Missile Boat Naval Battle Lessons

A Saar 4 class Missile Boat of the Chilean Navy, the same type that performed very well during the Yom Kippur War. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
A Saar 4 class Missile Boat of the Chilean Navy, the same type that performed very well during the Yom Kippur War. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I decided to write about modern Missile Boat naval battles because it is not a common topic, you are more likely to read or watch topics involving wars like World War 2, or the Vietnam War, etc. than topics like this. Part of the reason its not so common is probably because modern naval engagements don’t last very long, usually only days, hence you can’t generate a lot of material about them unless you collect them up like what I’m doing now. As to why the topic of Missile Boats, its because these boats are smaller and cheaper than other naval platforms out there like Submarines, Frigates, etc. and thus acquiring them would be a cost-effective way of modernizing our navy.

But first, what is a “Missile Boat”? Wikipedia defines it as, “a small warship armed with anti-ship missiles”. That’s a pretty general term as it doesn’t really specify what “small” means. For me, though, it means ships which are under 1,000-tons as we do need to draw a line somewhere. This will also mean covering missile-armed crafts usually described as “Corvettes”, though, but I will be referring to them as Missile Boats also. The term “Fast Attack Craft” can also be used, but it is a more general term in that it can also be used to describe ships armed with other weapons like Torpedoes or guns-only, while there is no mistaking what a Missile Boat is supposed to be armed with.

The Soviet Union pioneered the use of Missile Boats when it pressed into service the Komar-class Missile Boats armed with SS-N-2 Styx missiles (Soviet designation is P-15 Termit) in 1956. For more information about the boats, ships, weapons, battles, etc., please refer to the “References” section at the bottom of the page.

‘Battle Examples’
I initially wanted to use a thesis by the US Naval Postgraduate School titled, “An Analysis of the Historical Effectiveness of Anti Ship Cruise Missiles in Littoral Warfare” as my main source for the battles, but upon double checking I found that some details or information contradict with what’s available now (an there are even some downright errors). The thesis was written 20 years ago in 1994, and it seems some of the information published since then are already outdated or obsolete. Hence I decided to just discard it and use sources that I can at least cross reference with other sources.

There a number of modern battles involving Missile Boats, but I decided to narrow them down by using the following criteria:
– Naval Battles that involved at least one Missile Boat
– Only actual kills were counted, those that were only damaged and not sunk/killed off or scrapped afterwards were ignored.
– Only kills on armed combatants were considered, kills on unarmed transport or cargo vessels were ignored
– Only kills involving missiles were considered, like missiles-only or gun-and-missile combination were considered. Guns-only kills by Missile Boats were ignored.

* Sinking of the INS Eliat, October 21, 1967, off Port Said in Egypt:
Background:Egyptian missile boats attack the Israeli Z-class Destroyer-gunboat INS Eliat while it was on patrol in the world’s first ever use of Surface-to-Surface Anti-Ship Missiles (AShM).
Battle Accounts:
+ An Egyptian Komar-class Missile Boat while positioned within the Port Said Harbour launches 2 Styx missiles at the 1,700-ton Eliat. The Eliat detects the missiles and takes evasive actions while at the same time trying to shoot them down, but failed to do so and got hit twice causing massive damages.
+ Some time later another Egyptian Komar boat launches 2 Styx missiles at the badly damaged Destroyer, 1 of which hit and finally sunk the ship.

* Operation Trident, December 4-5, 1971, off the Arabian Sea in Pakistan:
Background:Indian Vidyut-class (Indian version of the Osa I-class) Missile Boats sneaks up on the Pakistani Naval Headquarters in Karachi, Pakistan under the cover of night to launch an attack.
Battle Accounts:
+ A Vidyut-class Missile boat fires a missile at a 2,300-ton Pakistani Battle-class Destroyer-gunboat which tried to shoot it down but failed. The missile hit the Destroyer, severely damaging it. Another Styx missile was fired by the Vidyut boat which struck and sank the ship.
+ A 2nd Vidyut boat fired another Styx missile at a 1,700-ton C-class Destroyer-gunboat, severely damaging it enough to be eventually scrapped later.
+ Another Vidyut-class boat sinks a 360-ton Adjutant-class Minesweeper with 1 Styx missile

* Battle of Latakia, October 7, 1973, off the coast of Syria:
Background: Israeli Sa’ar-class Missile Boats (4 Sa’ar 3-class and 1 Sa’ar 4-class) attack the port of Latakia in Syria as part of the Yom Kippur War.
Battle Accounts
+ The Sa’ar boats encounter a Syrian 500-ton T43-class Minesweeper to which they fired 4 Gabriel Mk1 missiles, 3 of which hit and sunk the boat.
+ The Sa’ar boats next encounter 2 Syrian Komar-class and 1 Osa I-class Missile Boats. The Syrian boats with their longer-ranged AShMs launched their missiles first, but all 8 of them missed when the Sa’ar boats used Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and Chaff.
+ The Sa’ar boats then fire 4 Gabriel Mk1 missiles when they got into range sinking 1 60-ton Komar and 1 170-ton Osa I boat (the last Komar got stuck in shallow water and was finished off with cannons).

* Battle of Baltim, October 8-9, 1973, off the coast of Egypt:
Background: 6 Israeli Sa’ar-class Missile Boats (2 Sa’ar 4-class, 2 Sa’ar 3-class, 1 Sa’ar 2-class and 1 Sa’ar 1-class) attack Port Said in Egypt as part of the Yom Kippur War.
Battle Accounts
+ The Sa’ar boats were met by 4 Egyptian Osa I-class boats. The Egyptians with their longer-ranged Styx missiles fire first in 2 barrages, but all of their 16 missiles missed as the Israelis again used ECM and Chaff to confuse the missiles.
+ The Osa boats retreat after launching all their missiles, but the Sa’ar boats give chase. One Sa’ar boat fired a Gabriel Mk1 missile and damaged an Osa boat which ended up dead in the water, and another Sa’ar boat finished it off with 76mm cannon fire.
+ A second Osa boat was hit and damaged by another Gabriel missile and which again had to be sunk by 76mm gun fire.
+ The last 2 remaining Osa boats split up and one boat was able to get away, but the other one was hit by a missile from the pursuing Sa’ar boats causing it to stop in the water and was finished off by 76mm cannon fire from two Sa’ar boats.

