UPDATED 27 MARCH 2015 | US based Rice Aircraft Services has confirmed in January 2014 it is engaged together with Canadian Eagle Copters to deliver 21 Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters to the Philippine Air Force. But the deal has been hit by delays, with the Philippines reportedly “partially terminating” the contract on 27 March 2015 due to failure to meet the delivery schedule by Rice Aircraft Services. The exact terms of this termination are not clear (yet).
The contract was awarded just before Christmas and calls for the complete refurbishment of the choppers which are commonly known as Hueys. The aircraft became an icon of US operations in the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. Modernised versions serve many civilian operators and armed services today – including the US Marine Corps.
The new Philippine AF Hueys will come from decommissioned or out-of-service inventories, but neither serial numbers nor origin of the machines were published. Rice Aircraft Services/Eagle Copters will deliver the aircraft fully operational but unarmed to the Philippines.
Recently the Philippines ordered eight AW109 helicopters as well, and it is pursuing the Korean FA-50 light attack aircraft and advanced trainer. With tensions rising between the Asian nations over oil rich island groups such as the Spratlys, Manila is keen to build up its armed forces and has been looking for 21 additional helicopters for some time now.
The Philippine Air Force is already operating UH-1Hs from almost all of its 15 air field facilities throughout the country. Officially it has 44 Hueys on strength, but it is widely believed only half of them are airworthy. Eight similar Bell 205s serve primarily as search-and-rescue helicopters.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger