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14 firms eye PAF helicopter supply deal

MANILA, Philippines - At least 14 companies have expressed interest to supply 21 UH-1 or Huey helicopters to the Air Force, prompting the defense department to schedule a third bidding for the project.

Defense undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR it would be hard to buy the helicopters through negotiated procurement since several firms are interested in the project.

“Since many firms have expressed interest, another bidding will be held,” he said in Filipino.

Defense assistant secretary Patrick Velez said companies from the United States, Germany, Israel, New Zealand and Canada are interested in the project.

The third bidding for the acquisition of the 21 UH-1 helicopters will be held this month. The approved budget for the air assets is P1.2649 billion.

Defense System/Radom Israel and Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. joined the first bidding for the helicopters last December but both companies however failed to submit some requirements.

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The second bidding was held last February and only one bidder – the US-based Rice Aircraft Services – was declared eligible to submit an offer.

Defense officials said Rice failed to meet some requirements during the post-qualification phase.

Last May, Manalo said the procurement of the 21 Huey helicopters would be done through negotiated procurement since the two biddings have failed.

The law allows state agencies to resort to a negotiated procurement after two failed biddings.

Under a negotiated procurement, firms that have signified interest to supply the equipment would be invited to submit a proposal.

A team from the agency that will use the equipment would then assess the proposals.

Officials, however, have decided to try a public bidding once again due to the interest generated by the project.

The defense department will soon issue a bid notice for the project, which seeks to enhance the country’s disaster response capabilities.

The 21 helicopters were originally intended to support election-related duties last May. However, the acquisition of the air assets has been delayed due to failed biddings.

The Air Force requested for additional helicopters as early as 2011. It has 16 mission-capable UH-1 helicopters in its inventory.

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