Poland’s PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, has completed the delivery of 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF). Five units, part of the third and final batch of delivery, arrived at Clark Air Base, Pampanga province on Monday (8 November). These were transported by an Antonov An-124 aircraft. PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said the helicopters will undergo checks before formally entering service. The Philippine government earlier procured 16 units of Black Hawk helicopters to replace aging Vietnam-era Hueys (UH-1H) mainly used for transport tasks.

One Black Hawk unit crashed in Tarlac last June during a night flight training, killing all six Air Force personnel onboard. Investigation said bad weather caused the crash. The Armed Forces of the Philippines last week deployed six Black Hawk helicopters to Mindanao to support combat and humanitarian aid missions.

The PAF recently retired some of its aging Hueys as it seeks new helicopters. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year approved the acquisition of additional helicopters after a spate of crashes since 2020 although it was unclear if funding is available. The Philippines and Poland signed an agreement in April that would allow government-to-government deals on defence procurement, which could include additional Black Hawk helicopters.

Mariano said the PAF wished to acquire more Black Hawk helicopters because of reliability and ease of parts availability. “We’re looking to the Black Hawk because the Black Hawk is a proven system….Right now if we can get common equipment then it would be better for the armed forces to have common equipment,” he told reporters.

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