By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, (PNA) — Aside from being heavily-armed, the two frigates which the Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring to beef up the Philippine Navy (PN), will also have its own helicopter thus making it more capable in protecting the country’s territorial waters.
Details obtained by the PNA showed that the frigates will have hangar and deck facilities for at least one helicopter weighing up to 10-tons.
The ships’ hangar dimensions were placed at 14.3 meters long, 9.5 meters wide and 4.5 meters in height.
Military sources said that having helicopters aboard these frigates will greatly increase the monitoring, detection, patrolling and offensive capabilities of these new ships.
It was not immediately known what type of helicopters will be acquired for the new frigates.
Earlier, the PN announced that it will be receiving three AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” helicopters this coming December.
The aircraft are expected to be deployed aboard the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).
Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PN spokesperson, said prospective airframe, avionics and flight crews of the three AW-109 choppers are now undergoing training at Sesto Calende, Italy.
“The last batch of pilots (and technicians) undergoing training at the AW-109 will leave by the first week of November,” Fabic stated.
The PN spokesperson added that these specialized trainings varies from two to four months.
“It is included in (acquisition) package and at no costs to the government,” he stressed.
Fabic said that morale is pretty good at the PN and personnel selected for these training programs are very proud that they are called to serve their country anew.
“The PN is also very thankful to the present administration for the continued support that the Navy is receiving,” the PN spokesperson emphasized.
The contract for the three AW-109 naval helicopters weresigned last April and will be delivered this coming December.
These choppers are worth around P1.33 billion.
The AW-109 “Power” is a three-ton class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.
The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.
The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.
The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.
Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.
For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.
The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.
Over 550 AW-109 “Power” and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.