Philippines to launch first missile-firing assault vessels

The Philippine navy chief says the country's first-ever missile-firing assault vessels will be launched in about three months, likely for territorial defense, anti-insurgency operations and deterrence.

Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a news conference Thursday that the navy also plans to acquire torpedoes and submarines under a modernization program to bolster the security of the archipelago and combat piracy and other cross-border crimes.

Empedrad said the Israeli-made short-range missile systems are being installed in three multipurpose attack seacraft which were acquired earlier. He said the navy is finalizing plans where to deploy the vessels, which would possibly include western Palawan province and Zamboanga Peninsula in the south.

The underfunded Philippine military is among the most ill-equipped in Asia, although it faces many national security and territorial threats.