Philippines cancels Bell helicopter deal hinh anh 1Bell 412EPI helicopter (Source: Bell Helicopter)

Hanoi (VNA)
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on February 9 abruptly cancelled a 235 million USD contract to buy Canada’s 16 Bell 412EPI utility helicopters.

The decision came after the Canadian government ordered a review over human rights concerns over drug war deaths in the Philippines.

Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that the aircraft were intended "for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport".

Manila said they would also be used for "anti-terrorism" operations, including to evacuate wounded soldiers. Duterte said he respected Canada's stance but added it was unavoidable that the Philippine air force would use the choppers against the rebels and terrorists.

The Philippines signed an agreement to buy 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters from the aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter during the Singapore aviation exhibition. The deal was part of the country’s “Vision 2” plan to upgrade its armed forces.

The two-engine Bell 412EPI can carry 14 people. It is fully equipped with modern features to perform humanitarian, search and rescue and people and equipment transport tasks.

According to Sameer Rehman, Bell Helocopter’s CEO for Asia-Pacific, this is not the first time the Philippines has bought helicopters from the firm. The country’s air force bought Bell UH-1H Iroquois in late 1960s and Bell 412 in 1990s. Recently, Bell Helicopter delivered 8 Bell 412EP helicopters to the Philippines, he noted.-VNA