* Operation Morvarid, November 28-29, 1980 on the Iraqi side of the Persian Gulf:
Background: 2 Iranian Kaman class (Iranian Combattante II class) Missile Boats block and shell the ports of Al Faw and Umm Qasr in Iraq as part of the Iran-Iraq War.
Battle Accounts:
+ 5 Iraqi Osa II-class boats attack the 2 Combattante boats, with 2 of the Osa boats sunk by the Combattante’s Harpoon AShMs.
+ Another 3 Osa II-class boats attack one of the 230-ton Combattante-class Missile Boat, sinking it with 2 Styx AShMs.
+ Three 3 Osa II-class boats were sunk by responding Iranian F-4s armed with Maverick missiles.
+ 4 Iraqi MiG-23BNs attacked an Iranian Combattante II-class Missile Boat, but were unsuccessful and 2 were shot down with SA-7 missiles from the boat.

An Osa-class Missile Boat. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
An Osa-class Missile Boat. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

* Action in the Gulf of Sidra, March 1986, off the Coast of Libya
Background: Libyan boats attack a US Carrier Naval Fleet conducting military operations in international waters in the Gulf of Sidra.
Battle Accounts:
+ An American A-6E Intruder damaged a 230-ton Libyan Combatante II-class Missile Boat with a Harpoon missile. It was finished off by other Intruders using Rockeye Cluster Bombs
+ A 560-ton Nanuchka-class Corvette was sunk by 2 A-6E Intruders using Rockeye Cluster Bombs

* Operation Praying Mantis, April 18, 1988, in the Persian Gulf
Background: US Carrier Naval fleet attack military installations in Iran in retaliation of Iran’s mining of the Persian Gulf which led to the damage of an American naval ship.
Battle Accounts:
+ A 230-ton Iranian Combatante II-class Missile Boat fired a Harpoon missile at an American Belknap-class Cruiser which activated its ECM and released Chaff, causing the missile to miss. The American ships fired back 5 SM-1 missiles (using its Anti-Ship mode) at the Iranian Boat, 1 from the Belknap Cruiser and 4 from an OHP-class Frigate, all of which hit the Iranian Boat.
+ The Iranian Boat was heavily damaged and a Knox-class Frigate tried to finish it off with a Harpoon missile but missed. The 3 American ships then had to close in to finish off the Iranian boat with their cannons

* Battle of Bubiyan, January 29-February 2, 1991, in the Persian Gulf
Background: Coalition forces attack Iraqi Naval boats and ships around the island of Bubiyan in Iraq as part of the First Gulf War
Battle Accounts:
+ 3 UK Lynx Helicopters destroy 3 200-ton TNC 45 Fast Attack Crafts using Sea Skua missiles

‘Summaries’
Below are some of the more important summaries of the battles listed above:

* A total of 13 kills were made by Missile Boats on ships or other Missile Boats (1 Israeli Destroyer-gunboat, 2 Pakistani Destroyer-gunboats, 2 Pakistani/Syrian Minesweepers, 1 Syrian Komar-class Missile Boat, 6 Syrian/Egyptian/Iraqi Osa-class Missile Boat, 1 Iranian Combattante-class Missile Boat)

* A total of 9 Missile Boats were sunk by aircraft or ships, of which 8 were sunk by aircraft (3 Iraqi Osa-class Missile Boats, 1 Libyan Combattante II-class Missile Boat, 1 Libyan Nanuchka-class Missile Boat, 3 Iraqi TNC 45-class Missile Boats) and only 1 was sunk by larger ships (1 Iranian Combattante II-class Missile Boat)

* Combining the 12 Missile Boat kills and the 9 Missile Boats sunk yielded a total of 21 kills or sinking, and out of these 21, at least 10 required multiple missile hits or needed to be finished off by some other weapon. I say “at least” because some accounts are not specific on how many missiles actually hit the boats or ships, hence the number could even be higher.
Missile Boat Tally Count

‘Lessons Learned’
Below are my opinions on what some of the lessons learned from these modern naval battles:

* The More Sophisticated Boats Win – In boat versus boat/ship battles, the more sophisticated boat or ship wins. The missile-armed Egyptian and Indian boats routed the guns-only armed ships like the INS Eliat and the Pakistani ships in Operation Trident, while the ECM and Decoy equipped boats or ships won their encounters in the Latakia and Baltim battles, and also during Operation Praying Mantis. The more sophisticated vessel had that extra edge enabling it to succeed in battle.

* Numbers Matter – In all of the DIRECT encounters where one side had numerical advantage, they almost always won, except during Operation Morvarid when the numerically superior Iraqi Osa II boats lost 1 more ship than the Iranians.

* Large-caliber Cannons Are Still Needed – Prior to this I didn’t really think that cannons are really that important anymore in a modern naval battle, but after reading the battles above I feel there is still very much a case for the use of large-caliber cannons on a ship. Missiles miss, and you can only carry a limited number of them most of the time (unless you’re a Tarantul/Molniya-class Missile Boat with 16 Uran-E AShMs).

Once your missiles are expended, having a cannon will still give you enough firepower to fight off other boats if the battle isn’t over yet, or finish off damaged ships. If the Osa-class boats had large-caliber cannons during their battles against the Sa’ars, they might have fared a little bit better. Cannons can also double as effective Anti-Aircraft/Missile weapons, especially if armed with Proximity Fuses, improving a boat’s offensive and defensive capabilities at the same time.

* Softkill Systems Are Just as Important – There are 3 clear accounts above of “Softkill” (i.e. weapons used to deceive or confuse an enemy missile or aircraft, such as ECM and decoys) saving the ships from missile hits, and these were during the Latakia and Baltim battles, and also during Operation Praying Mantis. In the case of the Latakia-Baltim battles, it gave the Israelis that crucial advantage in battle that allowed them to rout their enemies.

* More Robust Hardkill Systems Needed – All Osa-class boats have gun-based “Hardkill” (i.e. weapons to shoot down attacking missiles or aircraft) system using radar-directed twin 30mm guns in the AK-230, one of the first Close-In Weapons System (CIWS), and the Osa II-class boats even have additional Strela-2M Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), but none of these seemed to have helped them much in defending against missiles or aircraft.

