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Leonardo AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter of the Philippine Navy

After a two-stage public bidding process, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Navy (PN) decided to pursue the acquisition of the AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW159 Wildcat multi-mission combat naval helicopter from AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters).

Two  (2) units were ordered, which will pair up with the two new light frigates being built for the Philippine Navy.

Once in service, these AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters can be considered as the latest multi-mission naval helicopters in service in the ASEAN region. 

While it was expected that the PN would order a few more units to complement its fleet of new corvettes, a request made for its inclusion in the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFPMP was not approved due to lack of available funds.

It is expected that follow-on orders may only happen during the Horizon 3 phase of the RAFPMP, which cover the years from 2024 to 2028, although Navy officials are hopeful that more budget may become available within the 2020-2022 period to allow follow-on ordering to be realized.



The AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat as of 30 April 2019. Photo taken from and credited to Westleigh Bushell from Spotter Magazine.





Overview:

The Department of National Defense's Bids and Awards Committee (DND-BAC) evaluated at least two bids made by proponents, the one made by AgustaWestland using their new AW159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopter, and PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopter joint venture with Airbus' AS565MBe Panther naval helicopter. This is after both companies submitted a bid under the 1st Stage Bidding phase.

In the bids, it was found by the DND-BAC that PTDI-Airbus has non-conformity on several items required by the Technical Specifications, which means the bid is non-conforming and is automatically disqualified.


Meanwhile, the bid submitted by AgustaWestland was found to be conforming to the requirements, which means that AgustaWestland now has a slot to participate further on the project, including submitting a final bid on the Second Stage Bidding phase.

Apparently PTDI-Airbus submitted a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) with the DND-BAC, which was denied.


The bid of PT Dirganata Indonesia-Airbus Helicopters joint venture, using the Airbus AS565MBe Panther naval helicopter, was rejected from the 1st Stage Bidding phase for failing to meet certain technical requirements for the project, despite the JV filing for a Motion for Reconsideration on the decision.
Photo taken from Airbus' website.

The Second Stage Bidding phase pushed through more than a year later, with AgustaWestland being able to meet the cost prohibitions, and meeting the specifications set by the Philippine Navy's Technical Working Group (PN TWG). 

A Post Qualification Inspection (PQI) proceeded in AgustaWestland's facility in the UK, with members of the DND-BAC and PN TWG checking the conformity of AgustaWestland's submissions, as well as checking samples of the products being offered.

AgustaWestland received the Notice of Award (NOA) by 17 March 2016, and got to sign the contract with the DND by 29 March 2016. The helicopters were originally scheduled for delivery to the Philippine Navy by September 2018, or 2.5 years from Notice to Proceed, but this has been moved to March 2019, then moved again to May 2019.



Equipment:

The Philippine Navy's AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat have a lenght of 15.24 meters, an empty weight of 3,300 kilograms, and maximum take-off weight of 6,000 kilograms.


They are powered by two LHTEC CTS800-4N turboshaft engines, each producing an output of 1,015 kW, allowing the helicopters to reach a maximum speed of around 168 knots (approx. 310 kilometers per hour / 193 miles per hour) and a range of 777 kilometers / 420 nautical miles.

The helicopters can fly up to a maximum flight time of 2 hours and 15 minutes, and can be extended further to more than 4 hours with the use auxiliary fuel tanks.


The helicopters will come with the Thales Compact Flash dipping sonar and the Leonardo Seaspray 7400E AESA surface search radar, the L3 Wescam MX-15Di electro-optical/FLIR camera targeting system, and a variety of other avionics systems that are quite new to the Philippine Navy.

As part of the contract, AgustaWestland will supply an initial batch of munitions, including the Spike-NLOS (non-line of sight) small air-to-surface missile from Israel's Rafael Advance Systems Ltd, the K745 Blue Shark lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes from South Korea's LIGNex1, sonobuoys, and pintle-mounted machine guns. The PN appears to be following a similar load-out of the Republic of Korea Navy's (ROKN) own fleet of AW159 Wildcats.


