Knowing the Philippine Air Force's Donated AH-1S Helicopters from Jordan

The Philippine Air Force through the years is relying on its light attack helicopters such as the MG-520 and the recently-purchased AW-109 helicopters in order to conduct a Close Air Support strike against the enemy alongside fix-wing aircraft such as the OV-10 Bronco (which will be augmented with A-29 Super Tucano) and at some instances the KAI FA-50PH where it performs its Close Air Support capabilities in Mindanao recently. 

The organization is about to have its first fully-capable dedicated attack helicopter that will do its job more than what the light attack helicopters will offer alongside fix-wing aircraft doing precision targeting of munitions.

AH-1S Philippine Air Force, Jordan
This is the U.S. Marine Bell AH-1W Super Cobra that participated
in 2014 Balikatan Exercises. The Philippine Air Force is set to have
the AH-1F variant from Jordan which was donated.

The Philippine Air Force at the current date is about to receive its dedicated attack helicopter which is considered the first one for the organization to have, especially with its current rotary aircraft fleet composing primarily of Combat Utility Helicopter transports, if not light attack/surveillance ones.

Such an attack helicopter helps the Air Force improve its Close Air Support Capabilities which support the Armed Forces of the Philippines' counter-insurgency operations that aims to eliminate if not dwindle the influence and threat that terrorist groups such as the country's Communists and Moro Radicals in the South that they inflict on the nation's law and order.

This attack helicopter will be provided from the donations made by a Middle Eastern country that disposes of its own military hardware for more modern ones. This provides the Philippine Air Force to have an opportunity getting these units as it goes to the organization's desire to Modernize its forces better under its existing Flight Plan initiative which gets along with the greater Revised AFP Modernization Program or the Republic Act 10349 where the organization aspires to have better tools for minimal deterrence use which the role range from Close Air Support for Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations and immediate logistics transport in both combative and noncombative scenarios to territorial defense that require usage of Ground-based air defense systems, radar detection systems and utilization of Multirole aircraft (MRF) for air intercept.

Take note that this is different from the Philippine Air Force's on-going Attack Helicopter Acquisition Program which is currently favoring Turkish Aerospace Industries' T-129 "ATAK" Attack Helicopter while its closest competitor is another variant of what will be discussed in this article which in itself is also second-hand hardware.

This discussion will be tackling about the donated ex-Jordanian Air Force AH-1S "Tzefa" attack helicopters which in itself is a second-hand equipment Jordan obtained from Israel which comes to no surprise regarding its variant. Latest reports provided that it will be delivered next year given with delays which will be included in this topic.

THE COMMONALITIES that define AH-1's close relationship with its UH-1 Huey cousin.
AH-1S Philippine Air Force, UH-1 Huey Helicopters Philippine Air Force
The Philippine Air Force obtains a handful of these Vietnam-era designed
Combat Utility Helicopters.
Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.

Here is an important note with regards to the development of the AH-1 Hueys during that time - it comes like an armed companion of the UH-1 Iroquois or Huey Helicopters where both of these rotary aircraft platforms were first produced in the 1960s - the time that Vietnam war gets more of a topic.

Speaking of the Vietnam war, both of these platforms sought action on a conflict that the United States increasingly getting involved in, wherein these helicopters help provide the resources and firepower for the U.S. troops in the battlezone to continue fighting until they eventually pulling out of the country which results to the downfall of Saigon and South Vietnam and an ultimate communist North Vietnamese victory. 

The harsh battle in Vietnam, with all of its nastiness, provides an insight regarding the  overall capabilities that both the UH-1 Huey and its cousin the AH-1 Cobra obtains where the helicopters' performance is much useful to the extent that countries such as the Philippines where it's Air Force still utilizing a number of UH-1s in its inventory even at the present date. 

To take note, the Philippine Air Force even obtains the modernized version derived from the UH-1 which is the four-bladed Bell 412 Combat Utility Helicopter which, like the UH-1s are also in active service at the current date. This modernized helicopter should be increased its units more, but such plans were abandoned due to some political tensions which prompted the service branch to go for the Sikorsky's S-70i Blackhawk Helicopters instead.

It comes to no surprise on the fact that both helicopters shared the same components which in itself benefits the end-user in terms of streamlining the logistics chain of spare parts and its compatibility when applied between platforms where it goes related to the helicopters' maintenance and operations. 

This is at no doubt the rationale behind several of the Philippine Air Force personnel to why they opted more for second-hand AH-1W helicopters instead of brand new yet CAATSA-threatening T-129 "ATAK" helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries or TAI.

From here, there goes a bit of a blessing on the Philippine Air Force's end regarding the donated AH-1 Helicopters from Jordan wherein its components along with its capabilities are something already familiar to its personnel given the widespread use of its UH-1 Combat Utility Helicopter cousin within the organization. 

Despite that, it is worth to take note that operating an attack helicopter and a combat utility one is different in nature so training and practice are needed as part of the turnover despite the commonalities. Talking about these essential things, there is something to take note of its delivery date.

AH-1 Cobra, Philippine Air Force, Jordan
A Pakistani Army AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter flies over Kund mountain near
Kotkai village in South Waziristan on October 29, 2009. Image Source.

Here is an example that provides the difference between the AH-1 Cobras from the UH-1 Hueys in service wherein this attack helicopter, like any new assets that are being introduced to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, requires the preparation of honing more skills in operations which is essential to utilize the asset to its highest possible potential.

