Category Archives: Helicopters

Hip or Hind Helicopters for the AFP?

An Mi-35 Hind Helicopter of the Czech Air Force. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
An Mi-35 Hind Helicopter of the Czech Air Force. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In his speech during the 48th Anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing last September 2016, the new President Rodrigo Duterte dropped a bombshell and possible major shift in the policy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when he revealed that he had received offers with generous financial terms from Russia to provide us with weapons and military equipment. He then said that he will be sending personnel from the Department of National Defense (DND) to go there and explore these options.[1]

A couple of weeks later, a supposed insider from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed anonymously to “The Manila Standard” news publication that the government is reportedly considering the purchase of two to four Mi-17 or Mi-24 Helicopters from Russia for the price of between USD 12 to 17 million each.[2] This is a very interesting report because if it does push thru, it will be the first major military equipment buy by the Philippines from Russia.
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The RASI Huey Procurement: A Black Mark on the AFP Modernization

A UH-1 Huey Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force at the AFP Museum in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
A UH-1 Huey Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force at the AFP Museum in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) took a serious blow when allegations of corruption hit another of its procurement programs, this time for the purchase of 21 Refurbished UH-1 Huey Helicopters. This is the SECOND defense procurement hit with serious corruption allegations, the first one was the procurement of M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs).

’History and Milestones’
In order to have a good idea of what really happened to this project, we need to look at the FACTS, and one way to do that would be to take a look at its HISTORY, to take a look at the IMPORTANT MILESTONES that marked it:
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ASW Helicopter Procurement for the Philippine Navy

An AW159 in flight. Photo courtesy of Cpl Kellie Williams, RLC/MOD thru Wikipedia Commons.
An AW159 in flight. Photo courtesy of Cpl Kellie Williams, RLC/MOD thru Wikipedia Commons.

The Department of National Defense (DND) recently announced the allocation of P5.4 Billion (USD 120 million using the Exchange Rate of USD 1 = P 45) for 2 brand-new Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopters for the Philippine Navy (PhN), and they expect the acquisition process for these helicopters to be completed within the year.[1] The news item says that the 2 ASW Helicopters will be assigned to the Del Pilar-class ships, but I am not sure about the accuracy of this as we do have 2 brand-new Frigates which will be needing helicopter support also, hence it makes more sense to assign these units to those Frigates. It is possible that if the helicopters arrive first, they will initially be assigned to the Del Pilar-class ships, but will eventually be moved to the new Frigates once those arrive.

The budget of USD 60 million per helicopter came as a bit of a surprise for me mainly because first, I found it a bit high. At that budget, each helicopter will be almost twice the price of the FA-50 Fighting Eagle Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) we are getting which is valued at only USD 35 million each.[2] Second, it seems that while we are getting top-of-the-line ASW Helicopters, there doesn’t seem to be any effort to get any sonar equipment for the Del Pilar-class ships, while the sonar requirement for the 2 new Frigates are only generally/loosely defined or not very specific.[3]
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Comparing the Agusta Westland AW109E Power to the McDonnell Douglas MD520MG Defender

Malaysian Army Air Corps AW109LUH armed with rockets and cannons. Photo courtesy of the Malaysia Flying Herald website
Malaysian Army Air Corps AW109LUH armed with rockets and cannons. Photo courtesy of the Malaysia Flying Herald website

Agusta Westland formally announced the signing of the contract and delivery date of eight AW109E Power as the Philippine Air Force (PAF) next Light Attack Helicopter.1 I am now comparing these new helicopters with the current light attack helicopter in service with the PAF which is the MD520MG so people can see the difference and get a better appreciation about these new helicopters we are getting.

Some people might’ve been a disappointed as they were expecting that we would get something similar to the AH-64 Apache as our next attack helicopter, but obviously the AW109E is nothing like that. But it will still be a major improvement for our armed forces, by how much we will try to see.
Continue reading Comparing the Agusta Westland AW109E Power to the McDonnell Douglas MD520MG Defender