The Philippine Navy commissioned its two Leonardo AW159 Wildcat anti-submarine warfare helicopters in a ceremony on June 18, 2019.
The induction of the two helicopters, which had arrived in the Philippines on May 7, 2019, coincided with the 121st anniversary of the founding of the Philippine Navy.
Speaking at the dual ceremony, Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, told local media: “For today’s ceremony we blessed two major capabilities of the Philippine Navy. The first is the two ASW helicopters, AW159s, which we acquired from Leonardo UK. The two helicopters are equipped with a modern sonar capability that can detect submarines and armed with torpedoes and missiles that can destroy submarines and large surface vessels and can perform search and rescue missions in the most challenging maritime environment.”
The second new capability VADM Empedrad referred to were the first four Hanwha Techwin Amphibious Assault Vehicles, procured from South Korea.
The two Wildcats, acquired under a PHP 5.4 billion deal, will be embarked on the Philippine Navy’s two Jose Rizal class guided missile frigates currently under construction by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea and scheduled for delivery in 2020.
In the meantime, the Philippine Navy announced on June 20, 2019, that training of pilots and aircrewman on the AW159s had recently begun. Nigel Pittaway