2 ‘ATAK’ helicopters from Turkey delivered to PAF

Published March 9, 2022, 2:24 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) bolstered its fleet with the arrival of two units of T-129 ATAK helicopters from Turkey on past Wednesday midnight, March 9, in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Two units of T-129 ATAK helicopter from Turkey arrive at Clark Air Base in Mabalacat, Pampanga on March 9, 2022. (Courtesy of Philippine Air Force)

Col. Maynard Mariano, PAF spokesperson, said the two T-129 helicopters and its initial logistics support were loaded onboard two A400M airbus of the Turkish Air Force and delivered to PAF around 12:30 a.m. at Clark Air Base.

The aircraft consist of the first batch of six units of T129s that were acquired by the PAF from the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for USD 269,388,862 in line with the “Horizon” 2 modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“This is a very modern aircraft so this is at par with [the] attack helicopters of other countries,” Mariano said.

“It will help a lot in our surface strike capabilities. It will help in our campaign in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This is something that we’ve been waiting for,” he added.

According to TAI, the T-129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. It offers a “flexible and adaptable weapons configuration solutions” to its users in the battlefield and is optimized for “hot temperature-high altitude” performance requirements against challenging geographical and environmental conditions.

T-129 ATAK helicopter (File photo from Philippine Air Force)

Mariano said the newly delivered ATAK helicopters will complement the existing two units of AH-1S “Cobra” choppers from Jordan. Other attack helicopters in the PAF’s fleet include Agusta Westland (AW109) and McDonnel Douglas MG520.

“We are really very much trying to help all our unified commands kasi alam naman po natin na medyo kulang ang ating mga equipment (we know that we are lacking in equipment) so this will complement our area commands in their missions,” Mariano stated.

The ATAK helicopters will undergo inspection and test flights before it is formally accepted into the PAF fleet.

Once commissioned into service, it will be operated by the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing based in Sangley Point, Cavite for close air support to ground troops, armed surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

“We expect this to be in commission maybe [in] a month or two at the most depending on the pace of the acceptance test flights,” Mariano said.

Meanwhile, the PAF has no details yet as to the delivery of four remaining units of the Turkish aircraft.