The Indian government has extended a generous offer to the Philippines by providing at least seven helicopters for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). This initiative is aimed at enhancing the PCG’s capabilities in performing crucial rescue and humanitarian missions. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. emphasized the value of India’s offer, acknowledging that it will significantly contribute to bolstering the Philippines’ capacity for coast guard operations, particularly in search and rescue missions. The President made these statements during a courtesy call with His Excellency Shambhu Kumaran, the Indian Ambassador to the Philippines. Their discussions also revolved around strengthening the bilateral relations between the two nations.
Ambassador Kumaran disclosed that discussions are already underway between the Indian government, the PCG, and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) regarding the procurement of seven helicopters for the PCG. The Philippine Coast Guard operates under the umbrella of the DOTr. Kumaran underscored the suitability of the Indian helicopters, noting that they are originally designed for India’s Navy and Coast Guard and are capable of supporting more robust security operations, in addition to having a greater capacity for carrying both personnel and cargo. He expressed optimism that this collaborative effort would be a highly positive development for the Philippines.
It is worth noting that the helicopters in question are believed to be HAL Dhruv helicopters. These versatile utility helicopters, designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), have been a crucial part of India’s military and civil aviation landscape since their introduction in 2002. They are adaptable to various roles, including transport, utility, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation. The Philippine Coast Guard’s interest in procuring these Dhruv helicopters is outlined in the HAL Annual Report for 2020-21, which mentions the possibility of acquiring seven Dhruvs through Indian-based credit. These helicopters, with their proven performance, are expected to significantly enhance the PCG’s operational capabilities.
The continued partnership between India and the Philippines is emblematic of the nations’ commitment to strengthening their bilateral relations and cooperation in areas such as maritime security and humanitarian efforts. This generous offer of helicopters from the Indian government is a testament to the enduring friendship between the two countries and their shared dedication to promoting regional safety and stability. As these discussions progress and the procurement plan advances, the Philippine Coast Guard is poised to receive a valuable addition to its fleet, reinforcing its ability to respond effectively to a wide range of maritime challenges and emergencies in the region.