This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.
The Philippine Navy showcased its warfare capability on Friday by test-firing a newly acquired anti-missile decoy from one of its most advanced warships in the South China Sea.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was on hand to watch the firing of the “Bullfighter” from another ship nearby in waters off Zambales, a province of the northern Philippines that faces the contested sea.
“With the fluid security situation in our region, it is imperative that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of course the Navy is substantially equipped, trained, and always on alert to respond to any and all exigencies that may confront our nation,” he said.
Marcos urged the navy to continue fulfilling its mandate and noted that the acquisition boosts the country’s “warfare capabilities.”
The missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) fired the “Bullfighter” decoy, which distracts radar-guided missiles by dispensing a small cloud of aluminum, metalized glass fiber, or plastic that appears as a cluster of targets on radar screens, officials said.
“The ‘Bullfighter’ is a new generation of 130mm decoys for Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Chaff (SRBOC) and other 130mm launcher systems to protect naval vessels up to the size of frigates against anti-ship missiles,” Capt. Benjo Negranza, navy spokesman, said in a statement.
The Navy said it was also supposed to launch a Mistral 3 surface-to-air missile on Friday, but the target drone did not take off for still unknown reasons.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said the acquisition of these defense systems signified “the state’s support and commitment in equipping them with the necessary tools to face any challenges that may arise.”
“These modern acquisitions not only signify our readiness to defend our maritime domain but also reflect the tremendous progress we have made in reinforcing our naval force,” he added.
‘Australia providing drone equipment’
Meanwhile on Thursday, visiting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong promised to provide the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) with drone equipment and training to help boost its maritime capabilities in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Wong, who met with her Filipino counterpart Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, said that Australia and the Philippines were “like-minded partners” seeking a safe, stable, and prosperous Southeast Asian region where they could enhance cooperation.
“This includes Australia providing drone equipment, training and other technology to strengthen your coast guard’s maritime domain awareness and protection capabilities,” she said.
“We are committed to continuing Australia’s longstanding presence in the region, including in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. We are open to cooperating with all our partners to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight, and the Philippines is a longstanding, important security partner for us,” Wong added.
Manalo, for his part, said the Philippines was still considering a possible trilateral cooperation with Australia, Japan, and the United States.
“We look forward to discussing with Australia, and our other partner, Japan and even with perhaps the United States on possible modes of cooperation,” Manalo said.