THE last batch of W-3A Sokol helicopters that the government bought from Poland has been placed under flight and certification tests as a prelude to commissioning, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) official said.
“Our crew are putting [the aircrafts] in a series of tests and for certification. Once these requirements are met, commissioning of the four will immediately follow,” PAF Spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said on Monday.
The four 6-ton class helicopters are the last of the eight batches that the Department of National Defense (DND) ordered from PZL-Swidnik SA in 2010.
The first four were delivered last year and were commissioned in March 2012.
The fifth and sixth Sokol helicopters, on the other hand, arrived in the Philippines on November 26, 2012. The seventh and eighth batches were delivered last month.
PZL-Swidnik, an AgustaWestland company, said the Sokols were transported from Lublin Airport to Clark Air Base onboard an An-124 Ruslan large cargo airplane.
The company added that the Sokols are “equipped with the latest navigation and avionics systems including 4-axis autopilot, EFIS system and night-vision goggle- compatible cockpit, allowing them to operate day and night in all weather conditions.”
Each helicopter, it added, can transport up to 11 troops in the cabin or can lift up to 2,100 kilograms, or 4,630 pounds, using its external cargo hook.
Powered by two engines, each with the take-off power of 662 kilowatts, the Sokols reach maximum speed of 260 kilometers per hour or 140 knots.
The company added that each helicopter can fly 734 kilometers or 402 nautical miles or stay airborne for over four hours using its standard fuel tanks.
“I’m pleased that the excellent operational capabilities of the Sokols are greatly appreciated by the Philippine Air Force. I look forward to expanding our close partnership with the customer in the future providing technical support and ongoing operational support for the Sokols,” PZL-Swidnik’s statement quoted Management Board President Mieczysław Majewski as saying.