The Philippine Navy’s (PN) missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) achieved another milestone as an AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopter successfully landed on its flight deck while the ship was underway off Corregidor Island.

“On the morning of 27 April 2023, the Philippine Navy achieved another significant milestone in its development of anti-submarine warfare capability as the PN AW-159 Mk220 ‘Wildcat’ helicopter, with tail number NH-441, successfully conducted its first deck landing aboard BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), an ASW (anti-submarine warfare) guided missile frigate, while underway at vicinity 30 nautical miles southwest of Corregidor Island,” a post on the BRP Antonio Luna’s Facebook page said Thursday night.

This achievement demonstrates the growing capability and readiness of the Navy’s crews and platforms as a team for ASW operations.
“Both the JRCFs (Jose Rizal Class Frigates) and the PN Wildcats were products of the 1st Horizon Projects under the Revised AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Modernization Program, which were delivered and commissioned into the service in 2020/2021 and 2019, respectively. The JRCFs were built by Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea while the PN ‘Wildcats’ was built by Leonardo Helicopter Limited UK (LHUK),” the post further said.

The PN’s “Wildcat” aircrew are still undergoing the contracted in-country training with LHUK while the JRCFs are being used in the various operational areas of the country.

The AW-159s, which the PN has two, were acquired to increase the ASW capabilities of the JRCFs.

“The PN through the Naval Air Wing and Offshore Combat Force are taking steps to complete the integration of these game-changer assets in order to be deployed together in securing our maritime domain,” the BRP Antonio Luna said.

It added that these initiatives are a great contribution to fulfilling the Navy’s vision of becoming a modern, multi-capable naval force responsive to our maritime nation’s defense and development.

The BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and its sister ship BRP Antonio Luna are modern warships capable of surface, sub-surface, air and electronic warfare using state-of-the-art electronic sensors, long-range missiles, acoustic guided torpedoes and embarked anti-submarine helicopters.
The BRP Jose Rizal was delivered to the Philippines in May 2020 and commissioned in July that year while the BRP Antonio Luna was commissioned on March 19, 2021.

The contract for the two ships was placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.
PH Navy officers attend 13th IMEX Asia in Singapore

As this developed, PN chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. and other ranking Navy officers attended the opening ceremony of the 13th International Maritime Defense Exposition (IMDEX) Asia at the Changi Exhibition Center in Singapore on May 3.

A total of 47 delegations were in attendance at the opening ceremony, including 22 Navy chiefs, directors general of Coast Guards, and heads of maritime law enforcement agencies of 38 countries.

Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen presided over the opening rites and highlighted the importance of strengthening mutual understanding and fostering consensus in a globally interlinked world.

After the ceremony, Adaci and Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Medardo Macaraig visited various defense technology and shipbuilding exhibition booths at the center.

These opportunities provide the PN with an avenue to strengthen its connections and practical cooperation with other Navies and maritime agencies and be updated on contemporary maritime defense trends.