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2 firms want to join bidding for P3.4-B helicopter deal

MANILA, Philippines - Two companies have so far expressed interest to join the bidding for the government’s purchase of eight Philippine Air Force attack helicopters worth P3.4 billion.

Defense department records show that as of Thursday, AugustaWestland and Eurocopter have bought the bidding documents for the project.

It remains uncertain though if the two firms would join the bidding slated on July 24. There were past instances when parties who purchased bid documents did not submit offers. Other companies could still buy bid documents ahead of the opening of bids.

AugustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian firm owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica, had supplied various air assets to the military.

PZL-widnik, an AugustaWestland company, recently completed the delivery of eight Air Force combat utility helicopters worth P2.8 billion. The package included ground support equipment, spare parts, support services and training for aircrew and maintainers.

The government is also acquiring five AW 109 Power helicopters from AugustaWestland for P1.3 billion.

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The Navy is expected to receive three of the five helicopters in December.

Meanwhile, Eurocopter was founded in 1992 with the merger of the helicopter divisions of France’s Aerospatiale-matra and Germany’s DaimlerChrysler Aerospace.

The Eurocopter group is now a subsidiary owned by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., one of the largest aerospace groups in the world.

The Philippines previously tried to acquire 10 attack helicopters from Eurocopter but this did not push through due to some bureaucratic processes. The helicopters were no longer available when the procurement board allowed the defense department to acquire them.

Representatives of AugustaWestland and Eurocopter attended the pre-bid conference for the purchase of eight attack helicopters last Wednesday. Other companies including Bell Helicopter, Intrade/FN Herstal, Elbit Systems and Boeing Co. also sent representatives. 

The defense department will come out with a supplemental bid bulletin to address the concerns of prospective bidders who pointed out that some technical specifications of the project are too general.

The project would involve the purchase of eight helicopters with full night operation capability, complete weapons system and integrated logistics support package.

The helicopters should be capable of performing close air support during day and night and navigating safely in bad weather.

The helicopters should be delivered within 540 calendar days from the opening of the letter of credit, which serves as an assurance that the government would pay the winning bidder.

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