PHILIPPINES: Advanced jets turned over to PH Air Force

Advanced helicopters turned over, aiming to boost ability of the ill-equipped Philippine Air Force.

The PH Air Force, aerial warfare service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines received more advanced aircraft . 8 Canadian Bell-412eP combat utility and 2 Italian AW-109E attack choppers turned over at the Villamor Air Base.

Philippine Air Force remains in dire need of modernization and part of its ongoing modernization program, eight Bell-412eP combat utility helicopters acquired from the Canadian Commercial Corporation, costing billion. It was formally turned over to the PH Air Force, Monday morning, together with two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya stated in an interview, helicopters are expected to improve security and transport capabilities of the military.“The helicopters will play different roles. The Bell combat helicopters can perform helicopter lift operations in different parts of the country and can be used for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) in times of calamities.”

PH Air Force, left without a fighter jet to guard its skies Northrop F-5A and B’s in September 2005 without a planned replacement. Resorted with the Aermacchi S-211 trainer jets, later upgraded to light attack capability and air and sea patrol. Acquisition of 12 new South Korean FA-50 light multi-role fighter-trainer supersonic jets aims to boost and bring the PAF back into a better capability. Using advanced jets , with future plans of acquiring multi-role fighters by 2018.

“The additional helicopters will certainly help increase capability of the PAF. The Bell-412EPs have better lifting capacity suitable for mobility of troops and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations while the AW-109Es will augment the existing MG-520 gunships in close-air support to ground forces when needed,” Canaya added.

The Philippine air force indicated further plans of acquiring more advance assets, heavy lift helicopters advance multi-role fighters. More advanced aircraft are expected in Phases 2 and 3 of the CUP. PH Air Force related components grouped into what it calls “Horizon programs”. Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2010 to 2012 time frame. IMAGES/File photo/Alexis Romero