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Attack Helicopter (Phase 2) Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force

To improve its combat capability especially ground support and strike missions, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has embarked on the acquisition of Attack Helicopters for their premier attack unit, the 15th Strike Wing.

Currently the PAF has a shrinking fleet of MD Helicopters MD-520MG Defender light armed helicopters, which are now nearing the end of their service life, and replacements are needed. An earlier attempt to replace them with the AgustaWestland AW-109E Power light armed helicopters has proven to be insufficient, and the PAF has decided to go for purpose-built attack helicopters, despite being more expensive to acquire.

The T129B ATAK attack helicopter, this example with the Turkish Land Forces. The T129B ATAK was selected for the Philippine Air Force's Attack Helicopter (Phase 2) Acquisition Project.  Photo credits to original source.

Project Summary:

Attack Helicopter (Phase 2) Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 15 December 2023.

* End User: Philippine Air Force (15th Strike Wing)

Quantity: 6 units

* Modernization Phase:
 Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Government-to-Government deal with Turkish Ministry of Defense.

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) process.

* SARO Release/s: 
   - SARO-BMB-D-22-0004216 dated 20 May 2022 worth Php3,432,000,000.00 - 3rd milestone payment worth 25% of contract price
   - SARO-BMB-D-23-0016947 dated 16 May 2022 worth Php4,804,800,000.00 - 4th milestone payment worth 35% of contract price

* Winning Proponent: Turkish Aerospace Industries

Product for Delivery: 6 units T129B ATAK attack helicopters, plus ILS and technical support and training.

* Contract Price: Php13,728,000,000.00 

* Residual Amount: Php72,000,000.00

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PAFAHAcquisition #PAFAHPhase2Acquisition #PAFAHP2Acquisition

* Status: TWG selected TAI T129 ATAK as basis for the Attack Helicopter project in 2018. Despite re-evaluation made in 2019 after Turkey had problems obtaining US and EU-sourced subsystems, NOA awarded to Turkish Aerospace Industries although PAF is looking at either Bell AH-1Z or Boeing AH-64E as alternatives to the T129. Contract signed, NTP released and initial 15% payment released as of November 2020. As per DND statements, delivery of first batch of 2 helicopters reported to be by September 2021, another 2 by February 2022, and last batch of 2 helicopters by 2023. Delivery of first batch moved to December 2021, but actual delivery was on March 2022. Induction of first 2 units to PAF 15th Strike Wing on 06 April 2022. Second 2 units inducted on 09 December 2022. Third batch of 2 units scheduled for inducted on 20 December 2023.

The T129 ATAK during an airshow in France. Photo credits to original source.


The PAF has always been looking at acquiring purpose-built attack helicopters since the 1970s. All attempts have been unsuccessful due to lack of funding and support from the government.

Originally the project was meant to follow-on with the earlier acquisition of eight (8) AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-109E Power light armed helicopters, which are now being utilized by the PAF as "attack helicopters" despite their limited capabilities.

The PAF has embarked on the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, with an original plan to acquire 24 light armed helicopters to equip 2 squadrons of the 15th Strike Wing: the 18th and 19th Attack Squadrons which currently utilize the ageing fleet of MD Helicopters MD-520MG Defender light armed helicopters.

The MD-520MG are small, easy to maintain and operate, and simple helicopters that have been in service with the PAF since the early 1990s when the Philippine government acquired more than 30 brand new units from the US government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal.

The quantity ordered was large enough to fill 2 squadrons, and retire older air assets.

In 2016, it was decided that the PAF would need to eventually replace the MD-520MG Defender fleet, which have now shrunk to less than 20 units in total after several units were written-off after accidents, or where cannibalized for spares and never returned to service.

The plan was to purchase 24 light, twin engine armed helicopters which can carry a variety of weapons including rocket and gun pods, and can be alternatively used for other missions including search & rescue (SAR) and utility.

A budget of Php13,800,000,000.00 was allocated under the Horizon 2 phase for the fulfilment of the project, with several helicopter models considered for evaluation. The final shortlist included the following helicopters:

* the AgustaWestland AW-109LUH, which is an improved version of the PAF's existing AW-109E, with more powerful engines and better avionics.
* the Airbus Helicopters H145M, which is said to be the best in its class 

Everything changed on the project, when the PAF re-evaluated its capabilities and performance during the Battle of Marawi in 2017 against ISIS-inspired terrorists. It found out that the MD-520MG Defender and the newer AW-109E Power armed helicopters did not have sufficient firepower.

