Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the acquisition of 15 more Sikorsky Black Hawk multirole helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on 4 February.
The move is “part of plans to slowly address the growing heli-lift deficiency of our armed forces”, said Nograles, adding that Duterte also 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.
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). Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has now approved the procurement of 15 additional Black Hawks for the service. (Philippine DND)
Nograles pointed out that the Department of National Defense (DND) had initially requested 76 new helicopters. That number was first trimmed by Duterte to 55, and then further cut to 15 owing to the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of time left in the president’s term, which ends in 2022, according to Nograles.
No further details were provided, including when exactly the helicopters will be ordered. The rotorcraft are expected to supplement the 16 S-70i Black Hawks ordered for the PAF in 2019, six of which have already been delivered. Delivery of the remaining 10 platforms is expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2021.
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