The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have set their sights on acquiring the country’s first-ever submarine, marking a significant step in bolstering its maritime defense capabilities. This move comes amidst rising tensions with China in the South China Sea, where Beijing asserts expansive claims and frequently engages in military activities.

The AFP’s primary motivation for acquiring submarines lies in enhancing its coastal defense capabilities against Chinese warships and submarines. They envision a fleet of conventional-diesel submarines tailored for patrolling the country’s vast maritime territory and deterring potential threats.

To achieve this goal, the AFP plans to issue a Request for Information (RFI) to potential partner countries, including South Korea, Japan, and India. This move opens the door for proposals from leading submarine manufacturers in these regions.

India’s Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), renowned for its locally manufactured Kalvari-class submarines, is likely to receive an RFI. MDL boasts a proven track record, having delivered six Kalvari-class submarines to the Indian Navy and currently constructing three more upgraded versions.

The AFP envisions inducting three submarines in the initial phase, suggesting a phased approach to building a credible underwater deterrent. This measured approach allows the Philippines to carefully evaluate options, secure funding, and train personnel before embarking on a full-fledged submarine program.