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Philippines will order 15 more S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Poland

The President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, approved the acquisition of additional 15 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). New rotorcrafts will replace the currently operated H-1 family of helicopters, that will be decommissioned.

Initially, president Duterte wanted to procure 55 more helicopters for the military, which would be delivered before the end of his term in 2022. However, the number was reduced to 15 due to budget constraints.

New helicopters will come on top of the 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawks ordered by the AFP in April 2019 from the Poland-based PZL Mielec manufacturer, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. Procurement of new helicopters will allow to speed up the modernization of the country’s rotary-wing fleet, which is troubled by a high number of accidents resulting from the age and technical condition of the currently used rotorcrafts.

S-70i Black Hawk helicopters will be used in a range of military and humanitarian missions, such as: cargo and personnel transport, reconnaissance, troop insertion and extrication, limited close air support, combat search and rescue, combat resupply, casualty and medical evacuation and disaster relief.

The first batch of six S-70i Black Hawk helicopters was already delivered to the Philippines. The official handover ceremony took place on 10 December 2020 at Clark Air Base. The event was presided over by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana. Among the many special guests of the vent were: Lt. Gen. Allen T. Paredes, Commanding General, Philippine Air Forces and Jarosław Szczepankiewicz, charge d’affaires a.i. of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Manila. Numerous representatives of the Philippine Army, took part in the show. The remaining 10 rotorcrafts should be delivered to the Philippines in late 2021.

“Yes, the five arrived in Clark (Air base in Angeles City, Pampanga) aboard an Antonov heavy transport plane (An-124). The sixth was loaded on a ship that will arrive on Dec. 2,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said

“We expect these aircraft to serve you well in the coming decades and provide safety and security to all those who fly. I am looking forward to 2021 when PZL and Sikorsky will deliver the next 10 contracted helicopters” – said Janusz Zakręcki, PZL Mielec President, General Director.

The order for 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters was granted to PZL Mielec in April 2019 as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act. It is one of the largest orders for Black Hawk helicopter, received by the Polish manufacturer. The contract had a value of US$241.4 million

To date PZL Mielec has manufactured almost 70 S-70i, with first deliveries beginning in  2011. The Philippines is the ninth country to acquire Polish-built Black Hawk helicopters.

Photos by: Philippines Department of National Defense

Article previously published on MILMAG 04/2020

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