Aerial Warfare

Philippines Navy Installed Heavy Machine Guns on Its AW-159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopters

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Philippines Navy Installed Heavy Machine Guns on Its AW-159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopters

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Philippines Navy Installed Heavy Machine Guns on Its AW-159 Wildcat Helicopters
Philippines Navy Installed Heavy Machine Guns on Its AW-159 Wildcat Helicopters

The Western Command Public Information Office (WESCOM PIO) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has confirmed a significant upgrade to the arsenal of the Philippine Navy’s AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopters. Vice Admiral Carlos PN, Chief of WESCOM, personally oversaw the inspection of the onboard .50 caliber heavy machine gun, marking a crucial milestone in the Navy’s Antisubmarine Helicopter Acquisition Project. Vice Admiral Carlos, leading the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) for the Philippine Navy, brings invaluable naval aviation expertise to ensure the helicopter’s weapon systems align with the AFP’s operational requirements. The recent in-flight test firing of the heavy machine gun at the Marine Base Gregorio Lim firing range in Ternate, Cavite, underscores the commitment to readiness and capability enhancement within the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy's AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter
Philippine Navy’s AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter. (Photo by Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines)

The AW159 Wildcat Helicopter, a British license-built multi-role military helicopter, represents a vital addition to the Philippine Navy’s fleet, bolstering its anti-submarine and maritime security operations capabilities. The helicopter is the newest addition to the PN’s maritime air assets and an integral part of the Jose Rizal Class Anti-submarine Frigate’s firepower. As a multi-role platform, it is also designed for missions such as anti-surface warfare, maritime surveillance, maritime interdiction, and other mission-essential and utility operations. The integration of the .50 caliber heavy machine gun further enhances the aircraft’s versatility, equipping the Armed Forces of the Philippines with a formidable weapon system to counter potential threats in the maritime domain.

Philippine Navy's AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter
Philippine Navy’s AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter. (Photo by Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines)

The AW159 Wildcat is a military helicopter, developed by the British-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, and later marketed by the Italian aerospace company Leonardo. It is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue, aerial reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), utility, command and control, and troop transport duties. The AW159 is powered by two 1,362 hp (1,016 kW) LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engines which drives the rotorcraft’s BERP IV rotor blades via a new transmission. It is equipped with a new composite tailboom, tailplane, tail rotor, nose structure and avionics suite. The naval version is also equipped with a Selex Galileo Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and L-3 Wescam MX-15HDi electro-optical/infrared nose turret.

Philippine Navy's AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter
Philippine Navy’s AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter. (Photo by Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines)

In 2014, it was reported that the AW159 was being considered by the Philippine Navy. In March 2016, AgustaWestland signed a €100 million contract with the 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. On 7 May 2019, the two AW159 anti-submarine helicopters arrived in the Philippines. The helicopters are purchased as units assigned onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates.

Philippines Navy Installed Heavy Machine Guns on Its AW-159 Wildcat Helicopters
Philippine Navy’s AW159 Wildcat Anti-submarine Helicopter. (Photo by Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines)

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