The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday has expressed its intent to acquire surplus Bell UH-1H and McDonnell Douglas helicopters from South Korea. Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana expressed the intent in a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook. He added the DND plans to conduct a Joint Venture Inspection (JVI) in the fourth quarter of this year. The JVI will be conducted following strict biosafety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, by a team composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“The Joint Venture Inspection (JVI) will be conducted following strict bio-safety protocols amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, by a team composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a message. “The acquisition project for the South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters is still in the exploratory stage, with the details yet to be finalized including the timeline and number of rotary-winged aircraft to be acquired.”
South Korea is known to have retired UH-IH and MD-500 helicopters from military service early this year. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is known to operate a number of UH-IH and MD-500 helicopters in its fleet. The PAF uses the UH-1H primarily for cargo and personnel transport and disaster relief missions while variants or models of the MD-500 in its inventory are utilized for ground attack or close-air support sorties. The acquisition project for the South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters is still in the exploratory stage, with the details yet to be finalized including the timeline and quantity of the assets to be acquired.
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed “Huey”) is a utility military helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine, with two-bladed main and tail rotors. The UH-1 was the first turbine-powered helicopter produced for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been built since 1960. The Iroquois was originally designated HU-1 which has remained in common use, despite the official redesignation to UH-1 in 1962. The MD Helicopters MD 500 series is an American family of light utility civilian and military helicopters. The MD 500 was developed from the Hughes 500, a civilian version of the US Army’s OH-6A Cayuse/Loach. The series currently includes the MD 500E, MD 520N, and MD 530F.