Poland’s poor Sokol choppers for the Philippines?
He answered in the affirmative.
I told him that at the Famborough International Air show in The United Kingdom last July, it was announced there that our battle-scarred neighbor Republic of Vietnam has ordered its second batch of 20 SU-30MK2 known as Sukhoi warplanes(Russian version of U.S made F-15E Fighter-Bomber).
“We have long have been left behind by our Asian neighbors in the arms race. Any plan for our government to buy some respectable war planes? Mainland China has already hundreds of these Sukhois as it threatens our oil-and fish-rich Spratlys with her state-of-the-art jets and war ships?” I posed.
“If we have money, we will even buy the U.S (aircraft-carrier) Enterprises,” he told me in jest.
I asked his thoughts why we purchased that unknown eight Poland-made brand-new PZL W-3 Sokol military choppers worth P2.8 billion, when the Israelis were selling to us 30 pieces of those lethal second-hand Bell’s Cobra night-attack helicopters (those thin looking two-pilots operated flying ambassador of death strapped with all the rockets, canons, machine guns one can ever imagine) in a price one can only find in the Ukay-ukay (second hand clothes) business being sold at those SM (Segunda Mano) stores all over the country.
He told me in details that before our government shell-out billions of pesos for these military procurement, it has to pass first a barrage of study, testing, and discussion how these hard wares apply in our terrain.
Before our government bought those choppers from Poland, I asked couple of months ago former Defense Secretary Jun Ebdane at his palatial home in Zambales about the Israelis’ offers.
He told me the downside: The Americans would not allow all stock, lock and barrel of the Cobra for us Flips to enjoy.
“The U.S government would not allow giving us the Cobra’s missile system. Besides, it’s very expensive, we could buy lots of helicopters for one brand new Cobra,” he stressed.
I should have protested that what the Jews sell us is their second-hand stuff – just like the ukay-ukay at the kanto. But somebody called the former four-star general thus my supposed interjection turn to pffft.
Oh by the way, I was curious about the quality of these choppers from Poland. I heard the Iraqi Air force has returned all of them to its manufacturer. And in the South East Asian Region, its only poor Myanmar (Burma), and the former Communist states in the Eastern Europe to have the gall to patronize them. Why old capitalist countries all over the globe do not have these PZL W-3 Sokols on their inventory?
Just askin’ since I don’t want to hear another flying coffin snapped again the lives of our already frustrated pilots.
A source at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) told me that Eight of these Sokols were transferred by “exasperated” Combat Wing of the PAF to its Rescue Wing because they are useless in landing on an unpaved soil because they used tires and not landing skids like those old American built Hueys.
Even they are used as air ambulance by the Rescue Wing, the source said, they have limited landing sites thus their capability to extract those wounded in the fields could be better served by the UH-1H helicopters.
I heard the Air Force regretted in buying these stuffs from Europe.
The Sokół made its first flight on 16 November 1979, and has since been certified in Poland, Russia, the US and Germany. It was designed to meet the demands of a military and civilian aviation of the Soviet Union, which was planned to be its major user. Following a development program, low rate production of the Sokół commenced during 1985.
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