Beijing Offers Manila New Helicopters
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
China is offering to sell the Philippines military eight Harbin Z-9 utility helicopters to help replace aging Bell UH-1H helicopters from the 1970s. Philippines government officials have acknowledged an interest in the Z-9 and another unidentified Chinese-made utility helicopter.
Military-to-military relations between the countries have been improving steadily since 2004, when Beijing and Manila began a security dialogue. Recently, China donated $2.5 million in engineering equipment and an additional $2 million in direct military aid.
The Philippines has about 38 UH-1Hs and a mix of other helicopters, including a small number of Sikorsky S-70s and S-76s, and Bell 205s, 214s and 412s. Additional helicopters would help the military control the insurgency in the south against communist and radical Islamic rebel groups.
The Philippines is currently accepting bids for eight attack helicopters for an estimated $25.8 million contract. McDonnell Douglas, AgustaWestland and an unnamed Polish company are competing for the contract.