This further complicated the decision making when in 2017, the Philippine government received confirmation from the Jordanian government that they would be handing-over two (2) used Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, with options for more subject to the decision of the Jordanian government.

This means that the PAF would be getting purpose-built attack helicopters, despite being old, which would improve the firepower delivery capability of the PAF during internal security operations.

The project changed its direction, and instead of acquiring higher quantity of light armed helicopters, it is now interested on getting purpose-built attack helicopters even in smaller quantities.

Several attack helicopters were considered during the evaluation process, with models coming in from the US, Russia, France, Turkey. In the end, the shortlisted helicopters are the following:

* the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter from Turkey, which is the cheapest Western model in the evaluation. It uses Western subsystems and munitions, as well as Turkish-developed munitions.
* the Bell AH-1Z Viper, said to be the favorite among PAF pilots due to its capabilities and its ability to be readily deployable to ships,
* the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, said to be the best attack helicopter in the world although it is also among the most expensive.

The T129, AH-64E and AH-1Z.

In the end, the PAF's Technical Working Group (TWG) selected the TAI T129 ATAK due to it being more affordable than its American competitors. MaxDefense sources confirmed that TAI was able to offer 6 units for the PAF's budget, compared to just 5 AH-1Z Viper helicopters from Bell, and around 4 units of Boeing AH-64E from Boeing.

Turkey also promised to provide soft loans to allow the acquisition of more units, and limited technology transfer to allow the repair and maintenance of the helicopter in the Philippines. 

U P D A T E S:

28 November 2018:

MaxDefense has released a blog entry discussing the selection of the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter by the PAF's Technical Working Group, as well as some background on the project.

It was also noted that a certain individual / group close to Pres. Duterte is undermining the project, in favor of one of the contenders of the project that failed to reach shortlisting.

The blog entry can be accessed on the link provided below:

"Philippine Air Force Technical Group Picks TAI's T129 ATAK as its Future Attack Helicopter" - first posted on 28 November 2018

The TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, originally selected by the PAF and DND until supply issues and CAATSA sanctions that may arise due to Turkey's feud with NATO and the US forced DND and PAF to cancel negotiations.


18 December 2018:

The Philippines and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Industry Cooperation that will focus of Government-to-Government (G2G) acquisition and production and technical cooperation on defense industry development.

You can see in the video that the Turkish official gave a model of a TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, which was passed also by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana to PAF Commanding General Lt.Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar.

CNN Turk picked up an important detail from Turkish Defense Industry President Ismail Demir. He mentioned that the budget of the Philippine Air Force allows for the acquisition of less than 10 units, but there is also an option to allow for the acquisition of more than 10 units.

Below is an English translation of an except from the report:

"Demir also gave information on the point where the negotiations with the Philippines and Atak came. "Option is more important for us. The first number isn't too big, just a little under 10. There's an option above 10. " he used the expression."

Also, it can be noted that Turkey intends to expand it's offerings to include land, air and sea assets other than the T129 and all other previous deals made with Turkish defense companies like FNSS, Aselsan and MKEK. Another excerpt translated to English:

"Currently, many projects are being created and sales of pistols and ammunition have been carried out in the past, as well as night vision binoculars and sales have been carried out and marine vehicles such as Atak helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, MILGEM and boats are on the agenda. Although the helicopter is prominent, the issue is not only Atak, but also air, sea platforms, tanks on land platforms, mid-range tanks, modernization of armored vehicles, shooting platforms, etc. These issues are important in the agenda. Our training planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, general purpose helicopters, will have the opportunity to talk all of them broadly. "


29 June 2019:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing the delays in the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project due to negotiations between Turkey and the Philippines for the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter falling through. 

CAATSA has been a contributing factor for this, and the Philippines has become an indirect victim due to Turkey's feud with NATO and the US government over their decisions and dealings with Russia.

More information can be found on the new blog entry, which can be accessed through our main website page, or through the link provided below:

"Purchase of T129 ATAK Falls Through, What's Next for the Attack Helicopter project of PAF?" - first posted 29 June 2019.

The T129 ATAK attack helicopter. Credits to original source of the photo.


20 July 2019:

The Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Amb. Raul Fernandez visited Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and was showed the T129 ATAK attack helicopter.

This is despite no movement happening on acquiring the helicopter despite being selected for the Philippine Air Force's Attack Helicopter acquisition project under the Horizon 2 phase.

MaxDefense previously reported that the plan to purchase the T129 ATAK has hit a roadblock due to Turkey's issues with the US due to their acquisition of Russia's S-400 Triumf long range air defense system.

