The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has awarded the Anglo-Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Sector (previously known as AgustaWestland Helicopters) a $114 million contract to supply the Philippine Navy with two AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat military helicopters to boost the Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports.
The contract was awarded under the DND’s Anti-Submarine Helicopter Acquisition Project for the Philippine Navy, which to date lacks an airborne anti-submarine warfare capability. The document seen by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly did not offer details about the likely delivery date nor did it confirm that the DND has in fact ordered two aircraft. The DND undersecretary for finance, munition, materiel, and modernization, Fernando Manalo, however, confirmed the purchase to local media.
Once inducted, the AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopters will likely be stationed aboard the Hamilton-class BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and the Hero-class frigate Ramon Alcarez. Both vessels were acquired from the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
“Designed to operate from the smallest helicopter-capable ship,” according to the company website, the AW159 can be accommodated by even the smallest frigate and offshore patrol vessel and is thus an ideal aircraft for the Philippine Navy given the smaller size of its surface warships in comparison to the ships of other navies in the Asia-Pacific region.
There is no detailed information available on what variant of the helicopter will be delivered and what weapons packages will come with it. According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, “the AW159 can be configured to carry active dipping sonar (ADS), sonobuoys, and torpedoes, while for the anti-surface warfare role it can be armed with anti-ship missiles, rockets, and guns.”
Weapon systems could potentially include British-made Sting Ray torpedoes, depth charges, Thales Martlet lightweight multirole missiles, and Anglo-French Sea Venom anti-ship missiles.
The all-weather helicopter is powered by two LHTEC CTS800-4N engines and has a maximum range of 265 nautical miles (490 kilometers). The aircraft also features integrated digital open systems architecture and is equipped with a “fully-integrated avionics and mission systems,” the Finmeccanica company website explains.
“The platform is equipped with the latest communications, navigation systems, advanced sensors and a wide range of weapons, providing mission commanders with Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Search and Rescue (SAR) capabilities,” according to Finmeccanica.
In addition to the two helicopters, the Philippine military intends to procure two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft, three aerial surveillance radars, and the first two out of a total of 12 FA50 light fighter jets ordered from South Korea in 2016 (See: “Philippines Push for Military Modernization in new Budget Proposal”).