PH Air Force says 2 new Turkish-made attack choppers arriving in December
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will receive the first two units of the Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopters in December.
Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing commander Brig. Gen. Aristotle Gonzalez made the announcement on Thursday (Nov. 25) during his unit’s 48th anniversary rites at Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite City.
“Two units of the T129 ATAK helicopter are set to be delivered by the end of this year,” Gonzalez said. The 15th Strike Wing— the PAF unit responsible for surface strike missions— is the end user of the attack helicopters.
The first batch of the T129 ATAK pilots and crew, who left the Philippines in May for Ankara, Turkey, completed their training in September, he said.
Earlier this week, PAF commanding general Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes gave hints in a Facebook post that the first batch of the Turkish helicopters will arrive next month: “Deadly… Coming this December. The T129 Attack Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force,” he wrote.
Deadly… Coming this December.The T129 Attack Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force.
The Philippine government had signed a deal with Turkey for the purchase of six T-129 ATAK attack helicopters built by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for P13 billion.
It was not immediately clear why the delivery was moved to December. In May, the Department of National Defense announced that the first two helicopters from TAI will be delivered in September.
According to The Daily Sabah, a Turkish news publication, the Philippine Air Force would be the first overseas user of the ATAK.
Previous reports said that Turkey would likely run into problems on engine export license from the United States after it was sanctioned by Washington following its purchase of a Russian weapons system.
But the US approved the export license for Turkey for the sale of the attack helicopters to the Philippines, according to foreign news reports. The DND has yet to officially comment on the matter.
The T129 is believed to use LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines, produced through a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.
The PAF 15th Strike Wing welcomed new aircraft at Danilo Atienza Air Base in recent weeks. Five brand new turboprop A29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft, bought from Brazil’s Embraer SA, officially moved to the air base in October.
Six units of Super Tucano, worth P4.698 billion, were commissioned into service late in 2020. One was damaged during a routine flight early this year and is currently non-operational.
Last week, the first of two AH-1s Cobra helicopters, donated by the Jordanian government, arrived at the Cavite air base.
“We especially recognize the development of the rocket management system for the Cobras which enables the platform to fire 2.75 inch rockets,” Gonzalez said.
He said these new additions to the fleet will bring the unit closer to achieving stronger combat power.
The 15th Strike Wing had been trying to increase its capacity to accomplish its missions. It recently restored and overhauled two grounded aircraft for future flights.
“Despite having a smaller number of operational aircraft this past year, we worked through day and night, weekdays and weekends, to make our aircraft full mission capable,” Gonzalez said.
The 15th Strike Wing recently completed the restoration of OV-10 #139, the recovery of SF-260TP #70and special inspection of eight MD-520MG, according to Gonzalez.
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