Monday, 17 January 2011 15:04
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has boosted its firepower and airlift capability with the recent acquisition from the United States of five UH-1H “Huey” helicopters, considered as the most versatile and widely used military helicopter in the world.
The acquisition comes at the most crucial time in PAF's internal security operations when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is having difficulty in its modernization program due to lack of funds.
The five “Huey” choppers are part of the 17 UH-1H and six attack helicopters the PAF has planned for its modernization program. They will be deployed under the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.
There are now 40 UH-1H helicopters in the PAF arsenal. The Air Force plans to acquire additional choppers in the next few years.
The Air Force had earlier acquired eight brand new trainer aircraft last month.
The “Hueys” were first deployed in combat at the start of the Vietnam War in 1963.
Although designed for transport of troops and provisions, the UH-1H helicopters were fitted with M-60 machine guns and air-to-ground rockets.
Despite being a vintage helicopter, the “Huey” has defied time in its usefulness in more than 40 countries, including the Philippines.
In fact, the US Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps use extensively the “Huey” to date, showing its versatility.
The UH-1H helicopters are the PAF's workhorse used in combat, transport, rescue and supply missions for over 40 years now.
In fact, the UH-1H saw extensive action during the war in Mindanao in ‘70s, ‘80s, and the 2000 war in Central Mindanao against Muslim rebels.
The PAF has reconfigured the “Hueys” into helicopter gunships armed with machine guns and rockets in supporting ground troops during combat.
To boost its accuracy, PAF pilot are equipped with night vision goggles that enable them to see at night.
The acquisition of the five “Huey” choppers has further boosted Philippine-US alliance.
The five utility helicopters, which arrived last December 18 aboard the US flag vessel BBC Houston, is part of the 10 refurbished choppers that was provided through the President of the United States (POTUS) Program.
The US security assistance program will help the AFP’s shift from internal security to territorial defense.
Most armaments used by the AFP are supplied by the US.
By Ben Cal-PNA
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