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Spain, France, and South Korea In A Race To Supply Submarines to the Philippines

With an allocation of US$35 billion (RM157 billion) earmarked for the modernization of its military over the next 10 years, the Philippines is poised to become the latest Southeast Asian nation to possess submarines for the surveillance of its waters in the South China Sea.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — A few days ago, the Philippines announced its intention to allocate US$35 billion (RM157 billion) over the next 10 years to modernize and enhance the capabilities of its armed forces.

 This substantial expenditure is aimed at safeguarding its interests in the South China Sea, particularly at a time when the Southeast Asian nation faces significant pressure from China.

President of the Philippines, Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, has already approved the modernization initiative, with the primary goal of improving the capabilities of the navy, air force, surveillance, and other assets.

One notable addition to the Philippines’ potential assets is the acquisition of submarines, a first for the country.

Several submarine manufacturers have openly presented their offerings to the Philippines.

S80 Isaac Peral submarine by Spain’s Navantia.


Notably, the Spanish government-affiliated company, Navantia, has proposed two S80-class Isaac Peral submarines to the Philippine Navy, estimated at a value of US$1.7 billion (RM7.65 billion).

The Spanish Navy currently operates four S80-class Isaac Peral submarines.

Navantia’s offer not only includes the acquisition of two submarines but also involves the construction of a submarine base in Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines, along with the necessary infrastructure and logistics.

According to Navantia’s commercial manager, Guilermo Zamarippa, the proposal encompasses comprehensive training for the Southeast Asian nation’s submarine crews, technology transfer, and maintenance.

The S80-class Isaac Peral submarines, measuring 81 meters in length, are capable of launching attacks from sea to land and conducting various missions, including surveillance, monitoring activities, and anti-surface and anti-submarine operations.

 These conventional submarines, developed by Navantia, require a crew of 32 personnel and boast the capability to undertake long-distance missions, thanks to their Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, allowing them to remain submerged for three consecutive weeks.

Kapal selam
Malaysia’s “Scopene” submarine.
Two Royal Malaysian Navy Perdana-class “Scorpene” submarine.


Additionally, these submarines offered to the Philippines can launch guided Harpoon missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, the latter being utilized by the United States Navy for land-targeted missions.

Another company vying to provide submarines to the Philippines is France’s Naval Group, offering two diesel-electric Scorpene-class submarines, similar to those owned by Malaysia.

In 2022, Naval Group established an office in Manila to facilitate the process of selling Scorpene submarines to the Philippine Navy.

The French company has been in intensive discussions with the Philippine government regarding the submarine sale.

Since 2020, the Philippine government has expressed its intention to acquire two Scorpene-class submarines from Naval Group.

Teddy Locsin, the former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, confirmed in late 2020 via Twitter that the Philippines would receive two French submarines along with comprehensive training for multiple rotations of crews.

Meanwhile, online media reports from the Philippines in 2022 claimed that France offered two submarines to the country as part of an “exchange” for permission to explore the sovereign waters of the Southeast Asian nation.

The offer reportedly involved the development of two diesel-electric Scorpene-class submarines based on NATO standards.

Jang Bogo
Jang Bogo-III submarine by Hanwha Ocean (formerly known as DSME)


Furthermore, South Korean company Hanwha Ocean (formerly known as DSME) is also competing with Spanish and French companies to offer the Jang Bogo-III submarines to the Philippine Navy.

This latest variant of the Jang Bogo-class submarine, with an overall length of 77 meters, features advanced propulsion systems and lithium-ion battery technology, making it harder to detect by adversaries.

The Jang Bogo-III submarines, capable of accommodating 41 crew members and reaching a speed of 21 knots, are equipped with six torpedo tubes, providing the capability to launch guided missiles.

Hanwha Ocean’s offer includes a package comprising training, technology transfer, integrated logistic support, simulators, and maintenance facilities, either in Subic Bay or any location preferred by the Philippine Navy.

The South Korean company is proposing a seven-year loan with attractive interest rates for the two Jang Bogo-III submarines. — DSA

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