Philippines gets 2 Canadian helicopters and South Korean landing craft

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines has received two new Canadian-built helicopters and a surplus South Korean transport vessel as it pushes through with a long-delayed military modernisation programme, military spokesmen said on Thursday.

Two Bell 412EP helicopters were delivered last week, the first of an eight-helicopter order, said air force spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya.

The utility helicopters are undergoing technical inspection before they join the military's fleet to carry cargo and troops, he added.

The rest of the order will arrive before the end of the year, supplementing the military's fleet of ageing "Huey" helicopters.

Meanwhile, a surplus landing craft donated by South Korea, was also delivered to the Philippines, navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.

The 41m-long vessel will be used primarily for relief operations in the disaster-prone country, he added.

The landing craft, which came with 16 inflatable dinghies, can carry about a hundred troops and will be used for transport purposes in the archipelagic nation, Commander Lincuna told AFP.

The South Korean Embassy confirmed the boat had been delivered last month and was part of its efforts to assist the cash-strapped Philippines which has one of the weakest militaries in the region.

Both military spokesmen said the new acquisitions were not related to the Philippines' ongoing maritime territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.