A lot of missile boats were sunk by aircraft, indicating the vulnerability of these ships from them. American planes during the Gulf of Sidra Action did not even bother using missiles to sink Missile Boats, they just used Cluster Bomb Units indicating how close they were able to approach the boats. A more robust hardkill system than just MANPADS or Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) systems seem to be needed, systems that have longer range and heavier warheads to fend off missiles or aircraft effectively.

* Sturdy Boats – The battles outlined how sturdy boats are as at least almost half of them needed multiple hits or needed to be finished off by another weapon. The Gabriel Mk1 has a 100kg warhead which is supposed to be already considerable, and yet against the 60-ton Komars and 170-ton Osas it only manages to damage them most of the time and with the damaged boats needing to be finished off with cannon rounds.

When it comes to large ships weighing in the thousands of tons, even the Styx with its mighty 454kg warhead needed multiple hits to sink 1,700-ton plus sized ships. This means that if we want missiles that can actually sink boats under 1,000-tons and not just do some damage, large AShMs in the class of the Harpoon AShMs with at least 200kg warheads would be needed. But even with these types of missiles, multiple hits will be required to sink ships in the several-thousand-ton range.

The first operational Ship-to-Ship Missile, the SS-N-2 Styx/P-15 Termit Missile. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
The first operational Ship-to-Ship Missile, the SS-N-2 Styx/P-15 Termit Missile. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

‘Swarm Boat’
I initially thought that the Iranian “Asssymetric Naval Warfare Doctrine” of using “Swarm Boats” was a good model for the Philippines to adopt or follow, but after going thru the results above, now I am not so sure. The Iranian’s Peykaap II and Chinacat C-14-class boats are very similar to the Komar and Osa-class boats, but as we have seen, did not do very well in the above battles. The Iranian boats of course are smaller and more stealthier, but they still have the same weaknesses in terms of the limited weapons and equipment they can carry.

In the Latakia and Baltim battles, the Komars and Osas executed textbook, almost PERFECT hit and run tactics that “Swarm Boats” are expected to use also: They speed up to the enemy at full speed and launched their longer-ranged missiles first. When they ran out of missiles, they promptly disengaged and ran back to their harbor, and this was where their weaknesses were exposed. Their limited weapons load meant they were left with only their AK-230s which not only were not able to protect them from missiles, but also had limited range and power against surface targets.

With their missiles expended, they needed a safe harbor or refuge they could run to protect them from the counter-attacking boats, but it they didn’t reach it quick enough hence almost all of them were destroyed. Another issue is their vulnerability to aircraft and missiles due to their lack of sophisticated ECM and decoys, and lack of sufficient anti-air weapons, making them relatively easy targets.

A couple of exercises have confirmed the viability and effectiveness of the use of “Swarm Boat” tactics, like the “Millenium Challenge” War Game Exercise in 2002, for example, when an opposing force led by Gen. Paul Van Riper used fast boats (among other weapons) to inflict massive damage on the US Naval Fleet. However, such a tactic does need one important aspect for it to be effective, and that is the use of suicide as a weapon. So unless the PhN is willing to do the same on a massive scale like what the Iranians are used to (suicide attacks were a common weapon by the Iranians in their war against Iraq), then “Swarm Boat” tactics might not be for us.

It might still be possible to find ways to take the suicide aspect out of the Swarm Boat concept and still make it effective, but that remains to be seen, and there is also the issue of cost. If it will take more weapons, resources and cost for the concept to be effective without suicide, then it would not be a viable alternative, might as well get the more expensive ships.

‘Ideal Missile Boat’
Based on the above lessons, the ideal Missile Boat should have as follows:
– Large-caliber cannon for anti-air/surface targets to complement its missile weapons, ideally at least 76mm in caliber;
– Should have a good Softkill system involving both ECM and decoys;
– Should have at the very least short-range Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs), let’s say with a range of at least 12km;
– Should have as many Anti-Ship and Anti-Air Missiles it can carry.

You can also probably add Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability also to cover all the bases, so this means a relatively heavy ship, one at least a couple of hundred tons in weight as I don’t think anything lighter would be able to satisfactorily fit and carry all of the weapons and equipment required. Because it will be relatively heavy and more sophisticated, unfortunately it will be relatively expensive also.

Missile Boats have since evolved to adopt most of the lessons learned from the above battles, like having more weapons and better defensive capabilities, but the one closest to the above-mentioned criteria would be the Hamina-class Missile Boat. It has a 57mm main gun, good short-range Umkhonto SAMs, Mk3 RBS-15 AshMs, decoys, ECM, ASW capability all packaged in a 250-ton vessel that can still go over 30kts. Each Hamina-class boat is estimated to cost USD 100 million, quite expensive for a boat with a range of only 900km. In fairness, most of that cost goes not only to all the equipment and weapons it carries, but also because of its “stealth” construction and features such as Carbon Fiber, Balsa, Kevlar, Radar-Absorbent materials, etc.

A cheaper alternative would be a Molniya-class Missile Boat but with ASW capability and better SAMs, but since it is made in Russia we won’t likely be able to get them. However, it is one design we can follow or aspire for, especially with its capability to carry 16 AShMs, giving it excellent “Combat Persistence” for such a small boat.

‘Parting Shot’
So how do all of these apply to the Philippines? Well for starters it means that the Philippines cannot compromise capability for cost if it wants their ships to survive in modern combat involving missiles, especially in this day and age of even more formidable Supersonic AShMs. Smaller and lighter ships are still okay, as long as they have a large-caliber cannon, can carry Harpoon-sized AShMs and have adequate Soft and Hard Kill defensive systems.

The stress on proper defensive systems is particularly crucial in the bidding requirements for the new Frigates that the Philippine Navy (PhN) is acquiring wherein they required the ships to have air defense missiles equivalent only to VSHORAD systems. I think the MINIMUM should be short range SAMs in the league of the Barak 1 or the Umkhonto-IR. Additional weapons for “defense-in-depth” (i.e., layered defense) would be better to protect these USD 200 million ships, like perhaps a true anti-air CIWS like the Phalanx.

