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Philippines aims to procure 23 attack helicopters in 2018
February 22, 2018
T129 ATAK. Photo source: Turkish Aerospace Industries

Philippines aims to procure 23 attack helicopters in 2018

In a speech, the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte outlined his government’s intention to procure 23 new attack helicopters to bolster Manilla’s counterinsurgency (COIN) capabilities.

Duterte announced that he “will ask military officials to go to different places to negotiate [for the attack helicopters] immediately.” If there are fiscal gaps, Manilla will consider a soft-loan.

Notes & Comments:

In terms of new armament acquisitions, many of the Philippines’ purchases have thus far come from South Korea. Since 2014, Manilla has ordered Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Golden Eagle lightweight fighters and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) frigates. The Duterte government has articulated a policy of maintaining diverse defence suppliers, which could possibly include vendors from China and Russia.

However, Manilla will have to approach other sellers for attack helicopters, which may open opportunities for China, Russia, India and Turkey. In fact, earlier in November, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) made a concerted push to market the T129 ATAK attack helicopter along with the Anka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and Hürkuş-C COIN aircraft to the Southeast Asian market. TAI General Manager Temel Kotil said that the company had engaged with regional officials, including those from the Philippines.

It should be noted that the T129 is powered by the same turboshaft engine platform – i.e. LHTEC CTS800 – as the AW159 Wildcat anti-submarine warfare helicopter, which Manilla has on order from Leonardo. This presents the Philippines with the space to streamline its aircraft maintenance infrastructure.

On the other hand, the relative dearth of prospective suppliers of tested attack helicopters could enable China to push for its Z-10 and/or Z-19 platforms. The Z-10 and Z-19 benefit from considerable domestic scale in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), thus scaling the development overhead that had gone into these aircraft, reducing unit costs and assuring continued development. Moreover, Beijing is in a position to back its defence hardware with credit or financing programs.

  • Joseph

    South Korea does seem to have attack helicopter ambitions, for example
    KAI / Airbus Helicopters Light Armed Helicopter (LAH):https://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=1369

    But I guess Philippines wants something right away, LAH is unlikely to make it in time.

  • Sami Shahid

    Lol Philippines should have bought JF-17 from Pakistan rather then going for Korean air craft.

    • Suhail Farooqui

      Sir,Philippine is a Western & American influenced country,I think this the reason they might have decided in favor of Korean air craft.Can you plz apprise us with comparison of both JF-17 & Korean jet,will appreciate it.

      • Joseph

        Philippines, at least the president Rodrigo Duterte, seems to have strong reservations about US, which can be seen from this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHjlCmdyesY

        US is definitely courting him, hoping to turn Philippines against China. But so far Philippines seems to be cautious and try to stay neutral. It’s armed forces procurement seems to be very diversified, only small portions are from US, probably worried about the strings attached.

        From the look of it Philippines air force is mainly focused on anti-insurgency operations, has almost no fighter aircraft. Combat aircraft mostly just trainer/strike aircraft and scout helicopters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_of_the_Philippine_Air_Force

        I don’t think they want a serious fighter aircraft like JF-17. I don’t think they even need their attack helicopters to have anti-tank capabilities, as Rodrigo Duterte stated they were for anti-insurgents mostly.

        T129 could be considered too serious (and expensive), Chinese Z-19 may have a shot, but so far Philippines has not bought anything from China yet, for a country where military budget is a concern that could mean Philippines might have been worrying about any affiliation with China could anger US, and it’s leaders could end up on CIA’s hit list (Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in the interview about foreign leaders being removed by US, it sounds like a concern to him as well).

        • Joseph

          Interesting. It seems nobody takes trainer modified combat aircraft seriously, not just T-50, but all the others. None of them seems to be considered as a serious competitor to Gripen, there must be a reason for that.

          Is trainer air-frame design somewhat different? Maybe focusing more on flying cost instead of combat performance that sort of thing?

          FA-50 does look awfully like JF-17 though.

    • jolly l.l.b

      Does JF-17 have any twin seat variants for training? If now, how are they suppose to train pilots for this AC

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