21 Huey choppers to boost PAF’s operationsBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines—The 21 refurbished Huey helicopters seen to be added to the Philippine Air Force’s list of assets, will not only boost the aviation wing’s capability and military operations but will also be of use to the upcoming 2013 elections, the Department of National Defense said Monday.
Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo said the Air Force requested additional helicopters as they are anticipating an increase in air mobility requirements due to election-related flights in various parts of the country.
He also said that the project was already in the pipeline as early as 2011, when then PAF Commanding General, Lt Gen Oscar Rabena, requested President Benigno S. Aquino III for additional Hueys. The said helicopters are also urgently required during calamity and disaster operations.
According to a recent report of the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) assessment team, there are only 16 fully/partial mission-capable Hueys in the PAF inventory. Currently, the PAF is 51 units short of reaching its ideal number of operational combat utility helicopters.
“The acquisition of CUHs aims to address the capability shortfall on the number of utility helicopters in order for the PAF to efficiently perform their missions. Utility helicopters are deployed all over the Philippines and have proven to be the most effective platform for the internal security operations (ISO) and the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) campaign,” Manalo said.
“With the present national security condition, the acquisition of additional combat utility helicopters to augment the existing UH-1H ‘Huey’ fleet is imperative. The PAF’s primary helicopter is the Huey, which falls under the light lift category. Having been the workhorse of AFP tactical operations for many years, the Huey fleet has succumbed to natural attrition due to structural stress and aircraft accidents,” he added.
An Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) was issued in March 2012 for the acquisition of 21 refurbished UH-1H helicopters under negotiated procurement pursuant to Section 53.2 (Emergency Cases) of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184, s-2003.
The Defense Department submitted the request to the Government Policy and Procurement Board (GPPB) for authority to implement through negotiated procurement the said acquisition project last June 2012. However, last September, the DND received the GPPB’s decision to conduct public bidding for the UH-1H project instead of negotiated procurement.
The bid opening is set on December 4, 2012, with six potential bidders having already bought the bid documents, signifying their intention to participate in the bidding process. To avoid the danger of not being able to fully-support the helicopter lift requirements of the 2013 elections, the PAF has recommended that the delivery time for the Hueys be not later than February 28, 2013, Manalo said.