Air Force to get 4 Polish-made brand new choppers

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Thursday, March 8, 2012


MANILA -- Four brand new choppers for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be turned over on Friday by a Polish manufacturer to the Philippine government, Malacañang said Thursday.

The four new aircraft signals the near completion of the initial phase of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Plan aimed at making the air force more equipped in performing its mandate, it said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will be the guest of honor during the formal turn-over of the choppers in a simple ceremony to be held at Air Force City in Clark, Pampanga.

PZL-SWIDNIK SA, a Polish manufacturing company headed by its president Mieczyslaw Majewski, will turn-over the initial four of eight SOKOL multi-purpose Combat Utility Helicopters (CUH) to the fleet of PAF under the Aquino administration's AFP modernization program.

The arrival of the brand new combat helicopter is part of the P2.8 billion acquisition contract between the AFP and PZL-SWIDNIK SA.

Certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), these six-tonne class twin-engine helicopters have been proven to be effective and reliable in all weather conditions. An added feature of the SOKOL helicopter includes its high flexibility and significant internal and external cargo capacity, making it capable of performing a wide range of operations and an excellent utility chopper.

Dubbed as "Back to Basics," the first phase of the Modernization Program focuses on improving the AFP’s ability to conduct Internal Security Operations. Under this phase, the target acquisition include eight combat utility helicopters, seven attack helicopters, one C-130 aircraft, a long-range patrol aircraft and 18 basic trainer aircraft.

For the Capability Upgrade Program, more advanced aircrafts are expected in Phases 2 and 3 where PAF-related components are grouped into the "Horizon Programs" with Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2012 to 2016 time frame.

Under the Horizon 2, the Air Force expects the delivery of Territorial Defense assets such as Surface Attack Aircraft, Lead-in Fighter Trainers, Long-Range Patrol Aircraft, Air Defense Radar and a Special Mission aircraft, among other that will greatly boost the country’s defense stance against external threats.

Republic Act 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act of 1995 has provided the military an opportunity to modernize with a total fund of P331 billion.

The plan follows a strict schedule for upgrades in order to modernize the AFP to a level where it can effectively and fully perform its constitutional mandate to defend the sovereignty and protect and preserve the patrimony of the Republic. (SDR/Sunnex)

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