The delivery of the 16 Polish-made S-70i “Black Hawk” combat utility helicopters in the country has been completed. The last batch of five S-70i “Black Hawk” helicopters were transported to the Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga. The last five S-70i helicopters transported by an Antonov aircraft (An-124) that landed in Clark around 10:45 a.m. The manufacturing company is the PZL Mielec from Poland and has the license from the US to build the “Black Hawk”. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) have started the technical inspection of the brand new aircraft before commissioning them into service.
The PAF has an order of 16 S-70i helicopters from Polish company PZL Mielec worth USD241 million (about PHP11.5 billion). The first six were delivered in November 2020 while the second batch of five was delivered this June. One unit from the initial six units delivered in the country crashed last June 24 while on a night-flying exercise. These helicopters will boost the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capability to conduct various operations, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions. The 16 rotorcraft were acquired via a government-to-government transaction with Poland.
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.
The S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles. PZL Mielec developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations.