Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Air Force under the Horizon 2 phase of the RAFMP.
Previously PAF commanding general LGen. Galileo Kintanar mentioned that they were looking at Russian, Italian and Korean options. With KAI’s KUH-1 Surion in trouble over deadly build quality issues, and the Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-17 said to be too large for the requirements, the only possible options remaining could be the Kamov Ka-60/62 series from Russia, and the Leonardo AW139 from Italy.
Apparently, the Ka-60 may have difficulty due to it being a relatively new product that isn’t even widely used in the Russian military until now. This would be against PH procurement laws. Not to mention the Mi-17 being more pushed than this one.
Meanwhile, the AW139 may have a good chance at the moment despite issues encountered by the PAF and PN-NAG in terms of aftersales support and parts supply.
According to sources, and also confirmed by some of our community members who have knowledge on the project, Leonardo could offer between 12-14 units of the AW139 using the same Php12.1 billion budget used to acquire 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters under a canceled contract with the Canadian Commercial Corp.
The AW139 is larger than the Bell 412EPI but is suitable enough to fulfill the PAF’s CUH requirements. Not too big, not too small. The PAF can acquire more units than the Surion wherein 11 units can be provided using the same budget.
If only Leonardo can fix the issue of aftersales support and supply of spare parts, as well as fulfilling its earlier promise of setting up a depot-level maintenance facility for Leonardo Helicopters in the Philippines.
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