The Philippines is looking to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States, after scrapping a deal with Russia worth $227.35 million to avoid sanctions, Manila’s ambassador to Washington said on Monday.
In June, days before President Rodrigo Duterte ended his six-year term, the Philippines scrapped a deal to buy 16 Mi-17 Russian military transport helicopters because of fears of U.S. sanctions linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This cancellation of this contract is precipitated mainly by the war in Ukraine. While there are sanctions expected to come our way, from the United States and Western countries, obviously it is not in our interest to continue and pursue this contract,” Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told journalists in a virtual forum.
Moscow says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Romualdez said the Chinooks would replace existing hardware used for the movement of troops and in disaster preparedness in the Southeast Asian country.
The United States is willing to strike a deal for the amount the Philippines was set to spend on the Russian helicopters, Romualdez said, adding the deal with Washington will likely include maintenance, service and parts.
The Philippines is pursuing discussions with Russia to recover its $38 million down payment for the helicopters, the delivery of which was supposed to start in November next year, or 24 months after the contract was signed.
The Philippines is at the tail-end of a five-year, 300 billion-pesos modernization of its outdated military hardware, including warships from World War II and helicopters used by the United States in the Vietnam War.
The country in March also received its first batch of Turkey-made T129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopters (ATAK).
The Philippines had ordered six helicopters designed and developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The Philippines – which is buying the six choppers worth approximately $280 million – is the first country abroad to use the ATAK.
The T129 ATAK is a next-generation, tandem and two-seat, twin-engine helicopter specifically designed for attack and reconnaissance.
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