SHAH ALAM: THE Philippines Defence Department has selected the AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat ASW helicopters for its navy. Under the deal, the Philippines Navy will be getting two Wildcats for some US$114 million.
From the Philippine News Agency (PNA)
“MANILA, March 23 (PNA) — The contract for the Philippine Navy (PN)’s first two anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters was awarded to Anglo-Italian aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland. This was confirmed by Department of National Defense (DND) undersecretary for finance, munition, materiel and modernization Fernando Manalo in a message to the PNA Wednesday.
But he did not give the exact date of the contract awarding.
Manalo earlier said in January that AgustaWestland is now undergoing post-qualification checks after being selected as sole proponent of the DND’s PHP5.4 billion ASW helicopter project.
Post-qualification refers to the background check to determine the capability of the manufacturer to deliver the equipment on time and comply with the specifications requested by the contracting party.
AgustaWestland was selected by the DND as the possible supplier of its two ASW helicopters late in 2015.
Manalo said AgustaWestland offered the Philippines its brand-new AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopter.
The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.
It is ordered for the British Army and the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy.
It has a crew of two, has a maximum speed of 291 km/h (181 mph), range of 777 km (483 miles), ferry range of 963 km (598 miles) and an endurance of one and a-half hours (fours hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel).
The AW-159 is fitted with forward firing CRV7 rockets and machine guns, pintle mounted machine gun, Sea Skua missiles and Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges.
The ASW helicopter project is one of the seven military modernization projects which President Benigno S. Aquino III has given DND the green-light to go into a “multi-year contract” last November.
Projects placed under the “multi-year contract” include the two missile-armed frigates, eight amphibious assault vehicles, two long-range patrol aircraft, six close-air support aircraft, munition for the brand-new FA-50PH jet fighters and surveillance radars.
Payment from the seven projects will run from 2015 to 2018.
Granting of the “multi-year contract” will allow to pursue the military modernization programme beyond Aquino’s term, he added.
Total value of the seven projects is about PHP44 billion. (PNA)
The news that the Philippines is getting ASW helicopters will be bittersweet to the RMN which had been seeking the same capabilities close to two decades now. The requirement have been green lighted for previous Malaysian Plans but somehow it always fell victim to budgetary “re-alignment or adjustment.
Malaysian Defence had reported previously that the ASW requirement had green-lighted for RMK11 but the current economic headwinds may yet prove to be another hurdle on that road again. Based on the price of the two AW159 being bought by the Philippine Navy, a six ASW helo deal for RMN would probably cost more than RM1 billion.
In the current financial outlook, it is a deal breaker. Perhaps RMN should start looking for other options at the moment, especially used ASW helicopters. EDA Seahawks for example cost around US$2 million each. Add another US$3 million for refurbishments and munitions costs, six ASW helicopters could be operational within two years for around RM100 million.
For the record, RMN currently operates six Super Lynx and six Fennec helicopters, respectively. RMN’s first helicopters were Westland Wasp, used examples procured from the Royal Navy.
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