The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will get the first delivery by the middle of next month of four of eight brand-new combat utility helicopters it ordered from PZL Swidnik of Poland. Lt. Col. Mike Okol, PAF spokesman, told the Philippines News Agency that the remaining four helicopters will be delivered in November, also this year.
PZL Swidnik is the biggest helicopter manufacturer in Poland. Its main products are the PZL W-3 Sokol and PZL WS-4 helicopters used by the Polish Air Force and other European countries. The PAF bought the eight Polish-made helicopters at a contract price of P3 billion. The arrival of four utility combat helicopters is part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program to boost the PAF’s air power, particularly supporting ground troops during combat operations.
The PAF has in its arsenal the reliable UH-1H “Huey” helicopters and the MD-520-MG gunships from the United States. The Polish company won the bidding to supply the PAF eight brand-new combat utility choppers. The funds for the purchase of the choppers were part of the AFP modernization budget in 2007.
Okol said the acquisition of these helicopters is timely because the Air Force badly needs helicopters of this type to support government ground forces during combat operations. The Swidnik helicopter can carry 14 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot and has a maximum speed of 260 kilometers per hour and a range of 745 kilometers non-stop.
It can climb to an altitude of 19,680 feet, more than twice that of the “Huey.” The Polish-made choppers can be armed with a variety of weapons, air-to-ground rockets, air-to-air missiles, M-60 machine guns and 20-mm cannons.