Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Aging Hueys a big boost to RP military

PRESIDENT Arroyo on Saturday cracked champagne over a consignment of 10 refurbished UH-1H “Huey” military helicopters donated by the United States.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney handed over the Vietnam War-era helicopters in a ceremony at the Philippine Air Force headquarters. The US Embassy said the helicopters would be used “to combat terrorism and provide humanitarian assistance.”

The consignment was the first batch of 20 surplus Hueys refurbished by the United States at a cost of $22 million for its military ally.

The Philippines, which has one of the region’s most poorly equipped Armed Forces, has long needed more helicopters to battle communist and Muslim insurgencies raging in the countryside.

The military has no fighter jets and its Navy vessels date back to World War II. Its Air Force relies on secondhand, propeller-driven OV-10 attack aircraft, the aging Hueys and about 16 MG-520 attack helicopters, most of which cannot operate at night.

Witnessing the turnover rites were Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Air Force Commanding General Horacio Tolentino.

“Today, we have a tangible reminder of the strength that our two leaders show to the world as we see their vision realize in this turnover of helicopters. UH-1H helicopter is the finest helicopter in the world,” Kenney said in her message before she turned over the documents of the helicopters to the President.

Kenney said the UH-1H helicopter is the “backbone of the US Armed Forces wing fleet” and now the backbone of the Philippine military aviation helicopters.
--AFP and PNA


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