MANILA, -- More attack helicopters will be acquired to boost the Philippine Air Force's existing aircraft fleet, a PAF official said Tuesday.
"The attack helicopter project is a continuing program up until we are able to close the capability gap. It's laid out in the PAF Flight Plan 2028 and very much in line with the President's thrust," PAF Spokesperson Col. Araus Robert Musico said in a message to the PNA.
This would boost the existing MD-520 attack units and newly-acquired AW-109s, he added. At present, PAF has between 12 to 16 MD-520s and eight AW-109 attack helicopters.
Attack helicopters, in the Philippine setting, are often deployed as aerial rocket and machine batteries to help troops in clearing and pursuit operations.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to acquire more attack helicopters to aid troops in their operations against bandit and lawless groups.
In its 14-year strategic roadmap called Flight Plan 2028, the PAF will be able to build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize incursions from "Area Readiness 3 to Area Readiness 1."
"Area Readiness 3" refers to 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territory while "Area Readiness 1" means 100 percent of the country's territory which is estimated to be 40,000 square nautical miles.
A Philippine Navy weaponized AW109 Power light attack helicopter. The aircraft is armed with FN Herstal Rocket Machine Gun Pods (FN RMPs) on both sides.