The Philippine Navy (PN) officially christened its first pair of home-made Shaldag MK V Fast Attack Interdiction Missiles (FAIC-M) on Tuesday, September 6, which could be crucial for the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). from the country.

The Philippine Navy officially christened the BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and the BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902), its first pair of Shaldag MK V Fast Attack Interdictor Missiles (FAIC-Ms), on 6 September, 2022 at Jose Andrada Naval Base Manila. The missile boats were the first two of nine units of FAIC-M acquired by the PN from Israel Shipyards Ltd. (Photo by Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

The two FAIC-Ms were acquired by the PN from Israel Shipyards Ltd. and christened BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902) at the PN headquarters at Naval Base Jose Andrada in Manila.

The small but nimble, offensive, missile-equipped ships were named after two Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) officers who received the military’s highest honor for bravery, the Medal of Valor, in 1983 and 2000 respectively.

The fast attack craft is 32.65 meters tall and weighs 95 tons, making it the largest of these Shaldag-class ships. It has a maximum speed of 40 knots and a range of 1,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.

According to Israel Shipyards Ltd., the Shaldag MK V fast attack craft is a “combat-proven, all-aluminum, light and fast vessel” that offers a “high level of maneuverability and sea-keeping”. It is designed to operate in remote areas on naval security missions and is “cost effective with a high ratio of firepower to displacement”.

“The Shaldag MK V is a recognized leader in coastal and EEZ protection [exclusive economic zone] waters,” he added.

Commander Benjo Negranza, spokesman for the PN, said that BRP Nestor Acero and BRP Lolinato To-Ong are the first two of nine FAIC-Ms acquired by the Navy from the Israeli company under the FAIC acquisition project. of the PN worth 10 billion pesos. The project was approved in 2019 as part of the second horizon of the revised modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

A further three units will be delivered this year while the remaining four units will be built locally at a PN shipyard at Sangley Point, Cavite.

The local manufacture of the ships was part of the acquisition agreement through the technology transfer program between the PN and Israel Shipyards Ltd., a “first of its kind” in their defense cooperation.

Using high-speed vessels, it enabled the PN to take a “leapfrog” approach to building the country’s littoral defense capability in the areas of warfare, sustainment and technical knowledge, as it can deny or intercept surface threats.

The fast attack craft was launched in Haifa, Israel on June 26 and underwent a pre-delivery inspection the same month. It was loaded onto a freighter before being flown to the Philippines late last month.