Demonstrating the American people’s historic partnership with the Philippines, U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney will turn over to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 10 UH-1H Huey helicopters in a June 9 ceremony.
The helicopters, which were refurbished under a U.S. Government program, will be used by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to supplement its modernization program and will increase PAF’s capabilities to combat terrorism and provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters.
The aircraft are part of 20 helicopters designated for the Philippines by President George Bush; 10 additional helicopters will be delivered later this year. They were refurbished in the United States through the U.S. Foreign Military Financing program at a cost of $22 million for the 20 aircraft. The U.S. gave nearly $30 million in Foreign Military Financing to the Philippines last year.
Upon the helicopters’ arrival in May at Subic Bay (pictured above), they were transferred to the Clark Economic Zone where PAF specialists conducted the routine maintenance and flight checks required for all aircraft, and painted the helicopters in the PAF color scheme.
President Arroyo and Ambassador Kenney will celebrate the turnover of the aircraft in a traditional ceremony held on Saturday, June 9 at Villamor Air Base in Manila that will include pouring champagne over the nose of the helicopters.
Other invited attendees include Secretary of National Defense Hermogenes E. Ebdane; Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr.; PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Horacio S. Tolentino; and senior officers of the U.S. Embassy’s Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group.
The U.S. Foreign Military Financing program is just one example of the long partnership between the Philippines and the U.S. This aircraft turnover, along with the turnover of a C-130 cargo aircraft in April 2006, is part of the long-term U.S. commitment to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program. The U.S. military also provides training, advice, and security assistance, and shares information with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Ongoing U.S.-Philippine military cooperative programs include Philippine Defense Reform; counter-terrorism training; annual exercises; education and training; advice and support for logistics, engineering, equipment, and maintenance; civilian assistance programs such as free community medical, dental, and veterinarian clinics; and humanitarian assistance cooperation during natural disasters.