Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is reported in local press as saying that the prices being offered by Boeing and Bell for the AH-64E and AH-1Z acquisitions are way beyond the country’s available budget.
The Foreign Military Sale requests issued by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) priced the potential sale of six AH-1Z Vipers and related equipment at $450M (22.8 billion Philippine Pesos), while the package for the same number of AH-64E Apaches was around $1.5 billion (P76.1 billion). These figures are not final, and would be adjusted a little when finalising a contract with the Philippine government.
But the defence chief said the Philippines has allocated only P13 billion for the attack helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), a good way short for either option. The DSCA announcements indicated that the Philippines is considering either the AH-64E or the AH-1Z to modernize its attack helicopter capabilities, and would not be expected to acquire both types.
Earlier, the Philippine military considered other options, in particular the T129 ATAK from Turkish Aerospace Industries. However, the Turkish supplier has not yet been able to obtain an export license from the US government for subsystems because of sanctions imposed by Washington against Turkey for purchasing weapons from Russia. The budget figure would appear to be closer aligned to this option.
Now, the Philippines is stuck between a rock and a hard place with all three options out of reach. The Defence Secretary is also facing a challenge from many in his country who see Government investment in responding to the COVID19 pandemic as higher priority over attack helicopters.
The HeliHub team will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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