Israili Cobra Choppers deal Cancelled
For being too old!
June 4, 2010
By Eliza Victoria
MANILA, Philippines—The New Year call turned into a pre-procurement conference.
On Jan. 5, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised to crush all armed threats to the country by 2010 by upgrading the military’s battlefield equipment with a budget of P10 billion.
Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, emerged from the conference and announced that acquisition contracts had been approved “in record time, in just one day.”
The shopping list included attack helicopters.
But the military still had to settle with hand-me-downs. In June 2007, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) got 10 Vietnam War-era UH-1H choppers, or Hueys, for the government’s counterinsurgency operations.
The Hueys were part of the military hardware promised by then US President George W. Bush during his visit to Manila in 2003.
In September 2007, the government opened bidding to acquire new helicopters. Asian Aerospace Corp., a local partner of Boeing Co.’s McDonnell Douglas, won the P1.2-billion ($29-million) supply contract with an offer to sell six MD530F attack helicopters.
But the losing bidder, Poland’s state-owned PZL-Swidnick S.A., protested the bidding procedures, saying the helicopters supplied by Asian Aerospace fell short of the 3,000-kilogram-payload technical requirement. (The US-made chopper has a payload of only 1,500 kg.)
In January 2008, the government halted the deal after an inquiry showed that the Asian Aerospace product indeed failed to meet the basic technical requirements.
In August 2009, four officials of the Department of National Defense and PAF faced graft charges over the botched deal.
According to the Ombudsman’s field investigation office, the respondents took part in covering up the winning bidder’s failure to comply with the minimum requirements specified in the bid documents.
In April, Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon alleged that Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales was pushing for the purchase of 14 Cobra attack helicopters from Israel that were “almost 20 years old.”
But defense and PAF officials denied that Gonzales was batting for specific purchases.
Labels: Philippine Air Force