Ten more Blackhawk helicopters are expected to be delivered to the Philippines early this year.
The acquisition of air assets such as these is part of the program aimed at replacing the old choppers in the fleet of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
The PAF Acquisition Program is expected to have an additional boost as President Duterte promised to buy more helicopters following the helicopter crash in Bukidnon that killed two PAF pilots and five other military personnel.
“The Department of National Defense expresses its sincerest appreciation for President Duterte’s intention to purchase more helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF),” said DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong.
“The ultimate aim of the ongoing PAF CUH (Combat Utility Helicopters) Acquisition Program is to procure assets that will replace the current fleet of UH-1s of our Air Force. This program has enabled us to recently add the Sikorsky S70i Blackhawk to the PAF’s inventory,” he added.
Six Blackhawk helicopters were delivered in November last year. All of them were declared as mission-ready as of last month.
Andolong said the 10 additional Blackhawks are expected to be delivered early this year and will be deployed for missions as soon as they pass mandatory technical inspection and acceptance procedures.
All Huey helicopters in the PAF have been grounded as part of the protocol after the chopper crash in Bukidnon last Jan. 16.
“In the interim, we have rotary aircraft such as the Bell 412s and Blackhawks that will take up some of the slack left by the withdrawal of the UH-1s from the field,” said Andolong.
The official, however, acknowledged that the entire procurement process takes time, starting off from the bidding process up to the post-delivery inspections. The acquisition of the Blackhawk for instance was completed in 2019 but the first batch of the choppers was delivered late last year.