Attack helicopters for the Philippines: The U.S. is facing Turkish competition

The Philippine government is looking into the possibility of buying attack helicopters from Turkey, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday. Speaking to CNN Philippines, Lorenzana confirmed officials are in the middle of talks with the transcontinental country, but stressed that a contract to acquire such equipment has yet to be signed.

“We are looking at the Turkish attack helicopters with our money,” Lorenzana said in an interview with The Source. “It is under negotiation, and we have not yet signed any contract with them because we’re looking at their equipment further, to ensure that what they have is what we need.” The US State Department in April announced that it gave the go-signal for the possible sale of attack helicopters to the Philippines.

Wire reports and defense blogs quoted the Defense Security Cooperation Agency as saying that the US is offering to sell to the Philippines six of either of these attack helicopters: Bell’s AH-1Z Viper (estimated cost at ₱22.8 billion) or Boeing’s AH-64E Apache Guardian (estimated cost at ₱76 billion).

Lorenzana, however, said the government may not be able to afford the helicopters from the US, especially with funds being channeled into the country’s COVID-19 response. He noted they only currently have a ₱13 billion budget to work with.

“It’s very expensive to buy those in terms of maintaining and stocking spare parts… If we can buy six attack helicopters from other sources with the money we have, that would be more attractive than buying the American attack helicopters,” he said.

SOURCE: CNN