MERSIN, Turkey — The Philippines took delivery of the last two of six T129 combat helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries, the company announced this week, about a year behind the anticipated schedule.

The acquisition is part of the Philippines’ Horizon 2 program to modernize its armed forces.

The helicopters arrived at Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite on May 17. A ceremony marking their arrival involved the head of the Philippines’ Air Combat Command, the wing commander of the 15th Strike Wing, and other unit commanders and representatives from the country’s Air Force.

The two platforms, designated No. 1505 and No. 1506, are the fifth and sixth T129 Atak helicopters procured through a $269 million government-to-government agreement with Turkey. They were meant to arrive in early 2023, Defense News previously reported.

The Philippine Air Force confirmed that the two helicopters, which initially arrived in the Philippines on Nov. 29, underwent technical inspections before their commissioning this month.

“These helicopters, known for their high performance in hot, high, and maritime conditions, are expected to significantly enhance the air force’s combat capabilities, particularly in urban warfare scenarios,” the service said in a news release.

The T129 is a twin-engine attack helicopter designed for day and night missions. It features observation and targeting systems, precision weapons capabilities, and lethal fire support technology.

The Philippine military is realigning its modernization program amid tension with China in nearby waterways. According to Philippine Army Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner, these changes aim to protect the country’s territories in the South China Sea, particularly Thitu Island, one of several disputed islands in the region.

A territorial defense strategy, released last year by the Philippines, prioritizes the protection of islands claimed by the country, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, including Thitu Island, Loaita Cay, West York Island, Flat Island and Nanshan Island.

Tayfun Ozberk is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

More In Asia Pacific