TEN NEW helicopters were inducted into Philippine Air Force (PAF) service in a ceremony on August 17 at the PAF HQ at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, adjacent to Manila-Ninoy Aquino International Airport. They comprised eight Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters and two weaponised AgustaWestland AW109E Powers.
Presiding over the ceremony was Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. Delivery of the helicopters had taken place over the previous two months. Since then they have been undergoing technical inspections and flight tests prior to being formally accepted into service.
A 4.8 billion peso ($106 million) contract for the eight Bell 412EPs had been signed with Canadian Commercial Corporation on March 28, 2014. The first two arrived were delivered to the Philippines in June 2015. Three of the B412EPs are in a VIP colour scheme and are configured for VIP transport with the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing/252nd Helicopter Squadron at Villamor. The other five will supplement the UH-1H Iroquois helicopters of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, which has detachments at various bases. They will be used for medium-lift, humanitarian and disaster relief missions.
The AW109E Powers are the first of eight ordered under a 3.4 billion peso contract announced by AgustaWestland on November 6, 2013. The remaining six are due to arrive before the end of this year. They will be used for aerial reconnaissance and close air support with the 15th Strike Wing at Danielo Atienza AB, Cavite, Sangley Point. The weapons fit on each helicopters includes a pair of .50 calibre machine guns and 2¾in rocket launchers. Alan Warnes