Tuesday, October 5, 2010

RP Navy in dire need of choppers

By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Wednesday, 06 October 2010

THE PHILIPPINE Navy has no helicopters left since its remaining helicopter crashed off Zamboanga nearly two months ago killing two junior but seasoned Navy pilots.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Col. Edgardo Arevalo said he could not stress enough the "urgency" of their need for helicopters after the Department of National Defense suspended the bidding for an P851-million Contract for two new helicopters.

"We hope that the issue can be resolved really soon. We have an acute need for air assets like helicopters. Right now we do not have any helicopter," he said. On Aug. 17, a Navy Bolkow helicopter PNH411 crashed off Zamboanga City in the middle of a training session.

Three passengers survived while the remains of pilots Lt. Tristan Joseph Corpuz and Lt. Junior Grade Jayrald Tamayo were recovered two days later.Arevalo said they need helicopters for search and rescue operations, resupply and deployment of personnel.

"The Navy however, defers to the decision of higher headquarters for a process that may be required for the procurement of these much needed aircraft for the Naval

Air Group," he added. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered a 30-day probe into a possible collusion between defense officials and a supplier since the same company which had already cornered two Air Force contracts worth P6 billion emerged as one of only two bidders for the Navy contract.

Aside from suspending the bidding for the Navy contract, Gazmin also deferred the award to PZL Swidnik SA of Poland of a P3.2-billion contract to supply seven Air Force attack helicopters. Swidnik also won the P2.8 billion contract to supply eight Air Force combat utility helicopters.

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