Marcos welcomes PAF's new Turkish aircraft

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has thanked the Turkish government for its support in strengthening the Philippine Air Force (PAF) as he led the ceremonial blessing of two helicopters in Malacañang on Friday, December 9.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. leads the ceremonial blessing of two T129 Atak Helicopters at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Compound in Malacañang on December 9, 2022. (Malacañang photo)

In a Facebook post, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said Marcos also commended the PAF for its role in defending the country, among others.

"Nagpasalamat ang Pangulo sa Turkish Aerospace Industries at sa Turkish government bilang katuwang ng bansa sa pagpapalakas ng PAF (The President thanked the Turkish Aerospace Industries and the Turkish government the country's partner in strengthening the PAF)," it wrote.

"Kinilala rin ni PBBM ang serbisyo at galing ng Air Force lalo na sa aspeto ng (The President also recognize the Air Force for its service and skill in) external defense, internal security operations, and disaster response and relief operations," it furthered.

In a statement, Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil said Marcos ensured his administration would fully support the PAF in its vision to become "world-class."

The President also expressed hope that the modernization goal and PAF's recent advancement will drive it to enhance its defense capabilities consistently, perform its duties effectively and protect the nation with vigor and pride.

Marcos expects the recently acquired helicopters to improve the Air Force's operational readiness and responsiveness and empower it to fulfill its mandate to the country and the people.

The two T129 Atak Helicopters are part of the six units the PAF acquired from the Republic of Türkiye. These are based on the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta design.

This is also the second delivery batch from the Turkish Aerospace Industries as part of the Atak Helicopters Acquisition Program under the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

The new assets will complement a pair of refurbished Bell AH-1S Huey Cobra attack helicopters from Jordan and armed light observation and transport helicopters in PAF's inventor.

Last March, the PAF received the two T129 along with unspecific logistics support equipment under a $269 million government-to-government contract with Türkiye signed in July 2020.

Once operational, these air assets are expected to support the AFP's numerous missions and enhance the PAF's surface strike system.

The new helicopters will also be utilized mainly for close air support for ground troops, armed surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The Philippines has six helicopters on order under the multi-million dollar contract, which is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the AFP modernization program.