By Francis Wakefield
Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. said that they are in the final stages in procuring new helicopters as part of its modernization program.
In an interview during the pre-State of the Nation Forum (SONA) with the theme “Tatak ng Pagbabago: Tatak ng Katatagan,” held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on Wednesday, Kintanar said they are hopeful to getting new helicopters by next year or 2019.
“We are in the final stages of procurement, defintely we’re going to get a new ones ‘yung mga helicopters na yun (those
helicopters),” Kintanar said.
“‘Yung combat utility helicopter at yung pangalawa attack helicopters (The combar utility helicopter then second the attack helicopters). These two platforms in terms of procurement should be done in terms of contracting,” he added.
Despite the cost or price of the items for utility helicopters increasing, Kintanar said they expect to still purchase 16 utility helicopters.
It was recalled that with the cancellation of the Bell 412 EPI contract from Bell Helicopter and Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) early this year, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is now looking again for possible suppliers capable of supplying it with aircraft with similar capabilities.
“Ang nangyari kasi tumaas ang presyo ng mga gamit (What happened was that the price of the items increase) but basically,…supposedly we can get around 16 utuity helicopters. Eto ‘ yung nag fail na Canadian.” Kintanar said.
With regards to the attack helicopters, Kintanar said depending on the budget, they are looking to acquire 10 to 20
of the air asset.
“It will still depend on the budget. It might be as low as lets say 10 or as high as 20. It all depends on the type of a/c (air combat) we’re going to get,” Kintanar said.
“As I said we are in the final stages of procurement. We are identifying the sources (and) we are going to talk to them one by one so that the Philippines and the Philippine Air Force will get what is best for them,” he added.
Kintanar said possible sources to replace the Bell helicopters from Canada are South Korea and Europe particularly from Italy. Russia is also being considered.
“We just (have) to look for the helicopter they (Russia) have offered. Its part of the normal gesture because they have learned the fate of our helicopters,” the PAF chief said.
Kintanar, at the same time, said that China has not offered to provide them with helicopters.
“The contract should be finished this year, that’s definite. The delivery hopefully should start next year at the earliest. Matagal po ang pag kumpuni ng mga eroplanong gusto natin (Fixing the helicopters we want based on our specifications takes long),” he said.