Tag Archive: South Korea

A US Navy LCU participating in last April's Balikatan exercises in Zambales (photo by author)

A US Navy LCU participating in last April’s Balikatan exercises in Zambales (photo by author)

The Philippine Navy has received a landing ship donated by South Korea and is now repairing it ahead of deployments for post-disaster and military operations.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Millan said the landing craft utility (LCU) from South Korea arrived May 30 and is now at the naval shipyard in Cavite for “some machinery and equipment repairs.”

South Korea handed the vessel for free, along with 16 rubber boats, with the Navy paying only P16 million for the shipping cost, Millan said.

“It was shipped direct from Korea… We just paid for its shipping cost. It will be a big boost for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) operations and troop transport,” he said in a text message.

US Navy LCU-1631 and USS Green Bay during April's Balikatan exercises in Zambales (photo by author)

US Navy LCU-1631 and USS Green Bay during April’s Balikatan exercises in Zambales (photo by author)

Current repairs are estimated to cost P26 million which, even if added to the shipping cost, is way lower than buying a brand new LCU for P6 billion, Millan said.

Before this, the Navy only had five LCUs, of which three are in operation and two are undergoing repairs, according to Millan.

The newly-arrived LCU has better capabilities than the ones already in the fleet because it is of a newer model, he said.

South Korea offered the LCU, rubber boats, and computers when Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin visited that country in June 2014.

US Navy LCU 1651 (photo from Wikipedia Commons)

US Navy LCU 1651 (photo from Wikipedia Commons)

South Korean officials said the offer — which came amid the Philippines’ territorial row with China in the West Philippine Sea — is for expressing their gratitude to Filipino soldiers’ role in the Korean War during the 1950s.

Following Gazmin’s visit to Seoul, the Department of Foreign Affairs said South Korea will also donate a “Pohang”-class corvette — a type of warship — to the Navy.

Government officials, however, have been mum on the corvette since then, as talk came out that China was “angered” by the offer and threatened to “unleash” North Korea against the South if it continues “arming” the Philippines. (John Roson)

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A South Korea Navy patrol-combat corvette sailing through rough seas.  (Photo from ROKN website)

A South Korea Navy patrol-combat corvette sailing through rough seas. (Photo from ROKN website)

South Korea committed to give a warship to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.

The warship, a Pohang-class corvette, will be decommissioned by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) by yearend for donation to the Philippine Navy, the DFA said in a statement.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwang-jin discussed the donation when he met with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Seoul on May 30, according to the statement.

“There is a big possibility that the ship will be delivered before the year ends,” a source at the Department of National Defense said.

Earlier, Gazmin announced that South Korea will also give the Philippines a landing craft utility, 16 rubber boats, and 200 computers.

South Korea had built 24 Pohang-class corvettes and currently operates 22.

The lead ship, Pohang, was retired and now used for training. Another ship, the Cheonan, was sunk in a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine in March 2010.

The remaining ships were first used in the mid-1990s, after having been delivered to the ROKN by Korea Shipbuilding Corp., Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding, and Korea Takoma.

This would make the donation the newest import on the Philippine Navy’s fleet when it arrives.

The current newest are three other corvettes bought from the United Kingdom, which first used them in the early 1980s.

Pohang-class corvettes are 88 meters long and weigh about 1,200 tons at full load.

The ships, primarily designed for coastal patrols, can sail as fast as 32 knots and can carry over 90 crew members.

They are divided into anti-surface warfare (ASUW) and anti-submarine (ASW) variants.

ASUW-types are armed with anti-ship missiles, 76-millimeter guns, and 30mm anti-aircraft guns.

Their ASW counterparts are armed with anti-ship missiles, two 76mm guns, two 40mm guns, and triple torpedo tubes.

Both types are also fitted with different countermeasures, various radars, and sonar systems. (John Roson)

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South Korea agreed to extend its rehabilitation mission in typhoon-wrecked areas of Leyte, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Wednesday.

“They have agreed, as I requested, for the extension of the troops in their objective to help in the rehabilitation,” Gazmin said in a press briefing.

A second contingent of South Korean engineers and medical workers will arrive to replace the first that came to Tanauan and Palo after super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck last November, he said.

The first contingent and its members will be awarded on June 10, before they leave, Gazmin said.

