Philippine Navy Austal’s Offshore Patrol Vessel
Philippine Navy Austal’s Offshore Patrol Vessel

Philippine Government Approves $1.2 Billion Financing for 32 Black Hawks and 6 OPVs

The Philippine News Agency reported that the Philippine government government has allocated a total of PHP62 billion for the acquisition 32 more Polish-made S-70i “Black Hawk” combat utility helicopters for the Air Force and six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Philippine Navy. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) earlier completed the acquisition of 16 “Black Hawk” helicopters from Polish company PZL Mielec worth USD241 million (about PHP11.5 billion). Austal, which has a shipyard in Balamban Cebu, remains at the forefront in the ongoing procurement for OPVs for the Philippine Navy. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified that there is still no contract yet issued for these assets and “still under negotiation.”

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.

Philippine Air Force Receives Five More S-70i Black Hawk Combat Utility Helicopters
Philippine Air Force receives five more S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters (Photo by Philippine Air Force)

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. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) have started the technical inspection of the brand new aircraft before commissioning them into service.

Austal’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Philippine Navy is based on a proven platform that has demonstrated success operating in tropical environments and conducting border patrol and maritime operations. The variant developed for the Philippines is a circa 80 metre steel OPV including Austal’s industry leading MarineLink ship control system and class-leading ride control technology. The submitted design is for a larger, more capable variant of Austal’s Cape Class vessels that are currently in operation with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy, and that was recently announced by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as its next maritime protection asset. Austal is in talks with the Philippines Government for a contract to build six offshore patrol vessels for its navy.

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