Philippine Air Force Attack Helicopter Acquisition and US Recommendation

Published on May 20, 2020 by

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) currently has eight AgustaWestland A109E Power helicopters, 12 M.D. Helicopters MD 500MG helicopters. In November 2019, it added two surplus Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters from Jordan.

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of two different helicopters to the Philippines in advance of the Philippine Air Force final decision on what system to buy. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency posted an article, “the Philippines is considering either the AH-1Z or the AH-64E to modernize its attack helicopter capabilities”.

If the Philippine Air Force chooses the Six AH-1Z Vipers, the package includes 14 General Electric T-700-401C engines, sensors, weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and support services come to $450 million in potential sales for Bell. The approval includes seven Honeywell Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigation systems, six AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles, and 26 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided rockets.

If the Philippine Air Force chooses the $1.5 billion Apaches package. It would come with 18 General Electric T700-701D engines, 15 Honeywell Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigation with Precise Positioning Service, 200 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, 300 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System kits, and 200 FIM-92H Stinger missiles, among other gear, equipment, U.S. government, and contractor.

The offers came despite the Philippine Air Force’s selection of T129 ATAK helicopters of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for its attack helicopter acquisition program. The Turkish supplier, however, is still trying to obtain an export license from the U.S. government for subsystems because of sanctions imposed by Washington against Turkey for purchasing weapons from Russia.

Although there is no contract yet, the Philippines already issued a Notice of Award in 2019 for the purchase of six T129 Attack Helicopter.

The T129 ATAK helicopter is a new generation, tandem, two-seat, twin-engine helicopter specifically designed for attack and reconnaissance. This Attack Helicopter is a twin-engine multirole attack helicopter produced under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland.

But U.S. diplomatic sources in Turkey said it’s unlikely the U.S. will issue the license given the severe nature of U.S.-Turkish defense procurement ties. The U.S. suspended Turkey’s membership in the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program in response to Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

The Department of National Defense needs to study the expensive offer of the U.S. State Department. As of now, the Philippine Air Force budget allocated 258 Million Dollars or 13 billion pesos for the acquisition of Attack Helicopters.

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