Philippines set to acquire 21 Huey helicopters

UH-1 Huey Helicopter

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) will acquire 21 UH-1 helicopters through a negotiated procurement after the two public biddings for the air assets failed.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said they need to fast-track the acquisition of the helicopters to beef up the Air Force’s security and disaster response capabilities.

“We cannot afford not to have additional helicopters for a long time. The rainy season is approaching. We need the helicopters for disaster response,” Manalo told The STAR over the weekend. “We also need them for our existing internal security operations.”

The government has allotted P1.2649 billion for 21 helicopters, which were originally intended to support election-related duties. However, the procurement of the air assets has been delayed due to failed biddings.

“The decision is to proceed with the procurement. Since there are two failed biddings, it will be through negotiated bid,” he said.

Manalo explained that under a negotiated bid, companies that signified interest to supply the equipment would be invited to submit a proposal. Other firms could also submit offers.

A team composed of representatives from the agency that would use the equipment would evaluate the proposals.

The first public bidding for the 21 helicopters was held last December.

The Defense System/Radom Israel and Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. participated in the bidding but both companies failed to meet the requirements set by the DND.

The second bidding was held last February and only one bidder - the US-based Rice Aircraft Services - was declared eligible to submit an offer.

The DND, however, declared that the company had failed to satisfy some financial requirements during the post-qualification phase.

“The problem lies on the technical and administrative matters on the part of Rice,” Manalo said.

“(Rice) did not meet (some requirements) based on the financial statements (it submitted). Through such documents, we can see a bidder’s financial capacity,” he added.

The DND requires bidders to submit financial documents to determine if they are capable of undertaking the project or supplying the needed equipment.

The Air Force requested for additional helicopters as early as 2011.

It only has 16 mission-capable UH-1 helicopters in its inventory, 51 units short of the ideal number of operational combat utility helicopters.

Philstar

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