07 Januari 2011
Huey helicopter transported by US-freight toward the Philippines (photo : US Army)
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense is set to receive 5 refurbished Huey helicopters from the United States government as part of the 20 aircraft pledged by former US President George Bush to former President Arroyo several years ago.
Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the aircraft are set to be turned over by US ambassador Harry Thomas to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo David at the Air Force headquarters in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
The documents will then be received by Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena from David. The papers will then be turned over by Rabena to Brig. Gen. Virgillio Domingo, the commander of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.
“(The) blessing of the air assets will immediately follow the turnover before the batch will be declared operationally ready for mission dispatch,” said Okol.
The aircraft arrived last December 18 and initially accepted by the Air Force Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee. They were declared as in operational status after being subjected to rigid test flights.
Okol said the aircraft is a welcome addition to the Air Force’s inventory of assets. “The anticipated roll out of the additional Hueys will boost internal security operations missions of the PAF,” the Air Force official added.
At present, the Air Force has 63 Huey helicopters in its inventory but many of them are sidelined, awaiting spare parts. Hueys are vital in the conduct of various missions, including insertion during combat operations, and provision of firepower for engaged troops, among others.
The five aircraft are part of the 20 helicopters committed by former US President Bush to President Arroyo to donate to the Philippine government under the US Excess Defense Articles program several years ago.
In 2007, US delivered 10 to the Philippines, meaning five more Hueys are still expected from the Americans in the future after the formal turnover of the five Hueys on Monday.