PHL likely getting S-70i Black Hawks

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is most likely getting Lockheed Martin Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk for its combat utility helicopter (CUH) acquisition project. This is after National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on December 7 that PAF technical working group (TWG) chose the Black Hawk.

“I think finally the Air Force TWG has come up with the recommendation that the Black Hawk is the best option that they will buy. So we will be pursuing that,” Secretary Lorenzana said. He added that contract may be signed early 2019.

The defense chief said initially 10 Black Hawk helicopters are being offered for the CUH acquisition project with allocated budget of around $240 million. “But inakyat nila ang offer they will give us 16,” he said.

There are a number of major variants of Black Hawk. Among them are UH-60M built in United States and S-70i built mainly in Poland.

“We note information about the selection of Black Hawk helicopters produced in Poland by the Philippines. Every sale of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters is excellent news in the context of employment in the Polish aviation sector. This applies to both production and engineering sites, including 1,700 people employed at PZL Mielec, the largest Lockheed Martin production plant located outside the United States,” head of Lockheed Martin communication in Europe John Nielson said as quoted by Polish news outlet Rzeczpospolita.

MaxDefense said it “earlier doubted the news on offering the UH-60M to the PAF, since this variant is expensive and illogical, considering it is unreasonable for Lockheed Martin Sikorsky to offer it based on the PAF’s budget.”

“The S-70i variant is the same standard Black Hawk model but is cheaper since it is produced using lower Polish labour and production costs, and has less bells and whistles than it’s American counterpart,” it added.

“The Sikorsky S-70i BLACK HAWK is ready now to deliver its legendary and best in class mission performance. Backed by a world class training and support infrastructure, the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter has been configured by our team of military aviation experts to deliver the right capabilities for the right mission. From basic utility, to advanced combat search and rescue missions, the BLACK HAWK is ready now,” Lockheed Martin Sikorsky says in S-70i product page.