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Monday, August 12, 2019

Discussing the Philippine Coast Guard's Maritime Disaster Response Helicopter Projects

In this specific blog entry, we invited again one of our contributors who focus on projects of the Philippine Coast Guard, to write on behalf of MaxDefense Philippines. We would like to again thank our contributor and MaxDefense community member "Herbie" for making this effort for our community.

Herbie has been following the Philippine defense, modernization, and asset acquisition for more than a decade, and has been a MaxDefense community member for almost 6 years. This is his second time to write as a guest writer for MaxDefense, and is a prime example of our openness to people with interests and knowledge to share in our efforts.


As the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continues to improve its capabilities to meet the challenges as the premier maritime law enforcement, and search and rescue agency of the Philippine government, it is has moved to improve its aviation capabilities including acquisition of new assets.
In this case, the PCG aims to complete what they call the "Maritime Disaster Response Helicopter" Acquisition Project which aims to replace ageing assets while also expanding its aviation capabilities.

One of the PCG's ordered Airbus EC145T2 helicopters undergoing test flight in Germany with PCG aircrew. This helicopter is scheduled to arrive no later than January 2020. Photo taken from Scramble Magazine.


The Maritime Disaster Response Helicopter Acquisition Project involves the acquisition of seven (7) multi-role helicopters to strengthen and expand PCG's maritime disaster response capabilities during maritime incidents, natural disasters and calamities. It also involves the training of pilots and technical crew, procurement of mission equipment and tools and spare parts for five (5) years. *

The helicopters will be deployed in PCG's proposed six circles of influence with a 200 nautical mile radius - Northern Luzon, National Capital Region (NCR) / Central Luzon, Palawan, Central and Eastern Visayas, Southwest Mindanao and Southeast Mindanao. The light helicopters shall perform SAR missions and shall mainly be deployed aboard the 56-meter San Juan-class SAR Vessels in the present inventory of the PCG employing the mother-ship concept immensely expanding the coverage area of operations. 

One of the early documents to state this Maritime Disaster Response Helicopter requirement is the “RA008-02: Formulating a National Transport Plan” that dates back to March 2010. It was commissioned by the Philippines – Australia Partnership for Economic Governance Reforms (PEGR) group and was initiated by the Australian Government. It stated that the Philippine Government work for the “Development maritime disaster response capabilities.” The indicator to achieve this objective is a target of 8 “Number of multi-purpose maritime helicopters” (including 1 for training). It was estimated to cost PHP 5.836 billion during that time.

The above document initiated by the Australian government in 2010 called for the acquisition of 7 Multi-Purpose Maritime Helicopters plus a Training Helicopter. Photo taken from AusAID website.  

That March 2010 National Transport Plan cited the Feasibility Study on the PCG Helicopter Acquisition Project that was completed the previous year by the Transport and Traffic Planners (TTPI) Inc. This would show that the number of units was carefully studied with relevant data at that time. 

A separate 2010 Australian program, Building the Resilience and Awareness of Metro Manila Communities to Natural Disasters and Climate Change Impacts (BRACE Program) Annex 3 stated the project to have a planned funding source from Germany-Caiyon with a PHP 5.8 billion cost. The procurement of seven Maritime Disaster Response (MDR) helicopters was detailed in this program.

As the PCG was still waiting for the NEDA approval of this project since at least September 2009, by 2011, the former DOTC was given a budget of PHP 1,545,567,000 for two helicopters as was reported in various news outlets at that time. 

From 2011-2013, the project had a budget courtesy of a German loan, from Credit Agricole, for a total of PHP 5,409,485,000. But for some reason, the DOTC didn’t purchase the helicopters using the German loan.

The breakdown of funds per year are as follows:

2011 - Php1,545,567,000;
2012 - Php3,397,984,000;
2013 - Php465,935,000

From 2014 to 2015, there was still no movement for the approval in the NEDA-ICC level. The final approval will still be done by the NEDA Board. 

Around 2014, the PCG presented a paper in an International Conference that showed that there are two categories of helicopters the PCG was looking at: light and medium. 

For the light helicopters, the Bell 429, Bell 430, A109E, EC145 (H145), and MD902 were the candidates for this requirement. 

Among the models being proposed for the PCG's Light Multi-Purpose Helicopter are (from top to bottom): Bell 429, Bell 430, Agusta (now Leonardo) AW109E Power, Eurocopter (now Airbus) EC 145, and MD Helicopters MD902. Credits to original sources of the photos.

A comparison table for the Bell 4129, A109E, and EC 145.

For the medium helicopter requirement, the S-76C++, Bell 412EP, and AS365 N3 were the potential models for this category. The presentation also showed that it must prioritize interoperability with PCG Search and Rescue vessels. 

The proposals for the PCG Medium Helicopter are (from top to bottom): Bell 412EP, Sikorsky S-76++, and Eurocopter (now Airbus) AS365 N2 Dauphin. Credits to original sources of the photos.

With no NEDA ICC and no NEDA Board approval yet, the PCG was given a budget for the helicopters. Around July 2015, the PCG invited bidders for the “Procurement of Two (2) Light to Medium Weight Search and Rescue Helicopter” with a budget of PHP 777,600,000. Unfortunately, this was cancelled the next month, with a “For Review” as a comment on the bid. It is interesting to note that this bid was for two units of helicopters.

