By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday thanked the Japanese government for the P5 billion grant it provided the Philippines for the maintenance and rehabilitation of its UH-1H (Huey) helicopters.
In an interview, Lorenzana said the money will come a long way in ensuring that all Huey helicopters under the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be properly maintained and have a long life.
“These spares will insure that many more of our Hueys (helicopters) will fly longer,” Lorenzana said.
“With more mission-capable helicopters, we can support more troop requirements and we will have more assets to support disaster management,” he added.
Lorenzana said the Philippine Air Force is said to operate 20 to 40 various types of “Huey” helicopters for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, transport, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The defense secretary, at the same time, said the grant provided by the Japanese government is very important considering that there are no longer spares coming from the United States.
“These spares will make more UH1H fly and add more flying hours,” Lorenzana said.
The Japanese government on Wednesday granted the Philippines a loan facility amounting to 48. 68 billion yen, or approximately P22.79 billion, for the enhancement of the country’s defense and transport capabilities.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda signed the exchange of notes that will provide around P5 billion for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the UH-1H helicopters of the Philippine Air Force, and P17.79 billion for the rehabilitation of the entire MRT-3 system.
The grant on UH-1H choppers covers spare parts and maintenance equipment of the helicopters by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). It consists of the following categories: airframe structure; dynamic power system, control system; rotor system; hydraulic system; electrical system; instrument system; accessory equipment; and others.
The PAF uses its fleet of UH-1H helicopters on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, transport, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.