Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Philippines to buy Canadian helicopters to bolsters Military

Philippines to buy Canadian helicopters as it bolsters its military forces

The Philippines will spend more than $100 million to buy eight Canadian-built helicopters as the country bolsters its military with new equipment, including fighter jets, to counter Chinese interests in the region.

The first of the Bell 412 helicopters are to be delivered next year, said Philippines Defence Undersecretary Fernando Manalo.

Manalo described the helicopters as “combat utility” aircraft but also added that some of the choppers would be used to fly government officials.
He told reporters in the Philippines that the deal for the helicopters and fighter jets “is significant because it will give our armed forces the minimum capability to demonstrate their ability to perform their responsibilities.”

The Philippines’ defence department will purchase the helicopters through a government-to-government transaction with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, say Filipino officials.
Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation, declined to comment because of a confidentiality agreement surrounding the deal.

Bell Helicopters of Montreal did not respond to a request for comment.
Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, said many of Canada’s military export sales are now shrouded in secrecy.

“This has been made public in the Philippines,” he said. “If it’s good for the economy or jobs then great, let’s see the deal. There’s no reason not to have full disclosure on this.”

Dewar said the federal government has been lagging on providing data to Parliament about Canadian arms exports. “It would take them a couple of keystrokes to give Parliament and Canadians the latest data on what our military exports have been,” he said. “It’s a matter of transparency and whether the government wants to be transparent in the area of arms exports.”

It is unclear whether the deal with the Philippines involves spare parts or training by Canada.
The Canadian Forces operates Griffon helicopters, a variant of the Bell 412. The Griffon has been used for a variety of missions, including for Canadian special forces. It was also used in Afghanistan.
The Canadian Commercial Corporation was also instrumental in the $10-billion sale of Canadian-built light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, announced in February.

Concerns have been raised about that deal because of Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights track record. That includes severe restrictions on protests and dissent, and excessive use of force against demonstrators.

Saudi Arabia also used similar Canadian-made armoured vehicles to help neighbouring Bahrain violently quash protests during the Arab Spring two years ago.

The Conservative government, however, says that all military exports are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis and deals are only approved if such exports are consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies, including human rights.

Manalo also announced that the Philippines was buying 12 FA-50 fighter jets from Korea Aerospace Industries for more than $420 million. The first of those jets will be delivered late next year.

The Philippines is also acquiring two frigates and three anti-submarine helicopters.

The country has been dealing with various insurgent groups in its territory.

In addition, relations with China have deteriorated. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has warned that China is determined to assert its dominance in the South China Sea.
China claims 90 per cent of that sea, which is key to global fishing and transportation.

In early March, China prevented two Philippine ships from resupplying a small number of Filipino soldiers who are guarding a shoal in the disputed area.


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