Helicopters failed PAF inspection, documents show
TOP defense and military officials knew that the helicopters delivered by the US firm that won the P1.2-billion contract were defective and did not pass technical inspection, documents covering the deal showed.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin along with Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado and several other high-ranking military officials were immediately informed that the first of the 21 UH-1 helicopters delivered by Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) and its partner, Eagle Copters Ltd., in June 2014 with tail number 8649 failed the test conducted by PAF inspectors.
The two sets of documents obtained by The Manila Times would be part of the evidence to be presented by whistleblower “Joey” in a congressional inquiry to be separately conducted by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The first set of documents, comprising 47 pages, includes a letter dated July 21, 2014 sent by Delgado to Gazmin.
The documents include a report by a technical working group, headed by Brig. Gen. Conrado Parra and which among others proposed to amend previously approved terms of the acquisition contract. They also reflect the contractor’s “position,” which was raised during a meeting at the Defense Acquisition Office (DAO) of the Department of National Defense (DND).
The other set of documents, 17 pages in all, included a July 23, 2014 report by the PAF Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) headed by Col. Dino Dinio that indicated deficiencies they discovered on the aircraft.
The defective helicopter—with tail number 8649—was eventually accepted, “Joey” said.
“It was the first to be inspected but failed [to pass the inspection]. That unit was accepted September 4, 2014. The 8308 was the first unit accepted on August 20, 2014. There was another unit inspected with the same problems,” according to the source.
Among the problems identified by the TIAC were night vision goggles (NVG) compatibility and broken gauges.
“The report said the helicopter was not NVG-compatible. Somebody’s trying to hide that report, but I strongly believe a copy will surface during the congressional inquiry,” “Joey” told The Manila Times.
One of the conditions agreed upon by the government and the contractor was that the fuel cells should be self-sealing and crash-worthy.
“‘Rice didn’t want to have the fuel cells opened, claiming that doing so would void the warranty,” “Joey” said.
“A Bell specialist whom we’ve asked to independently inspect the helicopter would be on hand during the hearing.”