Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rp and its airforce woes - Polish-ing our air force

Polish-ing our air force
by Babe Romualdez August 31, 2010

One of the worst midnight deals signed by the former Department of
National Defense head, Norberto Gonzalez, was the procurement of
Polish helicopters for our Air Force. It seems the Philippine Air
Force will be polished up by buying Polish-made PZL Swidnik Sokol
helicopters the kind that even the Polish government itself won’t buy.
Spy Bits was informed that in the last 30 years, only two countries
Myanmar and the former Czechoslovakia have bought these so called
Sokols (and even then under compelling circumstances). Late last
month, the Polish Ministry of National Defence announced the intention
to buy 26 new choppers for a “unified helicopter platform” for its
navy, army and Special Forces by the end of the year. But guess what
none of these helicopters will be the Sokol, as the platforms chosen
will most likely be the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk or S-92. As a matter
of fact, even the Polish Ministry of Health did not think enough of
PZL Swidnik, opting instead to purchase 23 choppers from the French
manufacturer Eurocopter for its emergency medical services fleet.

Last year, Italian aircraft manufacturer Augusta Westland bought out
PZL Swidnik and has since fired more than 500 personnel an indication
that the new owners are not inclined to continue manufacturing Sokols
(competitors of Augusta’s A139 and A159 models) or any other PZL
helicopter for that matter. And when that happens the Philippine Air
Force will be left “holding the bag” since there will be no parts for
replacement, repairs, maintenance and other after-sales support
requirements. What a set up!

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