With the impending arrival of the Navy’s first two Agusta Westland AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopters by the first quarter of 2019, the PN will now have the capability to detect and engage underwater targets.
“It is a big leap essentially [because] with this capability, we now have this tool [capable] of securing not only the surface waters that we have but also underwater,” Zata noted.
Before the AgustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopter was acquired, the PN had no capability to detect and engage sub-surface threats.
The AW-159 will be based aboard the two new frigates being constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The PN spokesman said the aircraft will be fitted with sensors and weapons capable of neutralizing sub-surface threats.
The aircraft were acquired for P5.4 billion, including munitions, mission-essential equipment and integrated logistic support.
The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.
The AW-159 can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
Meanwhile, the PN’s surveillance and monitoring capability was boosted with the formal donation of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force of three more Beechcraft King Air TC-90 patrol aircraft last March 26.
The TC-90, which is part of the Beechcraft King Air aircraft family, was offered by Japan shortly after the Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology was finalized on February 29, 2016.
The first two TC-90s were delivered to the Philippines on March 27, 2017, while the last three aircraft were handed over to the PN last March 26.