The country will acquire eight new attack choppers that will be equipped with laser designators capable of firing laser-guided rockets.
The brand-new helicopter will upgrade the fleet of US-made Hughes MG-520 light attack helicopters that the PhilAF has been using since the 1990s. The new aircraft will be used for “internal security operations, border security and support operations,” he said.
The Philippines is battling communist insurgents in rural areas throughout the archipelago, as well as Muslim extremists in the troubled southern regions. In recent months tensions have also risen with China over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, but Okol said the acquisition of the attack helicopters was unrelated.
The tensions with China have highlighted the weakness of the Philippine military, which is one of the most poorly quipped in the region, relying largely on surplus US equipment. The Philippines has been refurbishing its ageing MG-520 helicopters, other military sources said.
The bids and awards committee of the Department of National Defense said that the laser designator is a laser light source which is used to designate a target.
The said equipment provides targeting for laser-guided bombs, rockets, missiles, or precision artillery munitions.
Among the international helicopter manufacturers that participated in the pre-bid conference of the DND’s attack helicopter program were the Boeing Company, Eurocopter Group, AgustaWestland NV and MD Helicopters, Inc.
The four aerospace companies have acquired the required bidding documents.
The DND attack helicopter program has a budget of P3.44 billion and will be sourced from the General Appropriations Act and the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund of 2000.
“These helicopters shall be capable of performing close air support during day and night, and navigate safely during inadvertent instrument meteorological condition. Furthermore, they shall be equipped with armaments and avionics system highly suitable for said flying operation conditions,” documents obtained by the Philippine News Agency disclosed.