MANILA — The Philippine Navy (PN)’s first two anti-submarine helicopters, the AgustaWestland (AW) 159 ‘Wildcat”, will be operational in detecting, and if necessary, destroy submersibles encroaching on the country’s waters this November.
“The helicopters are okay and the (crew is) still undergoing training (on how to operate the aircraft and its various systems). Our full anti-submarine warfare capability will be completed this year once the delivery of its weapons (torpedoes and missiles) are completed along with the training of the Naval Air (Group) pilots (selected to man the helicopters). I think the target date is November,” PN flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a media interview on Wednesday night.
Once these requirements are met, Empedrad said the AW-159s can locate hostile submarines and destroy them with torpedoes if needed.
Earlier, the PN said the first batch of South Korean-made LIG Nex1 “Blue Shark” lightweight torpedoes, which will serve as the primary weapon of the two AW-159 helicopters, arrived in the country last July.
The AW-159 helicopters, which were delivered on May 7, 2019 and commissioned on June 17 of the same year, were acquired for PHP5.4 billion including its munition, mission essential equipment and integrated logistic support.
They can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges and fitted with modern sonar systems for tracking down submarines. Priam Nepomuceno /PNA – northboundasia.com