The Philippine Air Force (PAF) announced that two of the six units of the Turkish-made T129 “ATAK” attack helicopters it has acquired arrived at Clark Air Base, Pampanga early Wednesday. The A-400Ms are cargo aircraft of the Turkish Air Force. One of the A-400Ms carried the two helicopters while the other aircraft transported the initial logistics requirement of the two T129s. The helicopters would undergo technical inspection and flight tests before being accepted for service to the PAF. It will undergo inspection, it will undergo acceptance (test), test flights before the acceptance ceremonies can be done and it will go through a lot of orientation in (the) country, together with the pilots and the crew.
The two T129 helicopters are to be commissioned within one or two months at the most. The Turkish-made attack helicopters are expected to enhance the “surface strike system” of the Air Force. The six T129s were acquired by the PAF from the Turkish Aerospace Industries in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Plan – Horizon 2. The PAF’s 15th Strike Wing would operate the T129s, which will be used for close-air support for ground troops and armed surveillance and reconnaissance. The T129 is a dedicated attack helicopter, much like the (Bell) AH-1S Cobra. This new system will complement the several surface strike systems of the Air Force and will be another game-changer in support of the numerous missions of the AFP.
On 18 December 2018, the Philippines and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Industry Cooperation that will allow Government-to-Government (G2G) acquisition and production, as well as technical cooperation on defense industry development. The first two units were supposed to be delivered in December but this did not push through for still unknown reasons. This is the total contract price for the 6 units of T129 helicopters PHP13,727,248,240. This is to includes the logistics support and training of pilots and crew in Turkey. The PAF is looking at acquiring dedicated but affordable attack helicopters to beef up its fleets of lightly-armed helicopters, such as the MG-520 and AW-109E that are being used for counter-terror and ground support missions.
The TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. The T129 was developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with partner Agusta Westland. The helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions. The ATAK program was begun to meet the Turkish Armed Forces’ requirements for an attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter. The T129 is the result of the integration of Turkish-developed avionics, airframe modifications, and weapon systems onto the AgustaWestland A129 airframe, with upgraded engines, transmission, and rotor blades. The helicopter has a unit cost of roughly US$50 million.