January 16, 2013: In an ongoing effort to upgrade its military, the Philippines has bought three AW109 maritime helicopters for its navy. Britain's last helicopter manufacturer (Agusta Westland, a division of Italian firm Finmeccanica) builds the AW109, which is a three ton aircraft with a max speed of 285 kilometers an hour and endurance of about three hours. It can carry up to seven passengers. It can be armed with a machine-gun and up to eight TOW type missiles. Each AW109 will cost about $11 million and they will be delivered within two years.
The AW109s will be used mostly for reconnaissance as well as search and rescue. Nearly 600 AW109s are used by fifty countries. The Philippines is buying new equipment in small batches because it is basically broke. But growing Chinese intrusions into Filipino offshore areas has generated sufficient fear to force the Philippines to scrounge up cash for this emergency.