AW-159 choppers to protect PHL primary sea routes

The two newly-acquired  AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters will help the PHilippine Navy (PN) secure the country’s sea lines of communication (SLOC) or primary maritime routes used for trade, logistic and naval operations.

This was bared by Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad in an interview with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Also, he called the acquisition of the helicopters a “big leap” in the capability of the PN, as it now has the ability to locate submarines passing through the Philippines’ sea lanes.

The PN chief added that the AW-159s are considered “top-of-the line” equipment, as these are equipped with sonar for detecting submarines and weapons like torpedoes, which are capable of damaging or even sinking a submarine.

He added that with the country’s vast waters, more anti-submarine helicopters and sonar-equipped naval ships are needed to fully protect it.

Empedrad added that the sonar equipment of the AW-159s will give PN personnel a chance to train and use modern sonar equipment.

The PN chief said that the sonar capabilities of the AW-159 will be further augmented by the proposed upgrades of the three Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels, which include the installation of sonar suites. PNA