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Philippines, Poland sign agreement to facilitate defence sales

The Philippines and Poland have signed an agreement aimed at paving the way for government-to-government deals on defence equipment, including Manila’s planned acquisition of additional Polish-made Sikorsky Black Hawk multirole helicopters, according to Philippine media reports.

The new accord – known as the ‘Implementation Arrangement with Regard to the Purchase of Arms and Military Equipment’ – was signed on 7 April by Philippine Defense Assistant Secretary Jesus Rey Avilla and Polish Brigadier General Karol Dymanowski, according to an announcement made the following day by the Polish Embassy in Manila.

“The agreement provides guidelines on defence procurement rules and procedures, and constitutes legal framework for inter-governmental procurement,” noted the embassy without providing further details.

The announcement of the deal comes after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved in early February the acquisition of at least 15 more Black Hawks for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to supplement the 16 S-70i Black Hawks ordered for the service in 2019, six of which have already been delivered.

Delivery of the remaining rotorcraft is expected to be completed within the first quarter of this year. Manufactured by PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky company in Poland, these 16 S-70i helicopters are being acquired under a USD241.5 million government-to-government contract to meet the PAF’s ‘combat utility helicopter’ requirement under the ‘Horizon 2’ phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

Manila’s decision to buy more Black Hawks came after Duterte approved plans to decommission the PAF’s ageing Bell UH-1 ‘Huey’ multirole helicopters following a series of accidents in recent months, the latest of which occurred on 16 January in Mindanao and resulted in the death of all seven people on board.

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