Lastly I think the Philippines will need more missile-armed ships as sending 1 or 2 at a time in battle simply won’t do, they need to commit more ships in every battle, like perhaps at least 5 at time. Assuming at least 5 held in reserve, that means at least 10 missile-armed ships to acquire and maintain, not an easy task for a budget-challenged navy. A good compromise maybe would be to have a combination of missile-armed Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) which can do the long range and long duration patrols on one hand, and smaller and cheaper Missile Boats as force multipliers during combat on the other hand.

A Hamina-class Missile Boat. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
A Hamina-class Missile Boat. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

REFERENCES:

BATTLES:
* List of Naval Battles in the late 20th Century, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_naval_battles#Later_20th_century

* HMS Zealous (R39, later known as the INS Eliat), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Zealous_(R39)

* Operation Trident (1971), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Trident_(Indo-Pakistani_War)

* For the Battle of Latakia and Baltim, “The Boats of Cherbrourg” by Abraham Rabinovich, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CJC77SA

* Operation Morvarid, http://www.iinavy.org/morvarid.html

* Action in the Gulf of Sidra (1986), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_in_the_Gulf_of_Sidra_(1986)

* Operation Praying Mantis, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Praying_Mantis

* Battle of Bubiyan, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bubiyan

BOATS AND SHIPS:
* Komar-class missile boat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komar_class_missile_boat

* Osa Class, http://www.weaponsystems.net/weapon.php?weapon=GG02+-+Osa+class

* Sa’ar 3-class missile boat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sa%27ar_3-class_missile_boat

* Sa’ar 4-class missile boat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sa%27ar_4-class_missile_boat

* Nanuchka-class corvette, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanuchka_class_corvette

* Warships-Cost, http://combatfleetoftheworld.blogspot.com/p/warships-cost.html

* La Combattante IIa-class fast attack craft, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Combattante_IIa-class_fast_attack_craft

* Hamina-class missile boat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamina-class_missile_boat

* Tarantul/Molniya-class corvette, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantul-class_corvette

* Peykaap II and Chinacat C-14 boats at Combat Fleets 16th Ed.: Iranian Frigates and Patrol Craft, http://www.usni.org/combat-fleets-2012-iranian-frigates-and-patrol-craft-0

MISSILES:
* P-15 Termit, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-15_Termit

* Gabriel (missile), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_missile

* Barak 1 (missile), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barak_1_(missile)

* Umkhonto (missile), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umkhonto_missile

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69 thoughts on “Missile Boat Naval Battle Lessons”

  1. Yes, I do agree, but now in modern warfare, the concept now is using 300Km Anti-Ship Cruise Missile with the help of long range bomber and EWS (ship, land and aircrft), and satellite surveillance system. The US has learned their lessons in middle east battle field. In littoral the effect of environment and island.on.their.sensors because.of mass of land that is the reason they are now using UAV with surveillance, missiles and guided cluster of bombs not to mention the unmanned submarine with bombs.

    So with these threats, how our is really a frigate or corvette.to coubter this threat not to.mention laser and Electromagnetic pulse technology. Let us fa

    1. In addition, let us face reality to put additional budget if we need really a Multi-role frigate. The 2,000 plus displacement in todays technolgy is a corvette designed. The real frigate designed is 4K plus tons designed displacement because warfare now is a long range battle concept of operation. And who is really the threat in our country?. The war is GDP versus GDP of a country to sustain her defense posture capability. Let us be honest to our country man.

      1. If gdp vs gdp is the basis of warfare we might as well surrender. rp has opted to make use of the meager resources it has and not go overboard. in a manner of speaking we are building a navy which is symbolic of defiance of a bigger power (let us put it this way). because we cant win this war with what we have but its better than nothing at all. why not build a navy that is symbolic and credible at the same time. the hamina class does look good and i think it would perfectly fit with the rp’s defensive posture. a couple of pseudo frigates, mpacs, missle boats, lpds i would think at least deter a modest invasion of pagasa island (not prevent). the reality is as of now we cannot hope to go against china but at least we have that moral duty not to give in to a bully.

      2. The more I think of the Hamina, the more I like it. It is quite stealthy, hence could be very effective as a combat vessel. But will the PhN be willing to pay more than USD 100 million for a ship with only 900 km range?

      3. As long as the hamina is based near conflict areas only. Otherwise it should have a supply ship nearby to increase range. It is purely for attack and patrolling is secondary. Palawan should be its homeport and it should have geagle fighter escort as well.

      4. At the present situation of our naval force with very few naval vessels to guard and protect our very long coastline and very tight budget, the best option for now is to buy & manufacture ourselves, in big quantities, small lightly-armed fast patrol boats at the soonest possible time so we can immediately escort our fishermen from Chinese Coast Guard bullies, prevent illigal Chinese fishing boats from intruding into our 200-mile EEZ zone, prevent construction of Chinese structures in the islets, reefs, shoals & atolls, fight against sea piracy & smugglers, prevent terrorist groups from escaping by sea, and be able to patrol more areas of our coastline. Buying expensive 2 to 4 frigates & waiting several years to acquire will already be too late for us. If oil is discovered, there is no chance will the Philippines be able to recover it’s lost territories. Peaceful diplomacy cannot prevent China to invade our territories at will. Only a limited & defensive military confrontation can soften China to listen and think twice before continueing with it’s aggressive adventurism. We have the support of the US in case of a Chinese invasion when skirmishes escalates into a an all-out war. Our present Administration is simply too “soft” because of no military background, has too much nationalistic ego to ask for US help and brain-washed by the anti-American activists, militants and politicians. I would rather choose to go for American Statehood that can truly protect the territorial sovereignty of our country than being run by a sovereign government which is powerless to protect our country against Communist Chinese occupation. Whatever military equipments our government has already procured for the AFP or plans to acquire in the future is already too late. By that time, China has already occupied all of our territories inside the 9-dash lines with their Air Defense Zone and flotilla of Coast Guard vessels. Again, our government must act “now” militarily and not hope for a diplomatic solution because it will never happen. Pnoy must be day-dreaming for a “false hope on a peaceful solution with China”.

