THE Department of National Defense (DND) announced on Monday that it has allocated P5.4 billion to fund the acquisition of two brand-new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Philippine Navy.
This was confirmed by DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations, and munitions Fernando Manalo in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
Manalo said the budget for acquiring the two ASW helicopters is placed at P5.4 billion and the acquisition process for the aircraft is expected to be completed by this year.
The Philippine Navy earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring the AW-159 "Wildcat" as its ASW helicopters.
The Navy is in the market for two ASW helicopters.
This is part of the country's Medium Term Defense Acquisition List for the next four years.
The ASW choppers will be assigned to the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).
The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.
The AW-159 will serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles.
The helicopter has been ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army.
It is to enter service with the British Army in 2014 and with the Royal Navy in 2015.
It has a crew of two, has a maximum speed of 291 kilometers per hour (181 mph), range of 777 km (483 miles), ferry range of 963 km (598 miles) and an endurance of one and a-half hours (fours hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel)
The AW-159 is fitted with forward firing CRV7 rockets and machine guns, pintle mounted machine gun, Sea Skua missiles and Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges.
The acquisition process for these ASW helicopters is expected to go on full gear once the Philippine Navy completes its five AW-109 order deal from AgustaWestland by the third quarter of 2014. (PNA)