As preparation to step up military operations against Islamist and communist rebels, the Philippine government on Tuesday signed a contract with Canada to purchase 16 combat utility choppers worth $233.36 million.
The armed forces modernization program will be centralized to the discussion regarding increasing domestic threats as Maoist fighters and pro-Islamic State extremists attempt to reassemble. The Bell 412EPI choppers will be brought to the country early 2019 as President Rodrigo Duterte re-focuses the program.
“The helicopters will be used for the military’s internal security operations,” Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans was quoted as saying in a Reuters report, noting that the helicopter could be of help for search-and-rescue and disaster relief operations.
The preowned Vietnam War-era UH-1H Huey rotary aircrafts that served as the workhorse of the Philippine Air Force will be replaced by these helicopters. These rotary choppers were obtained by the Philippine government from the United States (US).
It was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who signed the government deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which was licensed to market the American military aircraft.
This was the second time the country received Bell helicopters. In 2014, the Philippines bought eight lower variant of the aircraft which cost P4.8 billion.
For the next five years, the government is allotting P125 billion to modernize its armed forces; however, on the top of the list are equipment and armaments for internal security operations to conquer domestic threats as well as guard its maritime borders.
Aside from this helicopter deal with Canada, the Philippines is also receiving three frigates from South Korea; air defense radars from Israel, armored vehicles, a long-range patrol aircraft, assault rifles and grenade launchers from Russia.
Duterte earlier issued a warning that the nation is now facing imminent threats of terror attack that are “coming very fast.”
The President said that he would call for an emergency meeting with security officials to tackle the government’s defense against terror threats.
“I’m also reminded of the serious threat now but I hope that you have to raise the awareness not only the senses of – and maybe just it’s good to anticipate that there’s gonna be one in the coming days about terrorism,” he said.