The Philippine Army (PA) has received two R-44 Raven light training helicopters from unnamed donors which will be used to boost the capabilities of its aviation regiment, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.
Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief of Staff, thanked the donors who refused to be identified, as he said the light choppers will be used for the military’s aviation regiment training while the Army looks forward to acquiring additional air assets under the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).
The light choppers were commissioned into service by Army chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, at the Army Aviation Regiment in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last October 6.
The donations were among the new acquisitions of the military which are deemed crucial in achieving its goal of crushing external and internal security threats, particularly the New People’s Army (NPA) and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The Army will purchase light tanks and self-propelled artillery under the Horizons 1 and 2 of the RAFPMP in a bid to beef up its assets to help them achieve their mission objectives.
“The AFP Modernization program provides us with the necessary tools in defeating internal and external threats. It particularly gives as the leverage in facing terrorist groups,” Gapay said.
He also extended gratitude to President Duterte for supporting the military’s modernization through the RAFPMP, although the budget intended for the second Horizon of the program was slashed by P9.4 billion to fund the government’s COVID-19 response.
“We cannot stress the importance of being well-equipped as we face all these adversaries in our territorial defense, counter-insurgency efforts, including humanitarian response,” Gapay said.
“Enhancing our capabilities in terms of equipment and assets gives us the motivation and preparedness to overcome these challenges,” he added.
PAF’s new attack planes
Aside from these, six units of Super Tucano A-29B attack planes from Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA were delivered to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) last month.
The acquisition of the fixed wing light attack aircrafts was part of a deal worth P4.9 billion between the Philippine government and Embraer SA made in 2017.
The choppers are now being utilized by the 15th Strike Wing based at the Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite to support and eventually replace its remaining OV-10 Bronco and SF-260 attack planes, said Gapay.
The AFP Chief said at least 14 air forces around the world are using the Super Tucano A-29B which has an electro-optical infrared and laser-firing technology in its arsenal.
The attack planes are seen to be beneficial in the military’s counter-insurgency operations and will complement the FA-50 fighter jets used by the PAF to pound Daesh-linked Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf Group, and other foreign terrorists during the Marawi City siege in 2017.
PN’s second brand new frigate
Gapay confirmed that the Philippine Navy’s future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) positively passed its first sea trials which were conducted in South Korean waters from September 24 to 29.
The future BRP Antonio Luna is the second missile-capable frigate of the Navy and the sister ship of BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).
The acquisition of the BRP Jose Rizal and the future BRP Antonio Luna was part of a P16-billion deal between the Philippine government and South Korean shipmaker Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2016.
The delivery of the second frigate was originally set this month but it was moved to the first quarter of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is seen to boost the anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW) operations of the Navy, Gapay said.