  2. Thanks for a very straight forward and historical background on the missile boats and its feasibility for the PhN.

  3. The information you described about the missile boat and it’s combat history is no doubt that we need this.If we have this missile boat at least we are not too light for the well equipped navy who think they have the edged.They might now think twice if they are well aware of the naval conflict history you mentioned especially with the involvement of the missile boat.You know I agree with you about the ” swarm tactics ” is not effective especially if the boat has a limited missiles or firepower.I think the Philippine Navy has a planned to used this ” swarm tactics ” with the MPAC boats that look too small to armed with a numbers of anti-ship missiles which will be ineffective.

    1. They offered the Kralj-class missile boat armed with Saab’s RBS-15 anti-ship missiles which has a maximum range of 250 kms. At this range, there’s no point in mounting the weapon on navy vessels when cheap aircraft and shore-based missile batteries will suffice,

      1. I don’t think you would want to give up one AShM platform for another AShM platform. The more varied AShM platforms we have, the better as it will give China more problems to think about. So I think having both Missile Boats and Shore-based AShMs are ideal …

    2. Croatia have 2 types of Missile Boats, the “Koncar”-class and the newer “Kralj”-class. Both are typical Missile Boats with weak anti-air defense, although they both at least have Counter Measures system. They also only have 57 mm cannons, I think a 76 mm cannon is better since we already have at least 5 ships using it, so kinda lukewarm about those boats …
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kon%C4%8Dar-class_missile_boat
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kralj-class_missile_boat

  4. If we can get 30m to 50m long missile boats armed with harpoons, fine… But we should prioritize more on the PAF and not on the PN and allocate more funds for MRF for anti-shipping operations instead of missile boats. Remember what the Argentian air force did with only 5 Exocet missiles? Had they have 30 of these, they could have won the Falkland war. So just imagine if we have 2 squadrons of Gripens or F-16 or even Kfir armed with Harpoons or Gabriel. It would give a pause to any chinese adventurism even before it starts

    At the end of the day, a supersonic platform will always have an advantage over a much slower ship even if the former is armed with the most sophisticated anti-air defense

    1. Not really convinced with the performance of active radar guided AShMs so far. In the cases I’ve looked at, they only work on targets that are either surprised, or are not using Softkill systems. The HMS Sheffield and USS Stark got hit with Exocets because they were surprised and unable to activate their Softkill defensive systems. On the other hand, Exocets fired on the British Carrier Group all missed because they had sufficient warning and were able to activate their defenses. The missiles then hit the Atlantic Conveyor, which did not have any softkill systems.

      Its the same thing with other missiles like Harpoons, Styx and Silkworm (improved Styx) missiles: When softkill systems are activated, they all miss. More on this on my next blog about modern large ship naval battles.

      1. There is a race to develop hypersonic missiles that will give little time for the active protection systems to react. Existing supersonic/subsonic missiles are being reprogrammed to discriminate decoys from real targets then follow a trajectory approaching the blind side such as the ship’s bow and the vertical approach (directly above). I’m wondering if they will be effective by the time they enter the market.

        Smart torpedoes perhaps? I guess no one is developing them.

  5. RHK111, you are amazing. you keep me glued to all your blogs. Though heavily technical, your blog allowed me to fully understand that our armed forces at this point in time is very much inferior but is on the way to getting ‘Tigasin’.
    It deeply troubles me that China is slowly grabbing our territory but am hopeful that it won’t get to a point that they control and occupy everything before we get our armed forces strong enough to deter the chinky landgrabbers.
    On my mind and in my own understanding, I really believe that we have to prioritize strengthening the PH navy and the PCG and along with it build and/or develop strategic naval bases closest to the Spratlys in the WPS.
    Keep on posting and I hope you would keep it FREE especially for patriots desperate for guided clues and wise information. Hehehe!

    1. I’m glad you liked my blog, Deewii. No plans to start charging people with these blogs, but I do hope to be able to write a book based on these someday.

    1. We’re still not sure if this will really happen, and even if it does it will take 1-2 more months (maybe more) before all the kinks are ironed out. But if it does, we can actually buy a LOT of weapons from Japan since they are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to weapons.

      I think the F-2 combat aircraft should be a prime interest, its basically what the F-16C should’ve been (bigger wings, more maneuverable). They also have missiles and Missile Boats. Hopefully they will not be too expensive, though, as Japanese products tend to be a bit more expensive than other products like from South Korea, for example.

  6. f-2 is very expensive the price is almost twice of the f-16C. the israelis have cheaper offers of their weapons but good quality. i think we dont have to think with the arab pressure…it is unfair arab countires buy u.s. and european made weapons. even their saar missile gun boats were sold to poor countries.

    1. Yeah, the F-2 is expensive at reportedly USD 100 million per plane. I think I would rather get the Gripen at that price. Maybe we’ll find something more affordable, like some of their older ships, perhaps. Or maybe their Anti-Ship Missiles based on different platforms (ships, shore, air) …

      1. f 2’s production was already stopped as well. i just hope that japan sells us their old seaplanes as well as their licensed built f15’s, old tanks and their coast guard cutters. maybe rp can get a discount since we virtually drive their cars anyway. knock knock knock dnd.

      2. I doubt we will ever get these used aircraft even at a discount. Their prices were bloated five times just through license fees paid to the Americans. Then the DnD has to factor in the operating cost, maintenance, and spare parts to see if they are still worth it. Our DnD doesn’t want to end up crying, regretting why they hadn’t chosen the Gripens instead. Defense industries that are pricing themselves out of the market (US) or hounded by an unsustainable domestic economy (Japan), are not our wisest options.

      3. Really? I have doubts about that “prices were bloated five times just through license fees paid to the Americans” part. At any rate, right now we can only speculate on whether those F-2s will really be available for export or not.

      4. Correction: Just four times. This has been one of the bitter controversies among the Japanese. It’s been argued that it couldn’t have been the developmental cost that swelled the price since they were basically just copying from the template of American designs. So it has to be the license fees being paid to use American technology. Protectionist attitudes toward their local industries are also faulted because the politicians were willing to pay more instead of saving money through imports.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_F-2

      5. Yes, the Japanese did complain about the F-2’s USD 100 million price, but the higher price was not only due to licensing fees but also due to the many modifications they made on the basic F-16 design. The F-2 had bigger wings, bigger tailplanes, a 3 piece canopy, etc.

