Philippines seek purchase of S-70 Black Hawk helicopters from Poland

The S-70i Black Hawk produced by Polish company PZL Mielec, a company under Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. Photo c/o Air International.

The Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is seeking to purchase Black Hawk helicopters from Poland, in a deal expected to be worth at US$240 million. 16 units are planned for acquisition and a contract is expected to be signed in a few months time.

Press releases made last December 2018 indicated that the PAF selected the Sikorsky Black Hawk over several other helicopter models in a competition to purchase Combat Utility Helicopters under the PAF’s Horizon 2 program. Among those that competed were Leonardo Helicopters AW139M, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KUH-1 Surion, Bell Helicopter Textron’s Bell 412EPI, and Russia’s Mil Mi-171V. Sikorsky is now part of the Lockheed Martin.

Sikorsky was said to have originally offered to provide 10 Black Hawks for the allocated budget, but made an aggressive offer to instead provide 16 Black Hawks. Apparently KAI only offered to provide 10 Surion helicopters for the same amount.

The Black Hawks are intended to improve the PAF’s ability to transport troops and supplies in combat operations, as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

A contract for 16 Bell 412EPI was originally awarded to the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) in 2017, but was cancelled by the Philippine government after the Canadian government ordered a review of the contract due to Human Rights concerns related to the Philippine government’s ongoing drug war.

Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec manufactures the S-70i Black Hawk International, intended for the export market.

Recently, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned his disagreement on purchasing weapon systems from the US due to the US government’s criticisms of his drug war and human rights concerns, and for being pressured to not buy arms from Russia. Sourcing the Black Hawk helicopters from Poland instead of those produced from the US might allow Sikorsky to go around the situation.

[1] Philippine Information Agency
[2] The Philippine Star
[3] MaxDefense Philippines
[4] PZL Mielec
[5] Defense News
[6] ABS-CBN News

Philippines seek purchase of S-70 Black Hawk helicopters from Poland Philippines seek purchase of S-70 Black Hawk helicopters from Poland Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 16, 2019 Rating: 5

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