While training Philippine Navy (PN) officers and enlisted personnel on submarine operations will take time, the ongoing "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) exercises in Hawaii validates the Filipino sailors' skills in modern naval warfare, a Navy official said.
"Of course training for submarine takes time, we are already taking initial steps in preparing to have submarine capability," Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said when asked Thursday if PN sailors can be trained to be skilled submarine crewmen.
"This involves examining our doctrines, organization, training, material, etc. so that we could properly and adequately handle new capabilities," he added.
Aside from submarine operations training, the PN's participation in RIMPAC, which started June 27 and will end on August 2, highlighted the Navy's capability to sail in the Asia-Pacific.
"Also the exercise validates our ability to extend our operational reach outwards the Asia-Pacific," Zata said.
Two ships, the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopter, and around 700 marines and sailors participated in this year's RIMPAC.
The military assets and units participated in several RIMPAC exercises, which include helicopter cross-decking, live-fire exercises, a special operations training, ground-air-integration, and replenishment-at-sea, among others.
Earlier, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the acquisition of the country's first submarines will be brought forward to Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP).
The procurement of the naval craft was earlier scheduled for Horizon Three, which is expected to run from 2023 to 2028 while Horizon Two is scheduled from 2018 to 2022.
The budget for the program is roughly placed at PHP300 billion.
Horizon One covered the period 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters, and two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.
Zata said submarines are a great equalizer in the country's naval arsenal once acquired.