|One of the PN's AW109 Power naval helicopters.|
Photo taken from AgustaWestland website.
The PN confirmed that these 2 additional units will be armed, although no specific mention on how different they are from the 1st batch of naval helicopters delivered in 2013. There were previous indication that they will be more capable than the first 3 units, and due to this they are expected to be the specific units that will be embarked aboard the 2 Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates.
MaxDefense expects that the only difference these 2 helicopters will have with the earlier 3 units delivered will be in terms equipment installed, with a possible electronic counter-measures (ECM) system and armaments launching capability, possibly rocket launchers or gun pods, which can also be installed on the earlier 3 birds already in service with the PN. MaxDefense believes that these 2 helicopters may still not be able to carry torpedoes or missiles due to the absence of detection capabilities.
|The initial 3 AW109 Power naval helicopters during commissioning rights. 2 more additional units was recently ordered by the PN from AgustaWestland, with expected delivery within this year.|
Besides these helicopters, the PN is expected to announce updates on its procurement plans for an initial of 2 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters that will be embarked on the future new-built PN frigates that may enter service starting in 2017. The helicopters are expected to be larger and more capable than the AW109 Power naval helicopters, and will be able to conduct anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare missions. Previous DND and PN procurement plans indicate that the ASW helicopter project will have a budget of around Php 5.4 billion (around $120 million, or $60 million per helicopter). The budget itself indicates that this would be far capable than the AW109 Power.
|Both the Sikorsky MR-60R Seahawk (above) and AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat (below) may be considered for the PN's future ASW helicopters.|
MaxDefense believes that at the price range and capability required by the PN, this may be a competition between the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat, Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) AS565MB Panther, and the AgustaWestland-Airbus Helicopters NH90NFH. But MaxDefense sources have indicated the PN's preference for the MH-60R Seahawk due to compatibility and interoperability with US and allied naval forces. The US, Australian, and Japanese navies all use the Seahawk series as their embarked ASW helicopter, as well as other Asian navies like that of Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
MaxDefense will be updated on both the additional AW109 and the upcoming frigate-based ASW helicopters as more information comes.
June 9, 2014:
The PN announced that the delivery of 2 armed and navalized AW-109 helicopters will be made before the end of the year. This will bring the PN Naval Air Group's AW109 inventory to a total of 5 helicopters. These armed helicopters are expected to be deployed with the 2 Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates, PF-15 and PF-16.