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Military acquires eight combat helicopters for P2.8b

FOUR of eight Sokol combat utility helicopters from Swidnik of Poland have arrived, an official said Wednesday.

“The brand-new choppers arrived last night in Clark Air Base in Pampanga,” said Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans Maj. Gen. Roy Deveraturda.

“A group of technicians and pilots from the Air Force are conducting inspection and assessment and, if satisfied, they will immediately assemble them.”

The helicopters were the first batch of a P2.8-billion order placed a year ago. The next and last batch is scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter.

“These utility helicopters are multi-purpose,” Deveraturda said.

“You can use these for transporting troops or for air evacuation and disaster response. They can also be converted into ambulance choppers.”

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the choppers could be fitted with specialized equipment to match their mission, making them ideal utility helicopters.

For combat missions, the Sokol can be fitted with gun mounts for M60D machine guns on both sides, and when used for search and rescue over water operations, it can be equipped with pilot-controlled emergency flotation gear attached to the lowest portion of the aircraft.

The Air Force now has 50 helicopters of which 40 are operational at any given time.

Deveraturda said the Armed Forces was discussing the procurement of a squadron of F-16 jet fighters on the next phase of its modernization program.
by Florante S. Solmerin
February  16,2012


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