Formally being commissioned into service soon with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is a pair of brand-new Turkish-made T-129 ATAK attack helicopters as well as a Japanese air surveillance radar system (ASRS). According to the PAF, Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr will grace the commissioning and blessing rites as guest of honour and speaker at the Wallace Air Station, San Fernando City, La Union in the Philippines. The two T-129 helicopters based on the AgustaWestland A-129 Mangusta design were delivered last Nov 30. They are part of the six-helicopter contract worth USD269 million from Turkish Aerospace Industries signed on July 20, 2020 – the second phase of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernisation Programme.
The twin-engine ATAK is a tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter that features a range of armaments including cannons, rockets, missiles and high-tech sensors and targeting systems. The platform has a cruising speed of 120 knots with a range of up to 250 nautical miles. The two ATAKs will be paired with two refurbished Bell AH-1S Huey Cobra attack helicopters acquired from Jordan, in addition to armed light observation and transport helicopters already serving the PAF. The first two were received last year on March 9, 2022 while another batch of two arrived in December that year. These helicopters will be used for territorial defence, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-insurgency combat operations and combat support operations. Furthermore, the ATAK can take on close air support roles, carry out precision strikes and deep strikes and neutralise enemy air defences, along with air-to-air warfare. Aside from the helicopters, the ASRS radar from Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation was procured under the PAF’s radar project, a USD98 million agreement inked in Aug 14, 2020. shp/adj/dl (Pix:Turkish Aerospace Industries)