On this news report, the delivery of the AH-1F/S Attack Helicopter variants from Jordan may take more time where the time window provided herein is estimated to, at least 2 months. It comes at no surprise as there are apparent delays to the Philippine Air Force's end in sending both pilots and ground crew to Jordan for the training required in operating and maintaining these newly-introduced assets in the organization.

By having these kinds of training provided for both the pilots and ground crew, it may go much simpler with more benefits to the Philippine Air Force if the option of the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Program goes to the second-hand AH-1 Whiskey variant Cobra Attack Helicopters instead of the CAATSA-ridden Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 ATAK Helicopters where the chances of its subcomponents being blocked by the United States is a bit higher that there is the risk of delivery delays on the end-user or hampering any after support services. 

Having two different platforms ideally may complicate the logistics chain and the interoperability between assets may hamper a bit given the difference of components that come up in a certain rotary-aircraft platform. 

Speaking of interoperability, there is something regarding the variant that the Jordanians provided to the Philippine Air Force which goes compatible aside from the already-discussed UH-1 Hueys and the common attributes regarding the manufacturer of these helicopters. This compatibility comes in the form of weapons fit and composition which originates from the original owners of these Attack Helicopters in a form of Jordan's Southwest Neighbor.

AH-1S Tzefas Israel Philippine Air Force
The AH-1 helicopters that the Jordanians donated were in fact,
AH-1S Tzefas that were once part of the Israeli Defense Force.
Image Source. 

Let it be known to everyone with regards to some of the Jordanian AH-1 Cobras that are obtained in its fleet - some of these attack helicopters were transferred to Jordan from Israel as part of the efforts being made that is for counter-terrorist operations given the ever-increasing threat of the Islamic State on the region during that time.

With these benefits obtaining between neighbors that aims for that ultimate goal of ensuring better security and stability of these highly-volatile part of the world, it is ascertained that these dedicated attack helicopters may have its weapons fit capable of carrying Israeli-made munitions where the Armed Forces of the Philippines already obtain some of it, fitted on the Philippine Navy's Multipurpose Attack Crafts and air units such as the Leonardo AW-159 Antisubmarine Helicopters. 

Such munitions referred here are the RAFAEL SPIKE missiles where both variants - SPIKE ER and SPIKE NLOS are both in service within the AFP through the Navy and it will not be that long for such compatibility to take place shall the Philippine Air Force opts to obtain these munitions for these attack helicopters to have for more firepower capacity especially when needed for close air support operation where these guided munitions can be fired precisely on target that significantly increases the overall effectiveness of its performance which may impact the overall outcome of a combat. 

These attack helicopters in Israeli service are reputable enough that it served the country for 20 years and participated in combat areas like in Lebanon before several of it getting transferred to other countries such as its neighbor Jordan to combat IS threat. The specifications are provided as follows, from the Israeli Air Force itself.
To see it clearer, click this image to enlarge.

Additional information (reference):

Service ceiling - 12,000 feet
Cruising speed - 140 knots
Maximum speed - 149 knots (172 mph / 277 km/h)
Combat radius - 172 km (93 km at 140 knots)
Maximum range - 574 km (310 nm)
Endurance - 2+15 hours (400 liters/h).

It is worth notable that from the first model of the chopper - the AH-1G which was purchased in large numbers by the US Army and played a prominent role in Vietnam down to the first Israeli purchase of this dedicated attack helicopter as resulted from assessments made over the Yom Kippur War, having these helicopters are something that will definitely add more capability and firepower for the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing.


For the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing, it is getting a wide array of aircraft which will augment its existing assets such as the AW-109 and MG-520 Light Attack Helicopters, SF-260 and older OV-10 Bronco fixed-wing close air support aircraft.

With the delivery of AH-1S Tzefas from Jordan and also the delivery of the A-29 Super Tucano from Brazil, it is nice to know that the 15th Strike Wing will be getting more of such assets into its sleeves, which is something that will increase their firepower capability as well as to improve their overall capabilities and also effectiveness in providing Close Air Support operations for the ground troops in terms of conducting Counter-Insurgency (COIN) operations.

It is also nice to see regarding the development of the Attack Helicopter Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force where currently the preferred option provided on paper is the TAI T-129 "ATAK" Attack Helicopters from Turkey. 

While that procurement is in the works, there is the basis for several people within the organization to prefer the AH-1W Super Cobra variant that is also offered in lieu to the Turkish-made ones wherein aside from the risk of potential delays and also the potential reset to the project if CAATSA slapped on sanctioning subcomponents against the Turkish, aside from the fact that the donated Jordanian AH-1S paves the way for the Philippines to have such asset which is just worthy if more AH-1s will be provided given the commonalities and lessening stress in logistics in spares and complexities in trainings and activities related to an asset's operations and maintenance. 

All that it takes now is to witness the developments being made to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its desire to modernize itself up from organization down to facilities for the years to come where it is about to take more transformation to become a better agency within the Department of National Defense whereby the time things are set in the year 2028 as the Third Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program completes, the country sees an Armed Forces providing minimum credible defense posture that safeguards the country, its citizenry and its national interest.

(c) 2019 PDA, 2023 first edition.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I dont trust the airwothiness of the cobra from jordan. Too old.

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