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PAF takes delivery of 10 choppers

The transport capability of the Philippine Air Force (PAF)  gets a big  boost  with the delivery  of   eight  Bell 412 helicopters and  two AW109 attack helicopters.        

Most of the aircraft  were reconfigured  to suit  internal security operations while   the Bell choppers can also  do  search and rescue   operations  during disasters, an Air Force official said.

PAF spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya said  the eight Bell helicopters were  delivered in  batches by the   Canadian Commercial Corp. and Textron last June.

Canaya  said five  of the choppers were configured for  combat utility,   equipped  with machineguns and rockets while the three others were intended to be used for VIP transport.

Also delivered were two of the  eight  AW109 combat utility helicopters with a total amount of P4.5 billion.

“Hopefully this year,  all the remaining six  AW109 helicopters would be delivered,” Canaya said.

Canaya said all the delivered choppers passed inspection and test flights.

He said the choppers will be deployed in the unified area commands.  

“The Bell choppers will also be utilized for humanitarian assistance and disaster response during times of calamity. They will be assigned to  the 205th   Tactical Helicopter Wing; they are a good support for our UH1H and UH1D,” Canaya said

The “inferior”  version of the German-made UH1D has become  controversial  after the discovery of bidding irregularities made by the Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of National Defense  that  was supposed to purchase 21 secondhand refurbished UH1H worth P1.2 billion.            Only seven  of the supposed 21 defective UH1D replacements were accepted and the rest were scrapped after the issue became public and investigated by the Senate.     

Canaya said the AW109 helicopters will  complement the MD520 in the 15th   Strike Wing for close air support and  reconnaissance.

“This is positive development  because right now we are receiving new aircraft,   air assets to increase the capability of the Air Force. We are looking forward to the delivery of two more medium C295M and two CM212I light-lift transport. And of course, the first delivery of our FA-50 from South Korea this year,” he said.

The DND has ordered 12 FA-50 lead-in jet fighters or trainer jets which are not combat-ready  despite the high cost at   P18.9 billion.  

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