The Philippine Navy’s external and internal security capability to confront formidable foreign and local aggressors at sea would be enhanced with the acquisition of two sophisticated anti-submarine helicopters from the United Kingdom.
The two Agustawestland “Wildcat” 159 helicopters currently used by the British Royal Navy and British Army arrived in the country Tuesday, according to Navy Flag-Officer-in-Command Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad at the sidelines of the kickoff ceremony for military, police and civilian contingents for the elections.
The modern attack helicopters were acquired for P5.4 billion, which includes its munition, mission essential equipment, as well as integrated logistic support.
“It’s a great leap to our capability that we have equipment that can locate subsurface, submarines, we can detect the submarines going through our waters,” Empedrad told reporters.
The Agustawestland “Wildcat” has the capability to disable and sink submarines once hit by torpedoes upon detection.
“It can detect and it can sink, it can destroy submarines because these choppers have torpedoes and it is not only for detection, it can destroy too, so, this has a good capability but because the waters are too wide, we will need more of it,” he added.
Empedrad said the British-made helicopters has also sonar capabilities which would be further augmented by the proposed upgrades of three Del Pilar class offshore patrol vessels.
The helicopters, according to Empedrad, would be placed in service afer its blessing and commissioning at the Sangley Point, Cavite city yard on May 27 coinciding the Philippine Navy’s 121st founding anniversary.
The two helicopters are to be integrated with two South Korean missile-armed frigates which are now being constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The Wildcat helicopters is also armed with long-range rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
The helicopters would be the country’s first sophisticated naval asset, considered a deterrent piece of equipage against potential maritime intruders, amid the recurring tension at the West Philippine Sea.