Armed Forces of the Philippines showcases new hardware, assets from Italy


Image courtesy of David Santos

For the first time, the public got a glimpse of the Navy's new helicopters when they landed at the Camp Aguinaldo headquarters .

The three Agusta Westland 109s are part of the more than ₱3-billion military equipment package the government is acquiring from Italy.

The naval helicopters will soon be deployed together with our two Hamilton-class warships to patrol the country's maritime borders, particularly near disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Several other military assets also went on display.

Among them, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is deploying as part of its secret surveillance system.

The Army has been developing these drones since last year, each costing up to ₱300,000, way cheaper than those being sold abroad.

Shown to public for the first time, these drones were used to monitor the movement of rebels who attacked Zamboanga City in September.

The AFP also showcased the new weapons and force-protection equipment that troops in the field will be getting, perhaps a way to show that, indeed, the military is improving its capabilities under its modernization program.

But more than the upgraded assets, the AFP is also getting a much-needed morale boost.

More than two thousand officers and enlisted personnel received achievement medals, most of them having fought off rebels and rescued civilian hostages during the Zamboanga City conflict.

This is probably one of biggest number of soldiers honored for a single campaign in the AFP's recent history.

At least four soldiers have also been recommended for the Medal of Valor, the highest military award, for their gallantry during the three-week Zamboanga Siege.

Other soldiers are also getting merit medals for taking part in rescue and relief operations during the Bohol earthquake and the super typhoon Yolanda disaster in the Eastern Visayas.

On Friday, President Aquino will lead a simple AFP Day ceremony where he is also expected to pay tribute to government troops, as well as highlight the administration's programs in helping improve the lives of soldiers and their families. - David Santos

Solar News

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