MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy has taken delivery of three of five brand-new helicopters it bought from Italy for P1.33 billion.
Philippine Fleet spokesman Lt. Junior Grade Rommel Rodriguez said yesterday the three units of AugustaWestland (AW-109s “Power”) helicopters were turned over to his unit last Sunday for testing.
“All the three AW-109s were delivered at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City. Two of the helicopters flew to Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite for testing. The one remaining is flying to Cavite today,” Rodriguez said.
Navy pilots and air crewmen who undertook a six-month training at Cesto Calende in Italy early this year flew them to Sangley.
The helicopters would be placed under the control and supervision of the Naval Air Group.
Another two aircraft, the armed version, are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014.
Rodriquez said the three AW-109s would be commissioned in time for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 78th anniversary on Dec. 21.
The helicopters will be based on the Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and sister ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Both frigates, which the government acquired from the United States, can accommodate two helicopters – one at the hangar and the other on the helipad.
The AW-109s are fitted with a forward looking infrared camera and night vision equipment, making it ideal for nighttime search-and-rescue missions, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.
The sensors installed in forward-looking infrared cameras and other thermal imaging cameras use detection of infrared radiation emitted from a heat source (thermal radiation) to create a “picture” assembled for video output, Fabic said.
The AW-109 “Power” helicopter is a three-ton class eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.