21 more Huey choppers for PAF this year, official says

CEBU CITY – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will take delivery of 21 more Huey helicopters this year, as it upgrades its capability to respond to disasters, an official said.

Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz, PAF commanding general, said seven to 10 of the helicopters are expected to be delivered in the first half of the year.

Dela Cruz, who graced the 35th anniversary celebration of the PAF Second Air Division at the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City Monday, also said they are converting four helicopter gunships into air ambulances for emergency medical evacuations.

He also revealed that President Benigno Aquino III has approved their request to buy two more C-130 aircraft.

The PAF has three C-130 planes which were extensively used in transporting food, relief goods and workers from Mactan to Tacloban City and other areas in Eastern Visayas hit by super typhoon Yolanda last November 8

“As part of our capability upgrading program, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will also buy three medium-lift aircraft. These are lower versions of the C-130s. If this will materialize, we will have eight cargo aircraft,” Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz said the air force continues to help in the rehabilitation effort of typhoon-ravaged areas, particularly in the transport of relief goods.

Dela Cruz stressed the need for the air force and all sectors to be prepared for stronger typhoons.

“This year might not be different. It’s much better to be prepared. We have to develop our strengths, as well as our weaknesses,” he said.

Dela Cruz also revealed that the air force will form an “air mobile engineering group”, which will bring bulldozers, payloaders and other heavy equipment via C-130 to isolated, disaster-stricken areas. (PNA)

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