service between 1973 and 1974 as well as three other ships in class - HMAS Brunei (L 127), HMAS Labuan (L 128), and HMAS Tarakan (L 129).

Labuan was gifted to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element while Tarakan and Brunei were donated to the Philippine government and recommissioned as BRP Ivatan (AT298) and BRP Batak (AT299) respectively on 23 July. The vessels are scheduled to arrive in the Philippines during the week of 3 August.

According to IHS Jane's Amphibious and Special Forces , the landing craft have a military lift capacity for three medium tanks or equivalent. The vessel has a range of 3,000 n miles at 10 kt and can accommodate a crew of 13 including two officers. While in service with the RAN, the vessels were each armed with two 12.7 mm machine guns.

The Balikpapan-class vessels underwent a life-of-type extension (LOTE) between 2000 and 2002 in an effort to extend their operational effectiveness by eight years in the RAN. These include the replacement of the LCHs' water-distilling plant with a reverse osmosis plant and installation of a new sewage-treatment plant and oily water separator.

In a related development, a senior Philippine Navy (PN) official has given an indication about where the service intends to deploy Ivatan and Batak once the vessels arrive. Citing Commodore Jeorge Amba, commander of the PN's Naval Forces North West, the Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported on 28 July that the LCHs will most likely be homeported on the island of Palawan.
Philippines edges closer to Australian landing craft procurement - IHS Jane's 360
 
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Looks like the Philippines is actually trying to arm itself military wise after years of neglect. Could be because of China being in the 100 nautical miles of Philippines soil. Or it could be because of the recent concerns over their lack of response time due to typhoons and natural disasters. I think it has more to do with China and territorial disputes. It is a upgrade from the 1970 Vietnamese patrol boats that their coat guard was using.
 
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