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Philippine government funds procurement of 32 new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters

On 10 December 2020 the PAF inducted into service the first six of 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters in a ceremony that was also attended by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana (seen here). The Philippine government has now approved funding for the acquisition of 32 additional S-70is, with a contract expected to be signed in 2022. (Philippine Department of National Defence)

The Government of the Philippines has allocated PHP32 billion (USD637 million) for the procurement of 32 new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana announced on 7 December.

Lorenzana said that, while negotiations are still ongoing, the new helicopters will be manufactured by PZL Mielec – a Lockheed Martin company in Poland. This follows the procurement of an initial batch of 16 S-70is, which were ordered in 2019 for USD241 million to meet the PAF's Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) requirement under the ‘Horizon 2' phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Programme (RAFPMP).

The 16 S-70is were delivered between November 2020 and November 2021, with the last five helicopters formally inducted into service on 3 December 2021. However, one aircraft was lost in a fatal crash in June 2021, shortly after being delivered. All Black Hawks are operated by the PAF's 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing.

With a total buy of 48 units, the S-70i fleet will fully replace the retired Bell UH-1H ‘Huey' utility helicopters and be used for a variety of roles, including transport of cargo and personnel, medical evacuation, (combat) search-and-rescue, troop insertion and extrication, disaster relief operations, and limited close air support.

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