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PAF Gears Up With Brand New Combat Utility Helicopters

 Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will formally accept the initial four (4) of the eight (8) brand new multi-purpose combat utility helicopters as part of the P2.8B acquisition contract between the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP) and WYTWORINIA SPREZETU KOMUNIKACY JNEGO “”PZL-SWIDNIK”SPOLJA AKCY JNA in a simple ceremony on March 9, 2012, from 8:00am to 12:00noon at the 410th Hangar, Air Force City, Clark, Pampanga.

     The arrival of these brand new CUH signals the near completion of the initial phase of the PAF’s Modernization Plan and people could expect more advanced aircraft acquisitions, apt for territorial defense, soon.

     In a press statement, PAF PIO Director Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto G. Okol PAF (GSC) said that the continuation of the AFP Modernization Program is due “to the strong determination of our  Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, not to mention the solid commitment of H.E. President Benigno Aquino III – our Commander in Chief, to see a modernized Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during his term.”   

     Dubbed as “Back to Basics,” the first phase of the Modernization Program focuses on improving the AFP’s ability to conduct Internal Security Operations (ISO). Under this phase, the target acquisitions include eight (8) combat utility helicopters, seven (7) attack helicopters, one (1) C-130 aircraft and a long-range patrol aircraft and 18 Basic Trainer Aircraft.

     For the Capability Upgrade Program (CUP), Okol added that “more advanced aircraft are expected in Phases 2 and 3 where PAF related components are grouped into what it calls “Horizon Programs”, with Horizon 2 expected to begin in the 2012 to 2016 time frame.”  

     For Horizon 2, PAF expects the delivery of Territorial Defense assets such as Surface Attack Aircraft, Lead-In Fighter Trainers, Long Range Patrol Aircraft, Air Defense Radar, and a Special Mission aircraft, among others which will greatly boost the country’s defense stance against external threats.

     Initially, Republic Act No. 7898, otherwise known as the AFP Modernization Act of 1995 has given the military the opportunity to modernize with a total fund of P331B. The modernization plan follows a strict schedule for upgrades in order to modernize the AFP to a level where it can effectively and fully perform its constitutional mandate to defend the sovereignty and protect and preserve the patrimony of the republic.

     Various domestic security concerns since 1999, prompted the AFP to realign its modernization priorities to procure the necessary operational and intelligence requirements to support Internal Security Operations (ISO). Along with the equipment acquisition is the realization of providing significant attention to the other four components of the program, which is indispensable for ISO.

     The Sokol helicopters, once formally accepted by PAF, will greatly boost the search and rescue, medical evacuation and combat utility missions of the PAF.  Certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), these 6-tonne class twin-engine helicopters have been proven to be effective, rugged and reliable in all weather conditions. An added feature (of a SOKOL helicopter) includes its high flexibility and significant internal and external cargo capacity – making it capable of performing a wide range of operations and an excellent utility helicopter.  

     With the modernization in place, the newly appointed PAF Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Lauro Catalino G. Dela Cruz AFP continues to initiate programs that will ensure that PAF also modernizes from within by strengthening the inner core of its airmen with  discipline, a strict sense and value for time, continued fiscal and financial reforms and an appreciation for the organization’s role in Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan”


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