21 Agustus 2015
A Philippine Navy weaponised AW109 helicopter on board the frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz. (photos : Philippine Navy
The Philippine Navy (PN) has begun preparations to deploy weaponised versions of its AgustaWestland AW109 helicopter on board its Pilar (Hamilton and Hero)-class frigates, the PN's director of public affairs, Commander Lued Lincuna, told IHS Jane's on 20 August.
According to Cdr Lincuna, the frigates had previously embarked non-weaponised versions of the helicopter for testing, qualification, and crew familiarisation.
The PN has three non-weaponised AW109s (delivered in December 2013), and commissioned two weaponised versions on 10 August 2015.
"The ships' crew are already familiar with the aircraft and there should not be too many adjustments to take on the armed variants," said Cdr Lincuna. He added that the two new aircraft should be fully operational on board the frigates "in the next few weeks"
The weaponised versions carry two 12.7 mm machine gun pods, each with launchers for three 70 mm laser-guided rockets. The aircraft can also be configured to carry a sonobuoy dispenser for anti-submarine warfare operations.
According to IHS Jane's All the World's Aircraft , the AW109 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206C engines and has a top speed of 154 kt.
"Once operational, the helicopters will boost the Philippine Navy's maritime surveillance and combat capabilities," said Cdr Lincuna.
The PN first qualified the AW109 platform for use on board its Pilar-class frigates, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), in 2014.