The Philippines selected the T129 as an affordable approach to beef up its fleet of lightly-armed helicopters, which are being used for counter-terror and ground support missions.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Filipino people are all looking forward to the arrival of the T129 attack helicopter from Turkey. According to the Philippine Department of Defense, the first two of the six Turkish-made T129 “ATAK” attack helicopters will be delivered sometime December 2021 or early January 2022. The six T129 attack helicopters were acquired for a total contract price of approximately $270 million from the Turkish Aerospace Industries through a government-to-government mode of procurement.

The Philippines selected the T129 as an affordable approach to beef up its fleet of lightly-armed helicopters, which are being used for counter-terror and ground support missions. The T129s will be assigned to the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force, whose pilots and crew have been sent to TAI headquarters in Ankara for training. The 15th Strike Wing will fly the T129s alongside its MD530G light attack and Leonardo A109 armed transport helicopters.

T129 Attack Helicopter
T129 Attack Helicopter

The Philippine government has previously deployed its armed helicopters in operations against a number of insurgencies, most notably separatist and Islamic State-linked militants on its southernmost islands. The Philippines is the first foreign buyer of the T129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter.

The T129 is a twin-engine multirole attack helicopter based on the A129 Mangusta and manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. The aircraft is fueled by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines, each of which can generate 1,014 kilowatts of output power. The helicopter is developed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in both day and night scenarios in hot and mountainous locations with rugged terrain.

The delivery is part of a larger effort by Manila to bolster its defense as it negotiates the renewal of a key military agreement with Washington and copes with continued Chinese incursions in the disputed South China Sea. The T-129 deal reportedly required the United States to approve export licenses to Turkey as the engines powering the helicopters are produced by the American defense contractor Honeywell, along with the British company Rolls-Royce.

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