COA suspends FA-50, Bell 412EP deals – report

UPDATED: The Commission on Audit ordered the suspension of three aircraft acquisition deals for Philippine Air Force entered by the Department of National Defense, the Manila Times reports. COA ordered the suspension of 21 refurbished UH-1 helicopter deal worth P1.2 billion which is currently being investigated by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. This helicopter deal was partially terminated by DND.

Also included in deals ordered suspended are the tweleve FA-50 aircraft deal with Korea Aerospace Industries and eight Bell 412EP combat utility helicopter deal with Bell Helicopter Canada.

Both aircraft deals were entered through government-to-government transactions.

Suspension was ordered after state auditors reportedly red-flagged them for irregularities.

The suspension order from COA came after KAI successfully conducted the maiden flight of first Philippine FA-50 last June 19. Delivery of first two FA-50s is expected before 2015 ends.

The order also came after two Bell 412EP helicopters arrived early this month. DND is expecting delivery of two to a maximum of six units until August. Three of eight choppers are configured as VIP helicopters.

Five Bell 412EP helicopters are configured as combat utility helicopters, capable for relief operations, to beef up transport and lift capability of the Air Force.

A conference was called Thursday, June 25 at Camp Aguinaldo in compliance to the Audit Observation Memorandum and Notice of Suspension issued by COA on the above-mentioned AFP Modernization program Projects.

Audit Suspended, Not the Acquisition

“The COA merely suspended their scheduled audit pending the submission of additional requirements and data from the Department of National Defense (DND). Thus, the acquisition of the Bell 412 helicopters and the FA-50 jets are ongoing,” DND said in a statement.

In email response to Ang Malaya Net, COA said “the COA did not suspend the aircraft deals. Notice of Suspension does not in any way affect the delivery of the fighter jets from Korea.” Read full article here.