Philippines looks to buy US Chinook helicopters to avoid sanctions

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Philippines looks to buy US Chinook helicopters to avoid sanctions

In this photo from June 17, 2021, CH 47 Chinook military helicopters carrying US and Moroccan special forces take part in the African Lion military exercise near the city of Tifnit in southwestern Morocco. FADELSENNA AFP MANILA -- The Philippines is looking to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States after scrapping a deal with Russia worth 12.7 billion pesos $227.35 million in order to avoid sanctions, according to Manila's ambassador to Washington on Monday.

In June, days before President Rodrigo Duterte ended his six-year term, the Philippines scrapped a deal to buy 16 Mi 17 Russian military transport helicopters because of US sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine.

It is not in our interests to continue and pursue this contract, as there are sanctions expected to come our way, from the United States and western countries. Jose Manuel Romualdez, ambassador of the Philippines to the United States, is an ambassador of the Philippines to the United States.

While there are sanctions expected to come our way, it is not in our interest to continue and pursue this contract, ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told reporters in a virtual forum.

Moscow is conducting a special military operation in Ukraine.

Romualdez said the Chinooks would replace existing hardware used for the movement of troops and disaster preparedness in the Southeast Asian country.

The United States is willing to make a deal for the amount the Philippines is set to spend on Russian helicopters, Romualdez said, adding that the deal with Washington will likely include maintenance, service and parts.

The Philippines is pursuing discussions with Russia to recover $38 million in down payment for helicopters, which was supposed to start in November next year, or 24 months after the contract was signed.

The Philippines is at the tail end of a five-year, 300 billion-pes modernization of its outdated military hardware that includes warships from World War Two and helicopters used by the United States in the Vietnam War.

READ MORE: Philippines, US begin large-scale joint military drills.

Aside from military deals, the Philippines wants to increase economic exchanges with the United States, including in areas of manufacturing, digital infrastructure and clean energy, including modular nuclear power, said Romualdez, under new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.