The Philippine Navy commissioned two new missile-capable patrol boats on November 28, 2022, the BRP Nestor Acero and the BRP Lolinato To-ong.
In his statement, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said it was a great day “because the country now has the most modern and capable patrol gunboats.”
These are the first 2 out of a total of 9 Shldag-class patrol boats that have been ordered by the Philippines in a contract signed on February 9, 2021 with Israeli Shipyard Ltd. for P10 billion. The acquisition is considered as the first of its kind in the defense cooperation between the Philippines and Israel. BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902) will be used to boost the Navy’s patrol operations in the southern part of the country as well as the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
According to Mr. Bersamin: “These boats are our fastest and most advanced gunboats capable of operating in the littorals and can be deployed very quickly in their designated areas of operation, especially on our sea lanes of communications.” The Shaldag-class patrol boat is a small but fast class of patrol boats developed for the Israeli Navy and launched in 1989, it has since seen service with several other navies.
Designed for security tasks where high intercept speeds are required, such as interdiction of terrorism and illegal smuggling. Its salient features high speed in rough seas, with good seakeeping and outstanding maneuverability, exceptionally low slamming in all sea states, dry decks at all speeds and very spacious and accessible internal arrangement.
Classified as a Fast patrol boat, the Shaldag-class has a displacement of about 72 tons, a length of 24.8 m, a beam of 6 m, and a draft of 1.2 m. The propulsion system is 2 MTU 12V 396 TE engines combined with 2 steerable KaMeWa water jets. The boat can reach a top speed of up to 50 knots, range of 1,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, and endurance of six days.
The hull, deck and deckhouse are of welded marine aluminium alloy, with transverse frames and longitudinals. Integral double bottom tanks contain fuel with an additional gravity fuel tank at the center. The hull is divided into six watertight compartments which meet strict international flooded damage stability criteria.
Shaldag’s weapon system is quite substantial, consisting of a Typhoon Weapon System with 25 mm gun, an Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, two 0.5-inch general purpose machine guns, in addition to Depth charges. Out of the nine Shaldag, four will be fitted with the Spike Non-Line-of-Sight missile system which will be delivered in November 2023. This will enable the vessels to hit “over the horizon” (OTH) targets or targets that it cannot see and can only be monitored through a radar.
The local manufacturing of the gunboats would present a major leap in the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) program of the country as the Armed Forces of the Philippines seeks to veer away from the country’s dependency on foreign suppliers.