Philippine Navy sources said the force has made a request for funding and have initiated pre-procurement processes for the procurement of additional Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters.

The Philippine Navy has recently invested heavily in its surface force, and anti-submarine helicopters will be essential assets to match its upcoming major surface naval warships.

According to the Philippine Navy, there will be a minimum of 2 helicopters added. The plan could push up to 6 helicopters, allowing one helicopter for each of the two new Corvettes, and 4 helicopters could be assigned with the new Offshore Patrol Vessels. As of this time, the PN has two AgustaWestland “Wildcat” AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters which are assigned to BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna.

The options available to the Philippine Navy could be the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk and the Leonardo AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat. The Wildcat will have an advantage as the Philippine Navy has operated two since 2019. The helicopters can be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges and fitted with modern sonar systems for tracking down submarines.

The AW159 Wildcat is said to perform well in Philippine Navy service, while the MH-60R Seahawk is more expensive despite the general consensus from other global navies that the MH-60R Seahawk is superior to the Wildcat, including the Republic of Korea Navy which operate both helicopter types.

The AW159 Wildcat is a further development of the Westland Lynx. It is the first helicopter by AgustaWestland to be designed inside an entirely digital environment. A glass cockpit comprises the primary human-machine interface, using four multifunction displays to provide information to the aircrew and interact with the avionics systems on board.

The Wildcat features an increased payload and range over the preceding Super Lynx; it is operationally required to carry up to 8 Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapons up to 185 kilometers from a host ship and remain on station for up to an hour. The type can perform aerial reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), utility, fire control, command and control, and troop transport duties.

Meanwhile MH-60R Seahawk is a proven anti-submarine platform in many countries around the world. Main missions of the MH-60R Seahawk are Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). This helicopter can detect and track submarines and surface ships and attack with torpedoes and missiles.

The Seahawk has advanced mission systems and sensors. It carries advanced airborne active sonar, multi-mode search radar and nose-mounted forward-looking infrared (FLIR) turret. Also it carries air-launched sonobuoys. The MH-60R has improved offensive capabilities comparing with SH-60B or SH-60F. It has stub wings and can carry two Mk.46, Mk.50 or Mk.54 light air-launched torpedoes, two AGM-119B Penguin anti-ship missiles or four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. A single door-mounted 7.62 mm mm or 12.7 mm machine gun can be fitted.

For the Philippine Navy, the procurement request will only be able to be processed within Fiscal Year 2024. In the meantime, the Philippine Navy and Department of National Defense can start pre-procurement negotiations and discussions with both Sikorsky and Leonardo, as well as the repsecitve home country governments of both companies.

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