Philippine Air Force tests refurbished UH-1D helicopters

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Defense and military officials came in full force on Tuesday (July 14) to defend the P1.2-billion helicopter acquisition project that has come under public scrutiny following allegations of irregularities in its bidding. They also addressed the claims that the choppers are defective.

Both the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Air Force addressed concerns that the newly-acquired choppers may pose risks to their pilots, and subsequently, affect the missions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

To prove further, they invited journalists and flew them over Metro Manila on board one of these choppers.

The Air Force showed that the refurbished UH-1D helicopters purchased by the DND are air-worthy and capable of performing their designated mission.

The controversy on this project started when a whistle blower, who used to work for the company that bid the project, leaked her allegations to the media.

Among her claims are that defense officials received grease money to favor the deal and that the delivered units had engine defects.

The supplier, on the other hand, alleged that the whistle blower only wanted to extort money from them.

The Senate held public hearings to investigate the controversy, during which Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other DND officials denied all the allegations.

Of the 21 units of refurbished UH-1Ds, the winning bidder, Rice Aircraft Services Incorporated, only delivered seven.

The DND terminated the contract earlier this year after the supplier failed to deliver the other units on time.