I suspected that those columnists and reporters of the national dailies in the Philippines who acrimoniously “exposed” and scathingly commented the supposed anomalies on the procurement of the refurbish 21 1967 to 1981 era’s combat helicopters’ UH-1seem to be part of a bigger extortion ring where these alleged conspirators took orders.
News report said a certain Rhodora Alvarez, a brass at the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Manila, allegedly threatened and attempt to mulct a cut of 15% from the P 1.2 billion contracts the Philippine government entered with supplier Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters (Rice for brevity).
Rice already reported to the media the extortion attempt.
In the following paragraphs I would be citing and answering many the accusations of my colleague in the media, who shot from the hips, without the benefit of clicking Google and reading in Wikipidia on what is the difference of a Bell UH-1H to a UH-1D. They, at the expense of responsible journalism, gun a blazing just condemned the government and Rice on the anomalous, disadvantageous, onerous, Whatchamacallit contract.
1) President Benigno Aquino III was duped into believing and even mentioning in his 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA) (son of a gun, I was there!) that the 21 helicopters were UH-1H not UH-1D.
My Answer: Records will show that even the president mentioned” UH-1H” (not “UH-1” as media fora espoused) in his SONA what the earlier Invitation to Bid for the acquisition of the 21 refurbished choppers was about “UH-1” which we know could either be UH-1H or the same if not the superior variant’s UH-1D.
Here’s the difference:
UH-1H was built by Bell U.S based company in 1966 to 1970s were many of them saw action in the Vietnam War. UH-1D was built by Bell licensed German based company’s Dornier (that “D” was not “Darna” nor “Dornier” but Deutschland, another name of Germany) from 1967 to 1981. The West German company built 352 UH-1Ds between those periods. According to the helis.com in spite of their designation they were standard H models powered by the T53-L13 engine.
Both helicopters are based on the same 205 platform. It means both can use the same spare parts.
Readers, by the way, should not be confused with the older and smaller Bell UH-1D, which was based on the 204 platform and built from 1956.
|Some of the 21 German made Dornier UH-1D combat helicopters for|
the Philippine Air Force
2) UH-1D not Operational
Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed, as quoted by the media, that they were not operational upon delivery.
Only eight of a total 21 helicopters were accepted by the PAF as operational, while the rest are still being assembled, checked, tested, and will undergo acceptance later on. The DND already confirmed that they have given Rice and its partner Eagle Copter, under the pain of paying monthly liquidated damages (LD) under the ToR that runs to millions of pesos, up to April 15 to complete the turnover for the balance units. Fernando Manalo, DND Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel, also said that the government could reneged the contract if Rice could not honour its promised to make the remaining 13 choppers air worthy come beyond April 15.
3. 21 German made Choppers not reliable as Spare Parts are Obsolete and Scarce
My Answer: If we are going to follow these arguments, the much older UH-1Hs, still used by the air forces of the U.S, South America, South East Asia, and the Philippines, are already obsolete. But everybody knows how reliable the UH-1Hs as these countries have been using them with gusto and efficiency. If UH-1H can do the yeoman jobs of the military, how can the less old UH-1Ds superiorly made by the Germans?
Since the two UH-1 choppers are the same, their maintenance and spare parts are interchangeable.
Although the German maker Dornier folded shop a long time ago, U.S Company Bell still manufacture parts and service support for the UH-1D
4) No protective parts like intake screen and other features that will allow them to fly under Philippine conditions.
As what MaxDefense’s Administrator the prolific military genius Max Montero said:
“German Hueys operated in equally or more extreme environments like Somalia than the PAF’s Hueys. Making that stupid comment is like making fun of the Germans. Aside from that, this item has a replaceable accessory that can be easily acquired, and is interchangeable with PAF’s UH-1H Hueys”.
5) UH-1Ds are incompatible with night vision goggles and lacked crash-worthy and self-sealing fuel cells.
My Answer, er, Rice Aircraft Services Inc. Vice President and Philippine country manager Phil Kemp’s answer:
"Each helicopter underwent a major Structural Life Extension Programme (SLEP) upgrade from 1993 to 1998 that involved not only updating the avionics systems and rewiring the entire helicopter with modern materials but also a complete structural upgrade. These SLEP programme represented a massive financial investment in manpower and materials that has not been matched in any other version of the UH-1. The helicopters are conceivably the most highly modified and advanced version of the UH-1 that has ever existed. These are also configured with crash-worthy self-sealing main fuel cells. Aside from that, the helicopters are fully NVG (Night Vision Goggles) compatible and configured. Eight helicopters have been modified to the Super Delta configuration which installed the upgraded T-53-L-703 engine providing greater power reserves and expansion of the operational envelope,” Kemp said.
The eight Super Deltas, media report said, have been equipped with Fast Fin. Fast Fin is not the fin of your favourite Shark soup at Rockwell’s Makati but it is, according to FastFin® System incorporates BLR’s, a vertical fin modification that improves airflow to make tail rotor management easier, safer, more efficient, and more productive. FastFin will dramatically expand the lifting capacity of your helicopter, increase performance and enable greater stability in all flight regimes, including high and hot hover conditions. Additionally, FastFin will reduce both pilot and airframe fatigue.
(See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKx7ysKvsqY)
I lamented how the gullible and ignorant members of the Philippine media swallowed line, hook, and sinker (unless they are motivated by the promised that the real price of the choppers were just half a billion pesos and the rest of the P1.2 billion is for the profit of Rice) those grounds fed to them by some malefactors.
They should remember that at the price of U.S $27 million or P1.2 billion on the 21 "birds" was a bargain since the latest model of Eurocopter ‘s Tiger attack helicopter cost any government U.S $30 million each, yes Virginia, EACH!
Or that P1.2 billion budget of our government can only buy six to seven brand new combat utility helicopter (CUH). And mind you, it will take a year or two years for them to build just like those squadron of FA-50 light attack jets we ordered from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in South Korea while we badly need now these choppers to fight the rebels in Mindanao.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at email@example.com)