By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA — The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) is familiarizing itself with the newly acquired and state-of-the-art amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) that are now participating in military drills.
PMC spokesperson Capt. Felix Serapio said four out of the eight AAVs acquired from South Korean defense manufacturer Hanwha Systems, were used in the just concluded “DAGIT-PA” exercises last September.
The AAVs also participated in a ship-to-shore exercise off Subic Bay, Zambales and are set to participate again in another amphibious exercise off Ternate, Cavite on October 12 as part of the ongoing “KAMANDAG” drills.
“DAGIT-PA” short for “Dagat-Langit-Lupa” is a joint exercise with Air Force, Navy, and Army units and ran from September 16 to 27 while “KAMANDAG” (“Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat”) is scheduled from October 9 to 18 and consists of Marine units from the Philippines, United States, and Japan.
“Since the AAVs are new in our inventory, we are maximizing our opportunities to put them into action because we are applying our amphibious doctrines and integrating it with the newly-acquired technology,” Serapio said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
The constant handling and training with these AAVs would also increase the proficiency of Marine and Navy units tasked to man these vehicles, he added.
“This will also enhance the proficiency of our Marines and the Navy as a whole. Our Marine Corps regularly conducts retraining activities – rotational to every battalion to refresh their skills,” Serapio said.
The first four AAVs were delivered last May and activated during the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Navy on June 17 at Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite.
The second batch arrived in August and activated during short ceremonies at the PN headquarters in Naval Station Jose Andrada in Roxas Boulevard, Manila last September 23.
The AAV contract, worth PHP2.42 billion, are armed with .50-caliber machine guns, 40mm grenade launchers and smoke launchers and will be used for amphibious landing operations.
They are based aboard the two strategic sealift vessels — the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602). (PNA)