PAF unit to get 6 ‘Super Tucanos’

MANILA — Once delivered in 2019, the six brand-new Embraer A-29 “Super Tucano” light attack aircraft will be turned over to the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 15th Strike Wing, a defense official said.

“They will be turned over and maintained by the 15th Strike Wing, the PAF’s end-user,” Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview late Friday.

Andolong said the A-29 is a durable, versatile, and highly advanced aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions.

“(It can) even (operate) on unimproved runways,” he added.

The 15th Strike Wing, based in Sangley Point, Cavite City, is the operator of all the Air Force’s ground attack aircraft, including the venerable Rockwell OV-10 “Broncos” and assorted armed helicopters.

Earlier, Andolong announced that Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer Defense and Security has been selected by the DND as the supplier of the six brand-new close air support aircraft (CASA), with a contract of PHP4.96 billion.

“Yes. A Notice to Proceed for the supply and delivery of six close air support aircraft has been transmitted to and received by Embraer Defense and Security,” Andolong said when asked to confirm whether the contract was indeed bagged by Embraer.

“The aircraft that was selected after a rigorous public bidding process that was participated in by several manufacturers from different countries was the Super Tucano A-29, which is compliant with the stringent technical specifications required by the PAF,” he added.

Andolong said the contract is being crafted for signing by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The six brand-new CASA, once delivery begins in 2019, is expected to augment or replace the eight to 10 ageing Rockwell OV-10s being used by the PAF in close-air support missions.

Funds will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Act Trust Fund.

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