Based on info we received, the PAF and DND are hesitant in pushing through with the deal for T129 since it would become a potential problem should the US decide to push through with sanctions against Turkey.

This is the reason why the Attack Helicopter has not pushed through, and was not even among those announced by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Rozano Briguez during the PAF's anniversary. And now MaxDefense was informed that the PAF is studying their options again if they will continue pursuing a purpose built attack helicopter, or go for a battle taxi.

The Philippine delegation in TAI's facility in Turkey. Photo taken from DFA website.


01 September 2019:

MaxDefense released a blog entry discussing updates on the project. And considering that after a lot of delays in the awarding of the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project to Turkey's TAI was halted by the DND due to issues on US export license issues, the DND has finally made a selection based on the Philippine Air Force and DND's re-evaluation of everything on the table.

They decided to stick to TAI's offer despite all the problems. One thing is certain, something "practically dead" could even come back especially if changes in the overall situation has happened.

"After delays, the DND finally selects the Philippine Air Force's next Attack Helicopter" - first posted on 31 August 2019.

Some of the helicopters evaluated by the PAF for the Attack Helicopter project as an alternative to the T129 ATAK. Clockwise from top right: Sikorsky S-70i Battlehawk, TAI T129 ATAK, Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter, and Bell AH-1W SuperCobra. 


03 September 2019:

Apparently there is a twist in the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Program that MaxDefense has not discussed in its latest blog on the project.

According to our sources, the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing was split on the issue between brand new TAI T129 ATAK and refurbished AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters. Despite not brand new, a lot of PAF 5thSW pilots find the AH-1W more "charming" than the T129, while also fearing that acquiring it could have potential supply and parts issues since Turkey's spat with NATO and the US is not fully settled.

While the DND did release a Acquisition Decision Memorandum again confirming TAI's T129 ATAK as the selected platform, the reason for going to such decision was based not on overall performance, but more on time.

The DND is hurrying up to award the project to a proponent since its already September, and if they fail to award the project, sign a contract, release the Notice to Proceed and release the funds before yearend, the money goes back to the national treasury.

Of all the proponents, their discussion with TAI is the most advanced. So if they decided to go to someone else, they risk losing the funds, and delaying the project because of the need to request for it again.

This is the problem of the procurement system of the country. Its full of BS. MaxDefense was hoping that since the present administration has strong support from both Congress and Senate, something can be done with this ASAP.

A pair of T129 ATAK attack helicopters of the Turkish armed forces. Credits to original source of the photo.


04 October 2019:

This was from a few months ago, but apparently the conditions are still the same. Turkey is still not getting the Rolls Royce-developed LHTEC turbine engines despite the replacement of British PM Theresa May, and despite requests by the Turkish government and Turkish Aerospace Industries to allow them to import the engines for its T129 ATAK attack helicopters for the Turkish Armed Forces and for export.

So how will TAI deliver T129 ATAK attack helicopters to the Philippine Air Force if this is still the case now?


10 December 2019:

More than a week before the Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing's anniversary, MaxDefense has been gathering information from multiple sources on what is the status of the Attack Helicopter acquisition project. This is the reason why MaxDefense has not posted any updates on the project since then.

Days before the anniversary, MaxDefense already knew that the TAI T129 ATAK from Turkey remains in the forefront of the AH project. This was later on confirmed by CGPAF and A4's speeches during the 15th Strike Wing anniversary, wherein both mentioned the T129 ATAK and that the DND is negotiating for them.

What surprised MaxDefense is that it appears that both the PAF and DND are going around circles with regards to the issue of potential export problem of the US-British LHTEC engines to Turkey. It appears that they have not receive any formal confirmation from the US government on the real status of their stand on exporting the engines to Turkey.

The PAF side claims that they cannot make the formal query since it is the DND's job to do it. They also claim that they cannot make a revised decision since the DND has not given them the go-signal to do so. So PAF could only continue with procurement process based on T129.

Meanwhile our defense sources confirmed that the DND has not made the formal query with the US Embassy in Manila, but that is because Turkey was guaranteeing to them that they can get the engines from the US. As for making a revised decision, DND claims that PAF can do it without asking the DND for a go-signal as long as the reasons for the revised selection is valid. So until the PAF makes a revised selection, the DND will continue to negotiate with the Turkish side.

The problem is, until a formal query by the DND or PAF is lodged, the US government will not be proactive to give their answer. So it means someone must formally lodge a request for information (RFI). Until then, the US Embassy won't make any comment, nor will support American proponents like Bell or Sikorsky.

