Naval exercises end; Spike ER missile launched off Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 31 October) — The four-day naval Exercises Pagsisikap 2021 initiated by the Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces Western Mindanao  (NFWM) ended with an evaluation on Saturday on what the participants learned.

Lt. Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, NFWM Public Affairs Officer, said the final evaluation took place in a hotwash, where officers present their performance in conducting serials and showing their assets’ capability. The officers also demonstrate what they can do such as mounting a rescue mission in a burning ship at sea.  An evaluation determines if proper naval procedures were followed and if anyone got hurt during the rescue mission.

Exercises Pagsisikap 2021 formally closed in Sulu on Thursday with Task Force Sulu Commander Army Maj. Gen. William Gonzales as guest.

The Spike-extended range missile launched by the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) BA489 commanded by Lt. Junior Grade Alex Camillo Capistrano hit simulated target at 4 km distance off Salkulakit Island in Basilan sea waters on 28 October 2021. Photo courtesy of NFWM PAO

“Since the Joint Task Force Sulu had experienced challenges and eventually achieved tactical victories, sea assets and its capabilities had brought us the edge we need to win the peace,” Gonzales said as he pointed out that the event  “identified the capability gaps” of the naval forces.

The naval forces on October 28 launched its Spike-extended range missile as among the highlights of its Exercise Pagsisikap 2021.

The launch was done from one of the Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) of the 3rd Boat Attack Division during Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) events at vicinity 17.8 nautical miles southwest  off Salkulakit Island, Basilan on October 28.

“The missile was fired from MPAC BA489 and hit its target dead center from a distance of four kilometers,” Cabaltera said, adding that for the live firing exercise, floating targets were constructed.

Aside from the missile firing, participating warships also fired and tested their naval guns at sea, Cabaltera said.

The missile launch, according to  NFWM commander Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. was a test on the naval forces’ capability and its  wartime and peacetime doctrines in the conduct of amphibious operations, maritime interdiction operations, surveillance and reconnaissance of the maritime areas, civil-military operations, and a host of other traditional and non-traditional naval operations.

The NFWM Civil Military Operations Officer explained that the Spike ER Missile is the “navy’s first missile capable of penetrating 1,000-mm (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor. It is a flexible missile system proven by its dual guidance system, that is the command and homing guidance, capable of hitting targets at a maximum distance of 8 km.”

This is the second time the Spike ER Missile was successfully launched and tested after its delivery to the Philippine Navy in 2018. However, this is the first time that the missile was operationally tested during a live firing exercise.

Exercise Director and concurrent  Task Force 62 Commander Alan Javier said that  apart from validating techniques, tactics and procedures during the past four days, the naval Exercises also serves as a venue for the training of sailors and marines deployed in western Mindanao. (Frencie L. Carreon MindaNews)