Sun. May 9th, 2021

The Philippines may acquire another 16 S-70i “Black Hawk” combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana said PAF chief, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes told him that it would be more advantageous for the Air Force to be operating a single specific type of helicopter as it would be easier for them in terms of maintenance and training.

“He told me that it would be better to just have the same type of helicopter because of the maintenance and pilot training aspect. You won’t have to study again and your supplies and spare parts would just be the same. It would be easier to maintain a Black Hawk fleet instead of different aircraft types,” Lorenzana told reporters in Filipino at Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga during the acceptance, blessing and turnover of the first six Polish-made helicopters delivered last month.

Lorenzana said Paredes told him that the PAF wants another 16 Black Hawk choppers to beef up its helicopter fleet.

The first five S-70is were delivered via the Antonov An-124 heavy cargo aircraft to Clark Air Base last November 9 while the sixth unit arrived aboard a ship on November 27. The remaining 10 are set to be delivered to the country early next year.

The helicopters were acquired from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o and manufactured under license from Sikorsky USA for $241 million (around P11.5 billion)

The helicopters were procured through a government-to-government transaction with Poland. The negotiations were completed in 2019. The acquisition of the Polish-made S-70i Black Hawk combat helicopters is part of Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program. SOVEREIGNPH

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