So we'll make this simple: just for the sake of making sure everything is indeed alright, the DND should make the formal query with the US government.

If the reply is that they have not stopped the export of LHTEC engines to Turkey, then the DND can proceed with the procurement of the T129 ATAK attack helicopters, subject to PAF's selection.

If the US government says the engines are indeed not for export to Turkey, then move away from the T129 deal and avoid having problems in this project.

What we don't want to happen is for the PAF to have Php13 billion worth of hangar queens.

The T129 ATAK as described on the PAF's news magazine. Photo shared to MaxDefense by a contributor who wish to remain anonymous.


11 December 2019:

Based on the CGPAF's speech during the 15th Strike Wing's anniversary last month, the PAF and DND is still pushing to acquire the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK attack helicopter despite issues on the export of engines from the US.

According to CGPAF Lt.Gen. Rozzano Briguez, the DND is still negotiating with TAI and the Turkish government on the sale of six (6) T129s, but no deadline was made due to issues still surrounding the engine export.

MaxDefense also got information from sources that the DND is trying to push if TAI can deliver more than 6 units for the same budget.

As for the Bell AH-1W Super Cobra, the PAF is still interested in acquiring used birds from the US Marine Corps, although it will could be affected if the PAF and DND finally selects the T129 ATAK over the Bell AH-1Z Viper for the Attack Helicopter acquisition project.

Photo shared to MaxDefense Philippines by Lima Mike Romeo.


12 December 2019:

Meanwhile somewhere in Turkey....PAF personnel conduct flight tests with the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter. Looks like there's no stopping them on going with the Turkish attack helicopter despite issues of possible sanctions by US on Turkey.

A PAF officer (left) trying out the T129 ATAK attack helicopter in Turkey. Photo shared by a contributor.

20 December 2019:

Inquirer's Frances Mangosing was able to make a lengthy detailed report regarding Boeing's media presentation, wherein focus was given on the CH-47F Chinook and the AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters.

1. Emphasis on use of (Tactical Data) Link 16 and interoperability with friendly forces. Something that is missing when operating Russian or non-NATO standard equipment.

2. PAF sent information and pricing request for 6 to 16 units of Apache last October. This means that back in October there is still doubts on their selection of the TAI T129 ATAK from Turkey due to issues of possible export license rejection or sanctions against Turkey.

3.While the average flyaway cost for Apache @ US$32 million and Chinook @ US$50 million, take note that it does not include standard package inclusions like training, logistics, spares, munitions, and other specific subsystems. Expect more than the flyaway price should the PAF acquire them, usually expect 20-30% more than flyaway cost.

4. For those who still can't understand, the Chinook and Russian Mi-17 are not on the same category. The Mi-17 is a medium lift helicoper while the Chinook is a heavy lifter.

5. Boeing confirmed PAF interest on Harpoon but did not mention JDAM interest which is also a product from Boeing.

More on Inquirer's report on the link provided HERE.

An AH-64E Apache Guardian of the Indonesian Army. Photo credits to original source.


12 January 2020:

Should the Philippine Air Force push through with the TAI T129 ATAK for their Attack Helicopter requirements, it would probably have to wait for at least 4 years for Turkey to be able to develop its planned indigenous helicopter turboshaft engine and integrated to the T129 to replace the original LHTEC T800 turbine engine sourced from the US & UK. That long waiting time with no guaranteed success is unacceptable and could be an issue with regards to meeting PH laws like RA 10349.

It is obvious that Turkey is being given the priority to supply the Attack Helicopter as part of Pres. Duterte's campaign to be "friends will all, enemies to none" where he is spreading defense acquisition across several countries by assigning certain projects to them.

But with sanctions painted all around Turkey, it won't be in the Philippines' best interest to push something that will negative affect our own programs. The DND can simply move away from the T129 for now, and see what other offers Turkey can provide that are not much affected by sanctions. This would definitely not ruin the good friendship between the Philippines and Turkey.


27 February 2020:

Pakistan is already losing hope on the Turkish-made TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, and is starting to look at Chinese alternatives. Pakistan knows that TAI is trying to integrate a Turkish made engine into the T129 ATAK helicopter, but does not think it would be happening soon considering the engines are still under development, and integration with a platforms usually take more than a year or two to get certification.

The Philippine Air Force and DND officials with direct access to the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project should wake up to their senses rather than gamble on something that is uncertain. Bell and Boeing's offer are just around the corner with their Viper and Apache Guardian. And both are willing to make their offers juicy as possible.

