Last Batch of Air Force Black Hawks Arrive
The Philippine Air Force has received the final batch of the U.S.-made S-70i Black Hawk attack helicopters. In February 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the purchase of Black Hawks in order to boost the country’s air force fleet, considered the weakest in Asia.
The five Black Hawks were delivered to Clark Air Base in Pampanga on November 8, arriving from Poland via an Antonov air transport.
According to Philippine Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, this completes the Air Force’s fleet of 16 Black Hawks.
Prior to the purchase, the Philippine Air Force’s aging fleet of Huey helicopters had been notorious for crashes, with four accidents involving Hueys occurring between 2019 and 2020.
According to a Rappler report, it was the deadly January crash of a PAF Huey helicopter in Bukidnon that convinced Duterte to approve new choppers. The crash killed seven military personnel.
But questions on the reliability of the Black Hawks arose in June 2021 when a Black Hawk from a previous batch of delivery crashed and killed all of the six troopers it carried.
Six Black Hawks arrived in November 2020, followed by the second batch in June 2021.
The helicopters were purchased by the Philippines from the Poland-based Polski Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o. for the price tag of $241.1 million or P12 billion.