About 500 South Korean troops are presently helping rebuild Leyte.

The second contingent, comprising 300 people including Marine troopers, was activated on May 27, according to a statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry. (John Roson)

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South Korea has committed to give a naval transport ship to the Philippines, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said today.

The transport ship, a landing craft utility (LCU), will be used by the Philippine Navy when it arrives, Gazmin said in a mobile-phone message.

Aside from the LCU, South Korea will also give 16 rubber boats and computers, he said.

Gazmin said the commitment was discussed when he and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin had bilateral talks on humanitarian and disaster response in Seoul over the weekend.

An LCU is a ship designed to transport tanks, artillery, and troops, but can also be used for disaster response operations like delivering relief goods and construction materials.

South Korea built six LCUs from 1979 to 1981, and reportedly plans to replace them with newer types of naval transport ships.

Gazmin visited Seoul from Thursday to Saturday.

During his visit, Gazmin also attended an exhibit on civilian and military technological cooperation and thanked the South Korean government for helping rebuild areas devastated by super-typhoon “Yolanda,” according to the DND.

About 500 South Korean troops are presently helping rebuild typhoon-wrecked areas in Leyte.

On May 27, a second contingent of 300 people, including Marine troopers, was activated for a reconstruction support mission to the Philippines, according to a statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry. (John Roson)

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An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

An FA-50 fighter jet. (photo grabbed from KAI website http://www.koreaaero.com/)

The Philippines and South Korean aircraft maker Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) have disagreements over plans to buy fighter jets, hindering the acquisition, a defense official said.

The two sides are still “trying to hurdle major issues” in the P18.9-billion project, Undersecretary for acquisition Fernando Manalo said in a briefing.

KAI is asking for a 52 percent initial payment but the defense department can only pay 15 percent under the law, Manalo said.

The department will ask President Benigno Aquino III if it can accept KAI’s terms, he said.

Another key issue is the “turnaround time,” or the period required for the supplier to deliver spare parts under warranty, Manalo said.

The department requires the supplier to deliver spare parts within 30 to 45 days, while KAI wants a 180-day period, he said.

Manalo said the DND aims to determine by yearend if it will push through with the acquisition from KAI.

“We are already preparing our firm position and then we are going to submit it to KAI for them to determine whether that is acceptable,” he said.

The country has long been in need of fighter jet capability, which takes at least five years to develop, Manalo said.

The Philippines and KAI began negotiations early this year on the plan to buy 12 FA-50 fighter jets.

The government aims to have some of the jets delivered before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016. (John Roson)

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The Philippines will hold “pre-negotiations” with South Korean firm Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy supersonic fighter jets for the Air Force, a defense official said Wednesday.

The Government Procurement Policy Board approved the talks for FA-50 jets from KAI last December, defense assistant secretary for acquisition, installations, and logistics Patrick Velez said in a press briefing.

“We are going to proceed with the pre-negotiation with them… if everything pushes through in the timeframe, we may be able to finish the contract by the end of February,” Velez said.

Some P18 billion will be spent to buy 12 fighter jets, two of which may arrive after six months, Velez told reporters.

The purchase will be done through a government-to-government deal, he said.

The Air Force currently has no fighter jets since it retired its last seven F5 fighters in 2005, after being in service for 40 years.

The only jets in the PAF inventory are S-211 trainer jets, which are also being used for reconnaissance missions.

S-211 trainer jets are sub-sonic. KAI’s FA-50 fighter jets fly as fast as MACH 1.5. (John Roson)

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Philippine authorities maintained the ban on sea travel, flights, and fishing east of the country even as South Korea postponed its scheduled rocket launch Friday.

The measures will remain “until further notice,” Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said in a briefing with representatives of different government agencies and media.

Ramos made the remark after receiving information from that South Korea “aborted” Friday’s launch.

“The launch was aborted, or postponed, due to technical problem. It had something to do with fuel,” Ramos said, citing information from Col. Ireneo Maninding, the country’s defense attache to South Korea.

The civil defense chief, however, said authorities will remain “on standby” until 6 p.m. to wait for word if Seoul pushes with the launch.

Earlier this month, South Korea said it also set Oct. 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31 as “reserve dates” for the launch.

