Munitions for the major weapons system of the Philippine Navy (PN)’s two AugustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopters are now in the country.
“Both the Spike-NLOS (non-line of sight) missiles and the BlueShark anti-submarine torpedoes are already ‘in-country’,” Navy chief, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said in an interview on Thursday, when asked on the status of the weapon systems of the two AW-159 helicopters.
Bacordo said deliveries of the weapons were completed in the fourth quarter last year.
Israel’s Rafael Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd made Spike NLOS missile will give the AW-159s a capability to engage hostile vessels beyond visual range.
While the South Korean-made LIG Nex1 “Blue Shark” lightweight torpedoes will serve as the helicopters’ anti-submarine weapon and are capable of shallow and deepwater operations and can run off to a speed of 45 knots.
Once the pilots and aircrew of the AW-159s are fully trained, Bacordo said he expects these personnel to train on the use of these weapons to gain proficiency in their handling.
The PN’s two AW-159s were acquired to complement the Jose Rizal-class frigates’ ASW capabilities.
The helicopters arrived in May 2019 and were commissioned in June of the same year.
The contract for the helicopters’ munition, mission essential equipment, and integrated logistic support is worth PHP5.4 billion. (PNA)