MANILA, Philippines – Three of five Agusta Westland AW109 maritime choppers for the Philippine Navy were delivered over the weekend, the military said.
Philippine Fleet spokespersons Lieutenant Junior Grade Rommel Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net on Wednesday that the three choppers arrived last Sunday and are currently being assembled at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
The choppers are being assembled and checked for testing.
“When you buy something you want to make sure it is [completely working],” he said.
But Rodriguez could not immediately give details, such as commissionship of the choppers, saying that they were still “straightening out” details.
He said, however, said that the choppers will be commissioned within the month.
Two batches of pilots and crewmembers underwent six months training in Italy for the choppers. After commissionship, the choppers will likely be deployed with the two biggest warships — BRP Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz, but more pilots would also undergo training first.
Two more choppers are scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2014. All the five choppers are worth P1.33 billion and they are part of the military’s capability upgrade program.
The naval choppers are capable of “wide range” missions such as economic zone protection, surface surveillance, search and rescue and maritime security. The contract includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.