Philippine Navy says AW159 helicopters are ‘mission-capable'

Isa Khan

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The two Leonardo AW159 Lynx Wildcat anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable helicopters in service with the Philippines Navy (PN) “are flying and mission-capable”, PN chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo told the state-owned Philippines News Agency (PNA) on 26 May.

The two rotorcraft are expected to be deployed from the service's two new José Rizal-class frigates: BRP José Rizal (FF 150), which was commissioned in July 2020, and BRP Antonio Luna (FF 151), which entered service in March 2021.

However, the vice admiral said the aircraft's pilots and crew are still undergoing “mission essential and operation conversion training”, adding that the pilots have not yet been trained for deck-landing operations and integration on the José Rizal-class frigates.

According to Vice Adm Bacordo, the reason for this is that Leonardo instructors from the United Kingdom have yet to return to the Philippines to complete the training.

Leonardo Helicopters UK provides the training as part of a PHP5.36 billion (USD111 million) contract signed in 2016 for the two helicopters that also includes mission-essential equipment, integrated logistics support, and initial spares.

Among other things, the helicopters can be armed with Spike Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) air-to-surface missiles and Blue Shark lightweight torpedoes, both of which were delivered in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The two platforms were delivered in May 2019 and commissioned on 17 June of that year at Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite City. The AW159s are operated by the Naval Air Wing's Squadron MH-40 at Danilo Atienza Air Base.


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