Asia Defense

Philippines Forges Ahead With Attack Helicopter Maintenance

The Philippine Air Force’s move towards maintaining its combat helicopters marks a step forward for the country’s modernization efforts.

Philippines Forges Ahead With Attack Helicopter Maintenance
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This week, the Philippine Air Force announced that it had allocated money for the acquisition of spare parts and related services for the maintenance of its existing combat helicopters. The development marks another step forward for a key aspect of Manila’s ongoing military modernization to boost its growing but still limited capabilities.

As I have noted before in these pages, though the headlines usually focus on Manila’s planned acquisition of new helicopters, with the collapse of a recent deal with Canada being a case in point, equally important are ongoing efforts for Manila to secure deals for maintenance, repair, and overhaul of systems related to its existing helicopters (See: “What a Dead Philippines-Canada Helicopter Deal Would Mean”). The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has considered this an important ongoing aspect of its modernization efforts in recent years.

Philippine officials have been considering various options of dealing with how to deal with this with respect to the UH-1H combat utility (or “Huey”) helicopters, including partnering with other countries such as Japan on potential deals for spare parts (See: “What’s in the New Japan-Philippines Military Helicopter Chatter Deal?”).

This week, the PAF announced that it was allocating 85 million pesos ($4.26 million) for spare parts and other related services required for the repair and overhaul of five T53 engine assemblies that power its UH-IH/D combat utility helicopters (with tail numbers 0225, 501, 8306, 929, and 8166).

Specifics were outlined in a bid bulletin posted on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website. A pre-bid conference will occur on Friday morning Philippine time at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, and the submission of bids is scheduled for the morning of June 7 there as well.

No further details were publicly disclosed regarding the potential bidders. But the space will be interesting to watch not only to see how the bid itself plays out, but how it affects broader Philippine military modernization going forward as well under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.