MANILA - The Philippines is keen on buying new helicopters from the United States, Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez said Tuesday.
According to the country's top envoy to US, Washington is offering helicopters aside from the Black Hawk helicopters which the Philippines agreed to buy in December 2018.
"The US is offering the Philippines to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters," Romualdez said in a roundtable interview.
“We are buying more equipment but on the high-ticket items. I think you know about the 16 Blackhawk helicopters. And then there are the heavy-lift Chinook helicopters which are being offered to the Philippines,” he said.
Romualdez said if the military purchase will proceed, it will help the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their operations.
“This is very important for our disaster relief and then also in the movement of our soldiers,” the Philippine envoy said.
Romualdez said the Philippine military prefers American-made equipment.
“Our soldiers would prefer obviously American-made, not because they have anything against Russian or Chinese-made, but because interoperability is very important," Romualdez said.
The Philippines agreed to buy 16 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp for P12.67 billion ($240 million), shunning cheaper Russian equipment due to US sanctions on Russian military exports.
US President Donald Trump signed a law last year punishing Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria's government and its suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
US allies buying weapons and equipment from Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter, would also be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.
- Reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News