US offers PH helicopters after scrapped deal with Russia

The United States is offering the Philippines Chinook helicopters as a substitute for the Mi-17 helicopters from Russia, which the government would have had if it did not scrap its purchase deal with Russia.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez said Monday the Philippines is considering buying Chinook helicopters from the US to replace the country's current heavy-lift helicopters.

This is not only for military operations but also for disaster preparedness, Romualdez added.

"As a matter of fact during a meeting we had with then Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Secretary Austin in at the Pentagon, we were already exploring the ideas of replacing these heavy-lift helicopters our Armed Forces needs," he said in a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).

Romualdez said the United States offered the Philippines "to try to come out with a similar amount that we're looking to spend for the Russian helicopters."

"In other words at a special price," he said. "Everything is all on the table and we will see how that goes."

"We will definitely be on top of that as soon as we see the offers that are being made," added Romualdez, who is hopeful the deal would be closed "as soon as possible."

It was recently reported that the Philippines, under the administration of then President Duterte, scrapped its contract with Russia for the purchase of 16 helicopters as part of the country's military modernization.

The Philippines is still hopeful that it can get back the money it gave Russia for the down payment.