Navy AW-159 choppers specialized ops training to start soon

The deck-landing training for the aircrew of the AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopters and integration to the Jose Rizal-class missile frigates will start once British instructors arrive in the country with the easing of the pandemic, the chief of the Philippine Navy (PN) said Tuesday. 

Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the arrival of the foreign instructors has been delayed by the travel ban in effect due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.

“(We will start) once the (British) instructors arrive for the ‘helops’ (helicopter operations) (phase), which includes deck-landing operations and eventual integration (of the AW-159s to the ship)” he said in an interview.

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 that year.

“Also included in their training is the dipping of (the AW-159s) flash sonar and other sensors (in conjunction with the) FF-150,” Bacordo said.

The dipping of flash sonar signifies that the helicopter is attempting to detect a submerged or submarine contact.

The contract for the helicopters’ munition, mission essential equipment, and integrated logistic support is worth PHP5.4 billion.

The helicopters can be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges and fitted with modern sonar systems for tracking down submarines. (PNA)

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