Phl mulls buying U.S. helicopters

The Philippine government is considering buying heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States after scrapping a deal with Russia amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, speaking in an online forum, made it clear that the cancellation of the helicopter contract, worth $227.35 million (P12.7 billion), “is precipitated mainly by the war in Ukraine.”

“There was no pressure. It was made clear from the very beginning, especially during the Ukraine situation, that the United States and their western allies are putting a lot of sanctions against Russia. Everybody knows that. If you buy anything from Russia, you would be sanctioned,” Romualdez said.

In January this year, the government made an initial payment of about US$38 million for the helicopters.

“So, in exchange for that, we will probably get some of the arms that we may need,” he added.

He pointed out that it is even a “practical” option for the country to just cancel the deal and let go of the initial payment rather than to “suffer” from the sanctions.

“While there are sanctions expected to come our way, from the United States and western countries, obviously it is not in our interest to continue and pursue this contract,” he said.

Romualdez bared that the United States has even proposed a “special price” with the inclusion of maintenance services and helicopter parts.

“I understand the United States has offered to try to come up with a similar amount that we were going to spend with the Russian helicopters,” he said.

The Chinooks would replace the heavy lift helicopters needed by the country’s armed forces for movement of troops and disaster preparedness.

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