To beef up the disaster response capabilities of the Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas (Philippine Army Aviation), Japan will donate a number of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Fuji-Bell UH-1J utility helicopters.
On Monday 19 December, Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the transfer will be made through a government grant. The number of helicopters has not been revealed yet, but the delivery is expected within two to three years. The donation of the helicopters is a sign of growing defence ties between both countries. Earlier, Japan donated six Beech TC-90 King Air twin-turboprop utility aircraft to the Hukbong Pandagat ng Pilipinas (Philippine Navy).
Currently, the Philippine Army operates a small fleet of six helicopters; two Robinson R44 four-seat light helicopters and four MBB Bo105 light, twin engine, multi-purpose helicopters.
The UH-1J is an improved version of the UH-1H built under license in Japan by Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI). Among the improvements were an Allison T53-L-703 turboshaft engine providing 1,343 kW (1,800 shp), a vibration-reduction system, infrared countermeasures, and a night-vision-goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit.
Photo by Otger van der Kooij (Scramble Archive)