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Air Force, Italian firm sign P3.44-B helicopter deal

A photo of AugustaWestland's AW-190 Power helicopter

MANILA, Philippines - The government has signed a contract with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland for the delivery of eight brand new attack helicopters worth P3.44 billion.

In a statement, AgustaWestland said the delivery of the AW109 Power helicopters would start next year. The package also includes initial logistics support and training for Air Force personnel.

The contract for the attack helicopter acquisition project was signed last month.

"It gives us great pleasure to sign this contract with the Philippine Air Force, further reinforcing the already strong partnership with the Department of National Defense," AgustaWestland chief executive officer Daniele Romiti said in a state news agency report.

“These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support,” the company said in a statement posted on its website.

“This contract further expands the presence of AgustaWestland in the Philippine helicopter market,” it added.

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The STAR previously reported that AgustaWestland had won the bidding for the delivery of eight Air Force attack helicopters. The notice of award has been issued to aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland late September.

The Air Force would be provided with eight attack helicopters with .50 cal machine guns and rocket launcher that can fire guarded rockets.

AgustaWestland’s bid is just P45,000 lower than the P3,441,460,000 approved budget for the project. A financial bid, however, can be accepted as long as it falls within the budget.

Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said the acquisition of the attack helicopters was a welcome development.

"(The attack helicopters) will complement the existing fleet of MG-520 (helicopters) and add punch to our combat air support assets. Interestingly, these are brand new equipment and will serve for a long time,” Okol said.

The firm will also provide initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.

Air Force Vice Commander Maj. Gen. Raul Dimatatac said they are maintaining about 12 MG-520 helicopters.

He said the AW109 Power helicopters could be used in addressing internal security threats like the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups.
AgustaWestland said the AW109 Power is an eight seat twin engine helicopter with a spacious cabin that can be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages.

The AW109 has a spacious cabin, a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines

AugustaWestland also won the P1.6 billion deal for three helicopters and 60 units of field ambulance for the Philippine Navy last December 2012.

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