The Philippine Air Force (PAF) took delivery of five new S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters as part of an 11.5 billion Philippine peso ($241 million) contract between the Asian country and a defense firm in Poland.
The new helicopters were delivered by Antonov transport aircraft, arriving at Clark Air Base in Pampanga. Last year, an initial six units were delivered.
“With the latest delivery, the PAF now has 11 Black Hawk utility helicopters. Meanwhile, the third batch of five helicopters [is] scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2021,” PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said.
Open wide! Chartered Antonov transporter at RZE/EPRZ yesterday evening loading up five PZL Mielec @AviationinPL built S-70 Black Hawk utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force, which has ordered 16 of the type to meet multi-mission requirements #avgeeks pic.twitter.com/67th9WUMDT
— John Neilson (@flyingjok) June 7, 2021
The arrival of additional S-70i Black Hawks is expected to boost the capability of the PAF to perform a variety of missions, especially in far-flung areas of the country.
“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,” Mariano explained.
In 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the cancellation of a Bell 412EPI combat utility helicopters deal with Canada after the Canadian government demanded a review of the purpose for which the aircraft would be used.
As a replacement, the Philippines signed a contract with Polish firm PZL Mielec to manufacture and deliver 16 units of S-70i.
“I was very, very unhappy. That it came when it was due to be implemented was doubly frustrating. We were racing against time before we lost the money for other projects,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said of the cancellation. However, he stressed that the deal cancellation turned out well in the end.
“We got a better deal with this aircraft. Not only is it more powerful, more payload, and longer range, we got them cheaper… The procurement process proceeded very fast and smooth as well,” he added.