By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) air capability especially in performing HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) and security efforts are expected to be further boosted with the formal acceptance of two NC212i Light Lift Fixed-Wing Aircraft from Indonesia.
PAF spokesman Maj. Aristides M. Galang Jr., said the two aircraft will be formally accepted, blessed, and turned over to the PAF in a simple ceremony which will be held at Haribon Hangar, Air Force City, Clark Air Base, Pampanga, at about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Galang said no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is the guest of honor during the activity.
The two aircraft, it was recalled, were acquired by the Department of National Defense from PT Dirgantara Indonesia as part of the Light Lift Fixed-Wing Acquisition project of the PAF under the AFP modernization program.
Prior to the delivery of the aircraft, PAF pilots received all the training needed about the instruments and technical conditions at PTDirgantara Indonesia (DI).
PT DI commerce and restructuring director BudimanSaleh earlier revealed that the purchasing contract of the two NC212i aircraft, including their spare parts, was worth US$19 million.
PAF said the NC212i aircraft can be used strategically for producing artificial rain, maritime patrol, and coast guard patrol. It can also be utilized for the following missions: passenger and troop transport, cargo/logistic transport, anti-smuggling control, immigration control, search and rescue, paratroop dropping, and medical evacuation.
Compared to the previous NC212, the new model has a carrying capacity of 28 passengers, a digital avionics and next-generation autopilot. It features a ramp access, next-generation navigation, and communication system, as well as, cheaper operational cost. Moreover, the said aircraft is capable of taking off and landing on unpaved runway.
Although the Philippines and several countries such as Thailand, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Chile, and Mexico have been using the previous generation aircraft which is the C212, this multipurpose plane is the first Indonesian aircraft ordered by the Philippines and is the latest generation of the NC212.
The NC212i is fully made by PTDI, which also means that the latter is the only company that produces this aircraft. All the process of producing the aircraft is done in Bandung because the Indonesian airplane manufacturer’s partner, the Airbus Defence and Space, has handed over all of the production facility to PTDI, which was initially located in Spain. Every order of the NC212i received by the European company would be made by PTDI in Indonesia.