“We will be in ‘suspended animation’ until they launch, so we hope they fire earlier,” Ramos said in jest.

He said the “no fly,” “no sail,” and “no fishing” measures will still be implemented even if the launch falls on Oct. 30 or 31.

The two dates fall on the annual “exodus” of city residents who visit graves of departed relatives in the provinces.

Millions of people, mostly from Metro Manila, travel by sea or air during those dates.

Ramos said the Maritime Industry Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines may “re-route” planes and ships to accommodate people going to the provinces. (John Roson)

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The Philippines will again ban flights, marine transport, and fishing in waters east of the country when South Korea launches a rocket on Oct. 26, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said.

The “exclusion zone” covers 600-kilometer by 400-kilometer rectangular area located 540 nautical miles off Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, Ramos told reporters in a briefing.

Government agencies will enforce the ban when South Korea launches the rocket 2:30 p.m. (Philippine time) up to 6 p.m., giving a leeway for the booster and “fairing” to fall into the sea.

The rocket’s “fairing” measures about 5 meters while the booster measures about 25 meters – or about the height of two electric posts.

“It is highly unlikely that they (fairing and booster) will hit the land,” Ramos said, adding that both parts are expected to disintegrate in the atmosphere.

In case the launch does not push through on Oct. 26, the ban will also be enforced on Oct. 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, the “reserve dates” provided by South Korea, Ramos said.

“We will be closely coordinating with South Korea’s defense attache. We expect them to give us a blow-by-blow account. They have been very transparent,” he said.

Last April, North Korea also launched a rocket said to be carrying a satellite, prompting the Philippines to planes from flying and ships from sailing in waters east of the country.

No nuclear content?

Teofilo Leonin, chief of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s regulations division, said the government was still “unsure” if South Korea’s rocket will be carrying nuclear or radioactive materials.

“The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has not yet issued an advisory [if the rocket has nuclear materials], unlike when North Korea launched its rocket last April,” Leonin said.

“There might be more hazards from the fire or explosion [if the rocket parts hit the land],” he told reporters.

A representative from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said northeasterly winds or “amihan” prevailing later this month will not be able to “capture” the falling rocket parts or take these closer to land.

Flights to be diverted

Michael Mabanag, representing the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the agency will inform airlines seven days ahead of South Korea’s launch.

The launch will affect “five major air routes” used by carriers flying from Japan to different countries such as Singapore, as well as planes departing from Manila to Japan and South Korea, he said.

“We will be offering contingency routes,” he said.

A representative from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) said the agency will issue an advisory to all shipping companies in Regions 1, 4, 5, and 10.

At the briefing, Ramos instructed representatives of the Armed Forces, National Police, Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Department of Health to put their personnel near the affected areas on alert.

He also advised representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Interior and Local Government to prepare food for fishermen who might be affected by the ban.

The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KLSV-1) rocket will be launched at the Naro Center in Gehung, Jeollanam, to put a satellite into polar orbit. It will be South Korea’s third attempt to launch the space probe. (John Roson)

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Various government agencies are set to meet Tuesday to lay out preparations for possible effects of South Korea’s planned rocket launch later this month.

Benito Ramos, administrator at the Office of Civil Defense, said the Department of Foreign Affairs received notice from the South Korean government that the rocket launch may take place on October 26.

The rocket, said to be carrying a satellite for “scientific research,” will pass over the Pacific Ocean with its booster parts possibly falling near Eastern Visayas and eastern Mindanao, Ramos said in a phone interview.

“Mahuhulog kasi ‘yung booster nito, mahulog ba ito na buo? [That’s the] first possibility. Pangalawa na possibility ay mag-disintegrate into pieces, gaano ba kaliliit at gaano kalalaki? Pangatlong possibility, masusunog ba ito at abo na lang ang mahulog?” said Ramos, who is also executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Among the agencies set to meet Tuesday at the NDRRMC office in Camp Aguinaldo are the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Last April, North Korea also launched a rocket that was supposed to pass near the eastern Philippines.

The government, citing North Korea’s “bad record” in launching projectile, declared a large swath of the Philippine Sea from Cagayan to Catanduanes a “no-fly, no-sail, and no fishing” zone.

The measure affected thousands of fisherfolk and prompted several airlines and ferries to divert from their routes. (John Roson)

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