PAF procures 32 additional Black Hawk helicopters

Aviation Updates Philippines – The Department of National Defense has officially ordered 32 additional Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to be operated and maintained by the Philippine Air Force.

Photo from Philippine Air Force, Facebook

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced last Sunday that a Notice of Award was issued to PZL Mielec of Poland, the manufacturer of the Black Hawk helicopters, on December 28, 2021. According to Lorenzana, the procurement was under the instruction of the Office of the President.

"The lack of transport planes and helicopters have never been more acute during the pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. This was exacerbated by our aging Hueys that have become uneconomical to maintain," the defense chief said in a Facebook post.

The need for more helicopters came after the PAF retired its remaining aging Bell UH-1 fleet after being involved in various incidents. The lack of utility helicopters was even more emphasized when Typhoon Odette (international: Rai) hit the Philippines. Its fleet of 16 S-70i aircraft became the backbone of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

The delivery of the additional assets will begin in 2023 and will be in four batches. The first batch comprising five units will be delivered in 2023, the second batch with ten units in 2024, the third batch with ten units in 2025, and the fourth batch with seven units in 2026.

According to the defense website MaxDefense Philippines, the Additional Utility Helicopters Acquisition Project of the Philippine Air Force is part of the second list of Horizon 2 phase projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).

The project cost for the acquisition is at Php 32 billion, inclusive of the helicopters themselves, initial logistics support package, and training of pilots and maintenance crew. MaxDefense Philippines reported that the Department of Budget Management (DBM) released Php 1.6 billion on December 27, 2021, to finance the five percent initial funding required for the helicopters.