One of the two Bell AH-1S ‘Cobra’ attack helicopters of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has arrived at 15th Strike Wing headquarters at the Major Danilo Atienza Air Base (MDAAB) in Sangley Point, Cavite City on Thursday. The AH-1S ‘Cobra’ piloted by Major Reese James A. Obeso, PAF, Squadron Commander, 20th Attack Squadron, and Capt. Wilmore Kristus A. Tanamor took off from Clark Air Base and performed low passes before making their first touchdown at MDAAB. After which, the aircraft was rendered the traditional water cannon salute and was blessed by Father Salcedo Galvan. It was then followed by the ceremonial champagne pouring to mark both the joy and sanctity of the occasion. 15th Strike Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Aristotle Gonzalez and other ranking officers of the unit welcomed the aircraft and its crew.
The two Bell AH-1S ‘Cobra’ attack helicopters were donated by the Jordanian government in 2018. In September 2018, the Philippine Department of National Defense and the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation. The PAF, at the time, sent four pilots to Jordan for the training in handling the Cobra helicopters. Two of them underwent further training to become test and instructor pilots. On November 26, the Philippines finally received the helicopters from Jordan. The helicopters arrived at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) headquarters in Clark Airbase, Pampanga, and the arrival was subsequently communicated via an official statement by the Philippine military. The two helicopters would be used mainly for close air support in internal security and counterterrorism operations.
The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a single-engined attack helicopter developed and manufactured by the American rotorcraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter. A member of the prolific Huey family, the AH-1 is also referred to as the HueyCobra or Snake. The AH-1 was developed using the engine, transmission and rotor system of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, which had proven itself to be a capable platform during the Vietnam War. It was produced in response to fulfil a need for a dedicated armed escort for transport helicopters to give the latter greater survivability in contested environments. The AH-1 was a dedicated attack helicopter, featuring a tandem cockpit, stub wings for weapons, and a chin-mounted gun turret. For several decades, the AH-1 formed the core of the US Army’s attack helicopter fleet, seeing combat in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and Iraq.
Jordan obtained an initial batch of 24 AH-1Fs during the late 1980s. In 2001, nine additional ex-US Army Cobras were acquired to supplement the fleet. During 2010, Jordan transferred 16 AH-1F helicopters to Pakistan under a US-sponsored support program that provided Islamabad with 40 AH-1 refurbished helicopters. In late 2014, Israel and Jordan came to an agreement under which the former transferred 16 ex-IAF Cobras to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. The deal was publicly stated to be for the purpose of increasing border security, which was viewed as a pressing concern of both nations due to the threats posed by Islamic State (IS) militants, as well as by other insurgent groups, at that time. The Royal Jordanian Air Force has at least one squadron of Cobras in service, and is supposed to have used them in combat in Iraq and Syria.