The Philippine Navy (PN)’s first missile frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), is now qualified to land and receive on its flight deck the Leonardo AgustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat” naval utility helicopter, which is the ship’s partner in locating and hunting down hostile submarines. Traversing the path of fleet interoperability, Team FF-150 held deck landing qualification (DLQ) together with the ASW (anti-submarine warfare) ‘Wildcat’ Helicopter AW-159 (NH-441) last 09 August 2022. The DLQ is a part of a series of flight deck operations to further test and improve existing procedures, check connectivity, system integration, and leveling of officers, pilots, sailors, and aircrew on flight operations.
Before the actual deck landing, the ship’s crew and flight crew of the anti-submarine helicopter squadron had a series of lectures and workshops to ensure the preparedness and safety of personnel and flight deck equipment. This activity marks the beginning of warfare interoperability operations between our air and surface assets which compliments the detection and engagement capability of both units. The activity concluded safely with no casualties and any faults from both platforms. As our Navy gears towards development and modernization, we ensure that our personnel (are) aligned with this innovation to sustain and adapt to the fast and growing naval warfare technology and optimize our assets to their full capability.
The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is a British military helicopter. It is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles. While the AW159 shares broad similarities in appearance to the Lynx, it has significant design differences and is heavily modernised and adapted to gain new attributes and functionality. In British service, common variants are being operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army, having replaced their Lynx Mk.7/8/9 predecessors. The AW159 has also been offered to several export customers, and has been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy.
In March 2016, AugustaWestland signed a €100 million contract with the Philippine Department of National Defense for two helicopters along with training and support. The project aims to provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface capabilities to the Navy. Prior to the introduction of the Wildcat, the Philippines lacked any ASW capabilities in a region where the number of submarines being operated by other nations was reportedly set to grow. The PN’s two AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters were delivered on May 7, 2019, and commissioned on June 17 of the same year. They can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges and fitted with modern sonar systems for tracking down submarines. The AW-159s were acquired to complement the Jose Rizal-class frigates’ ASW capabilities.