Duterte wants to decommission PAF Hueys after Bukidnon crash
President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to buy new helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) so that all Hueys will be decommissioned.
In his speech at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu last Friday, Duterte said he is planning to procure six to seven new helicopters following the crash of a Huey chopper in Bukidnon that killed six military personnel.
“Do we still have a lot of Huey?... I want to replace them… they are already old even if you say that they are well-maintained… I might buy six, seven, as replacements,” Duterte said.
“Well anyway, that is my next project… I will buy helicopters,” he said.
The President said he is saddened about the recent fatal crash.
“I am not making any hard promises. But you can rest assured, I will try my best to look for money so that I can replace the old (choppers),” he said.
“These are all things screwing my mind because of the recent crash, you will really be hurt. If you are not connected to the government, that is okay but as for me, I am the administrator of the country then something like that happened, it hurts me,” he added.
In a statement, Arsenio Andolong, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson, thanked the President for his intention to purchase more helicopters.
Andolong said the ultimate aim of the ongoing PAF Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) Acquisition Program is to procure assets that will replace the current fleet of UH-1s of our Air Force.
“This program has enabled us to recently add the Sikorsky S70i Blackhawk to the PAF's inventory,” he said.
“Any program involving the acquisition of brand new hardware takes time as the new units come fresh out of the manufacturing plants, are assembled, inspected and delivered in a process that takes several months to complete,” he added.
After the incident in Bukidnon, the entire UH-1 fleet has been grounded.
“In the interim, we have rotary aircraft such as the Bell 412s and Blackhawks that will take up some of the slack left by the withdrawal of the UH-1s from the field,” Andolong said.
“We are expecting the delivery of 10 more Blackhawks early this year, and these units will be deployed as soon as they pass mandatory technical inspection and acceptance procedures,” he added.
According to a news report, the crash incident in Bukidnon was the fourth Air Force rotorcraft to go down in six months, three involving Huey helicopters. Ella Dionisio/DMS