The Department of National Defense (DND) has signed a P5.36-billion contract with an Anglo-Italian firm for the procurement of two anti-submarine helicopters, which would be the first of its kind in the Philippine military's armament.
"This will definitely enhance the capability of the Philippine Navy," said Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo. "For the first time, we'll be having anti-submarine helicopters."
The contract was signed Tuesday in Camp Aguinaldo by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Stefano Bortoli, senior vice president for sales and strategic sourcing of AgustaWestland Limited.
The delivery of the two AW159 anti-submarine helicopters is expected to be completed within 900 days upon signing of Notice to Proceed, which is expected to be issued in the coming days, Manalo said.
Manalo said the helicopters will boost the country's capability to defend its interest in the disputed West Philippine Sea. "This is timely because we all know what’s happening to our interest there," he said.
Manalo said the two helicopters will be deployed aboard the two-missile firing frigates that are still being acquired by the government from an Indian government-owned shipyard.
The shipyard, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, is undergoing "post-qualification" process, prior to the contract formulation and subsequent contract signing, Manalo said.
Manalo also said the frigates are projected to be delivered within the same period of the delivery of the two AW159s. —KBK, GMA News