Philippines Buys ASW Helicopters

A CGI impression of the WIldcat

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.

A CGI image of two AW159 Wildcat armed to the teeth
A CGI image of two AW159 Wildcat armed to the teeth

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).

Philippine Navy armed AW109s.
Philippine Navy armed AW109s.

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)
BNB/PFN”

RMN Super Lynx helicopter fitted with 50 calibre HMG.
RMN Super Lynx helicopter fitted with 50 calibre HMG.

News Analysis
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.

RMN Super Lynx was also used during flood relief operations in late 2014. TLDM picture.
RMN Super Lynx was also used during flood relief operations in late 2014. TLDM picture.

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.

RMN Fennec M502-04 fitted with a GPMG.
RMN Fennec M502-04 fitted with a GPMG.

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.

One of the preserved Westland Wasp M499-02.
One of the preserved Westland Wasp M499-02.

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.

— Malaysian Defence

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12 Comments

  1. Congratulations to the Philippines navy for the asw helicopters.

    As for the malaysian navy asw requirements, they need an asw helicopter capability at the same time as the gowind frigate in service date.

    As for used asw helicopters. I see 2 possible options.

    1) used lynx airframes upgraded to similar wildcat standards. The wildcat and tldm lynx uses the same transmission and engines (unlike older lynxes). Brazil and Portugal is upgrading their lynxes. Portugals 5 lynx to be upgraded (latest engine, transmission and avionics) for usd 78million. A fleet of 6 used lynx upgraded to latest asw standards could be had for maybe usd 100-120 million.

    2) used seahawks. Either from us navy (heavily used) or ex Australian navy (15 units, replaced by 24 mh-60r seahawks)

  2. Better to stick with Lynx/wildcat tho since there is existing experience in term of pilots, logistics and ground crew.

  3. There may be other – cheaper of options available but for a number of reasons the RMN will go for new. On paper, from a commonality viewpoint, Wildcat is the best option; only problem is the lack of internal space inside the cabin when the sonar and its associated gear are installed. I would like to assume that the issue of adequate power supply to power the ASW gear – a problem encountered with the Lynx – has been sorted out. If something with more space and more endurance and range was desired then its the MH-60. Airbus Helicopters will off course offer a navalised variant of the Cougar but I doubt this will attract much interest.

    ZekMR – ”It’s quite a quantum leap in ASW capabilities for the pinoys”

    Indeed and it will take them some time to gain the needed experience and skill sets. The PN is probably the first navy in the world to acquire ASW configured helicopters before any of its ships have a missile of any kind – of course this could change and missiles could be acquired before their Wildcats are delivered.

  4. What about the AS565 Panther? Is it not a potential asset?

    Reply
    Only three helicopters are the likely candidates the Wildcat, Seahawk and Cougar

  5. Currently there is a smaller and more compact dipping sonar system for the lynx helicopter. Compared to the older bulkier aqs-18 system on most older lynx, thales has designed a more compact and lighter system called the compact FLASH.

    https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/defence/compact-flash-dipping-sonar

    Already designed to fit in lynx helicopters and choosen by south korea for its wildcat helicopters.

    https://cdn1.defesaaereanaval.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Sonar-Compact-FLASH.jpg

  6. If i may ask, why does bomba, pdrm, putd, tudm and apmm use different types of helicopters and not to mention from different manufacturers.

    Reply
    No lah some used the same helicopter ie the AW139. Different set of requirements calls for different set of solutions. Furthermore, a monopoly is not good. Anyhow, the more the merrier!

  7. AS565 is a much lighter helicopter than either the Lynx or Seahawk.

    And I recall some here being concerned that the Seahawk may not fit in the hangar on the Kedah or Lekiu.

    Reply
    The Seahawk will fit into the Lekiu not sure about the Kedah though.

  8. Seahawks are 4 meters (less than the length of a car) longer than the Lynx.

    How much would it cost to lengthen the hangar by this amount, and extend the landing pad over the fantail? Is it doable?

    Reply
    My guess is that they need to fit an extra hull module for that to happen.

  9. If the lynx can fit inside the hangar without folding its tail boom, than it can fit a seahawk with boom folded.

    Lynx length 13.3m, tail folded 10.8m

    Seahawk length tail folded 12.5m

  10. Seeing that the folded length is only 1.7m greater, perhaps we only need to extend the hangar superstructure.

    As for the landing pad, I was thinking of propping up a larger landing area on struts over the fantail. Ugly, but cheaper than adding a hull module.

  11. From a Filipino standpoint I am bit surprised that this gets awarded very soon, it been just over 1 year since the project started and its gets awarded in just 1 1/2 year in contrast to the 5 years it took to buy FA50s.

    Even the ship that will carry it is not yet awarded. We expect it to be temporarily stationed on the Landing Platform Dock that will be delivered this May 2016.

    The first unit might be in service already next year.

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