US Department approves potential sale of Viper and related equipment to the Philippines

by Warren Ryan Revoltar

US State Department has approved the possible sale of six units of Bell AH-1Z Viper and six units of Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters to the Philippines.

Viper and related equipment would cost $450 million (around P22 billion) according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). The Apache AH-64E on the other hand costs around $1.5 billion (around P76 billion).

These packages are however are not final and may be adjusted upon the request of the Philippine government.

Apache is claimed by Boeing, during a roundtable discussion with Philippine media in late 2019, as “the most advanced multi-mission attack helicopters of the US military and at least 15 other armed forces in the world.”

The proposed Boeing Apache deal included weapons, communications, and maintenance package.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in Southeast Asia,” the DSCA said of the two offers.

Either of the two packages offered to the Philippine government would be routed through the US Foreign Military Sales program.

T129 ATAK of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), an attack helicopter which the PAF selected, struggled to obtain an export license from the United States for its subsystems. Following this, offers from the US came.

The TAI is supposed to provide six units of T129 ATAK helicopters to the PAF for around P13 billion. However, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the contract with TAI is still under negotiation.

“Problema ng Turkey. Sabi inaayos,” said Lorenzana who acknowledges that TAI is facing challenges in obtaining an export license from the US.

“The PAF did not choose the US because they can buy only two… While in Turkey—six,” added Lorenzana.

The Department of National Defense already released a notice of award in favor of TAI on Dec. 18, 2019, according to two government officials familiar with the project.

Lorenzana confirmed that a NOA had been issued, but said, “until a contract is signed, it is not final.”

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