PN inspects 2 attack choppers

THE armament packages for the Philippine Navy’s last two AgustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopters are now being processed and subjected to a technical inspection, the Philippine Navy said on Friday.

“The armament packages are now (undergoing processing) by the technical inspection and acceptance committee. Hopefully, within a month or so, the weapons will be given to the Navy for installation [in] the AW-109s,” Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.

Defense Undersecretary for Finance Fernando Manalo said that the Philippine Navy will receive two of the newly delivered helicopters while the Philippine Air Force will also get two.

Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado had earlier announced that six pilots and 22 maintenance crew men for the new attack helicopters were trained in Italy from July to December last year.

These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support, he said.

The AW109s are also likely to be a mainstay on board the PN’s two new strategic sealift vessels on order from the Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL. The vessels are due to be delivered in 2016 and 2017.

The weapons systems of the AW-109 consist of rocket and machine gun mounts which arrived in the second week of May. The last two AW-109 airframes arrived in the Philippines last December.

This is part of the five-helicopter P1.33-billion deal the government contracted with the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland in early 2013.

Three of the AW-109s were delivered and commissioned in December 2013.

The armed versions of the AW-109s will be supplied with machine guns, 20mm cannons and, possibly, air-to-ground rockets.

The AW-109 “Power” helicopter is a three-ton class, eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety 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.

For shipboard operations, the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 “Power” and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

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