The Philippine Air Force will be upgraded with four new choppers as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization plan, the government said Thursday.
The arrival of the four of eight SOKOL multi-purpose combat utility helicopters is part of the P2.8 billion acquisition contract between the AFP and Polish manufacturing company PZL-SWIDNIK SA, according to a statement by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
The turnover of the choppers signals the near completion of the initial phase of the modernization program which focuses on improving the AFP’s ability to conduct internal security operations.
Under this phase, the target acquisition include eight combat utility helicopters, seven attack helicopters, one C-130 aircraft, a long-range patrol aircraft and 18 basic trainer aircraft.
The government said the SOKOL helicopters are certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration, and have been proven to be effective and reliable in all weather conditions.
They also include flexible internal and external cargo capacity, making them capable of performing a wide range of operations and excellent utility choppers.
Under Republic Act No. 7898, or the AFP Modernization Act of 1995, the military has received a total fund of P331 billion for its upgrade.
“The plan follows a strict schedule for upgrades in order to modernize the AFP to a level where it can effectively and fully perform its constitutional mandate to defend the sovereignty and protect and preserve the patrimony of the Republic,” the statement said.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will be the guest of honor during the formal turnover of the choppers, which will be headed by PZL-SWIDNIK SA president Mieczyslaw Majewski, to be held at the Air Force City in Clark, Pampanga on Friday.