Lorenzana eyes military helicopters from Seoul

Published October 2, 2020, 2:14 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed intent Friday to acquire UH-1H (Huey) and MD500 helicopters from South Korea to boost the military’s current fleet.

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

Lorenzana formally sent its intentions through a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed South Korean Minister National of Defense Suh Wook.

Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the acquisition project for the South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters “is still in the exploratory stage.” Details have yet to be finalized, including the timeline and quantity of the assets to be acquired.

However, during the 68th anniversary of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing last week, Major Gen. Simeon Felix, chief of the Philippine Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, said that there have been plans to acquire 21 second-hand Huey choppers from South Korea.

The Bell UH-1H helicopter is a multipurpose utility aircraft known for its versatility. It was heavily used during the Vietnam War.

On the other hand, the MD500 is a light utility civilian and military aircraft known for its speed and ease of maneuverability.

Aside from the acquisition plans, Lorenzana bared that officials from the Department of National Defense (DND) have been planning to conduct a Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) of the helicopters in the fourth quarter of 2020.

He said the JVI will be conducted by a team composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines while observing strict biosafety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.