MANILA — An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Bell Helicopter and Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) are aware that the military will be using the 16 Bell 412 choppers under contract as a “combat utility helicopter”.
“The AFP deal for the acquisition of the Canadian Bell 412 as a combat utility helicopter is a very transparent one. From the very onset, the contract has specified that we are acquiring a combat utility helicopter (CUH),” AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Plans Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a message Thursday.
Padilla added the intended use of the 16 helicopters, which has a contract of PHP12 billion, is both for peacetime and contingencies such as natural disasters and other emergencies.
“Its intended use as combat utility helicopter is for the transport of troops, especially combat casualties and for troop sustainment. It is not an offensive platform and not armed as such. We have dedicated attack helicopters as offensive platforms for such operations,” the military official added.
Since the Philippines lies in the path of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a disaster-prone area, Padilla said the nation’s disaster response plan had tasked the AFP to take the lead in undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster response during such times of contingencies.
“Hence, the CUH will be employed for numerous lifesaving tasks as well. The Canadians were among those who helped us following the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda and employed similar helicopters. We are confident that they are fully aware of the utilization of the CUH. Having said that, we hope that this deal not be politicized,” Padilla said.
Earlier, the Canadian government said they will review the contract after allegedly learning that the aircraft would be used for operations against rebel forces.
On Dec. 29, 2017, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and representatives of Bell Helicopter and CCC signed the deal for the purchase of the helicopters worth PHP12 billion.
Representing Bell Helicopter in the contract signing was James Williamson and Yvonne Chin, CCC Director for Asia.
Delivery of the first Bell 412 EPI helicopter units are expected to commence by the first quarter of 2019 while the last batch will be handed over by the second quarter of 2020.
Acquisition of these helicopters is part of the AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 and will be used in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and other-related missions.
These aircrafts are fully configured and equipped with advanced features, which include an electronic engine control, a glass cockpit display system, and Garmin touchscreen navigation system.
Generally, these helicopters are capable of carrying 14 passengers and flying at a maximum speed of 140 knots (around 259 kilometers), cruise speed of 122 knots (226 kilometers per hour) and a range of 402 nautical miles (745 kilometers).
It is powered with an enhanced Pratt and Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac. (PNA)