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Duterte wants all Hueys decommissioned
President Duterte was in Sulu to visit troops who had engaged in clashes with alleged members of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez

Duterte wants all Hueys decommissioned

Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte wants all Huey helicopters in the Philippine Air Force’s inventory to be decommissioned due to their frequent involvement in fatal crashes.

During a camp visit at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu on Friday, the President wanted to know how many Hueys were left and said that these were old, and there’s nothing more that can be done about them even if given good maintenance.

Duterte was in Sulu to visit troops who had engaged in clashes with alleged members of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

“I will buy helicopters,” he said in Filipino. He said he wants six or seven more new helicopters for the PAF before the end of his term.

A PAF helicopter on a re-supply mission crashed in the mountainous village of Sitio Nahigit, Barangay Bulonay in Imapsug-ong, Bukidnon on last Saturday, killing all six military personnel onboard.

“I am not making any hard promises. But you can rest assured, I will try my best to look for money para palitan ko ‘yung mga luma na (so I can replace these old ones),” said Duterte.

He said the loss of soldiers’ lives was too much for him to bear. “It’s really painful. Could mean nothing to you if you have no connection with government. But to me, as the administrator of this country, things like this really hurt,” he said in Filipino. “You just don’t know the pain that I suffer every time.”

The PAF grounded its fleet of Huey helicopters following the crash in Bukidnon. The UH-1H and UH-1D models, or Hueys, are Vietnam War-era helicopters that have been refurbished to serve as the PAF’s main workhorses.

The Bukidnon incident was the fourth mishap involving Air Force rotorcraft in six months.

Prior to the President’s pronouncement, Malacañang said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already has an existing procurement program to modernize PAF’s fleet of helicopters.

It recently commissioned the first six of 16 Polish-made Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters ordered in 2019. The remaining 10 units are expected to be delivered within the first quarter of 2021, defense officials said.

The brand-new Black Hawk helicopters, manufactured by PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky company in Poland, will provide PAF with sustained day-and-night tactical lift, transport and search-and-rescue capabilities.

The helicopters are being procured by the Philippine government under a $241.5-million government-to-government contract to meet the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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