The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has received five brand-new Sikorsky S-71i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters from Poland, bolstering its lift and transport capabilities.
“Five brand new Sikorsky 70i BlackHawk helicopters were welcomed into our air fleet last December 3, completing the delivery of 16 units. These five new helicopters will further improve the lift capability of the PAF to support various operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday.
Lorenzana went on to say that he is elated to have “personally overseen these great gains” in the government’s continuous efforts to modernize the AFP.
At the Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, Polish Chargé d’affaires Jaroslaw Szczepankiewicz formally handed over the aircraft to PAF chief Lt. Gen. Allen T. Paredes.
On November 8, the five helicopters arrived at Clark Air Base via an Antonov transport plane.
The formal handover of the aircraft to PAF chief Lt. Gen. Allen T. Paredes by Szczepankiewicz was followed by a benediction and ceremonial pouring of champagne to the newly acquired aviation assets.
The first six Black Hawk helicopters were delivered in November 2020, followed by the second batch of five Black Hawk helicopters in June, which were formally accepted, turned over, and blessed on October 13 in a simple ceremony.
The Polish company PZL Mielec has received a USD241 million order from the PAF for 16 S-70i helicopters (about P11.5 billion).
On June 24, one of the six initial units given to the country crashed during a night-flying training.
S-71s, which the PAF recently acquired, were used to transport COVID-19 vaccines to hard-to-reach places across the country.
These planes are also currently stationed in crucial places to help the AFP complete its overall mission.