Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Philippine Air Force to acquire 13 new helicopters
By ARIS R. ILAGAN
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will acquire a new fleet of 13 helicopters after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved the release of P5 billion to finance its modernization program.
The PAF will celebrate its 60th anniversary on Tuesday, July 3 with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as guest of honor.
In a news forum at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Oban, commander of the PAF Air Defense Wing, said the 13 new aircraft will include eight utility helicopters and five attack choppers.
Oban said they will conduct a rigid bidding process soon so they can determine the suppliers.
"This will definitely be a big boost to our air defense capability," Oban pointed out.
After the winner of the bidding contract is known, the AFP will determine the specifications for the helicopters that will eventually replace the aging Vietnam war vintage UH-1H "Huey" helicopters.
There are still 41 UH1H helicopters still being used by the PAF in its internal security operations in fighting rebel forces and for the conduct of search and rescue mission during disasters.
Oban admitted that the shift from external defense mode to internal security operations by the AFP has prevented them from modernizing the military commands during the past decades.
PAF, however, will continue flying its existing Hueys since they are still airworthy and are being used by many foreign countries as a dependable troop carrier.
The military’s modernization program has been delayed owing to budget constraints. President Arroyo has pledged to speed up the implementation of the modernization program during her term.