Philippines Receive Jordanian Cobras

On November 26, the Philippine Air Force received two Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters from Jordan. They were delivered to the Philippine Air Force headquarters at Clark Air Base, Pampanga.

The Jordanian government pledged to donate two AH-1S Cobras to the Philippines in 2018. They were originally scheduled to be delivered in September this year, but delivery was delayed to early 2020. However, internal Air Force reports suggested an a delivery date in November.

MaxDefense Philippines was the first to report on the delivery of the attack helicopters. Their reporting was later confirmed by the Department of National Defense. 

Department spokesperson Arsenio Andolong commented on the delivery of the Cobras:

The two-blade, single-engine attack helicopters, which arrived at PAF Headquarters in Clark Airbase, Pampanga on 26 November 2019, will be used primarily for close air support in internal security and counter-terrorism operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He described the donation of the Cobras as a “manifestation of the widening of our circle of friends,” referring to the strengthened military cooperation between the Philippines and Jordan that facilitated the donation of the attack helicopters. He added that the arrival of the Cobras would help troops on the ground, and enhance the overall capability of the Philippines Air Force. 

Philippines Air Force pilots and ground crew were previously sent to Jordan for training on flying and operating the Cobras. Additionally, the Philippine Air Force has budgeted 45.7 million Philippine pesos ($2.4 million) for maintenance and spare parts for the Cobras.

Reassembly of the two Cobras is now underway at Clark Air Base. Once assembly is complete, they will be inspected and tested in preparation for their formal acceptance by Defense Secretary Delfin Loranza. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. expects the Cobras to be operational by the end of December. 

The Cobras will be operated by the 20th Attack Squadron, 15th Strike Wing. The squadron currently operates MD520MG Defenders out of Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite, south of Manila. 

According to MaxDefense Philippines, negotiations are underway for two more Cobras. The Philippines Air Force currently plans to procure six Turkish T129 ATAK attack helicopters, but the future of the plan is in doubt following the United States’ refusal to permit exports of engine components critical to construction of the T129s.