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Philippine Air Force Conducts Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter

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Philippine Air Force Conducts Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter

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Philippine Air Force Conducts Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of T-129 ATAK Helicopter
Philippine Air Force Conducts Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of T-129 ATAK Helicopter

On 17 May 2024, the 15th Strike Wing conducted the Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of the T-129 ATAK attack helicopters with tail numbers 1505 (Piloted by LtC Ernest F Dela Cuadra PAF and Maj Maria Francia P Acacto PAF) and 1506 (Piloted by Maj Lawrence B De Castro PAF and Maj Pearl Joy P Castillo PAF). The event was graced by MGen Araus Robert F Musico PAF, the Commander of Air Combat Command, together with BGen Juloano C Llarenas PAF, the Wing Commander of 15SW, Unit Commanders and Staff, and Major Danilo Atienza Air Base Ladies Club headed by Mrs. Joy M. Llarenas. Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Board (MSAB) member Mr. Eric Riego De Dios, the Chief Transformation Enabler of Riego De Dios Consulting was also present during the ceremony.

Philippine Air Force TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter
The Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter. (Photo by PAF 15SW)

The two T-129 ATAK helicopters performed a low pass before landing on the active runway. Upon taxiing and exiting Delta 4, a Water Canon Salute was rendered to the two aircraft – the traditional and ceremonial welcome to honor the newly procured Attack Helicopters of the 15th Strike Wing. The aircraft fully stopped and parked at the 15SW Main Ramp where the men and women of the Trojans Family warmly applauded the cutting-edge helicopters together with its pilots. It was subsequently followed by the blessing of the T-129 ATAK aircraft and the ceremonial pouring of champagne. These dedicated attack helicopters are expected to enhance the combat operational capability of PAF and address the capability gap identified in urban warfare.

Philippine Air Force TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter
The Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter. (Photo by PAF 15SW)

The TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. It was developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in partnership with Leonardo S.p.A. The helicopter is designed for armed reconnaissance and attack missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions. The ATAK programme was begun to meet the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces for an armed tactical reconnaissance and attack 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.

Philippine Air Force TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter
The Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter. (Photo by PAF 15SW)

When the Philippine re-evaluated its capabilities after the siege of Marawi in 2017 against ISIS-inspired terrorists, it found that the MD-520MG Defender and the newer AW-109E Power armed helicopters did not have sufficient firepower. Instead of acquiring more light armed helicopters, the PAF favoured purpose-built attack helicopters. The PAF’s Technical Working Group (TWG) selected the T129 due to its lower price than its American competitors in 2018. The acquisition of the T-129 ATAK helicopters was part of the priority projects under Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program. The T-129 ATAK #1505 and #1506 helicopters, which were delivered last November 29, 2023, are the fifth and sixth T-129 ATAK helicopters acquired through negotiated (government to government) procurement with Turkey.

Philippine Air Force Conducts Arrival and Blessing Ceremony of T-129 ATAK Helicopter
The Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing TAI T-129 ATAK Attack Helicopter. (Photo by PAF 15SW)

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