Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter signed a deal at the Singapore Air Show Feb. 6 for 16 412EPIs. The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) signed a purchase agreement to get the helicopters for the air force. The purchase was made as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization plans, through a government-to-government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation.
The helicopters, Bell said, were to be used for missions including disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport.
But then Reuters reported that Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, told the publication the helicopters would be used for the military’s internal security operations and possibly the missions Bell mentioned.
The Canadian government is not OK with the helicopters being used for those “internal security operations,” however. It became an issue of human rights, as Canada is afraid the 412s would be used against Filipino citizens.
Canada announced an official review of the deal, to make sure the helicopters would not be used for counterinsurgency operations.
News reports said government officials from the Philippines does not plan to use the helicopters for counterinsurgency operations. They would be used in disaster relief efforts. The Associated Press reported the defense secretary did say the country was not afraid to look elsewhere for sellers, should the deal with Canada fall through.
The Bell H-13 Sioux, a variant of the Bell 47, was the first helicopter to enter into service with the Philippine Air Force in 1955, Bell said. The air force has operated derivations of the Bell UH-1H since the late 1960s, and received its first two Bell 412s in 1994. In 2015, the air force took delivery of eight 412EPs.