The PN Wildcats appear to have a similar load-out to the ROKN's fleet of Wildcat, which uses the Rafael Spike-NLOS small air-to-surface missile and the LIGNex1 K745 Blue Shark torpedo.
Photo taken from Navy Recognition.



While not included, these helicopters are ready to accept other types of air-launched munitions that are already integrated to the helicopters, including the Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (aka Thales Martlet), the MBDA Sea Venom anti-ship missile, the BAE Systems Stingray lightweight anti-submarine torpedo, the Hellfire and Brimstone anti-tank missiles, among others.




Summary:

Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project


* End User: Philippine Navy (Naval Air Group)

* Quantity: 2 ASW-capable helicopters

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 1 Phase of RAFPMP


* Project ABC:
 Php5,405,000,000.00


Acquisition Mode: Two-Stage Public Bidding

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-16-0006345 (deposit)

* Winning Proponent: AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters)

* Product for Delivery: AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat


* Contract Price: Php5,362,762,748.56 

* First post by MaxDefense: 24 February 2014



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U P D A T E S:
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24 February 2014:

MaxDefense posted its first blog that touched on the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project (ASHA) wherein we mentioned the budget planned for allocation, as well as the expected contenders for the project. This is in addition to the light naval helicopters procured by the Philippine Navy (PN).


More can be found on the link below:

"+2 AW109 Helicopters for PH Navy, Separate ASW Helicopter Project Announcement Expected Soon" - first posted 24 February 2014.




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11 July 2014:

MaxDefense released a new blog entry regarding the Anti-Submarine Helicopter acquisition project, as the Department of National Defense (DND) released information on the Technical Specification of the helicopters through a Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) issued to bidders.

Also, the SBB indicated that AgustaWestland, and the joint venture of PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and Airbus Helicopters were interested in submitting a bid. AgustaWestland was expected to offer their new AW159 Lynx Wildcat naval helicopter, while PTDI-Airbus Helicopters with the Airbus Helicopters AS565SB Panther.

The details can be found on the link to the blog entry below:


"Its a Cat Fight for the Philippine Navy's ASW Helicopter Acquisition Program" - first posted 11 July 2014.



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12 April 2016:

MaxDefense released a new blog entry confirming that Anglo-Italian aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland was provided by the Department of National Defense (DND) with a Notice of Award (NOA) for the project on February 2016, being the sole compliant bidder, Apparently PT Dirgantara Indonesia-Airbus Helicopters joint venture submitted a non-compliant bid with their AS565SB Panther naval helicopter, which did not meet several key requirements as indicated in the Technical Specifications of the project.


The Contract for two AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters, worth Php 5,362,762,748.56, was signed between the DND and AgustaWestland was signed on 29 March 2019 at the DND's office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

More details can be found on our blog entry on the link below:


"Confirmed: Philippine Navy Acquires AgustaWestland AW-159 Lynx Wildcat as its Future Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter" - first posted on 12 April 2016.






A copy of the Notice of Award to AgustaWestland. Photo taken from PDFF Forum, as posted by Herbie.


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27 May 2018:

The UK Serials Research Centre has publicly posted the upcoming temporary British serial numbers for the Philippine Navy's AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters, as they are required to use a temporary serial number while undergoing flights and testing within the UK. These numbers will be replaced later on with a Philippine serial number.

The first unit will have the serial number ZZ549, while the second unit will have ZZ550.



The temporary British serial numbers for the PN's AW159 Wildcat helicopters. Photo taken from UK Serials Resource Centre website.


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25 July 2018:

In an interview with the media, Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad mentioned that the two AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters are scheduled for delivery by March 2019.


This is in contrast to the original delivery date mentioned in the Contract between the Department of National Defense (DND) and AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) for the helicopters to be delivered by September 2018. MaxDefense mentioned in its post that Leonardo did request for a 6-month time extension, which is exactly the time distance between the contract delivery date and Leonardo's revised delivery date.


