The Philippine air force looks set to receive two Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters donated by Jordan in early 2020.

The delivery had apparently been planned for this month, but training the crews for the rotorcraft has delayed this, according to the government-owned Philippines News Agency.

The deal was originally sealed between Amman and Manila in September 2018. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has been quoted as saying that a third AH-1 could be donated.

The Philippines has been looking to beef up its defence capabilities. In addition to a simmering insurgency in its southern island of Mindanao, it is also grappling with Beijing’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippines Air Force has just 45 assets in its inventory with some degree of attack capability. These comprise 12 Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50s, eight Leonardo Helicopters AW109s, and 25 MD Helicopters MD500s. While the FA-50s and AW109s were acquired in the last decade, the average age of the MD500s is 27.9 years, according to Cirium fleets data.

In 2017, Manila placed an order for six Embraer A-29 Super Tucano close air support aircraft, with deliveries planned for 2019.

Duterte has also publicly expressed interest in the Saab Gripen C/D, saying the single-engined type is a good fit for Manila in terms of cost and capability.

Jordan, for its part, has been looking to divest some of its AH-1Fs. In 2018 it offered 17 AH-1Fs for sale, along with spare parts.

According to Cirium fleets data Amman has 48 AH-1s. The size of the fleet was 31 until about 2015, when US sources confirmed that 16 Israeli AH-1s were transferred to Jordan to help fight Islamic State in Syria.

In addition, some of Jordan’s AH-1s were upgraded by US firm Science and Engineering Services, which said the upgrade offered “increased AH-1 warfighting capabilities.’

Then, in June 2019, the Jordanian Air Force advertised 29 aircraft for sale: two Airbus C-295 transport aircraft; two CASA/IPTN CN-235 transport aircraft; one Lockheed C-130B transport aircraft; 12 BAE Systems Hawk jet trainers; six CH-4B UAVs; and six MD Helicopters MD530 light helicopters.