MANILA – The two Turkish-made T129 “Atak” attack helicopters delivered to the country last March are now “fully mission capable”, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said Tuesday.
Col. Maynard Mariano, PAF spokesperson, said this means that the air assets are ready for their role as a “strike aircraft, with the crew and the pilots done with the training and ready to be employed in areas needed.”
The two helicopters were declared “fully mission capable” shortly after the Sanay Tudla 2 exercises, held from May 16 to 24 at the Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac, were concluded.
The T129s are assigned to the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing based at the Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite City.
“As for the geographic assignment, this is something that we cannot disclose,” Mariano said.
The first two T129s, out of the six ordered from the Turkish Aerospace Industries, arrived in Clark Air Base, Pampanga last March 9.
Mariano said the Turkish-made attack helicopters are expected to enhance PAF’s surface strike system.
The T129s will be used for close-air support for ground troops and armed surveillance and reconnaissance.
“The T129 is a dedicated attack helicopter, much like the (Bell) AH-1S Cobra. This new system will complement the several surface strike systems of the Air Force and will be another game-changer in support to the numerous missions of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines],” Mariano said.
The total contract price for the six units of T129 helicopters is PHP13.7 billion, which includes the logistics support and training of pilots and crew in Turkey, Mariano added.
The T129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform and is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract for the acquisition of the Turkish attack helicopters in July 2020.
The PAF is looking at acquiring dedicated but affordable attack helicopters to beef up its fleets of lightly-armed helicopters, such as the MG-520 and AW-109E that are being used for counter-terror and ground support missions. (PNA)