More on the article from Flight Global discussing the situation on the link provided HERE.

The TAI T129 ATAK (top) and the CAIC Z-10 (above) attack helicopters. Photo taken from Flight Global.


15 April 2020:

MaxDefense received confirmation that the DND and PAF may have started moving away from the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter due to the unresolved issue of export restrictions by the US and other NATO countries on important subsystems of the helicopters including the engine and avionics. Lacking these parts stops TAI to produce the T129 to meet local and export requirements.

According to our source, TAI has requested the DND and PAF to change certain documents and requirements of the project to allow TAI to be able to comply despite their requests being unfavourable to the PAF.

Moreover, it appears that Bell Helicopters has gained more ground as the alternative attack helicopter of choice, as the US Congress has already been notified of the PAF's interest to acquire the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. Based on information we received, the US Congress appears to have no issue to stop the sale of AH-1Z Vipers to the PAF, and they are expected to provide their official and positive response very soon.

If this happens, the DND may start proceeding finalizing negotiations and sign a deal with the US government to proceed with the US Foreign Military Sales (US FMS) program.

A US Marine Corps Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, taken during the Yuma Airshow 2015. Photo taken from and credited to Aces Flying High blogpage.

And for those who follow MaxDefense closely, one would know what comes with the Vipers. And MaxDefense can confirm that those offers are still up for grabs, despite the Philippine government cancelling the US-PH Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which may proceed by August 2020 if the notification is not taken back.

Instead, the offer may be extended to other service branches too who want to take a similar deal as the PAF.


01 May 2020:

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency released not one, but two reports on possible sale of attack helicopters to the Philippines: one with Bell AH-1Z Viper, the other with Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian.

Take note that these notices do not constitute an actual sale. These notices only say that the US State Department approves a POTENTIAL SALE of either AH-1Z or AH-64E helicopters to the Philippines, and that the US Congress has been notified for approval.
Its still up to the Philippine Air Force and DND to decide. 

But the good thing with these notices is that usually, the DND and PAF won't ask for approval from the US government until they are almost very sure they want these models and not other models from other countries.

Based on the DSCA statements, the expected contract price for the Bell Vipers is US$450 million (Php22.95 billion), while the Boeing Apache Guardian is at US$1.5 billion (Php76.5 billion). That is because the package of the contract was different for both offers, most notably the Apache Guardian with 200 rounds of AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, 300 rounds of APKWS guided rockets, and 1,700 APKWS guidance kits, 200 FIM-92H Stinger air-to-air missiles and more spare parts.

Notice also that the US usually sell their weapon systems complete with necessary spares and munitions, unlike other countries that just sells you a complete aircraft without spares like what happened on the FA-50PH and AW109 acquisitions. This is the reason why US advanced weapon systems are more expensive to buy than others. But in the long run, the end user is fully covered to make sure they are usable for a long time.

Its just a matter of deciding on the part of the PAF and DND on what offer they would take, and on the case of the Apache Guardian, can still negotiate to reduce the quantity of munitions to lower down the cost.

But this notice posted by DSCA only shows that they already notified the US Congress, which will provide the approval for the acquisition plan. According to our sources, it won't take too long since the US Congress has been working faster on potential arms sales approvals.

Surprisingly, the document also mentioned that the Philippines will not have problems absorbing these helicopters into the AFP. This is probably because the PAF already has the old AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters which it can use to train itself on sustaining similar attack helicopters, while PAF personnel were also exposed to the AH-1W and AH-1Z helicopters in past Joint Military Exercises with the US.

A showdown between the AH-1Z Viper (top) and AH-64E Apache Guardian (above) is now more possible. Credits to original sources of photos, including Jimmy Van Drunen @ Ainliners.net for the Apache photo.

With the T129 still having problems with obtaining the engines and avionics from US and UK, it is almost impossible for them to really sell the T129 especially when the PAF is already hurrying up this project to avoid the money to be diverted to other things like Covid-19 related expenses of the government.


04 August 2020:

Despite approvals by the US government for the sale of Bell AH-1Z Viper and Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force, the DND appears to have proceeded with sticking to Turkish Aerospace Industries

According to the DND's statements, this is due to costs since only TAI has confirmed that they can deliver 6 units of their T129B ATAK attack helicopter with the PAF's budget, compared to only 2 or 3 of the American helicopters.

But checking with our sources from the PAF, DND and industry, this is a false statement from the DND. Contrary to DND's claims, we received confirmation that despite still being more expensive, Bell can supply more that at least 5 units with the PAF's budget, although Bell was pushing for a separate budget for spares and logistics support.

