Philippines orders 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters

The Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk built in Poland by PZL Mielec. Photo c/o Rob Lovesy @ Flickr.

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) signed a contract worth US$241.4 million with Lockheed Martin’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec to deliver 16 units of Sikorsky's S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

According to Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines, the deal between the two parties was signed last March 2019, and the Notice to Proceed (NTP) was provided by DND to PZL Mielec by 16 April 2019.

The purchase of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters was made under the PAF’s Combat Utility Helicopter Acquisition Project, wherein 16 units were required under the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). 

An earlier deal between the DND and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) to deliver a similar quantity of Bell 412EPI helicopters was cancelled in early 2018 after Canadian government officials criticized the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on extra judicial killings and human rights issues, and threatening to cancel the deal.

The S-70i Black Hawk competed with other helicopter offers from Leonardo with the AW139M, KAI with the KUH-1 Surion, Russian Helicopters with the Mil Mi-171Sh Hip, and Bell Helicopters Textron through their US office with the Bell 412EPI. 

During the recently concluded PAF Air Force Symposium, Sikorsky’s representative confirmed to a local media reporter that that delivery may proceed from 3rd quarter of 2020 up to 2021, although Sikorsky may adjust the delivery of the first batch of helicopters to an earlier date. 

It is expected that with the entry of the S-70i Black Hawk, it is possible that the PAF may acquire more in the future to replace its ageing fleet of Bell UH-1D/H Huey combat utility helicopters acquired in several batches since the 1970s.

The PAF previously mentioned that they need more than 100 combat utility helicopters to effectively meet the needs of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The S-70i Black Hawk is the international version of Sikorsky’s venerable Black Hawk family, and is made in Poland by Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec. It differs from US military-spec UH-60 Black Hawks on the equipment carried and the use of some commercial-spec subsystems to reduce the cost and be competitive against other helicopters in the global market.

The PAF's Black Hawks will be standard utility models, and will be armed with window-mounted machine guns.

[1] MaxDefense Philippines
[2] Frances Mangosing @ Twitter
[3] MaxDefense Philippines
Philippines orders 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters Philippines orders 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on June 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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