The newly-turned over eight Bell-412EPs combat utility helicopters and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es will greatly boost the Air Force's capability to carry out its security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) mandate effectively.
"As soon as the new helicopters are ready we will deploy them to
Central Mindanao (and the)
Visayas. These will be in support our HADR and other security engagement that
we need to perform," Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado
And despite the arrival of these brand-new air assets, Delgado said that the PAF modernization program was still in the "starting phase."
"As you have witnessed, we have brand-new aircraft that came in lately but we expect more to come in the coming months, we expect six more attack helicopters that will come before the year ends together with two lift aircraft, one medium lift aircraft, and hopefully before the year ends we get the two F/A-50s that had been announced," he added.
The PAF chief also stressed that credibility of the country's air defense lies not solely on the air assets but on the capability of the pilots and the supporting systems.
"The credibility will lie on its, on several factors not necessarily the platform that will be, of course the platform is a big factor but it will also depend on the level of competency of our pilots, the support systems, the radar systems, the ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) system that supports our air defense capability so this will put us somehow in a more respectable position as far our air defense is concerned, this is our mandate which is to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country," Delgado pointed out.
And regardless of the PAF's limitations, the PAF chief vowed to protect the country's aerial boundaries all against threats.