Meanwhile, Sikorsky can also supply 6 of their S-70i Armed Black Hawks, complete with spares and logistics support.

But despite these improvements in the offers, we also got confirmation from sources that the DND has already released the Notice of Award (NOA) in favor of Turkish Aerospace Industries several months ago.

Contract negotiations are said to be ongoing.


07 October 2020:

MaxDefense Philippines has finally received confirmation from sources that the DND has already signed the contract with TAI, although there appears to be some questionable details regarding the deal.

Apparently, TAI has requested to delay the release of the Notice to Proceed (NTP), which will be the basis of counting the effectivity of the delivery clauses of the contract. It means, if there's no NTP yet, TAI is not obligated to start the contract conditions especially on delivery deadlines.

The reason is because TAI is still trying to find ways to secure the engines and certain avionics for the T129B ATAK attack helicopters that its going to supply to the PAF. This request will allow TAI to buy more time.

But we also received info from PAF sources that they are unhappy with the situation, given that they have been pushing very hard for the first batch of attack helicopters to arrive by 1st half of 2021, thus their insistence to drop TAI and go for other options that are not affected by supply chain issues.

With the NOA already released, it is only a matter of time for the Contract to be signed as well, most likely before the end of 2020.

The DND has sticked with TAI for the Attack Helicopter Phase 2 Acquisition Project. 


24 December 2020:

MaxDefense Philippines released a new blog entry discussing the updates on the Attack Helicopter Phase 2 Acquisition Project, as the DND signed a contract with TAI, and has even released the Notice to Proceed (NTP) and 15% initial payment. This means the delivery clauses of the contract has now taken effect.

In a twist of things, Italy's Leonardo was said to have been assisting TAI to procure the engines on their behalf, and probably have them installed somewhere - most likely in the Philippines.

If engine installation takes place in the Philippines, it also means that the helicopters sans the engines would be delivered to the Philippines separately, and all the installation, integration, testing and acceptance would all take place in the Philippines as well.

While it may sound ok, there are actually huge risks involved in this plan.

First, the US government may still reject the export of LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engines to Leonardo if the US government knows that they are bound for the Turkish-made T129 helicopters.

Second, the entry of a 3rd party contractor may complicate the deal, especially with regards to spare parts acquisition and maintenance support involving the US-made subsystems. This is especially since Leonardo is known within AFP circles to have poor aftersales support of the helicopters they supplied to the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force.

Third, if the US did reject the sale of LHTEC engines to either Leonardo or TAI, the PAF would be wasting a lot of its precious time waiting for nothing, while missing its deadlines to have the 1st batch of attack helicopters by mid-2021.

Forth, should this plan fail or succeed, it would also affect the follow-on orders for more attack helicopters.

More on the article from MaxDefense Philippines' blog, which can be found on the link below:

"Is Italy's Leonardo involved in engine supply for T129B Attack Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force?" - first posted on 23 December 2020.

We also posted on Philippine Defense Resource TV, a new video summarizing this update. Some changes include the addition of a voice-over using a better narrator than last time.


26 December 2020:

In a Twitter post by MaxDefense Philippines, they confirmed that Bell and Sikorsky are still in discussions with the PAF regarding the Attack Helicopter Phase 2 Acquisition Project, as both companies anticipate the failure of TAI to supply the helicopters.

Apparently, both companies were taking heads-up information from the US government, and are expecting TAI to still have issues regarding the supply of LHTEC engines despite Leonardo already assisting TAI in securing them.

In addition, both companies, as well as Boeing, are not yet finished in offering their attack helicopters to the Philippines, as the Philippine Army is their next target to supply their products.


23 May 2021:

Two publications, The Middle East Eye and Daily Sabah, released reports on 17 May 2021 that the US has green-lighted the export license to sell LHTEC engines to TAI for T129B ATAK attack helicopters bound for the Philippine Air Force.

Their source came from TAI Vice President on Corporate Marketing and Communications Serdar Demir, and an unnamed source.

According to the report, the US has approved the export license and has issued the required paperwork to support this development. This was despite Congressional opposition to military-related deals with Turkey.

The unnamed source of these publications also mentioned that the license was directly issued by the US State Department, and did not require Congress authorization as the cost of the engines was below the minimum requirement needed by law for Congressional oversight.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing confirmed on 22 May 2021 in their official Facebook page that they will be sending pilots and technicians to Turkey from May to August 2021 for training and preparation on T129B ATAK attack helicopter operations.

