The Philippine Navy has blest and commissioned two capabilities to highlight its 121st founding anniversary with the introduction of two new capabilities— the commissioning of its first two AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters and activation of the first four Hanwha Techwin amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs).
PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad. Said: “For today’s (Monday) ceremony we blest (and commissioned) two major capabilities of PN. First is the two anti-submarine warfare helicopters, (the) AW-159s (which) we acquired from Leonardo, UK.
“The two helos are equipped with modern sonar capability that can detect submarines underneath (the water and) armed with torpedos and missiles that can destroy submarines and big surface vessels and can perform search-and-rescue operations in the most challenging maritime environment.”
The AW-159s arrived in the country last May 7 and will be based on the two missile-armed frigates Hyundai Heavy Industries is constructing in South Korea.
These aircraft were acquired for P5.4 billion, including the munition, mission essential equipment and integrated logistics support.
Meanwhile, more naval assets and equipment will arrive and further boost the capabilities of the Navy in July.
These include three more multi-purpose attack crafts (MPACs), which will be armed with Spike-ER surface-to-surface missiles by the first quarter of 2020.
“Once completed, the PN will have 15 MPACs, six of which [will have] missile capabilities,” he added.
Also in July, the Navy will accept the delivery of its first-ever “Pohang”-class corvette, which was donated by South Korea.
Empedrad said the 60 PN personnel, who will compose its sailing crew, are now on the final stage of their training.
“The ship will be named after a Korean war hero, Capt. Conrado Yap and will sail to the Philippines before the end of July. It has two 76mm guns and two twin-barrel 30mm guns, it also has torpedo launchers and sonar capabilities that can detect submarines,” the PN chief added.
“With the guidance of the President to end insurgency in the next two years, the deployment of five ships, one ‘Pohang’ corvette and the PN’s MPACs in Mindanao, will hasten the end of the 50-year-old insurgency problem,” he added.
The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter. The helicopter has been ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army.
It is capable of speeds 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 (four hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel).
The AW-159s can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
Second is the four AVVs, which will be used by the Philippine Marine Corps in amphibious operations and can be launched by the PN’s strategic sealift vessels and landing ships.