The following year, around November 2016, a new bid was out and the name was changed into “Procurement of Light to Medium Weight Search and Rescue Helicopter” for one unit of helicopter with the same budget of PHP 777,600,000.00. Unfortunately, this again was cancelled the following month. This particular bid noted that the DBM Procurement Service (DBM-PS) will continue the procurement of this bid.

By October 2017, with the DBM-PS undertaking the procurement, it tendered out the item and its name was changed into  “Supply, Delivery, Testing and Commissioning of Light to Medium Weight, Multi-Purpose, Twin Engine Helicopter for the PCG” for one unit of helicopter with a budget of PHP 745,620,000. Two months later, the bidding failed, with the report noting that “The bid is not responsive”.

On December 2017, the NEDA-ICC-CabCom, co-chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and NEDA, discussed and noted the Department of Transportation/ Philippine Coast Guard’s report on the comparative analysis of lease and purchase options for the Maritime Disaster Response Helicopter Acquisition.  The PCG comparative analysis recommended a direct purchase arrangement supported by Official Development Assistance (ODA).

With this assessment, the PCG may avail of a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) STEP loan for the Airbus-Kawasaki 145//BK117 D-3 as it is co-developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH.

Acquisition Through Public Bidding:

On 03 April 2018, the PCG invited bidders for the “Supply, Delivery, Testing and Commissioning of Light to Medium Weight, Multi-Purpose, Twin Engine Helicopter for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)” project for one unit of helicopter with a budget of Php685,805,000.00. 

The Notice of Award (NOA) for the SAR Helicopter was given on 19 May 2018.  By November 2018, a Notice to Proceed was issued to Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia PTE LTD for an H145 without FLIR. It is expected to be delivered not later than March 15 2020. 

Airbus released these photos showing their H145 wining Light Helicopter requirement of the PCG. Photos taken from Airbus.

Separately, on 19 April 2018, the DBM-PS invited bidders for the “Supply, Delivery, Testing and Commissioning of Light to Medium Weight, Multi-Purpose, Twin Engine Helicopter for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)” project for one unit of helicopter with a budget of Php745,620,000.00. 

The Notice of Award (NOA) was issued last 18 June 2018. The Notice to Proceed (NTP) was issued July 2018 to Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia PTE LTD for an H145 with FLIR and weather radar. The newly added PCG Air Asset is expected to be delivered not later than January 09, 2020. This is the tender that was announced by Airbus in their website.

Taken from PhilGEPS website.

MaxDefense posted some photos of the Airbus EC145T2 (H145) helicopter with all weather radar and FLIR last July 2019 in Germany, as they were already undergoing flight tests and PCG aircrew training.

This specific helicopter bound for the PCG appears to be the one with the all weather radar, as one of the two units has it as standard. Photo shared exclusively to MaxDefense by sources from the PCG.

Planned Acquisition of More Helicopters:

NEDA released a report in 2018 wherein it mentioned the need to acquire more helicopters under the Maritime Disaster Respinse Helicopter acquisition project.
Taken from NEDA's report in 2018.

A statement released by the PCG on December 2018 mentioned that “in order to provide more service to the public, the PCG needs to acquire additional six (6) medium sized helicopters. This will be done after the completion of the Maritime Disaster Helicopter Project.

Department of Finance report released on January 2019 also included the status of this project, which was noted as “NEDA-ICC conditional approval subject to submission of risk assessment and sensitivity analysis”. 

Just last July 2019, the project was reported as now undergoing a NEDA-ICC Secretariat review. It is now listed under “Projects for Inclusion in the Agenda of the Next ICC-CC Meeting”. The funding source is now determined as “Local Financing” (compared to the ODA recommendation of the PCG shown above) and with a total project cost at Php5.88749 billion. 

We can compare this to the estimated cost listed last March 2010 at Php5.836 billion showing that inflation may certainly affect the inclusions in this project like mission equipment and spares.

Project Summary:

Light to Medium Weight, Multi-Purpose,Twin Engine Helicopter

Note: Edited as of 11 August 2019:

* End User: Philippine Coast Guard Aviation Unit

* Quantity: DBM-BAC: 1 unit, PCG-BAC: 1 unit

* Project ABC:

   - DBM-BAC: Php745,620,000.00
   - PCG-BAC: Php685,805,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: Official Development Assistance (ODA) by Japan JICA

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia

* Product for Delivery:
  - DBM-BAC: 1 Airbus EC145T2 (H145) with all weather radar and FLIR
  - PCG-BAC: 1 Airbus EC145T2 (H145) without radar and FLIR

* Contract Price:   - DBM-BAC: Php745,120,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: TBA

* Searching Hashtag: #PCGLightMDRHAcquisition #PCGMaritimeDisasterResponseHelicopter

* Status: Both helicopters for delivery by early 2020. More planned for acquisition.


First edit and release: 12 August 2019

Copyright MaxDefense Philippines & "Herbie"


  1. Why they have always fail in the BIG Ticket items???

  2. how come PCG & PNP procure assets faster than AFP? why AFP couldnt do the same?


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