4 Juni 2008
MANILA - The Philippines is negotiating to buy 10 second-hand combat helicopters from Singapore to beef up the military's efforts to defeat Muslim and communist rebels, a senior general said on Wednesday.
The air force general, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the government had allocated 400 million pesos ($9 million) to buy the night-capable refurbished aircraft from Singapore in a commercial deal.
"This is not the first time we're entering into a deal with Singapore to acquire U.S.-made UH-1H helicopters," the general said, adding 20 similar single-engined aircraft had been transferred by Singapore in 2005.
The Philippines has 40 helicopters, mostly second-hand, donated by the United States as part of military assistance to fight communist New People's Army rebels and Muslim militants with ties to Jemaah Islamiah.
Last year, the government set aside nearly 8 billion pesos to acquire new attack helicopters and utility helicopters.
The new armed forces chief, Lieutenant-General Alexander Yano, said the military's aging hardware was affecting its ability to defend its borders.
"To be frank with you, our capability as far as these aspects are concerned is a little deficient," Yano told reporters on Wednesday.
"We cannot really defend all these areas because of the lack of equipment."