  7. govt must fast track the acquisition of weapon system(ships, shore and air). as immediate need buy second hand ships or boats with missile capability and half a dozen new MRFs probalbly the Gripen to compliment the 12 FA-50s. later on we could buy another half dozen of Gripens and so on. the chinese are slowly but surely occupying our territories in the philippine sea.

  8. swarm tactics is effective in a limited naval battle. this we have to expect to happen in the west philippine sea if the chinese will really use force to evict us from our own territory. at least we should have 20 to 40 small missile gun boats that will carry anti ship missiles. but figures alone, the chinese out numbered us. we have no missile gun boats the chinese have more than 100. we are the ones to be swarned not them. a better tactic, is to acquire a squadron of helo naval gun ships that can carry anti-ship or sub missiles preferably the u.s. navy cobra gun ships. let our del pilars (hamiltons, artemion ricarte (peacocks) some of our worl war 2 relics patrol the west philippine sea and if our ships will be challenged the naval helo gun ships will support them. the helos are maneurable, fast and stealthy, they can be carried by our frigates or be based in islands near the disputed areas.

    1. I think Swarm Boat tactics only work if you are willing to use suicide tactics along with it, like what the Sri Lankan Sea Tigers did against the Sri Lankan Navy. Iran intends to use it against the US Navy because they also use suicide tactics a lot.

      For us, I think the best way for our navy to go is to use submarines against China. The current state of ASW technology puts the advantage with the submarines as shown in the Falklands War and in various NATO exercises. Its not going to be easy or cheap, submarines tend to be more of a money pit than aircraft, but they are effective. I will be blogging about this soon, in a couple of weeks …

  9. yas acquisition of submarines must be taken into serious consideration. if the chinese or any country knows we have submarines they cannot just roamed around uncontested, they will be extra careful or their movements will be restricted. particularly in the disputed areas in the west philippine sea. i thinki the philippine navy program. the sub is under the long term acquisition after we can get the brand new frigates, corvettes or Strategic Sealift Vessels. its still a long way to go to get the subs. hope our military planners will re-adjust their prospect to at least getting one sub

  10. how about take into serious consideration the radar evading $100m kuang hua VI missile boat from taiwan. one china policy?? what the heck, china dont respect the international laws and courts. accordingly these missile boats was designed to be stealth. also designed to manage and maneuver on low draft on between islands or islets the same situation in the west philippine sea which has lot of reefs and corals, difficult for large ships to maneuver. i think taiwan prepared this for such eventuality. the kuang hua VI is only 170 tons, need only 19 crews and officers, capable of 33 knots on diesel engine, armed with 4 anti ship missiles,1 20mm AA and has decoy launchers. it was designed to be stealthy it only carries navigational radar but the targeting info will come from shore or larger naval vessels via data link. if the three radars we ordered from israel will arrived getting these missile boats will be a big advantage. or data link will also be provided by AWACS or ships of the americans.

  11. with due respect gentlemen, i agree with you that hamina in regards weapon system is superior to kung hua. hamina has anti ship, air to air and anti sub missiles. i will not argue with that. but you have to consider also that hamina is not designed to cruise for so many miles. it is designed only to hug the swedish coast lines. with a range of only 500 nautical miles . while the kuang hua has a range of 1,000 nautical miles. the hamina cost more or less $118m but only range of 500 nautical miles you need a tanker following it or it might not reach the spratlys. i wish to have the hamina but it cannot patrol our long coast line.

    1. I think the range is just about more or less the same, because the quoted 900 km range of the Hamina is at 30 knots, while the quoted range of the Kung Hua 6 is around 1,800 km at 12 knots, so my guess is that the range between the 2 won’t be that far.

    2. Yes, the Hamina like any othe FAC(M) in its class are not used for long range patrol but rather a fast reaction unit ready to destroy a target. Other assets such as the OPV should be tasked with patrolling the EEZ. However,does anybody thought about basing a couple of Hamina boats at Pagasa?

      1. The approved plan was called “Project Kuyog” . The Philippine Navy will research the specs of all the advanced maritime weapons that will be on the market shortly so that they can design a missile boat in-house for our local shipyards to mass-produce. Considering the numbers required for swarm tactics, purchasing entire boats elsewhere will severely drain our public revenues. We also have to consider that the Chinese missile boats are impressively advanced enough and outmatches most of its western counterparts.

      2. “Swarm Boats” are cheaper to acquire, but since we need a lot of them anyway I feel sort of negates the savings. Also, more boats mean more maintenance also.

        Bigger ships have more endurance, more range, and most importantly, they can last longer in battle simply because they have a lot more weapons and ammunition.

        It depends really on what our goal will be: Sea Denial, or Sea Control? Sea Denial means we will be able to keep China off Recto Bank, but we ourselves would not be able to exploit or mine that area. Its sort of like a stand off situation. Small boats and land-base AShMs will be enough to do this.

        Sea Control on the other hand means we occupy Recto Bank and mine it, and at the same time keep China out. This is the more difficult thing to do, and the more expensive option.

        On my next blog, I plan to write about what it really will take to challenge a country like China for Sea Control, regardless of the cost. It will be sort of like an exercise to see just what kind of buildup is needed to able to stand up to them on our own.

      3. I think we will have simpler logistics and maintenance with smaller boats instead of bigger ones that can only be serviced on a few deep-water ports in our country. They can be distributed strategically around the Spratly’s without necessarily patrolling long distances then refueled onsite without traveling home-port. Rotation of deployment ensures constant presence instead of having intermittent service periods of a few frigates. So when an armada approaches, they can converge from many directions instead of being confronted head on.

      4. for the foreseeable future, sea denial is more feasible while our economy and military is still developing, unless the US and other allies will really help keep china from molesting our WPS activities….. as for swarm boats, as i posted earlier in another article, the Chamsuris could be the most feasible alternative…..get them on the cheap at least 10-20 (maybe in a package deal with Pohangs/Ulsans) including buying the design if so required so the PN will have at the least cheaper “experimental platforms” for the offensive systems to be adopted.

      5. Sea Denial would be more within our economic capability, but the dilemma is that we will need to exploit the Spratlys as soon as we can. A STOPGAP measure would be to just keep buying heavily armed Frigates as we can, like what the Navy is doing now.

