TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Reports from media in the Philippines have revealed that Russia is prepared to offer loans to the Philippine government to assist the country with purchasing a new Russian submarine.
As the Philippines seeks to upgrade its navy’s capabilities, Defense Secretary of the Philippines Delfin Lorenzana announced on Aug. 9 that Russia has offered “soft loans” to help the country purchase a Russian made Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine.
The announcement came on the same day that the Philippines Navy successfully tested its first ever missile launch.
According to the Philippine Canadian Inquirer, Russia is hoping to sell its used kilo-class submarines which displace 2,350 tons, and can reach speeds of up to 20 knots. Vietnam reportedly maintains a fleet of six modified Kilo-class subs.
The Defense Secretary was quoted as saying, “If we don’t have the money, Russia will lend us soft loans.” A soft loan refers to a very low interest or interest free loan.
The country is still considering other possible suppliers, with mentions of Europe and France, but the Department of Defense expects to make a decision on a supplier before the end of the year, according to the Inquirer.
“Maybe within the year, maybe within the next 12 months. Maybe we could finalize this. If this is approved, it will take them four years to make it, so it could be delivered when the term of President (Rodrigo Duterte) already ended,” he was quoted as saying.
The Manila Standard reports that currently the Philippines has no available budget to finance the purchase of a submarine, but Lorenzana and others in the Department of Defense are optimistic given the possibility of the soft loan from Russia.
The acquisition of a submarine would drastically improve the Philippines Navy’s capability in defending territories in the South China Sea. Currently, the Philippines is the only nation involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea which does not possess a submarine in its naval fleet.