23 Juli 2009

Arroyo Presses Air Force on Attack Choppers

23 Juli 2009

Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter (photo : DoDMedia)

MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of National Defense on Wednesday urged the Philippine Air Force to make the necessary adjustments in the procurement of P3.2 billion worth of attack helicopters as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted them delivered before her term ends next year, a defense official said.

This after the bidding for the procurement of 12 brand-new combat choppers failed for the second time after the winning bidder fell short of the specifications set by the Air Force, said defense undersecretary for finance and military modernization affairs Antonio Romero II.

"I hope that they should finish [this project] before the end of the year because the President wants to have the delivery of at least some of the units before her term ends in 2010," Romero told reporters in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo.
He said the Air Force had three options to finally draw the procurement to a close: retain the technical specifications of the helicopters and go into direct negotiations, revise the specifications subject to the approval of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., or acquire refurbished aircraft instead of brand new ones.

But the latter needed the authorization of Arroyo, who particularly ordered for brand-new acquisitions, Romero said.

Romero said his recommendation to the Air Force was to reduce the quantity but maintain the same specifications in order to acquire more powerful aircraft such as Cobra attack helicopters.

The budget allocated for the new aircraft could was good for four to six units of the US-manufactured Cobra helicopter.

"But it is really up to the Air Force... they are still resolving whether they will have to change the specifications or acquire refurbished units instead," he added.


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