Spanish firm wins bidding for supply of fixed wing aircraft

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 28 2014 03:24 AM | Updated as of Feb 28 2014 11:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A Spanish firm was declared winner in the bidding for the supply of three medium lift fixed wing aircraft worth P5 billion.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR a notice of award has been issued to Airbus Military, one of the two firms that submitted offers for the project.

“The notice of award was issued to Airbus last week,” he said. “The contract for the medium-lift fixed wing aircraft is now being prepared.”

Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said the helicopters will complement their C-130s and allow them to fly more missions.

“As a whole this will enhance the total lift capability of the country,” he said.

The first of the three aircraft will be delivered in August 2015, while the second one will arrive in March 2016. The Air Force is expected to receive the third aircraft in September 2016.

Airbus Military offered to supply C-295 planes for P5.29 billion, lower than the approved budget of P5.3 billion.

The other bidder, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, was disqualified because its offer was not compliant with the technical specifications.

Airbus said the aircraft is the most capable and versatile transport and surveillance aircraft.

“The air assets can carry up to nine tons of payload or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260 kt or 480 km/h,” Airbus added.

The medium-lift fixed wing aircraft project landed in the news after some sectors had questioned their quality.

Critics said the planes figured in the 2008 crash that killed 20 people in Poland.

However, Airbus Military said in a statement its C-295 plane has an exceptional safety record and is the market leader in its segment.

“The aircraft is proven in real service and fully meets the standards required by the Department of National Defense of the Philippines,” read the statement.

Airbus Military said human error caused the crash in Poland and had nothing to do with the quality of the aircraft.

“While a C-295 aircraft of the Polish Air Force was unfortunately involved in an accident in January 2008, a full and thorough investigation was undertaken by the Polish government which found no fault with the aircraft,” Airbus said.

Reports published in 2012 said the Czech military had returned “faulty” C-295 planes.

However, Airbus Military said four more C-295s have been delivered to the Czech Republic last year “to full satisfaction.”

“The Czech Republic now has joined Spain, Poland and Finland in using the C-295 for peace-keeping missions,” Airbus Military said.

“While we have undertaken additional upgrades on aircraft post-delivery, as is not unusual with military aircraft, it is incorrect to say that the aircraft were returned to us due to quality issues or failure of tests.”

The C-295 plane is ideal for defense and civic missions like humanitarian actions, homeland security and environmental surveillance, Airbus Military said.