MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) formally received 10 brand new combat utility and attack helicopters for internal security operations on Monday, August 17.
A turn-over and blessing ceremony for the 8 Canadian Bell-412eP combat utility and 2 Italian AW-109E attack choppers was held at the Villamor Air Base.
The Canadian choppers are the counterparts of the Hueys that Filipino pilots are accustomed to. Five of the 8 will be assigned to the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, the same unit that maintains the Hueys, to perform helicopter lift operation in combat and humanitarian assistance operations.
The other 3 choppers were configured for VIP use during the APEC Summit in November. They will be temporarily maintained by the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing.
The two Italian AW109E, on the other hand, are the first of 8 attack choppers acquired by the Philippine Air Force. They armed with 50 caliber machine gun and 2.75 inch rockets, similar to the naval choppers by the same manufacturer that were christened last week.
They will complement the MG520 attack choppers and will be assigned to the 15th Strike Wing to perform close air support and air reconnaissance.
The brand new choppers arrived in batches starting May and have since undergone inspections and test flights.
The new assets are a part of the Philippine Air Force modernization under the Aquino administration that is meant to address both internal and external security operations. (READ: The shopping list: Status of PH military’s modernization)
PAF received in March the first of 3 C-295 transport planes, a medium lift, fixed wing aircraft that is the equivalent of the F-27 Fokker transport aircraft in the existing inventory of the PAF.
Unlike the Fokker, the C295 has an open ramp at the rear to allow for easier loading and unloading of passengers and cargo. It’s like a C-130 with lesser payload.
More air assets are arriving within the year including the first 2 of 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, the two other C-295s, and the rest of the AW-109 attack choppers. – Rappler.com