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The Philippine Air Force will be acquiring more attack helicopters to beef up its fleet as part of a long-term upgrade program, a PAF official said.
“The attack helicopter project is a continuing program up until we are able to close the capability gap. It’s laid out in the PAF Flight Plan 2028 and very much in line with the president’s thrust,” Air Force spokesperson Col. Araus Robert Musico said in a message to the PNA.
This would boost the existing MD-520 attack units and newly-acquired AW-109s, he added. At present, PAF has between 12 to 16 MD-520s and eight AW-109 attack helicopters.
Attack helicopters, in the Philippine setting, are often deployed as rocket and machinegun platforms to help troops in clearing and pursuit operations.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to acquire more attack helicopters to aid troops in their operations against bandits and lawless groups.
In its 14-year strategic roadmap called Flight Plan 2028, the PAF will build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize intrusions in Philippine airspace and in the West Philippine Sea from “Area Readiness 3 to Area Readiness 1.”
“Area Readiness 3” refers to coverage of 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territory while “Area Readiness 1” means 100 percent of the country’s territory, which is estimated to be 40,000 square nautical miles.