Manila, Philippines – Aside from providing eyes to its parent frigates, the armed AgustaWestland AW-109E “Power” helicopters will also be useful as “air amphibious support” assets, according to Philippine Navy public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna.
The latter is an offensive military operation that uses naval ships to project ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore at a designated landing beach.
The commissioning of the two armed AW-109Es on Monday will coincide with the retirement ceremony of PN flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan who will be leaving the service after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
The aircraft are armed with 20mm auto-cannon pods and rocket launchers.
The last two AW-109E airframes arrived in the Philippines last December.
This is part of the five-helicopter deal, worth PhP 1.33 billion, signed by the Philippines with AgustaWestland early in 2013.
Three of the AW-109s were delivered and commissioned on Dec. 22, 2013.
The armed versions of the AW-109s will be equipped with machine guns, 20mm cannons and possibly, with 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 spacious 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.
The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.
Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.
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 other helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.