The United States has cleared the potential sale of the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the Philippines, pending a decision by the Southeast Asian nation on its choice of platforms.

The U.S. Defense Security and Cooperation Agency announced the decision by the State Department this morning local time, with approval for the Philippines to buy six of each type of attack helicopters.

The approval for the AH-1Z includes 14 T-700-GE-401C engines, electronic warfare and self protection systems, Honeywell GPS/INS navigation systems, sif AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, and 26 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided rockets and other support for an estimated cost of US$450 million.

Two US Army AH-64 Apache helicopters flypast at the conclusion of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) live fire exercise held at The Plains Airfield within the Shoalwater Bay Trainhing Area (Commonwealth of Australia)

Meanwhile, the much larger and more expensive AH-64E package includes 18 T700-GE-701D engines, 15 Honeywell embedded GPS/INS, 200 Hellfires, 300 APKWS, Longbow fire control radars, Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) equipment and other support.

As the announcement noted, the approval does not mean that a sale has been concluded, with the State Department routinely pre-approving potential sales before a potential customer has made its decision, so as to speed up the process for the sale if any of the U.S. platforms are chosen.

Turkey’s TAI T129 attack helicopter, which is based on the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta. (TAI photo)

The Philippines is seeking a new attack helicopter for its military, which has had to contend with a number of insurgencies throughout the archipelago, including against Islamist and separatist insurgencies in the south centred around the island of Mindanao as well as a long-running fight against communist rebels elsewhere.

The American contenders will face off against Turkey’s TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter. The Philippines has also recently taken delivery of two ex-Jordanian AH-1F HueyCobra helicopter gunships, which are the forerunner of the AH-1Z.

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