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Italian firm bags P3-B PAF helicopter deal

MANILA, Philippines - An Anglo-Italian company has won the bidding to supply eight attack helicopters worth P3.44 billion for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The STAR learned that a notice of award was issued to aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland late last month.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo confirmed the report, saying the helicopters may be delivered next year if the budget is released soon.

“If the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) releases the cash allocation, the letter of credit could be opened immediately and the helicopters could be delivered before the end of December next year,” Manalo said.

A letter of credit is a document that assures the winning bidder or supplier that the government will honor its financial obligations.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the Air Force would be getting eight 109 Power (109 P) attack helicopters with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers.

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“We will be offered a combination of rocket launchers and two .50 caliber (machine guns). We were able to negotiate that the rocket launchers to be installed could fire rockets,” Velez said.

In its website, AgustaWestland described 109 Power helicopters as “versatile aircraft that offers the highest level of benefits for commercial, government and military markets.”

“The Power’s flexibility allows it to perform executive transport with stylish elegance, offshore and emergency medical services or conduct surveillance and patrol missions for police forces,” the description read.

AgustaWestland, the lone bidder for the project, offered to supply the eight helicopters for P3,441,415,000.

The bid is just P45,000 lower than the P3,441,460,000 approved budget for the helicopters.

A financial bid, however, could be accepted as long as it falls within the budget.

Defense officials previously said that the bid price is lower compared to the helicopters purchased by other countries.

The bid translates to 7.532 million euros per unit (about P430.15 million), lower than the package price per unit of the helicopters acquired by the Bulgarian police (7.547 million euros) and the Bangladesh Navy (8.6 million euros).

In its bid bulletin, the defense department said the helicopters to be purchased should have full night operation capability with complete weapons system and integrated logistics support package.

They should also be capable of navigating in bad weather and performing close air support.

The helicopters should be delivered within 540 calendar days from the opening of the letter of credit.

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