    3. Hi rhk111. this is an excellent blog you have here. Congrats.
      I myself is a proponent of a fleet of smaller ships like fast missile boats (FAC[M]) and corvette sized off-shore patrol vessels (OPV) rather than full-blown frigates and other surface assets very similar in configuration with the USN. This is because I see the Phil. archipelago as an ensemble of choke points. This can only be guarded effectively with a mix of hi-tech ./ lo-tech boats armed with short range (navalized Hellfire, Gabriel or Seaskua anti-ship missile) to medium range (Exocet, Otomat, or Harpoon) anti-ship missiles. backed by longer ranging, land-based, mobile AshCM like the Brahmos.
      The US manufactures some high-end FAC(M) like the Egyptian Navy Ambassador-class and the now-retired Pegasus PHM. The US Navy employed the six-strong Pegasus for sometime but find it unsuitable for its blue water requirements. The Philippine Navy on the other hand, is more of a littoral navy as concluded by the pre-WW2 planners when they ordered British designed MTB in the 1940s.

      1. Thanks, panzer rat. As of now, I am leaning more towards the need for bigger ships. Smaller ships can be used to do “Sea Denial” using Unconventional Warfare tactics, but since we need to establish a presence in the Spratlys, particularly Recto Bank for mining operations there, no choice but to go big, especially since China has bigger ships themselves.

  12. the 30 knots is the hamina top speed. but if it will maintain its stop speed, its range of maximum 500 nautical miles will be shortened. the kung huaf if not in a battle condition it is fair enough can do 1,800 km at 12 knots. so with the hamina for 12-15 knots it will reached approximately 900 kms. because no ships can get its maximum range using its top speed. its that a good reasoning rhk111 hahaha, i know your better in the computation. but im still interested with kuang hua if we can get hold of it we might produce our own. hamina technology is just too complicated it might cost as so much if we will produce it. thats only my intention rhk111. i love the hamina frankly but we need is what we can easily copy.

  13. well, it seems then that the best option is to fortify the big KIG islands (place AShM batteries, SAM batteries and some cannons) complete with proper support facilities for ships and aircraft. that would probably be the most ideal deterrent, coupled with helos, planes and patrol boats which can patrol near the islands.

    1. No choice but turn the entire island into a garrison as it will be ground zero for any conflict with China. I feel sorry for the civilians there, but that’s how it is.

      If the island manages to survive the initial attacks, critical will be reinforcements and supply. If the Chinese manages to cut off logistics to the island, then it will be doomed …

  14. actually the KH6 was designed to target china’s carrier and major war ships. taiwan cannot compete with china of producing big ships thats why they prefer to build small and stealthy boats just like the KH6 for purposes to sneak and get closer to the big ships and sank it with their anti ship missiles. since the south china sea that includes the west philippine sea is shallow, tattered with corals, shoals and reefs that is difficult for big war ships to maneuver, KH6 can hide and cover in this kind of atmosphere. taiwan initially ordered 30 units of the small boats. 30 boats x 4 anti ship missiles all range more or less 160 kms that is a total 120 war heads and you spread this stealthy boats in the region now you have a potent weapon. and this is produce just right next our back yard, taiwan is just more or less 250 miles from basco, batanes. why go to somewhere else after all what we need if we can get just one these boats we can be self reliant or we might produce a better version.

  15. i think it will not be good strategy if we start putting SAMS and ASHMs missiles in the disputed area in the west philippine sea because the chinese may put their own and it might more numerous that will escalate the arms race in the region. just imagine if the chinese will put medium range missile batteries with a range from 500 to 1,000 kms in the scarborough shoals. remember the chinese are in position of scarborough. now any missile batteries by the chinese put up there will already reach parts of luzon.or even in manila. but gun boat diplomacy is a better option but in reverse. instead the chinese being a stronger country will dictate us, we will just put our feet on the ground. the only problem with us we pulled out our navy and coast guard assets in the disputed areas this is the reason we loss our positions in scarborough to the chinese. it will never work out if will just depend in the international courts. we have big problem since china does not want to participate in the proceedings. our gun boat diplomacy is let our navy and coast guard assets patrol the disputed areas in tandem if necessary. and buy stealth missile boats. we will play with them cat and mouse. in that way with presence of our navy assets they cannot occupy portion of our territories. if any part of the disputed areas chinese are there we should also be there. now BRP Siera Madre, send the two hamiltons there and some of our world war 2 relics. if they want to ram us let the world war 2 relics face them. let see who will blink. if they fire water cannons to us, we also fire water cannons to them. this is the strategy that japan handled on taiwan and china. by this time this is not about who’s more modern china or us but its about who knows how to play the game. but hurry up the fa-50 or MRFs, new frigates, ASW helos, but still im interested with the taiwans small and stealthy missile boats.

    1. The problem is that as it is right now, it would be easy for China to invade Pag-Asa. Once they are there, it will be very hard to kick them out as THEY will turn the island into a garrison. The scenario I see is that they will invade the island, and take everybody prisoner. They then will send all the occupants back to the Philippines, or worst send all of them to mainland China as prisoners.

    2. China isn’t the only loser when the ITLOS case succeeds. Taiwan hinges its claim on the nine-dash-line too and they are occupying the most valuable island within our disputed EEZ. Taiping (Itu Aba) Island has its own fresh water reservoir and accommodates an airstrip bigger than Pagasa’s. I wonder how Taipei will play this out. We should also watch out for the Taiwanese. As the Japanese claims, “They appear to be in bed together with the mainlanders when it comes to dealing with other countries in this maritime dispute”.

      1. Taiwan seems like they want to go on their own against China, not allying themselves against China’s other enemies, which I think is not a good idea. Anyway, BAHALA SILA, that’s their problem.

    1. No, the Chinese are not blinking. They are keeping quiet about what they intend to do, which is a bit scary. Raffy Alunan talked about this recently, but anyway whatever the Chinese have in store for us, PNoy is ready …

    2. The mainland chinese cannot be trusted. Even if we win they will somehow get back at us (remember the bananas and the azkals). They are sore losers. Worst case we will need un member backed navies to guard the our eez just to prevent china from hostile actions againsr rp. China wants to get our islets then they must annex them thru referendum so they have to get the votes of the fishes, turtles etc. To say that they want to be ruled by china hehehe. Justlike whatputin did. Problem is even the fishes dont want china aswell.

