The Philippine Air Force is to acquire 26 trainer and combat utility aircraft from Italy and Poland to increase its capability to carry out anti-insurgency attacks and respond to disasters.

The air force will receive four of 18 SF-260F two-seater training planes from AgustaWestland in October and the remaining in batches over the coming months.

The SF-260 aircraft, acquired for 632m pesos ($14.4m), will be used to teach air force recruits basic navigational skills, formation and night flying.

The Philippines will also sign a deal with Poland’s Swidnik for the purchase of eight combat utility helicopters, which will be delivered at the beginning of 2011.

The combat utility helicopter, known as Sokol or Falcon, will complement the air force’s fleet of Vietnam War-era Huey helicopters, currently its main troop and cargo carriers.

The Philippines has also begun a bid to acquire eight new attack helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane.

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