THREE more brand-new police helicopters are now flying to help reinforce the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) combat and rescue operations as well as medical evacuation, the Journal Group was told.
PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas said they have acquired the three multi-role police helicopters for use of the PNP Air Unit.
According to the top cop, the PNP Special Action Force-Air Unit has formally accepted delivery of the three brand new H-125 Airbus single engine turbine helicopters from Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia PTE LTD last Friday at the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City.
“These new air assets will further boost our operational capability in support of the anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign,” Sinas said.
The three new police helicopters with registry numbers RP-2420, RP-6088, and RP-9710 were procured through funds from the General Appropriations Act 2019.They are now at the PNP-SAF Air Unit hangar at the Manila Domestic Airport.
Sinas said the PNP fleet now has seven H-125 Airbus, two R-22 Robinson police helicopters and a fixed-wing trainer aircraft, all stationed in Metro Manila.
The PNP is eyeing the deployment of two helicopters each in Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao, and one in Northern Luzon, the PNP chief said.
The PNP has also included an air-ambulance to its shopping list of programmed procurements.
The police choppers are also needed in the conduct of aerial survey and lifting of vital assets. Their worth was tested anew when Sinas ordered an aerial survey of Cagayan Valley which was devastated by heavy flooding triggered by powerful typhoon ‘Ulysses’ last year.
Additional police helicopters are also needed to transport rescue personnel and relief goods in far-flung areas of the country including in places where passage of land vehicles is next to impossible. This was proven in the case of Cagayan last week.
The delivery of the choppers was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
According to PNP Director for Logistics, Major Gen. Angelito A. Casimiro, the PNP now has a total of 10 air assets with the arrival of three H125 choppers, each purchased at P205,305,898. All three underwent field testing and evaluation prior to acceptance.
Apart from the three, the PNP has four H125s; two Robinson 44 trainer choppers; and one Cessna C150 trainer fixed wing.
Another Bell 429 chopper which crashed in San Pedro City, Laguna on March 5 last year was deemed beyond mechanical repair. Around P430 million in insurance from the ill-fated chopper would be used to buy two H130s Pump Air Ambulance, Casimiro said.
The March 5, 2020 crash nearly killed former PNP chief, Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and six others. One of the victims of the chopper crash, former PNP Comptroller, Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Victor DF Ramos succumbed to his injuries last October.
As part of its modernization program, the PNP is all set to activate its National Air Unit which will be separate from the PNP-SAF.
This is because due to the numerous air assets that the PNP already has, they can actually establish Air Squadrons and activate an Air Unit which will be a separate PNP National Operational Support Unit.
The current law requires five air squadrons and a single aircraft with a Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and a 2nd PIC, he explained.
The PNP already has two PNP PICs who can fly helicopters. Last September, another Air Bus training for 11 PNP pilots who will transition to become PICs was also held.
The delivery of the three more H-125 units and the ongoing training of basic helicopter pilots who can soon sit down as 2nd-in-command of PNP choppers is enough for the PNP to open its Air Units, two each in Cebu and Davao cities and another in La Union province this year.