Eight brand-new Bell-412EPs and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es were formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Monday morning. The joint formal acceptance and blessing ceremonies took place at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said the delivery and acceptance of the eight Bell-412EPs completes the “Combat Utility Helicopter Aircraft Acquisition Project” under the PAF modernization amounting to Php4.8 billion negotiated with the Bell Textron Helicopter of Canada who started their delivery by batch last June.
Five of the Bell-412EP Combat Utility Helicopters will be assigned to the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing (THW) while three Bell-412EPs will be assigned to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing with a blue-white paint scheme and configured similar to their existing Bell-412s to be used for the transport of VIPs in the upcoming APEC Summit. Eventually, the three Bell-412EPs of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing will be transferred to 205th THW after the APEC summit.
With its four-bladed main rotor and twin-engine design and night capability, it provides better performance and better capability for the PAF in providing heli-lift operations for combat support and in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
On the other hand, the two Augusta Westland AW-109Es are the first batch to be turned over to the Air Force while six more will follow to complete the PAF’s eight “Attack Helicopter Aircraft Acquisition Project”.
The night capable AW-109Es will be assigned to the 15th Strike Wing and will perform the role similar to their existing MD-520MG in conducting closed-air support, armed air reconnaissance, forward air control and armed escort. The AW-109Es are armed with .50 caliber machine gun pods and rocket launchers.