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Philippine Army to buy Fuji-Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters from Japan.

| 2023

Max Montero on February 8 tweeted that, while the Philippine Army announced plans to acquire Fuji-Bell UH-1J Huey helicopters from Japan, it also showed interest to get at least 1 squadron of Fuji-Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, which are scheduled for retirement from the Japan Self Defense Force service soon.

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Philippine Army to buy Fuji Bell AH 1S Cobra attack helicopters from Japan Fuji-Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters of the Japan Self Defense Force (Picture source: Twitter account of Max Montero)

Sources confirmed that the Philippine Army team that inspected the UH-1Js also inspected the AH-1S Cobras and were interested in them should they be offered as a grant by Japan, Max Montero report. While "old", these were made in the mid-1980s to 2000, with the remaining units among those made in the 1990s.

Technically, these AH-1S are younger than the Air Force's MD-520MG Defender fleet. Also, these Japanese AH-1S also received Step 3 upgrades which actually make them AH-1F standard. A squadron of these would provide the Army the ability to conduct air support to its troops without relying on the Air Force. Max Montero assumes that the Philippines will get 6-11 AH-1S Cobras and 13-26 UH-1J Hueys.

Japan manufactured 89 AH-1S Cobras under license by Fuji Heavy Industries from 1984 to 2000. The type is used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and are Step 3 models, which are roughly the equivalent to the U.S. Army's AH-1Fs. The engine is the T53-K-703 turboshaft, which Kawasaki Heavy Industries produced under license. During the 2010s, Japan was examining options for procuring a fleet of new rotorcraft to replace its aging Cobras. In December 2022, the Japanese government decided to replace 47 AH-1S, 12 AH-64D, 33 OH-1, and 26 U-125A with unmanned aerial vehicles.

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