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Bidding for purchase of 21 helicopters fails

MANILA, Philippines - The bidding for the purchase of 21 UH-1 helicopters has been declared a failure after bidders fell short of satisfying some requirements, a defense official said yesterday.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the two firms that submitted offers had failed to meet certain eligibility requirements.

The opening of bids for the 21 helicopters was held last Tuesday at the Department of National Defense (DND) office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The government seeks to use the helicopters to meet the airlift requirements during the 2013 polls and to conduct disaster response operations.

Six companies bought bid documents but only two – Star Defense System/Radom Israel and Rise Aircraft Services Inc. – joined the bidding.

Manalo told The STAR among the issues tackled during the bidding is whether the bidders can deliver the helicopters by the end of February.

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The Air Force previously recommended that the helicopters be delivered by Feb. 28, 2013 to meet the higher demand for airlift requirements during the  elections.

Manalo said the two firms could still ask the DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to reconsider its decision to declare them ineligible to bid. If the companies submit motions for reconsideration, the BAC will tackle them in a meeting next week.

Another bidding may be held in the event that the BAC rejects the motion for reconsideration of the bidders.

Despite the failed bidding, Manalo gave assurance that efforts are being undertaken to fast-track the military’s upgrade efforts.

The UH-1 or Huey, which falls under the light lift category, is the primary helicopter of the Air Force.

The Air Force, then led by Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, made the request for additional Hueys in 2011.

The DND originally sought to acquire the 21 helicopters through negotiated procurement under emergency cases.

DND had asked the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) to allow it to tap negotiated procurement under emergency in buying the helicopters, saying the state of the military’s inventory reflects “a large capability gap.”

The GPPB, however, said the acquisition should be done through public bidding, a longer process than negotiated procurement.

There are only 16 mission-capable Hueys in the Air Force inventory, 51 units short of the ideal number of operational combat utility helicopters.

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