The KUH-1 Surion Helicopter for the Philippines?

A KUH-1 Surion Helicopter. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Near the end of the official three (3) day State Visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to South Korea in June 2018, he visited the aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) where he was shown the KUH-1 Surion Helicopter. Duterte also got to ride the aircraft for around five minutes and was reportedly impressed by it, but left it to the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Philippine Air Force to review the proposed acquisition of the aircraft.1 2

Other government officials later added more details about the possible acquisition, with Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana putting the number to be purchased to be as low as eight (8) while National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. putting it to be as high as twelve (12).3 With this, let us take a closer look at the Surion.
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Surion Helicopter Problems up to July 2018

A menacing front view of a KUH-1 Surion helicopter of the Republice of Korea Army. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I decided to break this off from another blog about the KUH-1 Surion helicopter I was writing because I thought that it was getting too long and I was presenting too much information already to comfortably read in one sitting. With this blog, I will be discussing the problems that were publicly revealed about the aircraft up to the time of writing.

’Problems, Problems, Problems’1 2
The first of the number of problems that the Surion has encountered over the years were the Cracks that were found on the left side of the aircraft near the Vibration Absorption Devices and on the Windshields as first reported by the South Korean media in May 2016.
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AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force

An AH-1 Cobra Helicopter of the Jordanian Air Force. Photo courtesy of the United States Air Force (USAF).

During his speech at the 120th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy last May 22, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he sent his National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to Jordan to facilitate the negotiations and the release of two AH-1 Cobra helicopters.1

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana later added in an interview that two Philippine Air Force Pilots were sent to Jordan and they reported that the helicopters for transfer were in “good condition”.
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The Philippine Navy’s HHI Frigate Controversy

The Philippine Navy’s new Frigate. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).

I have been closely monitoring the developments on the controversy surrounding the Philippine Navy’s (PN) purchase of two Frigates from Hyundai Heavy Industry (HHI) for the past couple of months, but held off writing a blog until I had gathered and studied enough information from news reports about it.

And now I think I have enough material to comfortably write about the topic, hence this blog. The controversy started to break out into the mainstream when just a couple of days before Christmas on December 19, 2017, Vice Admiral (VA) Ronald Mercado was relieved of his post as Flag Officer in Chief (FOIC) of the PN by the Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.1
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The Thales Group’s Long History of Corruption

A Kang Ding class Frigate of the Taiwanese Navy. Beneath its beauty lies a scandal full of bribes and at least one death. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One day, after I kept seeing Thales’ name splashed all over the news related to the purchase of our Frigates from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), I just suddenly got this idea of researching about corruption news related to them on the internet. And I was quite surprised to see virtually a deluge of detailed materials about it come up on my screen. Hence I thought it would be a good idea to organize my findings and put them into this blog.

’The Thales Group’1
But first, let’s learn a little bit about the company, previously known as Thomson CSF until they changed their name in 2000 to the Thales Group. It is a pretty big company with around 64,000 employees in 56 countries, with a revenue of EUR 15 billion (around USD 18.54 billion at the exchange rate of EUR 1 = USD 1.24) in 2016.
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The H145 for the Philippine Armed Forces?

An H145 Helicopter of the German State Police equipped with a Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) Sensor. Photo courtesy of the official Airbus Helicopters website.

A couple of months ago, the aircraft company Airbus Helicopters Philippines Inc. (AHPI) conducted a local media event at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to showcase the helicopters they were offering to our armed forces. AHPI said that they already briefed the Technical Working Groups (TWG) of the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) about the aircraft.1

The company presented at least two aircraft, the H130 and the H145M. The H130 is a smaller and lighter aircraft designed more for the light transport role while the H145M is a bigger and heavier aircraft with a clear military role in mind, hence it would seem to be better suited for our armed forces.
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Aboard the Admiral Vinogradov – October 2017

The AK-100 main guns and bow side superstructure of the Admiral Vinogradov Destroyer. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After a couple of tries this year, I finally got to go onboard one of the Russian Navy’s ships at the Manila South Harbor, the Admiral Vinogradov (554), an Udaloy I class Destroyer. It wasn’t easy, but it was a good experience as these ships are not as common in our shores, especially before this administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

’Better Queueing Organization’
One reason I was able to get in this time was because there was a better overall organization of the queueing system for going into the ship. First was that they finally got a fairly competent guy to handle the queue who worked hard, communicated well and had a good system for queueing the people up.
Continue reading Aboard the Admiral Vinogradov – October 2017

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