BAGUIO CITY: The leadership of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) expressed dismay over the cancellation of the procurement of 412 helicopters from Canada, saying the scrapped deal would hamper the military’s modernization efforts.
Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr., commanding general of the PAF, however, clarified that the procurement will push through with a different supplier.
“For us, of course, we are the force provider. Of course [we were saddened with the cancellation, which is why]the project was delayed. Whatever it was the solution, we had wanted this added capability because it will help the Air Force and the nation,” Kintanar told reporters in the city on the sidelines of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming.
“But unfortunately, this project will be delayed again. As for the delivery, we are looking for other platforms and solution that there will be in the future,” he added.
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cancel the helicopter deal with Canada after the latter ordered a review of the said deal.
The review was reportedly prompted by a Reuters report quoting Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP deputy chief of staff for plans, saying that the 16 Bell helicopters will be used for the military’s counter-insurgency program.
However, the PAF chief is optimistic that the project will eventually push through with a different supplier.
“It’s a decision. Regardless of what it was, political otherwise, what is important is we have made clear that we are procuring the things we want to buy and for us to use it in a manner in the way it should be done,” Kintanar explained.
“We are still positive because the project is still there and it’s official,” he added.
Kintanar also disclosed that a technical working group from the PAF has been formed to look for other suppliers that can provide alternative aircrafts.
“The countries that we would choose, [it is]just for the prospect on who would supply and it will also depend on the result of our technical working group because they had put the research their and the possible sources regardles of what country [we will procure the helicopters from],” he explained.
“Then, it will again follow the same procurement process and it would be transparent,” Kintanar added.
He noted that the AFP has become keen on procuring Bell 142 helicopters.
“The Bell 412 project has been shelved in terms of the President pronouncing that we have cancelled the contract but we will look into other alternatives following again the same process,” he said.
Kintanar, meanwhile, disclosed that the PAF is awaiting the delivery of attack helicopters and radars pursuant to the AFP’s modernization program.
“The radars are coming that has been approved last year. The second and third radars are coming up while the first one was delivered in the last quarter of last year,” he said.
The radars, Kintanar added, will be used in scouting the western and northern parts of the country amid “challenges” faced by the military in the cited areas.
“I believe once [the radars are]operationalized, it will allow us to have a sufficient awareness especially in our western frontier,” Kintanar said.