The update on the Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project provided by the DND as written in their report. It mentioned the estimated delivery date based on the number of calendar days for delivery as indicated in the contract between the DND and AgustaWestland. Copy provided by a defense source exclusively for MaxDefense.


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05 November 2018:

Again, MaxDefense was able to get first peek photos on the Philippine Navy's AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter. It was also confirmed that the specific variant of the PN's Wildcats are actually the Mk.220.

A first peek on the PN's new AW159 Wildcat while still prepared for flight tests.
Photo came from pasty_1955's Flickr account,


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07 November 2018:

MaxDefense received more photos of the first AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter of the Philippine Navy (PN) being subjected to flight tests by Leonardo Helicopter's test pilots in Yeovil, UK.




One of the first photos of the PN's AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter, this specific unit being the first one with temp. British registration no. ZZ549.
Photo taken from and credited to Kevin Wills / Air Forces Monthly.

















MaxDefense also compared a side view of the PN AW159 versus the AW159 presented by the Republic of Korean Navy (ROKN) and here were our observations:

"Among those missing in the PN Wildcat are the Leonardo Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System (HIDAS), which includes the countermeasure dispenser (CMD), missile warning system and radar warning receiver. Usually HIDAS-15 is used for the AW159 helicopter. 

Also missing is the dipping sonar, which should be bulging on the helicopter's belly opening. The PN's Wildcat is to use the Thales Compact Flash dipping sonar.

The PN Wildcat has some additional antennas as shown on the illustration, that are missing in the ROKN model, and vice-versa.


MaxDefense made a comparison of the PN and ROKN AW159s upon their post-construction flight tests, and noticed that the Korean Wildcats appear to be better kitted.
Top photo taken from and credited to Kevin Wills / Air Forces Monthly.


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21 January 2019:

MaxDefense posted the first publicly-available photo of the second AW159 Wildcat bound for the Philippine Navy, with temporary British serial number ZZ550, as the helicopter was seen flying in Leonardo's facility in Yeovil, UK on 17 January 2019. The photo was taken by and credited to Neil Brant from Jetphotos website.



The 2nd AW159 for the PN as taken by and credited to Neil Brant. Photo taken from Jetphotos.com.


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07 February 2019:

New photos were released by plane-spotters Stephen Rendle and Thomas Howe, both based in the UK, which was posted by MaxDefense in our Facebook community page. The 1st and 2nd photos were taken from the Newquay Cornwall Airport in the UK, while the 3rd photo was taken from the Exeter Airport in the UK.




More updated photos of the AW159 Wildcat naval helicopter. Photos taken from and credited to Stephen Rendle and Thomas Howe.



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29 March 2019:

MaxDefense posted new photos of the two AW159 helicopters, as they were seen in Leonardo's Yeovil UK facility on 22 March 2019. All photos were taken by, and credited to Peter Foster.


Apparently these are one of the few photos of the AW159s before they undergo final testing and acceptance by the Philippine Navy.



The PN AW159 still undergoing flight tests and aircrew training in UK.
All photos taken by and credited to Peter Foster


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12 April 2019:

The Philippine Navy confirmed that the post delivery inspection has been conducted in the United Kingdom, with no less than Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad himself joining the inspection team consisting of PN and officials from the Department of National Defense (DND).

Both helicopters have undergone the Pre-Delivery Inspection, and appears to have successfully been accepted by the inspection team for delivery.

The PN expects the helicopters to arrive within the first week of May 2019.



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01 May 2019:

Dutch defense aviation publication Scramble Magazine confirmed that the Leonardo's pilots flew the AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat naval combat helicopters bound for the Philippine Navy from their facility in Yeovil to London-Stansted Airport for disassembly in preparation of its shipping to the Philippines by 01 May 2019 (UK time).

