AFP commissions 3 brand-new naval choppers
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 19, 2013 - 3:46pm

MANILA, Philippines - The military’s territorial defense and disaster response capabilities got an added boost on Thursday with the commissioning of three brand-new naval helicopters.

The commissioning, which allowed the Navy to deploy the helicopters to mission areas, was held in Camp Aguinaldo as part of the celebration of the Armed Forces’ 78th anniversary.

The helicopters constitute the first batch of naval helicopters to be delivered by the supplier, Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

The Navy is acquiring a total five AW 109 Power helicopters from AgustaWestland for P1.35-billion. The two remaining helicopters are expected to be delivered next year.

They are expected to accompany the frigates BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in patrolling the country’s territorial waters.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led the commissioning of the three naval helicopters, which are expected to be deployed to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The event was witnessed by key security officials including Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano and Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro dela Cruz.

“These (helicopters) will help a lot because our new ships, BRP del Pilar and BRP Alcaraz, will have helicopters aboard so it will extend the coverage of their patrols,” Bautista said.

“We can also use these helicopters if there are emergencies. They can be used to evacuate the sick. They can also be used for surveillance,” he added.

Alano said the helicopters are equipped with surveillance cameras that would allow them to transmit data to ships.

“Bringing both the del Pilar frigates together with the helicopters provides a very potent capability for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Navy in trying to monitor what is out there at seas and trying to ensure that we can are able to response to whatever types of situation,” the Navy chief said.

The helicopters will also be used for economic zone protection, surface surveillance, search and rescue and maritime security operations.

AGUSTASTLAND ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CAMP AGUINALDO DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN EMMANUEL BAUTISTA HELICOPTERS JOSE LUIS ALANO AND AIR FORCE PHILIPPINE NAVY RAMON ALCARAZ
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