Photo credits to 15th Strike Wing's FB page.

Our parent page MaxDefense Philippines posted on 23 May 2021 that TAI already built the 2 T129B ATAK airframes for the Philippine Air Force, and were confirmed to be getting LHTEC engines. These 2 helicopters are scheduled for delivery on or before November 2021, and are being prepared to be included in the founding anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on December 2021.

There also questions still raised by MaxDefense Philippines, considering The Middle East Eye and Daily Sabah were the only publications that confirmed the approval of export license for the engines. Major defense publications like Jane's, Shephard Media, Defense News, Flight International, etc. have not made any similar report despite the news already almost a week old.

At the same time, the US and Turkish governments have not made any statements as well regarding this development.

This raises some doubt on the issue being completely settled, despite the PAF already sending its personnel to Turkey to start training on the T129 helicopter.

But since the information regarding delivery of the first 2 units by November 2021 came from credible sources, the issue on export license may become less important if TAI can deliver.

The PAF is reportedly scheduled to receive the first 2 T129B ATAK attack helicopters by November 2021, if everything goes according to plan. Photo credits to original source.


25 May 2021:

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana confirmed to the Philippine News Agency that the government is acquiring the 
T129B ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey, with an expected delivery date for the first batch by 3rd quarter of 2021.

This was later on reconfirmed by DND Spokesman Arsenio Andolong, wherein he mentioned that the delivery for the first 2 helicopters will be by September 2021, while the second batch will be ready for delivery by February 2022, and the third batch by 2023.

This new updates from the DND is ever earlier than the information from MaxDefense PH which says that the first batch of 2 helicopters will be delivered on or before November 2021.

So far, both statements from the DND officials did not confirm from their side if the issues surrounding the US engine export license to Turkey for PAF-bound T129 helicopters are indeed settled.


12 September 2021:

According to MaxDefense Philippines' sources, looks like Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) cannot deliver the first batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters this September-October 2021 as promised to the DND and PAF. 

While we're still trying to get more confirmation as to why TAI can't deliver, we received word from one of our source that its still related to LHTEC engine's export license issues. 

If confirmed to be true, then this is concerning since TAI made promises to the PAF and DND that they have settled the issue with the US Government and can deliver the helicopters, just to save the deal.


11 October 2021:

Defense Sec  Delfin Lorenzana had a phone call talk with Turkish National Defense Min.Hulusi Akar, which included Lorenzana looking forward on the delivery the T129B ATAK attack helicopters from ASFAT (which,surprisingly isn't involved in the T129B ATAK deal).

The delivery of T129B ATAKs for the Philippine Air Force missed its target due to supply issues on the Turkish side. 

Defense Sec. Lorenzana talking to his Turkish counterpart. Photo from DND.

Clarification/Update from MaxDefense Philippines: according to our sources from Turkey, the discussion with ASFAT is not regarding the T129B ATAK, but on the company's offer for naval ships to the Philippine Navy.


19 November 2021:

Related again to the Philippine Air Force, as we received updates from related sources.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) was said to have made a commitment to deliver the first batch of 2 new T129B ATAK attack helicopters to the Philippine Air Force by December 2021.
This was among the issues discussed between TAI, Turkish Defense officials and the DND/PAF during the Philippine delegation's recent visit to Turkey.

It would be remembered that TAI already made several commitments to deliver the first batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters but has failed for reasons we believe are still related to issues on subsystems importation from US/UK suppliers.

Due to TAI's previous failures in delivering to their commitment, MaxDefense PH remains sceptical but hopeful that this can be finally made into reality.


23 November 2021:

Philippine Air Force Commanding General Allen Paredes confirms MaxDefense Philippines' earlier report that the PAF will be receiving their first batch of 2 TAI T129B ATAK attack helicopters this December 2021.

Lt. Gen. Paredes posted the photo below, which appears to be one of the T129Bs bound for the PAF, while undergoing munitions firing tests in Turkey.

Photo credits to CGPAF Lt.Gen. Allen Paredes' FB page.


26 November 2021:

The photo of the T129B ATAK attack helicopter posted on the Facebook page of Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes appears to be one of the actual unit bound for the PAF.

This can be confirmed by more photos from the same batch, as seen below. Apparently the photos were taken during the flight training of PAF pilots in Turkey.

Thus, this would support MaxDefense Philippines' and Lt.Gen. Paredes' previous posts confirming the arrival of the first batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters to the Philippines by December 2021.

