Defense chief: 16 Bell helicopters for transport, not assault

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana today said that the 16 Bell 412EPI heicopters being acquired from Bell Helicopter through Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) are not for assault or close air support missions.

He emphasized that these Bell 412EPIs will be designated as combat utility helicopters.

“While they may be used in support of Internal Security Operations or ISO, their role is limited to those that I mentioned. As its designation “Combat Utility Helicopter or CUH” connotes, the Bell CUH 412 is a utility helicopter and, contrary to what some parties mistakenly believe, its mission is to save lives,” Secretary Lorenzana said.

“The 16 brand new Bell 412 helicopters, which we are procuring for the Armed Forces of Philippines, will primarily be used for the transportation of personnel and supplies, ferrying wounded and injured soldiers, and the conduct of humanitarian and assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations. They are not attack or close support aircraft,” he explained.

However, the defense chief said that DND is ready to source aircraft from other suppliers if the Canadian government decides not to allow the deal.

This position of Secretary Lorenzana was echoed by Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque. “We purchased helicopters, if they don’t want to sell, well we may consider the prospect of procuring them from other sources,” he said.

“Malinaw po ang dahilan kung bakit natin gustong bumili ng Bell helicopters. Ito po ay gagamitin para transportasyon ng personnels, supplies, humanitarian missions, ng mga ferrying of wounded and injured soldiers and other forms of humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” Roque explained.