President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday assured the Philippine Air Force (PAF) that he would fully support its vision to become world-class as he led the ceremonial blessing of two new T-129 ATAK helicopters in Malacañang.
The President expressed hope that the modernization will drive the Air Force to enhance its defense capabilities consistently, perform its duties effectively and protect the nation vigorously and with pride.
Congratulating PAF for the acquisition of the new air assets, Mr. Marcos said he expects that the recently acquired state-of-the-art helicopters will improve the Air Force’s operational readiness and responsiveness and empower it to fulfill its mandate to the country and the people.
The President also appreciated the contribution of the government of Turkey and the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for being reliable partners of the Philippine government in modernizing the country’s Air Force.
At the same time, Mr. Marcos expressed gratitude to the PAF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their invaluable contribution to the nation’s external defense, internal security operations, as well as disaster relief and response operations.
Last March, PAF received the two T129 along with unspecific logistics support equipment under a $269 million government-to-government contract with Turkey that was signed in July 2020.
The Philippines has six helicopters on order under the multimillion-dollar contract, which is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the AFP modernization program.
The T-129 helicopters are manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries and are based on the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta design.
The new assets will complement a pair of refurbished Bell AH-1S HueyCobra attack helicopters from Jordan, along with armed light observation and transport helicopters in PAF’s inventory.
Earlier, the Western Command (Wescom) task forces said they successfully conducted another series of “gas-oil platform takedown” exercises that aim to assess the capabilities of these units in protecting the vital Malampaya Natural Gas to Power Project platform.
The drills took place on Dec, 4 to 5, it added. During the exercise, activities such as vertical insertion, non-compliant visits, board, search, and seizure were conducted.
The units and assets that participated in the exercise included two multi-purpose attack craft, BA-483 and BA-484, special operation teams, an unmanned aerial system (UAS), a Navy AW-109 “Power”, and an Air Force W-3A “Sokol” helicopter.
“This year’s iteration of the GOPLAT exercise was highlighted with the use of high-angle sniping on an AW-109 Navy helicopter and the use of UAS for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,” it added.