Photos grabbed from PAF, through Philippine Armed Forces Unofficial II's FB page.


11 December 2021:

A closer look at one of the Philippine Air Force's first T129B ATAK attack helicopter, with Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Usec. Arthur Tabaquero and PAF personnel in Turkey.

The first 2 helicopters were said to be coming in this month.

Photo credits to Areanna Tabaquero (top), and USec. Arthur Tabaquero (above) FB pages.


09 March 2022:

The first batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force arrived at Clark Airbase after midnight today.

The two helicopters plus Integrated Logistics Support (ILS)-related items were delivered by two Airbus A400M Atlas strategic airlifters of the Turkish Air Force.

While it is still unknown why TAF transport aircraft were used, it is believed that it has something to do with supply of Antonov civilian heavy airlifters due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The two heavy lift civilian cargo airlines are Antonov Airlines based in Hostomel Airport in Ukraine that was the battleground between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the past 2 weeks, and Volga-Dnepr Airlines based in Russia.

The helicopters will be assembled, and tested locally before a formal acceptance and induction will be made by the Philippine Air Force. This might take a few weeks, and may happen by either April or May 2022.

Photo credits to Philippine Air Force, and PTV News.


10 March 2022:

Turkish Aerospace Industries shared a video on their social media account on the arrival of the two T129B ATAK attack helicopters in the Philippines, which is a milestone for the company and for Turkey in general.

The two T129 helicopters are the first export for the type.


06 April 2022:

The Philippine Air Force has inducted to service the 2 T129B ATAK attack helicopters with the 15th Strike Wing.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas led the ceremonies, which also included the induction of the first C-295W medium tactical transport aircraft from Airbus CASA.

The 2 T129B ATAK are the first batch of a total of 6 ordered from Turkish Aerospace Industries, while the C-295W is the first of 3 aircraft ordered from Airbus Defence and Space.

Take note of the 19-shot rocket launcher and Roketsan Cirit guided rocket launchers. It appears that the PAF T129s do not have the Roketsan UMTAS anti-tank missiles yet.

All photos credited to DND.


16 April 2022:

Philippine Air Force's T129B ATAK attack helicopters are seen during their flight and weapon delivery testing in the Philippines.

This appears to have happened before the helicopters were inducted with the PAF's 15th Strike Wing.

Video credits to Turkish Aerospace Industries.


26 November 2022:

Firat look on the 2nd delivery of 2 T129B ATAK attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force as they were unloaded from the A400M transport aircraft of the Turkish Air Forcr in Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

The DND acquired 6 T129B ATAK attack helicopters from Turkey through a G2G deal as part of the Attack Helicopter Phase 2 Acquisition Project under the Horizon 2 phase of RAFPMP. 2 helicopters were alrrady delivered previously and are now operated by the PAF's 15th Strike Wing.

Photo shared to MDP by a community member who wish to remain anonymous.


9 December 2022:

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr graced the blessing of the 2nd batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force earlier today in Malacanang.

This are the same helicopters we reported several days ago that arrived from Turkey via two A400M Atlas transport aircraft of the Turkish Air Foece.

TAI will deliver the last 2 helicopters by 2023 while the DND is in the process of securing funds to procure more T129s to increase  the fleet size to at least a squadron, or two if lucky.

Photo credits from Office of the President.


27 December 2022:

Our first post after Christmas is good news. We received confirmation from Turkish sources that Turkish Aerospace Industries will be delivering another batch of T129B ATAK attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force.

It remains to be seen if TAI will deliver only 1, or all remaining 2 helicopters in a single go. This will also be dependent on availability of Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft of the Turkish Air Force to deliver the helicopters to the Philippines.

Photo credits to PAF.


16 May 2023:

The Department of Budget and Management has released a SARO worth Php4,804,800,000.00 related to the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force.

Contrary to reports by other page, this amount is the 4th and final instalment worth around 35% of the total project cost.

Summing up the 4 payments made by the DBM, it has a total of around Php13.8 billion. (25% in 2022, 25% in 2021, 15% in 2020) as indicated in the project's terms of reference attached with the contract.

While the PAF plans to procure additional T129B ATAK attack helicopters, it is not yet happening at this time. This is because the project has not been finalized yet and will only be included in Horizon 3 phase after failing to reach award by end of 2022.

With this payment, this is a sign that the delivery of the final 2 T129B ATAK attack helicopters to the Philippine Air Force may happen very soon. 

Photo of SARO screen-grabbed from DBM SARO 2023.


First edit and release: 29 June 2019
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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