A plan by the Philippines Air Force (PAF) to acquire 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters may have been thwarted by Canadian government concerns over the country's human rights record. It said that the recently-announced $235 million deal was under review. For his part, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly told the armed forces to cancel the planned purchase "and we will look for another supplier."
The helicopters were going to the Philippine Department of National Defense in a government-to-government deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, to be used for a variety of duties, including disaster relief, search and rescue, and utility transport. The PAF received its first two Bell 412s in 1994, and in 2015 took eight 412EP helicopters. The service has a long history of operating Bell types, its first rotary-wing craft being the Bell 47 in 1955.
Today’s 412EPI is the latest iteration of a long development path that traces back to the single-engine, twin-blade Model 204 Iroquois of 1956. Nothing but a hint of the fuselage shape of the classic "Huey" remains in the Bell 412EPI, which has a four-blade main rotor powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-9 Twin Pac engine developing 1,800 shp for takeoff. The 412EPI is equipped with a Bell BasiX Pro integrated glass flight deck with four 10.4-inch screens. The avionics suite offers high-resolution digital maps and charts, and an ADS-B transponder. Up to 14 passengers can be carried in single-pilot operations, and the helicopter has a 5,100-pound useful load. New-build 412EPIs come with BLR Strake and FastFin performance enhancements as standard.
Further afield, Textron subsidiary Bell (Stand Q01) has recently delivered the last of seven 412EPIs for the Canadian Coast Guard and in 2016 received an order for a single aircraft from the Aichi Prefecture in Japan for firefighting and disaster relief. In 2015, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force ordered 150 helicopters, based on the 412EPI, to fulfill its UH-X utility helicopter requirement. They will be built by Subaru (formerly Fuji Heavy Industries), which has a long history of the license production of Bell helicopter types such as the UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra.
Meanwhile at the Singapore Airshow Bell said that it had delivered two 505 Jet Ranger X to SECO International of Japan, marking the first deliveries of 505s to the country. The helicopters will be used for passenger transport, sightseeing, aerial photography and television broadcasting.
This story was updated on February 14 to reflect the latest political developments regarding the sale to the Philippines