The Philippine air force plans to this year reactivate three Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transports, upgrade eight Rockwell OV-10 Bronco counter-insurgency aircraft and take delivery of at least 18 additional Bell UH-1H Huey utility helicopters. But new aircraft acquisitions, including a long-delayed requirement for search and rescue helicopters, have been put on hold again because of budget constraints and are not expected to move forward for at least another two years, writes Brendan Sobie.

The air force operates just one Hercules from an inventory of around 10 C-130B/Hs and L100s, but expects to have four available by year-end. The service says it will soon complete repairs to one aircraft damaged in an incident last October, while local maintenance company Asian Aerospace says the first of four inactive C-130Bs will be ready to fly in March.

The company was selected nearly four years ago to reactivate the aircraft and assume depot maintenance responsibilities for the C-130 fleet, but its first aircraft has taken more than one year longer to complete than expected. Asian Aerospace says it expects to complete overhauls on its first two C-130Bs this year, followed by two in 2006. It also plans this year to overhaul two inactive Fokker F27 transports, including one presidential aircraft.

The air force adds that it has purchased upgrade kits for 12 OV-10s from a US company, including powerplant and propeller improvements. Its first eight aircraft will be modified locally by service mechanics this year, with the remaining four to be completed in 2006. The Philippine air force last year received its first 12 of an expected 50 additional UH-1Hs and says eight helicopters remaining from a 20-aircraft contract with Singapore Technologies will be delivered this quarter.


Source: Flight International