MELBOURNE, Australia — The first T129B attack helicopters arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday, six months later than originally expected.
Two Airbus A400M airlifters of the Turkish Air Force touched down at Clark Air Base outside the Philippine capital Manila just after midnight local time on March 9, carrying two T129Bs along with unspecific logistics support equipment.
The Philippines has six helicopters on order under a $269 million government-to-government contract with Turkey that was signed in July 2020. The acquisition program is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Philippines’ military modernization plan.
The helicopters are manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries and is based on the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta design. The new helos will be assigned to the Philippine Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing. The Air Force previously posted photos of two of the helicopters on its social media pages.
The delivery date was pushed from September to November, and then to December 2021, before arriving March 9, 2022. The second pair of helicopters were due to arrive last month, with the final pair scheduled for delivery in early 2023.
The T129Bs will complement a pair of used Bell AH-1S HueyCobra attack helicopters acquired from Jordan, along with armed light observation and transport helicopters in the Philippine Air Force’s inventory.
Helicopters are a vital capability for the Philippine military’s efforts to fight an ongoing communist insurgency throughout the country as well as separatist movements in the south.
The Philippines has also been recapitalizing its transport helicopter fleet with S-70i Black Hawks built under license by Poland’s PZL Mielec. These will complement the Air Force’s fleet of Bell UH-1 Huey utility/transport helicopters.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.