Air Force acquiring 10 to 20 attack helicopters, depending on type

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is eyeing to get 10 to 20 units of attack helicopter depending on the type of aircraft the military service decides to acquire, PAF chief Lieutenant General Galileo Gerard Kintanar told reporters at the sidelines of 3rd pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum on July 18.

The 3rd pre-SONA forum with theme ‘TATAK NG PAGBABAGO: Tatak ng Katatagan’ tackled Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; and Security, Justice, and Peace.

“‘Yung attack helicopter vine-verify pa rin kung anong kakayanin ng budget, it might be as low as 10 or as high as 20. It all depends on the type of aircraft we’re going to get,” Lieutenant General Kintanar said as quoted by several news outlets.

The project to acquire new attack helicopters is allocated with 13.8 billion pesos under Horizon 2 of Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

Under Horizon 1, PAF acquired 8 AgustaWestland AW109 armed light helicopters. If PAF goes for the same specifications, PAF may get around 20 units for its Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project under Horizon 2.

However, if PAF goes for more expensive dedicated attack helicopters, it might get lesser units as the PAF chief stated.

Aside from attack helicopters, PAF is also acquiring combat utility helicopters under Horizon 2 with allocated budget of 12 billion pesos. The project was previously awarded to Canadian firm for 16 Bell 412 EPI helicopters, but was cancelled by President Rodrigo Duterte after the Canadian government sought to review the deal.

Kintanar said PAF is looking at suppliers from South Korea, Italy and Russia for combat utility helicopters.

“The contract should be finished this year, that’s definite. The delivery hopefully should start next year at the earliest,” he said.

President Duterte was quoted earlier this month saying that he wants the acquisition of new helicopters as soon as possible.