The U.S Department of Defense is in talks with their Philippine counterpart on the acquisition of 10 AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, with 2 frames possibly funded by Foreign Military Sales (FMS) assistance.
The US Department of Defense also puts the Philippines on notice that they might get a surplus fleet of 12 AH-1W Super Cobras retired by the US marines last year which the US started selling on the international arms market or donated via foreign military assistance (FMS). The newer AH-1W could also be upgraded to AH-1Z standards should the PAF put more money into the program.
Under the Horizon 2 of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), the Philippine Air Force planned to acquire 24 attack helicopters valued at US$260 million (13.8 billion pesos).
Decision to buy purpose-built attack helicopters gained traction in 2018 after Jordan donated 2 used AH-1F attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force and the contenders for the project suddenly changed to Bell AH-IZ, Boeing AH-64E, Mil-28, Mil-24, TAI-129, and the Airbus EC665, which restricted quantity to at least 10 from the initial 24.
At US$260 million budget, Russia scored the highest number of 24 helicopters at US$12 million each for the Mi-24 (Hind) followed by Turkey with about 10 T-129 helicopters. The most expensive was Boeing with six Apaches followed by Airbus and Bell.
While Russia could have been a sure winner, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017 was the compelling reason which prevented the Philippines from dealing financial matters with Russia in US dollars so the PAF TWG selected the next best thing which is the T-129 helicopter that is smaller and lighter than Russia’s Mi-28 or the USA’s AH-64 Apache helicopter. TWG decision to secure the T-129 as the PAF attack helicopter was made prior to the US Department of Defense prohibition against export of the T-129 powerplants to other countries outside Turkey.
Discussions on the possible acquisition of AH-1W SUPER COBRA Attack Helicopters and associated equipment, together with parts, training and logistical support instead of the AH-1Z came into being only in September 18 in Pentagon when these were raised between US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana meeting at Washington among other defense related acquisitions and concerns.
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