Philippines Air Force takes delivery of W-3 Sokol helicopters

09 March 2012 – 13:14by Tony Osborne in London

The Phillippines Air Force (PAF) has taken delivery of the first batch of four W-3 Sokol helicopters from PZL-Swidnik.

The aircraft were handed over in a ceremony at Clark Air Base on 8 March after being flown in from Poland in late February. The second batch of four will arrive in the second quarter of 2012.

Eight Sokols were ordered in 2010 under a $65 million contract as part of its wide-ranging ‘Back to Basics’ modernisation of the PAF’s assets.

The Philippine Air Force’s Sokols are equipped with navigation and avionics systems including a NVG compatible cockpit, allowing it to operate day and night in all weather conditions. The helicopter can transport up to 11 troops in the cabin or can lift up to 2,100 kg (4,630 lb) using its external cargo hook. The aircraft can also be fitted with a M60D machine gun on each side of the cabin.

Aircrew and maintainer training for the initial batch of aircraft was completed in February in Poland before the aircraft were air freighted to the Philippines.

Mieczysław Majewski, President of PZL-Świdnik, said: ‘[The handover] marks the start of a long partnership with the Philippine Air Force as these helicopters enter active service. We look forward to supporting the Sokols in service and expanding our partnership with the Philippine armed forces in the future.’

The modernisation focuses on improving the PAF’s ability to conduct internal security operations.

The contract for eight aircraft under the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) programmes also includes training and support. The aircraft will be used in the SAR, medical evacuation and combat utility missions.

Further modernisation of the PAF will include the purchase of seven attack capable helicopters, 18 basic fixed-wing training aircraft, one C-130 aircraft and a single long-range patrol aircraft.

Source: Rotorhub, Shephard Group

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