  16. sir jmcenebre, i read up on some info regarding the kh-6. i don’t see it as a good ship. it lacks anti air capabilities as well as anti-sub. with due respect, i think the hamina will still be a better option to roam around KIG considering its complete arsenal. anyway, we already have tankers to extend their range. or they can always establish port at pag-asa.

    as for pag-asa, we must fortify it. no other way. but defintely, we must secure our supply route. china is now slowly choking our supply line so that our troops will withdraw from KIG.

    1. The hakina is practically a mini frigate already except for the range and anti sub role. It is most effective at shallow waters like the spratly area only. Like missle boat it can just fire then hide. But with stealth it may be possible that it can fire the first and most crucial shots.

  17. my point here to acquire KH6 is to get the technology so we can have our own, if we want to be self reliant we should be like the israelis and the taiwanese, we have to copy. now the KH6 has a stealth technology..we dont have to go far to europe when in fact its just near our backyard. and the KH6 is the cheapest stealth missile boat we can hold on to. get the technology and we will start with our own. if we want to improve it, the better. but if we will just keep on buying we will still have problem in logistics. what we are talking here from the asw helos, new frigates, ASHM, MRF and etc are high tech equipments. if something will happen to this equipments this will cost as much, so the best alternative we have to copy and one way to copy is to acquire from other countries. and the best option and i feel we have the immediate capacity to produce is a small missile boat. to choose with the KH6 and hamina, i prefer the KH6 because it is immediately available and its technology is not as complicated as the hamina. taiwan is just more or less 200 miles fron basco, batanes. further, we can learn also how they produce their locally made ASHMs, air to air missiles and MRF. i am more interested with the stealth missile boats than the land fix or mobile missiles.

  18. i understand your point sir jmcenabre. but i would think that it is unwise. Republic of China (Taiwan/ ROC) also adheres to the 9 dash line policy as it believes in an eventual unification with mainland China( Albeit on their own terms ofcourse of getting rid of the the Communists). Having to rely on them with military hardware would not be the best move. Now that we have passed our memorial before the UN tribunal, i would assume ROC would start to be antagonistic with the PHL. The best option that we should get is purchase equipment elsewhere. the US is ofourse ideal, owing to the eventual agreement of US use of AFP bases. But the US are not adept with small ship designs (Owing to the fact that they are more focused on their blue navy capabilities rather than their green navy). Thus, we must search options which are far from the influence of PRC or ROC. I assume that israel or finland would be an ideal choice. the saár or the hamina are good ships. if we can agree with them, we may even be able to assemble these ships or even do a smilar copy. with due respect, the Kh-6 is a ship which needs support in its anti sub and anti air warfare from other ships. it has a simple design and is easy to copy but at a price of being sitting ducks to subs and airplanes. the hamina as you say is more complicated, but don’t you have faith in the brilliant skills of our ship builders to innovate on those designs?
    What we need are few but complete ships. multi role ships that can stand on their own. the del pilar class, when armed to the teeth is a good example. i even love the ship’s high seas endurance and extreme range. maybe we should consider building a copy with a few innovations of our own. another possibility would be to create a muti-role vessel that can double as helicopter carrier and sort of command ship for our other vessels.

  19. i know we have brilliant skills in ship building. but since government policy does not make defence as top priority it will not happen in a near future. we have to start the simpliest way of achieving not the complicated ones. i think to deal with taipie is not complicated. after all what we intend is to get is the the technology. i tell you we cannot go any where if we only get what is complicated when we have not even started with simpliest one. i agree, we should start our del pilars. armed them with missiles, asw and CIWS. but again we lost focus. we are thinking a lot of things but little achieve, concentrate on del pilars re-armed them first. then next what will do. land based ASHMs ?? then pursue it and complete it. and whats next and next..we have to do it one at a time. i did not even say that we will pursue to get arms from taipie. i only said to get the technology of their arms and acquire some of them and with it we produce our own. and i dont believe such a stealth missile boat KH6 is a sitting duck. being stealth it should be one of those will be difficult to find. a small missile boat not stealth capable has already low radar signature what more if it is stealth. let that stealth missile boat attack the major ships and the subs, it will be the ASW helos and new frigates to hunt them. that is the simpliest to answer the deficiency of KH6. again, to build our own small stealth missile boat can be done in the near future if we have the technology.

  20. Russian anti ship missile Styx is unreliable compared to the shorter range Gabriel seems to always find its mark…… Russian weapon systems are always overrated but its better that way than underestimate it….

  21. technology must be compatible with training and experience with warfare. the israelis thru their experience has employ technologies that will fit their needs and enhance them through training. this is also the steps made by the americans. this is also the effect if we have the technology but training is not properly built in for its operation then the effect lack of skills and modern technology will fail. we should also invest training with the israelis or with the americans both have success stories and to spend a lot on missiles for live fire exercise. you cant just display those missiles or weapon system and only operate in times of war. a regular training live fire exercise is always needed to prepare our men in a real war.

    1. I fully agree with you sir jmcenabre. AFP should train for conversion towards high-tech just like the street kids do trying to learn how to use new generation gadgets like smart phones, tablets etc. Kids that don’t have access flock to the nearest computer shop.
      Israel has built its armed capabilities not only through their vast experience and lessons learned in warfare but also on the UNDERSTANDING of WHAT THEY NEED . Take for example the case of the Saar class boats which evolved from the boats they hijacked from Cherbourg which they mated to then newly developed Gabriel missile culminating into Israeli navy’s missile boats. The need for a more robust home-grown rifle that should be as reliable as a Kalashnikov resulted in the creation of Galil assault rifle, whiich was derived from the AK-47 itself. The need for a shorter weapon in a close quarter battle in urban areas gave birth to the TAVOR. The IDF’s Merkava MBT, the Iron Dome surface to air missiles and many others were developed using the latest technology to develop a weapon system they need to counter the threats that they have to endure each day.
      I hope that Filipinas can emulate the Israeli example.

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