Philippine Air Force denies five of its seven newly-bought choppers defective

Posted on July 28, 2015

THE Philippine Air Force denied allegations that five of its seven newly-purchased helicopters were malfunctioning due to defects and missing parts when the military held flight demonstrations earlier this month.

In a released statement on Monday, PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico B. Canaya denied the claims indicated in a published piece that alleged that the military only had the media board two of the seven UH-1D helicopters during the demonstration because the rest were defective and dangerous.

“The PAF used only two helicopters during the flight demonstration last July 14, 2015 to show to the media and the public the basic similarities as well as main differences of the two variants of the Hueys or UH-1 helicopters,” Mr. Canaya said in a released statement on Monday.

“All 7 UH-1Ds and 2 UH-1Hs flew from Villamor Air Base, Pasay City to General Headquarters, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City, evident that all the 7 UH-1D helicopters were operational and fully mission capable,” he said further.

Almost two weeks ago, the Philippine military held public test flights of the seven helicopters within Metro Manila to dispel allegations that the air assets were defective and unreliable.

The seven helicopters originally forms part of 21 helicopters supposed to be procured by the Philippine military under its modernization program. The contract was later partially terminated by the Department of National Defense when the contractor failed to deliver within the agreed time frame.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee last May conducted investigations into the alleged irregular procurement of the aircraft, which were said to be 40-50 years old, substandard, and unsafe, according to whistle-blower Rhodora S. Alvarez, a former Bureau of Internal Revenue employee.

Ms. Alvarez claimed she provided assistance to a representative of Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. (RASI), one of the two companies in the joint venture, for the P121-billion military contract. The whistle-blower then said that the required specifications of the aircraft to be procured were ’tailor-fitted’ to accommodate the joint venture’s inventories.

A Congressional hearing is scheduled Wednesday this week at the House of Representatives to discuss the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the chopper procurement. -- Alden M. Monzon