Italian firm signs contract to supply 8 new helicopters to PAF
MANILA, Philippines — AgustaWestland recently signed a contract after winning the bid to supply eight brand new attack helicopters worth P3.4 billion, seen to “add punch” to existing air support assets for the Philippine Air Force.
“AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the Philippine Air Force has signed a contract for eight AW109 Power light twin helicopters. These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support,” the Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestand said in a statement dated November 6.
The aircraft manufacturer won the bid in September, amounting to P3,441,415,000 or P45,000 lower than the P3,441,460,000 approved budget.
The delivery will start in 2014. The contract also includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.
“The AW109 Power is a three-tonne class eight seat twin engine helicopter. The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles. The aircraft’s safety and survivability features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines,” it added.
A previous report said that the helicopters would be equipped with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers.
Air Force spokesman Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol said on Thursday that the acquisition of the helicopters “brings to light a much welcome capability to the PAF.”
“It will complement the existing fleet of MG520s [light attack helicopters] and add punch to our close air support assets,” he said.
“In general this is for internal security operations. It could also complement operations in maritime patrol or for territorial defense,” he said.
He emphasized that these are night-vision capable and have “better instrumentation” than the MG520s.
“The weapon system is more advanced than that of the MG520,” he said.
The 15th Strike Wing of the Air Force has two squadrons — with at least five MG520s per squadron. These light attack helis are used in battling against threat groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and New People’s Army. Recently, they were used in airstrikes during the Zamboanga City crisis.
Meanwhile, three AW109 maritime helicopters for the Philippine Navy are scheduled to be delivered next month. Two more will arrive next year.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.