The two helicopters will be delivered to the Philippines via an Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy strategic airlifter, which is expected to arrive in Manila (or Clark) on 03 May 2019.

They will then be re-assembled in the Philippines, and sent to Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite City for further tests and checks before formal turn-over to the Philippine Navy.

Several photos were posted by Scramble Magazine, taken by and credited to Mark Urks, and Kevin Wills, as well as Spotter Magazine, taken by and credited to Westleigh Bushell, all of which can be seen below.

So its set then, arrival of the two (2) AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat helicopters for the PN will be on 03 May 2019. Planespotters are expected to be in action not just to take photos of the Wildcats, but also of the An-124 Ruslan which is not an often attraction in Philippine airspace. 



AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat serial no. ZZ549. Photo taken by and credited to Mark Urks, from Scramble Magazine.
AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat with serial nos. ZZ549 and ZZ550. Photo taken by and credited to Westleigh Bushell, from Spotter Magazine.




Three photos of taken by and credited to Kevin Wills, from Scramble Magazine.

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05 May 2019:

Photos shared by Jojo Palma in the Philippine Plane Spotters Group (PPSG) Facebook page, shows the two AW159 Wildcat helicopters for the Philippine Navy being loaded in a semi-disassembled form to a chartered civilian Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy strategic airlifter in London-Stansted Airport. It will leave on 05 May 2019 (UK standard time) for Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

Based on PPSG and our source's information, the aircraft is expected to arrive by either 06 or 07 May 2019 (Philippine standard time).

Edit as of 06 May 2019: the aircraft will arrive in NAIA by 0330H of 07 May 2019.




Both photos taken by and credited to Jojo Palma of PPSG. 

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06 May 2019:

A photo taken by UK-based plane spotter Liam Toohill (aviation.too) of an AgustaWestland AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat for the Philippine Navy, mounted with a training torpedo round during a training flight last April 2019.

Based on previous information which were also posted here at MaxDefense, the torpedo to be supplied by Leonardo will the South Korean-made LIGNex1 K745 Blue Shark lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes, a few warshot and training rounds were included in the contract between Leonardo and DND.

Photo taken by, credited to, and copyrighted to Liam Toohill from his Instagram page (aviation.too).


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07 May 2019:

The Antonov An-124-100M Ruslan strategic long range large airlifter from Ukraine's Antonov Airlines finally arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at around 0335H 07 May 2019 based on accounts by plane spotters in Manila. This was posted on our MaxDefense @ Facebook page.

The two AW159 Mk.220 Wildcat helicopters were disembaked from the giant aircraft, and brought to the general aviation section of the Manila airport where they will be checked by the Bureau of Customs, and re-assembled after some components were taken out during the air transport.


The helicopters also appear to have their PN tail numbers shown, with the former UK registeration ZZ549 becoming 440, and ZZ550 becoming 441.



Photos taken during the arrival and disembarkation of the AW159 Wildcats from the UK. Photos taken from and credited to from Philippine Plane Spotters Group (PPSG) members John Bats (top), Paolo Guinto (middle), and from MaxDefense community Paul Carreon (bottom).


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10 May 2019:

Dutch aviation media outlet Scramble Magazine posted photos of the two AW159 Wildcats, which appears to be taken from the NAIA's General Aviation area.

It was later confirmed by community members that the helicopters were being prepared to be flown out of NAIA and brought to the Philippine Navy Naval Air Group's base in Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite City.


The photos are credited to Allan Sacdalan Conception, who shared his photos to Scramble Magazine.


AW159 Mk. 220 Wildcat of the PN, with tail numbers 441 (top) and 440 (above). Photos credited to Allan Sacdalan Conception via Scramble Magazine.




Additionally, MaxDefense was lucky to be allowed to post a video of the helicopters as they leave the NAIA General Aviation area.

The video was posted in our page last night, and were taken and credited to Capt. Vanz Paz with the assistance of MaxDefense community member Durzen.




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