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Philippine Sherpa Makes Small Steps In Army Aviation Expansion

Philippine Sherpa Makes Small Steps In Army Aviation Expansion

 INDUSTRY 360° | 18 APRIL 2022

Philippine Army Sherpa.jpg
Philippine Army Sherpa | The donated Sherpa light transport aircraft is pictured here at its handover ceremony on 1 April. (PAF)

The fledgling Army Aviation Regiment of the Philippine Army has been bolstered in recent weeks by the arrival of a Sherpa light transport aircraft and a medevac helicopter.

The Philippine company Semirara Mining and Power Corporation donated the second-hand Short SD3-30 Sherpa transport aircraft to the Philippine Army on 1 April. The handover ceremony took place at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna said at the ceremony, ‘Donating the Short SD3-30 Sherpa aircraft is the most sustainable means of developing the Philippine Army’s aviation force aside from procurement. Likewise, this will greatly impact the accomplishments of the unit’s mission of providing aviation support to its ground forces.’

This twin-prop aircraft, able to carry 27 passengers, becomes the regiment’s largest platform so far. In previous civilian service, it had clocked up 10,846 flight hours.

The army has actually had its eyes on Sherpa aircraft for some time, and it even attempted to obtain some ex-US Army C-23 Sherpas before being stymied by a lack of funds. The US would have provided aircraft free as military assistance, but the Philippines would have had to pay to rehabilitate them.

Earlier, on 21 March, the Army Aviation Regiment unveiled its first air ambulance in the form of a second-hand Bo 105M helicopter. Its debut coincided with celebrations commemorating the founding of the Philippine Army 125 years ago.

The aircraft is flown and maintained by army personnel, while attendant doctors and nurses are also from the army. 

This is believed to be the same Bo 105 helicopter inducted by the regiment on 18 June 2021, after being donated by businessman Manny V. Pangilinan. The Philippine Army will attempt to gain additional medevac helicopters.

Other hodge-podge assets in the Army Aviation Regiment at Fort Magsaysay are two R44 Raven helicopters, a Cessna 421B Golden Eagle, Cessna 206, 172 and 150. 

However, the army has committed to improving its aviation arm. Army chief Lt Gen Romeo Brawner Jr said in January, ‘The Philippine Army leadership will push down mission-essential equipment to army units nationwide. Rest assured, the command is committed to upgrading the Aviation Regiment into a modern and capable unit that will assist our ground forces in dealing with a multitude of threats.’

By: Gordon Arthur / Christchurch
Article | Shephard Media