Another five S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters from Poland arrived in the Philippine on Monday. These are part of the 16 helicopters ordered by the country from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o. An initial six units were delivered to the country in November last year. The Polish company is manufacturing Black Hawk helicopters under license from Sikorsky USA. The second batch of aircraft arrived at Clark Air Base in Pampanga from Poland on board a chartered Ukrainian Antonov An-124 Ruslan strategic airlifter.
Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, said”The five brand-new Black Hawk helicopters were loaded in an Antonov transport aircraft that arrived at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga. With the latest delivery, the PAF now has 11 Black Hawk utility helicopters. Meanwhile, the third batch of five helicopters are scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2021. In the past few months, the Black Hawks transported vaccines and PPE (personal protective equipment) sets to the remotest areas of Batanes, Bicol, and other parts of the country.”
The 16 Black Hawk helicopters acquired by the country are worth US$241 million (about PHP11.5 billion). These were procured through a government-to-government transaction with Poland in 2019. The government-to-government transaction was executed under ‘Horizon 2′ phase of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act to fulfil the PAF’s CUH requirement. Late last year, the company delivered the first six S-70i units to the service. They were inducted into the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.
In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte called off a deal to buy Bell 412EPI combat utility helicopters from Canada, which expressed concern that the helicopters could be used in counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted he was unhappy with the cancellation of the contract at the beginning. Lorenzana said the PAF has expressed interest in acquiring 16 more units of Black Hawk helicopters. The new Black Hawk helicopters would boost the aging Huey choppers and a handful of Bell 412 helicopters of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.