Navy personnel stand in formation beside one of the three newly acquired helicopters during the commissioning and blessing ceremony at the AFP headquarters in Manila yesterday.
MANILA: The military’s territorial defence and disaster response capabilities got an added boost yesterday with the commissioning of three brand-new naval helicopters.
The commissioning, which allowed the Navy to deploy the helicopters to mission areas, was held in Camp Aguinaldo as part of the celebration of the Armed Forces’ 78th anniversary.
The helicopters constitute the first batch of naval helicopters to be delivered by the supplier, Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
The Navy is acquiring a total five AW 109 Power helicopters from AgustaWestland for P1.35bn. The two remaining helicopters are expected to be delivered next year.
They are expected to accompany the frigates BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in patrolling the country’s territorial waters.
Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led the commissioning of the three naval helicopters, which are expected to be deployed to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The event was witnessed by key security officials including Armed Forces chief Gen Emmanuel Bautista, Navy chief Vice Adm Jose Luis Alano and Air Force chief Lt Gen Lauro dela Cruz.
“These (helicopters) will help a lot because our new ships, BRP del Pilar and BRP Alcaraz, will have helicopters aboard so it will extend the coverage of their patrols,” Bautista said. “We can also use these helicopters if there are emergencies. They can be used to evacuate the sick. They can also be used for surveillance,” he added.
Alano said the helicopters are equipped with surveillance cameras that would allow them to transmit data to ships.
The Philippine star