Philippines’ armed forces favour Japan defence gear

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Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will put up a new Japan-made radar system on a retired crude oil platform in Palawan as part of its efforts to boost its maritime domain awareness capability, AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay said on Tuesday.

“We are looking at Japan as one of the sources of modern equipment as part of our modernisation programme.

“And, in fact, Japan has always emerged as among the shortlisted countries based on the studies of the different technical working groups,” Gapay said in an online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

The Department of National Defence in August signed a $103.5 million contract with and issued a notice to proceed to Japanese firm Mitsubishi Electric Corp for the Air Force’s air surveillance radar system (ASRS) under a negotiated government-to-government procurement deal with Japan.

The ASRS entails three fixed long-range air surveillance radars and a mobile air surveillance radar, which are expected to be delivered to the Philippines by 2022.

It will help detect, identify, and correlate any threats and intrusions within the Philippine exclusive economic zones, and deliver radar images to decision-makers and relevant operating units.

Gapay said: “We are getting some radar equipment from Japan. This is part of our maritime domain awareness programme to really monitor what’s going on not only in the West Philippine Sea but 360 [degrees] of our territory.”

He said the radar system would be installed at the retired Matinloc crude oil facility in the West Philippine Sea. “We have acquired the Matinloc platform to be assigned one of the radars coming from Japan to beef up our monitoring capability in West Philippine Sea,” Gapay said.

The Matinloc platform, off Malampaya in Palawan, was retired in November last year after 40 years of producing some 12.5 million barrels of oil. Gapay said the AFP looked to Japan as a source of modern equipment being “technologically advanced as far as radars, military hardware are concerned”.

He added that the AFP is also eyeing to acquire cyberdefence and security as well as unmanned aerial system capabilities from Japan.

“We have just activated the AFP cybergroup and the major services – the Army, Air Force, Navy – have also activated their own cyberunits and all of these are geared toward enhancing, beefing up our cybercommunications defence and security capability,” Gapay said.

“Right now we are developing the end-to-end encryption capability because we are now also developing our cybercapability.”

End-to-end encryption is a communications system where only communicating users can read messages preventing possible eavesdroppers, including telecom and internet providers, from accessing code keys to decrypt messages.

The AFP chief also assured Filipinos that the military can sufficiently manage any security risk in allowing Dito Telecommunity, a Filipino-Chinese consortium, to build 22 telecommunications facilities inside AFP camps.

“We made some risk assessment as far as security is concerned and based on our studies, the putting up by Dito of their communications facility towers in camps and installations of the Armed Forces pose no security threat,” he assured, adding that technology that some people fear might be used against the military through Dito “could be done anywhere and it could be done outside the country”.