MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday, February 22, signed the contract to purchase $624 million worth of Black Hawk helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The deal, which procured 32 additional S70i Black Hawk choppers, was signed on Tuesday between the DND and Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Mielic. Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana signed on behalf of the defense agency, while Janusz Zakrecki, president of Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Mielic, represented his company.
Under the deal, the Polish company will also provide integrated logistics support and training packages for the pilots and maintenance crew, according to the defense department.
Lorenzana said the new choppers will more likely be delivered in the next administration.
“Hopefully, the delivery of these new utility helicopters will start soon. I think we will not be here anymore to receive these helicopters, but nonetheless, we will be happy to see the improvement of the capability of the Philippine Air Force,” Lorenzana said.
Last year, the first 16 Black Hawk choppers of the Philippine Air Force were completed after the last batch was delivered in November 2021. The first batch of six units were delivered in November 2020, while the second batch of five units in June 2021.
The 16 choppers were part of the DND’s first deal with Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Mielic.
Unfortunately, the Black Hawk choppers figured in an aerial accident last year. In June 2021, the unit was grounded by the Air Force after the fatal crash of a Black Hawk chopper killed at least six people in Tarlac.
The accident prompted the Senate to open an investigation into the crash. – Rappler.com