An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Bell Helicopter and Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) are aware that the military will be using the 16 Bell 412 helicopters under contract as a “combat utility helicopter”.
“The AFP deal for the acquisition of the Canadian Bell 412 as a combat utility helicopter is a very transparent one. From the very onset, the contract has specified that we are acquiring a combat utility helicopter (CUH),” AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Plans Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a message Thursday.
Padilla added the intended use of the 16 helicopters, which has a contract of PHP12 billion, is both for peacetime and contingencies such as natural disasters and other emergencies.
“Its intended use as combat utility helicopter is for the transport of troops, especially combat casualties and for troop sustainment. It is not an offensive platform and not armed as such. We have dedicated attack helicopters as offensive platforms for such operations,” the military official added.
Since the Philippines lies in the path of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a disaster-prone area, Padilla said the nation’s disaster response plan had tasked the AFP to take the lead in undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster response during such times of contingencies.
“Hence, the CUH will be employed for numerous lifesaving tasks as well. The Canadians were among those who helped us following the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda and employed similar helicopters. We are confident that they are fully aware of the utilization of the CUH. Having said that, we hope that this deal not be politicized,” Padilla said.
Earlier, the Canadian government said they will review the contract after allegedly learning that the aircraft would be used for internal security operations. PNA