By Priam Nepomuceno

Turkish T-129 ATAK attack helicopter (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will accept into service two new Turkish made T-129 ATAK attack helicopters and a Japanese air surveillance radar system (ASRS) on Dec. 20.

Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. will grace the commissioning and blessing rites as guest of honor and speaker at the Wallace Air Station, San Fernando City, La Union, the Air Force said in an advisory Monday night.

The two T-129 helicopters were delivered last Nov. 30 and are part of the six-helicopter contract from Turkish Aerospace Industries.

It is part of Horizon 2 Phase of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program with a contract worth USD269 million (around PHP14.9 billion) signed on July 20, 2020.

The T-129 helicopters are based on the AgustaWestland A-129 Mangusta design.

The new assets will complement a pair of refurbished Bell AH-1S Huey Cobra attack helicopters from Jordan, along with armed light observation and transport helicopters in PAF’s inventory.

The first two T-129s were delivered last March 9, 2022 while the second batch of two were delivered in December of that year.

These helicopters will be used for territorial defense, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-insurgency combat operations and combat support operations. It can also be used for close air support, precision strike, deep strike, suppression of enemy air defense, security/urban warfare, and air-to-air warfare.

The T-129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter and armed with a variety of guns, rockets, missiles, sensors and targeting systems. It has a cruising speed of 120 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles.

Meanwhile, the ASRS is part of the PAF’s radar project signed on August 14, 2020.

Japanese electronics firm Mitsubishi Electric Corporation bagged the PHP5.5 billion ASRS deal. (PNA)