Philippines Air Force receives first batch of Sokol helicopters


The Philippines Air Force has taken delivery of the first batch of four Sokol combat utility helicopters from AgustaWestland's subsidiary PZL-Swidnik at Clark Air Base, northwest of Manila, Philippines.

The aircraft will be formally inducted into active operational service with the Air Force to transport troops and perform a range of utility duties.

The delivery follows a previously awarded contract by the Philippines Air Force in 2010 to provide a total of eight Hawk helicopters along with ground equipment, spare parts, services and technical support.

The contract also included the provision of training for aircrew and maintainers, which was completed for the initial batch of aircraft crew and maintainer in February 2012 in Poland.

Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Tuvera Gazmin said that the new batch of helicopters will boost the fire-fighting capabilities of the Philippines Air Force.

The 6t class helicopter has been designed to carry and transport loads of up to 2,100kg using its external cargo hook and can be equipped with M60D machine gun on each side of the cabin.

The Sokol helicopter, powered by two engines, has a maximum speed of 259kmph, can fly 745km and can endure over four hours using its standard fuel tanks.

The combat utility helicopter features advanced navigation and avionics systems which include a night vision goggle compatible cockpit enabling it to operate day and night under all weather conditions.

PAF Public Information Office chief lieutenant colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol said that the remaining four Sokol helicopters will be delivered to the air force in November 2012.