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US, Canada firms bag PAF Huey deal

MANILA, Philippines - A joint venture of two companies based in North America has bagged the deal to supply 21 UH-1 combat utility helicopters to the Philippine Air Force.

The joint venture of American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Canadian company Eagle Copters Ltd. won the contract for the supply and delivery of Huey helicopters, the workhorse of the military’s operations.

The STAR learned that the notice of award was issued to the joint venture last week.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said in an interview the Huey helicopters can be used for rescue and internal security operations.

“The helicopters will be used to meet immediate requirements. They will be used to address the dwindling capability of the Air Force,” Velez said.

The approved outlay for the project was P1.26 billion, but the helicopters would be purchased for about P1.25 million less than the approved budget for the contract, he added.

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The supplier is expected to start delivery within six months.

“The first delivery based on the requirements is six months but they might deliver that in as close as two weeks,” Velez said.

Earlier, the Defense department held three public biddings for the Huey helicopters acquisition project but all of these failed due to the bidders’ failure to meet some requirements. The Defense department then resorted to an alternative form of procurement to acquire the helicopters.

Officials said the procurement mode was similar to public bidding but without the publication requirements. Under a public bidding, the procuring agency should publish a bid notice in newspapers and the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website.

Section 53 of the implementing rules of the procurement law allows agencies to resort to a negotiated procurement when there has been a failure of public bidding for the second time.

Negotiated procurement was defined as “a method of procurement of goods, infrastructure projects and consulting services, whereby the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant.”

The 21 UH-1 helicopters were originally intended to perform poll-related duties last May but the acquisition had been delayed by failed biddings.

Fighter jets

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the delivery of lead-in fighter trainer jets to be acquired from South Korea may start in June 2015.

The government plans to spend P18.9 billion to acquire 12 FA-50 jets from South Korea to boost the Air Force’s territorial defense capabilities.

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