18 March 2014
The Philippine Department of National Defence (DND) announced on 17 March that it has allocated PHP5.4 billion (USD120 million) to fund the acquisition of two new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Philippine Navy (PN).
According to Fernando Manalo, undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations, and munitions, the helicopters will be purchased under the country's AFP Modernisation Programme. Manalo expects the acquisition process to be completed by the end of 2014.
The PN announced in December 2013 that it was considering the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat as a maritime helicopter but PN spokesman Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic declined to confirm that it has indeed been selected for acquisition, telling IHS Jane's that the navy is looking at all possibilities for the acquisition. The AW159 is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.
The helicopters are expected to be deployed on board the Hamilton and Hero-class frigates BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz .
Gregorio Del Pilar was first deployed in 2011 to protect the archipelago's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its oil and gas activities in the South China Sea. The vessel has since been involved in a number of incidents with Chinese vessels in territorial waters, where both countries have overlapping claims.