DND to sign deal for purchase of 32 more 'Black Hawk' helicopters

(File photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will sign the contract for the acquisition of 32 additional S-70i "Black Hawk" combat utility helicopters from PZL Mielec of Poland on Tuesday afternoon.

"Bukas po ng hapon, Mr. President, ay pipirmahan ko 'yung kontrata para sa karagdagang 32 'Black Hawk' helicopters (Tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, Mr. President, I will be signing the contract for an additional 32 'Black Hawk' helicopters)," Lorenzana told President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People briefing aired Monday night.

Once these aircraft are delivered, Lorenzana said this will increase the fleet to around 48 units, including the 16 earlier delivered to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

"Puwede na po nating i-retire ‘yung ating lumang 'Huey' helicopters (We can retire our old 'Huey' (UH-1H) helicopters (once these aircraft are fully operational)," he added.

Like the previously acquired military equipment in the ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, Lorenzana said these assets are multi-functional and could be used for surveillance and disaster response.

Lorenzana issued the Notice of Award for PZL Mielec of Poland regarding the 32 "Black Hawk" helicopters last December 28.

He added that the project, worth PHP32 billion, comes with an initial logistics support package and training for pilots and maintenance crew.

"The delivery of these helicopters will start on CY (Calendar Year) 2023 (five units) while the remaining ones will be delivered in three batches as follows: CY2024 - 2nd batch (10 units); CY2025 - 3rd batch (10 units); and CY2026 - last batch (seven units)," Lorenzana said.

The PAF completed the acquisition of 16 Black Hawk helicopters, also from the Polish aerospace manufacturer, worth USD241 million (about PHP11.5 billion).

The first batch of six helicopters was delivered in November 2020, followed by the second batch of five in June last year that was formally accepted, turned over, and blessed on Oct. 13, 2021.

The last batch of five was delivered on Nov. 8, 2021, and formally accepted by the PAF on December 3. One of the initial six units delivered crashed on June 24, 2021 while on a night-flying exercise.

"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 12 brand-new 'Black Hawk' bore the brunt of the work during these critical times," Lorenzana said.

PAF S-70i units are transporting relief supplies and rescue personnel to areas battered by Typhoon Odette last December.

They have also been utilized to transport Covid-19 vaccines in geographically isolated areas. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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